It seems everywhere we turn these days we are seeing another vampiretv show or movie, from the massively popular Twilight book and movie saga to The Vampire Diaries and True Blood on tv, not to mention the countless other stories with supernatural creatures. I'm a big fan of them but I know that a lot of these aren't even good quality writing. So I asked myself why are all these stories so compelling to me and, judging by their popularity, to many other people. I thought about all the clients and students I know who also are big fans and why they love these stories and I finally figured it out: the Persephone myth.
For those of you who don't know the Greek myth of Persephone, here is a simple version of it: The earth Goddess Demeter had a maiden daughter named Kore who was playing with some nymphs in a meadow one day when she was abducted by the God of the underworld Hades. Now we sometimes say things like "It is hotter than Hades" as if it is a synonym for hell, but that is not accurate. Yes, it is downstairs but it is not the same as Christian hell. It is not particularly hot or evil. Hades in Greek mythology is the place where all souls went when they died. It psychologically represents the darkness of the unknown (the greatest unknown being what comes after death), so it represents the unconscious, the psyche. So maiden Kore is brought underground to be the young bride of the King of the unconscious and the psyche which then makes her the Queen of the unconscious and the psyche. This transition from innocence to insight through death and the supernatural makes her archetypally associated with psychic ability. The transformation is so big that she gets a new name: Persephone. The myth ends with Persephone's mother, the goddess Demeter, being so heartbroken that her daughter has been taken from her to live for eternity underground that she is not able or willing to make spring come back which threatens to starve all of humanity. Without humans, Zeus would have no one to pay homage to him so he negotiates a settlement between Demeter and Hades. Persephone will spend half the year underground with Hades (death, winter) and half the year above ground with Demeter (life, summer).
Like a detective, I started going through each of these stories and saw that there was a consistent pattern that supported my theory. Every popular vampire story of late has a romance between a Hades-like vampire character who because of his death-like status represents the underworld figure; a Kore-like maiden of the light represented by a young, good-hearted, virgin initiated into the dark, like Kore being sucked into the underworld; and lastly, and an element of the psychic. The most recent vampire stories emphasize the Hades-like characters desire to be part of, or connected to the world of the light directly or through Kore.
In The Vampire Diaries, it is partially Elena's independent and strong mind that makes her attractive to the Salvatore brothers, and shows her potential to be good vampire material in the future. Like choosing a Goddess Queen, only those humans who are of unusual quality are chosen in the stories to become vampire heroines. That is because both the role of Goddess Queen and vampire are figures of immortal consorts, like a marriage that lasts forever with no chance of divorce, you would want to make sure you chose someone interesting to spend eternity with.
In Twilight, it is Bella's psychic inscrutability that partially makes her so attractive to Edward who not only embodies the Hades figure by being dead but also by being psychic himself. Like the Salvatore brothers, he can go into literal daylight himself but still needs Bella, as they need Elena, to go into the metaphoric light of life, to keep him connected to the world of life, to wanting to be alive.
In True Blood, heroine Sookie Stackhouse is telepathic and her attraction to vampire Bill is initially fueled by her inability to hear his thoughts. In his deathly presence, she feels the first quiet of her tumultuous psychic life.
In the classic series Buffy The Vampire Slayer, in the episode where Buffy is temporarily telepathic she can't read her vampire boyfriend's mind because as he succinctly explains, "Like the mirror, I reflect no thoughts".
So why would the Persephone myth experience a resurgence of popularity? Because our culture badly wants psychic peace and quiet; we want respite from our manic fear of our own mortality through a glimpse into the unknown. That's the whole point of these stories: the uniting of light and dark transcends the fear of death and gives us insight into the great mysteries of life. In other words, it gives us intuition to see beyond the regular binary way of perceiving our worlds. I think that there is a clear shift in the collective consciousness towards a greater intuition that starts with an idle curiosity, even fascination (evinced by the popularity of shows like Medium, Ghost Whisperer, The Listener, etc.), and ends with a need for psychic harmony and peace that are represented in the vampire/Persephone stories. So I predict that vampire stories will continue to be as popular as they are now as long they continue to capture the zeitgeist of intuition that we are collectively experiencing now.
An increased interest in intuition in our culture is obvious. One just needs to check what is selling in our pop cultural venues from the tv shows listed above to the exponentially growing market of books and classes on intuition and psychic matters. What is less discussed is that people are actually getting more intuitive but don’t know it yet. People aren’t growing more intuitive because of the books. They are buying the books, watching the shows, taking the classes to understand what is happening to them. When I first started teaching intuition seven or so years ago, my classes were full but many of the people there didn’t even know what they had signed up for. I mean they knew the subject of the class was intuition but would actually say to me, “I don’t really know what intuition is”. They had a longing for something that they only knew instinctively. Whenever I asked them questions, they were regularly stumped. Now my classes are full of people who have very definite ideas about what intuition is, answer my questions with confidence, and often have fairly developed intuition for beginners. And when I ask them if they have read any books on intuition or taken classes already, the vast majority say no. So why is the collective’s intuition growing naturally? What I see is that people’s sensitivities in this culture are growing along side of our growing interest in not the occult, but in meditation and other practices of peaceful observation or mindfulness, like yoga. The next step for people is to recognize that their intuition is growing even if they are not making an effort to develop it. Many people who are naturally sensitive are osmotically growing their intuition. It is for that reason that the intuition training I teach through my school, Intuitive Centre, is not just about developing and harnessing intuition, it is about integrating it in a healthy way into our identities and lives. The number one fear of intuition I have heard over the years from countless students is that once they become intuitive, once they touch the unconscious, that they will never be the same again. And my answer is: they are right. You won’t be the same after you develop your intuition, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It wasn’t for Kore who then matured into her full power to become a queen. So next time you find yourself drawn to watching a vampire story, bring into consciousness what your psyche needs for its healing and growth: that the vampire story mirrors your own increase in intuitive interest or ability and shows you in an archetypal way how one can make the transition from Kore to Persephone, and still get to live in the light after touching the great mystery.