Persephone: Welcome to the dark side!

9 Jan

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Wow- hello, new readers! I had a wave of subscriptions since my last post, so thankyou for the nice messages and interesting discussions I’ve had since then. 🙂

Before I go all mythological on you, I just want to clear some confusion over a particular term and an oversight on my part which I’m planning to fix in a very exciting way. The term “stripper rates” has been used for as long as I can remember and (as far as I have ever heard it) refers to rates that increase per hour according to the amount of skin on show. It is not meant as derogatory to models or strippers. I stand by my original point that there should be no rates increase between fashion and art-nude because it places the value on your nudity rather than your skill… BUT… it had not occurred to me that adult models may also be reading my post and that is a different matter.
Adult models (here, meaning models who pose to open-leg and beyond) charge higher rates depending on various factors and as this is not my area of expertise, I’m currently speaking to some well-known, very well-regarded adult models about appearing on this blog! This will be the first time I have asked other models to guest post so I’m very excited! 🙂

As I expected- life’s getting busy and I’m almost completely fully booked for my studio weekend at Joel Hicks Photographic in April! If you would like a place, I still have a little time free on April 22nd/23rd but otherwise, February 11th/12th is my only other weekend there and there are spaces aplenty! I would love to use some of the grey atmospheric trees and surroundings before Spring comes along and re-greens everything… 😉 Each hour is just £50-all inclusive- get in touch for a place!

As you can see from this photo by Liv Free, Winter is a good time for photo-making…
(Headdress and make-up/hair by Liv Free)
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There are also just two hours still available on my first ever shibari studio day in March! Click here for more information.
NB: You do NOT need bondage experience- all the ropework is done for you by a trained rigger.

I’ve updated my travel page- some of the ‘possible’ places have become definites and I can’t wait to start zooming around the world again. Do let me know your interest as soon as possible as I’m booking as far into the future as I can- or ask me to add you to my ‘short notice’ mailing list. No need to keep checking back- I’ll let you know if I’m available nearby.

Though I’m definitely noticing the lighter evenings, Winter is still very firmly here- the canal’s frozen over and ducks go skidding hilariously past my window every morning! In Greek mythology, the reason for everything being cold and barren is this (simplified massively*):
Once, the earth lived in eternal summer, watched over by Demeter- the goddess of harvest. One day, her daughter Persephone was gathering flowers in a meadow when Hades, lord of the Underworld surprised her and snatched her off to be his queen. The grieving Demeter turned the earth cold and lifeless and in fear for the earth’s survival, a rescue mission was mounted. The ‘rules’ in almost every legend involving an underworld or faerieland say that you can return home if you don’t eat or drink anything while there and Persephone, apparently, held out for as long as she could but finally ate six pomegranate seeds in her hunger and so when Hades was finally forced to answer to the other gods and goddesses, he used that fact as leverage (or another god ratted on her) and it was agreed that Persephone would belong to the Underworld for six months of the year and return for the remainder. That is why Demeter retreats and freezes the earth for the months in which her daughter is no longer with her and brings back the flowers and warmth when she returns.

I don’t know about you but something about that has always felt ‘off’ to me…
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(I seem to be replacing Lord of the Rings references with Disney at the moment. I’m not going soft, I swear!)

Anyway, here’s another version…
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She had lived in the tower for so long she was almost used to the vertigo. She had lived with the imposed fragility until she had almost forgotten her strength. She had lived eternally planting flowers that she had almost accepted she would never wear. She hadn’t lived– and all because the key to her door lay in the hand of her mother, Demeter.

Seeds upon seeds, in pots upon pots, the little girl Persephone had treasured her work. The child planted, the mother grew, and the seeds were sent out into the world to flourish. Decades passed and yet the woman Persephone remained surrounded by the embryos of flowers she could only see blossom from her window. It had become an irritation, a complaint and finally an argument of the kind that tells a mother her child has grown.
Demeter took the key she should have handed Persephone, and turned it in the lock. Persephone smiled an innocent accepting smile and bided her time. When one is pushed to the light by force over freedom, one learns to think rather dark thoughts. 

There had been suitors but all had been banished. “When you live alone, you may do as you wish” had been her mother’s refrain. It would be pointless gesturing to her earth-strewn, seed-scattered solitude in the tower. Better, by far, to wait for the retreating footsteps and then lean backward out of the window, balancing and swaying until the sun god (who had already been cautioned about looking at her) couldn’t help but go to her aid. Just a favour, she asked. A quick word with the god of messages. 
The god of messages (who had been banished twice from the gate for asking after her) entered through her window. Tell anyone who will listen that I need to get out! The words were on the tip of her tongue but the footsteps of Demeter were already echoing on the stairway.
“Let the earth swallow me”, she had muttered to herself as her messenger fled, but he had heard and prepared to convey the strange request to somebody who could fulfil it.

Her plan shattered, Persephone took the unexpected way out- through the window. It was not as far a fall as she had thought, even without the assistance from various winged forms (who had been snapped at for attempting to talk to her). She came to her feet and ran. Free!

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Wishes have a habit of granting themselves at the strangest times and Persephone, having made her way across eight fields, a river, one and a half woodlands and somebodys garden, enjoyed the feel of grass under her feet and flowers in her hair for less than a day before her request was honoured.

