Sep 192016
 

In March, before the Equinox, and as the moon opened to fullness, I had an experience that is basically inexpressible because of its power and because of its commonness. I sensed the moment the seasons shifted as the moon rose over a river filling with spring’s ice floes.

To convey a glimpse into the mystery of that moment, I’ll say I encountered Persephone, the Goddess of Greek myth who is kidnapped by Hades to serve as the Queen of the Underworld, welcoming the dead, and mourned by her mother Demeter, whose grief brings winter. Persephone’s seasonal visit to her mother awakens Demeter’s joy and brings the bounty of spring and summer. Most often Persephone is depicted as a beautiful maiden either being kidnapped by her husband or returning to her mother.

But the Persephone I encountered was a weathered woman climbing and clawing her way out of the Underworld through the dirt of earth. She used her Underworld crown as a plough and carried in her pockets letters from the Dead to their beloveds still living. (You can read more in my March newsletter.)

Persephone’s secret story is the story of her as Traveler and Messenger, the one who twice yearly, millennia after millennia, makes a journey between the worlds when the night and day stand in balance.

persephone-mandala

Fall Mandala with Persephone from the Dark Goddess Tarot

In each world, she has loves and responsibilities. She must prepare for both departure and arrival at this time of year. She sadly says goodbye to some while anticipating reunion with others.

What calls Persephone from one world to the next? How does she know when to begin her preparations? Last Friday as I stood under the September harvest moon in an orchard watching Goddesses Descending, it came to me. Of course. The moon is Persephone’s signal and guide.

In spring, the days of the growing moon from new to full closest to the Equinox set her on her journey back to earth. The days of harvest moon’s descent invite her to depart.

We are in the days of Persephone Descending. As the moon moves from full, through the Equinox, and into the dark moon days at September’s end, Persephone prepares, Persephone descends.

Perhaps you feel the weight of this time as she grows heavy. And if you feel it, too,you might consider your heaviness in another light, a lunar light. This heavy time brings a dark gift of attuning to the Divine, to the eternal cycles. The trees know this as they let down their leaves in fluttering surrender. Perhaps you may take the tree as your spiritual director.  

And as our perspective on this descent time shifts, we can open to opportunity, have a more expansive view. Recognize that our loss of Persephone brings a boon for the Dead. She is their Queen and comfort who loves them. She is the Traveler who has been away but now returns with new stories and gifts.

You can help Persephone make her reunion with the Dead. You can send gifts and stories along with Her. You can write letters to the Dead.

It may seem strange. You may doubt your letter can travel such a long distance. But just the act of writing and sending the letter might heal your heart.

I am writing letters in these days and offer these ideas to spark your own letter writing rituals. You might consider:

  • Who do you want to write to? Joining in conversation with the boundaryless there is no limited to the possibility. You can write to those you knew in life and those you didn’t. Your beloved dead. The ancestors. A long-dead writer who inspired you. Your departed pets. Make a list.
  • How will you send the message? An aerogram. A drug-store card. Leaves of petals to send without words but infused with love. You might match your form to speak most deeply to the one with which you want to communicate.
  • When will you send it? You can send your letters along as you write them or wait for the dark moon days of September 28 and 29. Any of these days as the moon moves from full to dark are the times of Persephone Descending.
  • How will you send your letters? Burying your messages in the earth is appropriate. Persephone can gather them up as she makes to the Underworld. But follow your inspiration. Maybe there is another story of life’s cycles that inspires you so you use a method that aligns with that wisdom. If water beckons you, send your notes on streams down to the sea. Light your letter on fire and watch the spark rise to heaven. Let leaves lift it into the all surrounding air. You can’t do this incorrectly.
  • How will you thank your messenger? Don’t forget to express your gratitude to Persephone or the One who helps you deliver your letter. You might say a prayer of praise, make an offering, or dedicate a positive action to their name.  

