50 Shades of Hades

Thursday June 21st 2012
Bernini's Rape of Proserpina

Bernini’s Rape of Proserpina

Just in case you’ve missed it, 50 Shades of Grey is a story about a young woman who meets an insanely wealthy, mysterious, tortured but alluring older man. They have a passionate affair during which she discovers herself as a sexual being – and his tough facade is penetrated by her sheer womanly womanliness.

Wait a minute: does that sound familiar? Isn’t that the plot of all romantic fiction from Pride and Prejudice to Mills and Boon to Twilight?

Of course, there’s the bondage element of it all. That’s sexual bondage – like spanking and handcuffs and stuff. I guess that’s why it’s selling like hotcakes – faster than Harry Potter and Twilight allegedly. You can read a myth and get turned on at the same time!

So we have hard, wealthy older man and young, soft virgin. He dominates, she submits.

Hang on. I’ve found the story in the little book of useful myths to help explain astrology. This is the tale of Hades and Persephone -– or Pluto and Proserpine (Roman).

Just to recap that.

Hades, the king of the land of the dead, who is insanely wealthy, due to the fact that he also rules all the riches of the underworld, snatches Persephone, the virgin daughter of Demeter, the earth goddess.

He imprisons Persephone in his underground world. (In 50 Shades of Grey apparently it’s the Red Room of Pain and a written contract.) At first she wants to escape but then she ends up being Queen of the Underworld for half the year, and living up on the surface for the other six months, when she can write a best-selling book about her experiences in hell.

So the last bit is not true….

The point is that people like hearing this particular story no matter how it’s told. It’s a fable of sexual desire, submission and becoming a woman. How you spin the tale depends on your own culture and psychology, and what’s happening in the world around you.

Right now, we are in the midst of the Uranus-Pluto square. Pluto is certainly the planet of submission, bondage and dark desires. Uranus is the planet of kink, being different, and of course shock.

This aspect has given a particular flavour to the past year and will continue to do so until 2015 at least. 50 Shades of Grey is just a cultural artefact that reflects this energy powerfully. It’s retelling the story of Persephone through the lens of this planetary aspect.

The book was published electronically a year ago and quickly became a word of mouth best-seller. This month here in the UK, the paperback has been flying off those shelves.

The chart for the original publication is pretty dynamic with Mercury, the planet of words and communications, snapping right into a Grand Cross, opposite Pluto and square to Uranus. Jupiter’s the planet we associate with publishing and you can see that it makes a nice angle to both Mercury and Pluto, giving the tension of the opposition a place to go.

Now that Jupiter (expansion) has gone into Gemini, which is the sign of communications after all, the Grey trilogy has become the fastest selling book in history.

And I find I’m missing Harry Potter…

You might also be interested in these posts.
Putting a Spin on Pluto
Death and the Maiden

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  1. Yea excellent Christina, the first I heard of it was when I was in my local supermarket and all the female cashiers were whispering conspiratorially and looking kind of smug (wrong word as it turns out), so much so I had to ask what they were talking about! Bring on Harry Potter…..

  2. Vanessa says:

    Oh I too miss Harry Potter. Here in the US it’s been all the rage as well. When I saw my friend reading (devouring is more precise) I told her I thought the series was the Jane Eyre story on steroids. Actually, that seems to be the trend now. Every story (Snow White etc) all have been getting the steroids treatment. It’s not enough to have the plunge into the unknown and the Byronic hero, let’s give it chains, whips and swords. I’m curious though as why women all over are going gaga over this series? What does this say about women’s psyche? Are we ‘liberated’, able to have career and go forth into the world, and yet, in the bedroom are we craving to be spanked (figuratively and literally)? Thanks for the blog entry!Hades and Persephone is my favorite myth.

    • Vanessa says:

      It’s all a personal choice thing for sure. Those who are into whips, chains and all that jazz, go right ahead. But there’s something to be said about sensuality and sexuality without all that paraphernalia. I agree with you… Really spanking? This submission stuff is just too neurotic for my taste.
      Good quote from Ulysses, and it captures the sensuality of the moment in a much more arousing manner.

    • Christina says:

      You’re right, it is exactly Jane Eyre, but with explicit sex.

      I guess some women (and men) have always related to this kind of bondage stuff. I’m thinking of the Story of O, which was written in the 1950s – and the Marquis de Sade, and even Anais Nin. No matter which way they try and sell it, it’s about submission – and some people find that sexy, and some, including me, don’t. Spanking? I mean, come on.

      For some really liberating filth, try Molly Bloom in Ulysses

      “…I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. “

      Hot stuff – no handcuffs and written by a bloke.

  3. KL says:

    Ellen is so funny…

  4. Maya says:

    Gosh, I despair; I read the first few chapters of this and it really is absolute pants. My first novel was published on Tuesday, but it has no whips, chains or vampires so I fear for its health. 🙂

    • Christina says:

      Congratulations! And good luck…. There are a lot of other cultural artefacts that could use or reflect the current energy.

      And ha! I just read the highlights on the Daily Beast, but it that was enough….