Fear and flight have been added to every story concerning the events that happened in that meadow, Persephone reflected later. There certainly was none. Perhaps her status as a flower goddess in training had misled people about her fragility. Perhaps it was inconceivable even then that an innocent daughter with blossom in her hair could want anything other than the sun on her skin and birdsong in her ears.
Certainly when the earth opened up before her and he stepped out, she felt many things but fear wasn’t one of them.

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The lord of the Underworld has been painted enough times. Enough songs have been sung about him. Enough people have made up their minds on who or what he is. All Persephone will say is that sooner or later, we all meet him and can judge for ourselves. Only she and the dead truly know, and the latter are in no position to speak on him.

It would be easy to claim that she had merely been picking a bouquet to bring home to her mother when this man split the earth in two in order to steal her but the fact is, when one is forced toward the light, the darkness becomes very, very appealing indeed.
Persephone smiled a smile that made even the lord of the Underworld take a step back. She waited the split second it took for him to recover, waited a second more to enjoy the moment and then descended to the Underworld, shedding her cloak on the stairs. She kept the flowers for she had picked those herself.

Of course, her mother was never going to be happy with the state of affairs. As the earth and stone formed a cocoon around the lord of the Underworld and his new friend, who was learning quickly that flowers could bloom underground if they really set their minds to it, Demeter scorched the sky.

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The other gods and goddesses could never agree on whether Demeter grieved mostly for the loss of her daughter or the control she had wielded but either way, people began to die shrivelled and empty as the earth now was. Only Demeter retained a fraction of her former strength and despite threats from the other deities, the earth yielded nothing. The sky remained black.

The sun, who usually saw all, was blind to the goings on below the darkness and had to rely on his hearing and guess at the despair below. It was in the middle of the starless night- which now looked much like the day- that he heard the decision made by the gods council; happy or not, willing or not, Persephone must be found. And he had seen her. Demeter may have cautioned his god, but she had never told the sun himself that he couldn’t look at her daughter- and so he had seen all. Softly, coughing through the smoky blackness, he called Demeter to him and asked her to listen.

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Had Demeter gone to the underworld herself, it is likely that Persephone would never have been found- the Underworld has its own ways of hiding what it holds. Instead, she sent a man who had once guarded her orchard. He flew through the gates in the form of a black owl and found Demeter’s daughter wearing a black dress and a smile. When he tried to persuade her to return, she asked him simply for a good reason.

The man who was an owl thought for some time and took out a pomegranate he had saved. They were messy and fiddly to eat but he was hungry and Persephone was scary.
“Your mother is, after all, family. Blood is thicker than water…” he offered.
“That saying is incomplete”, Persephone told him gently, taking a seed. “It is ‘the blood of comradeship is thicker than the water of the womb’. But I suppose one conversation with her wouldn’t do much harm.”
“The food up here is tasty when it grows?” he offered her the pomegranate and Persephone ate another seed.
“So is the food down here. But you are right.”
“You would be less lonely up above.”
“Don’t confuse being alone with loneliness. I’d like to catch up with some people though.” She took a seed and looked at it. It was pretty. The man who was an owl almost reached out to pat her arm but thought better of it.
“You could escape and return to the glory of the sun. And lastly, your mother would, I’m sure, let you entertain a better suitor!” Persephone took two more seeds, crushed them between her thumb and forefinger and flicked the sticky juice back into the messenger’s face.
“Let? I chose my own suitor and I don’t need, wish, or want to escape. You have given me four tenuous reasons to return to the above and two reasons to kill you and remain lost,” she snapped at the man who was an owl, who flew from the Underworld and returned in minutes with a guard.

Persephone’s rage was terrible but the old rule stood- taking the food of a world to which you do not belong binds you to that world and she had taken six seeds from the above, which was no longer hers. As she prepared to spend the rest of her life divided, she cursed the man who was an owl to remain jet black and live only in the dark of the night from then on. Don’t look for him- you’ll never see him.
Demeter kept her job as harvest goddess but only just- the summer comes once a year now, and other gods and goddesses have taken greater precedence. She and her daughter still talk from time to time though half of Persephone’s life remains a mystery that even Demeter would rather not know. Persephone still remains goddess of flowers, but these days her tastes have changed….
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Photo by Lisa Waud

Other images by Leigh Eros (who I am greatly looking forward to working with again this year)
Pink corset by Orchid Corsetry
‘Metal’ corset made by me.

I waited a while for the perfect story to write that would go with the images and was cursing my writers block… and suddenly I realised I was stuck because the story had already been written and it fit so perfectly. We didn’t go out intending to illustrate a myth but somehow it happened- even down to the six main balls of light in the last picture.

I’m excitedly writing something to go with the rest of the set by Liv Free so I’ll show you those pictures as soon as I can as well… 😉

It’s now 3am and I just poured coffee into my cup of tea. Definitely bedtime…

ROSWELL x

P.S. Is there anything you would like me to write about? I’ve had a lot of flash fiction requests and am making a new website for my non-modelling writing, but anything industry-related you wish I’d burbled about long ago? Let me know.

* strictly speaking, being Greek mythology, there’s a lot of cheating, rape, abduction and incest in the long version.

2 Responses to “Persephone: Welcome to the dark side!”

  1. Peter Cripps January 9, 2017 at 6:02 am #

    Some lovely images here Roswell. Especially like the head and shoulders one of you holding the flowers.

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