Will you receive a reply?  Well, the universe is full of echoes and all kinds of communication. I have received messages from the Dead and I’m not the only one. Your letter is unlikely to be returned as a letter so you might tend your openness to different kinds of communication in ways such as these:

  • Take time away from the demands of the living. It’s noisy here in the living world so just as you would step with your cell phone out of a crowded room to better hear the person on the other end, step out of the daily. Dedicate some time to ritual, communing with the dark, walking in nature. Sometimes go alone This gives you a better chance of hearing. But remember to walk in balance along this path; you do still belong in the land of the living.
  • Honor the communal celebrations of the Dead. The first half of November brings sacred and secular remembrances of the dead: Samhain, All Souls and Saints Day, the Day of the Dead, Veterans Day. The shortest days of the year as the Solstice approaches invite us to Wait with the Dark and in the quiet hear the numinous. Or perhaps you have to wait until Persephone Rises again in spring, bringing letters from the dead in her pockets.
  • Remove this waiting for a response from the work of the rational. What you are going to do is not rational and is outside the bounds of all we can assert with certainty here in the earthly world. Don’t try to make your listening fit inside these walls. You don’t have to give up the rational as you live your daily life- we need it – but you don’t apply it to your waiting for a response to your letter.
  • Listen slant. The poet Emily Dickinson said “tell it slant,” counseled that messages of Truth if too bright can blinds us. The Dead no longer speak as we do, perhaps are even forgetting the way of language with all its limits. They will reach out to you in unusual ways, in slant ways. Through a song that plays on the radio when you are thinking of them. Through the things they left behind found just at a moment that gives meaning. Through a revelation of hawk or cat or rainbow. From a rational world perspective you can never be sure from where the message comes, but when inspiration moves your heart, always take the gift it brings.  

 

If you are looking for support for your listening, my Winter Solstice-hinged seasonal ritual begins with Waiting with the Dark at the end of November. Be sure to sign up for my list to receive the latest news about how this ritual can support your seeking.  

Mar 072016
 

Pool Behind Ice Chunks and Tree Mill RiverRecently, I stood on the dike along the Connecticut River watching the ice floes come down from the North. First, there were just the sludgy, half-submerged chunks with their edges clicking together in surface water. Then whole islands of white snow took their place and set a new pace floating toward the sea. Finally and faster now continent after continent coming round river’s bend with a deep slicing of water sounding a quiet roaring. The sun had done its work on the mountains and the ice pack; winter lost it hold. The sun set salmon with the ice flowing toward its streaks and a nearly full moon rose opposite in a still light blue sky.

I felt the seasonal shift in my cells and pondered its power. An image rose in my mind’s eye of the Greek Goddess Persephone climbing out of the Underworld to take her place on one of the ice floes and lead the parade toward spring time.

I let the image expand and imagined what it was like to climb out of the Underworld, not that first time when she was still young and a first reunion with her mother waited, but in this year, after millennia of climbing. A poem is growing from the experience with lines like: “She arrives fresh from Death and the years of It layered on her. No longer young. Not now beautiful.”

The image for this Persephone who makes the hard climb year after year is from Mellissae Lucia’s Oracle of Initiation’s card of Knowing. Here she is caked still in Underworld dark with just a hint of something fresh underneath. This image acknowledges the hard and dirty work that Persephone – and each one of us – undertakes to climb.

ooi31Knowing.JPG

Tonight is the dark moon time when you are invited to sit with your own dark and decide what to release. Know that this is the soil in which the seed will root in, reaching down and grounding itself before rising up. At the time of the Equinox we in the Northern Hemisphere will then begin to rise.

This moonth’s reading is meant to help you in your personal climb out of the Underworld by letting go of what you do not need to carry, centering yourself at the threshold of change, and giving you a vision of what can emerge when you adjust to see in spring light.

LEAVE BEHIND: What would be beneficial to leave behind in winter’s dark mystery?

BALANCE: How to find my right balance at the threshold?

EMERGE INTO: What can emerge for me as I step into the spring’s new light?

You can order this as an e-reading for $22. Here is a sample of how I do these readings in a collaborative intuitive format. I have a slot or two to do these middle of the week of March 21st and probably a few slots on the weekend.  

If you now want to know more about Persephone, you should check out Joanna Powell Colbert’s 30 Days of Persephone. I am really looking forward to this.