Mary Magdalene, Persephone, Demeter – Exploring the Feminine Mysteries through The Work of Byron Katie & The Sesame Approach to Drama & Movement in Therapy.

May 28th – June 4th 2016, Near Rennes-le-Chateau, France. With Tamara Alferoff, certified Facilitator of The Work, and Elizabeth Heren, certified Sesame Practitioner.

Ahead of the retreat Elizabeth Heren shares her experience of Demeter and Persephone, Story Enactment, and the connection between Mary Magdalene and the myth of Demeter and Persephone.

The myth of Demeter and Persephone has fascinated me since reading Jean Shinoda Bolen's 'Goddesses in Every Woman'. Persephone's archetype of the undifferentiated and naïve girl resonated with me in my early twenties, and she reflected my lack of direction and confusion right back to me. Fast-forward twenty years, while a student on Psyche and Soma, a training in the use of Drama, Movement and Soul in Therapy, I took part in an enactment of the myth which opened up more complex dynamics in the story, and in myself. And it showed me the power of Enactment as tool for embodied knowing and healing. Enactment simply means taking a role in a story that you are drawn to and entering into the experience, whether it is a human, an animal, a god, an element, or a plant. Through the chosen role, participants can access an awareness of something that was previously unknown to them.

Through taking the role of Persephone, I had an embodied experience of her journey that enabled me to understand her relationship with Hades, the Underworld, and with Demeter. I experienced the seductiveness and power of Hades and her role as his consort, but I also felt ‘split-off’ from the rest of life. After a time I heard my colleague who was being Demeter calling for me, and I felt a heart-breaking yet life-affirming response to her. When we, as Demeter and Persephone reunited it was very powerful, and a feeling of balance and wholeness was restored. Even though Persephone has to return to Hades for six months of the year, each time she is better equipped and more mature to handle the experience of omnipotent power without losing herself. The enactment helped me embody something important that continues to enrich me personally, and is an invaluable resource in my client work.

Through enactment we gain valuable insight into our lives that can be profound, transformative and fun!  And each participant will have their own unique experience. During our forthcoming workshop in France, 'Mary Magdalene, Persephone, Demeter - Exploring the Feminine Mysteries', enactment and story telling, alongside The Work of Byron Katie, play an important part.

It may seem a jump from a Greek myth to Mary Magdalene, Jesus Christ’s first Apostle, but from the perspective of the feminine journey it’s not. I should add that the term ‘the feminine’ does not exclude boys and men, it describes a particular consciousness and way of being, and is not to be confused with gender. When the rites of Demeter and Persephone were performed in ancient Greece at Eleusis, men as well as women were initiated into their mysteries.

Demeter and Persephone depicts the journey of innocence into darkness and the struggle to return again, but with a consciousness that is now more ‘whole’, because it has met darkness and accepts it as part of life. It is very likely that Mary Magdalene would have had an understanding of the Eleusinian mysteries or an equivalent story. Her Gospel, discovered in upper Egypt in the late 19th century, reveals a more intimate connection with God and with Jesus. The Gospel is missing many pages but what remains relates Jesus’ teaching about the impermanence of matter - the body and nature. The teachings are more subtle than those of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, perhaps why they were not selected for inclusion in the Bible, as they are not ‘actively’ preaching the Gospel.

Research has shown that Mary Magdalene was a teacher and a priestess in her own right before she met Jesus and joined his ministry. There is no proof she was a prostitute, and yet we know very little about the woman who was the first disciple to see the resurrected Jesus. During the workshop we will attempt to ‘redeem’ her lost wisdom by exploring what she has to teach us through the imagination and contemplation.

Innocence, once naive and unconscious, can be retrieved from all that is dark in ourselves, whatever our age and gender. Time is needed to honor our wounds and reclaim our innocence away from cynicism and jadedness, in order to transmute our experiences into wisdom. And it is our hope that the week at Lavaldieu will help participants do that.

If you would like to enroll or would like more information please contact Elizabeth at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel: 07732 131 062 and Tamara at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel: 07946 476 048