Monthly Archives: March 2018

The Countdown is on!

I can hardly believe it is almost Spring Mysteries (Happy Equinox, by the way). This coming weekend is the last rehearsal before we are on site for the Festival. Which means I have less than a week to finish my costumes, and my husband’s costumes, and a few other details.

persephone returns by madam monte cristo

persephone returns by madam monte cristo

I’m feeling the pressure! I’m tired (it’s been a really long run this year). I’m feeling cranky, because stress. I’m making good bad choices – I REALLY want junk food, because I tend to eat my stress – but instead of getting Cool Ranch Doritos, Dr. Pepper, and peanut M&Ms, which are all full of foods I am nit supposed to eat, I am getting salt & vinegar chips (the ones WITHOUT milk – and as an aside, who needs milk products in salt & vinegar chips???), and kombucha.

I wonder if Persephone feels like this every time she goes between Underworld and Earth?

You won’t hear from me now until the week after Spring Mysteries Festival. I’ll be up to my eyeballs in preparation, and then recovery. See you on the other side!



Pomegranates and Poppies

One of Persephone’s main symbols is the pomegranate. Homer tells us that Persephone ate 6 pomegranate seeds in the Underworld, and that is why she must spend six months with her husband and six months with her mother. We have winter when Persephone is with her husband because Demeter mourns. When the daughter returns to the mother, she is happy and the world blooms and grows once again.

Besides the pomegranate, though, I wondered what some of her other symbols might be. I mean, she has a lot of epithets – among the most well known are Kore (maiden), Cthonia (of the earth, especially deities who lived in the Underworld), Daeira (knowing one), Praxidike (exacter of justice), Iron Queen (for a longer list of Greek epithets, click here) – and I wanted to know what other symbols are sacred to her.

poppies in wheat fieldFlowers are an obvious one. Persephone is the Maiden of Flowers. She was abducted while picking flowers in a meadow. The narcissus is the flower that captured her attention and allowed her to be taken. Early on in my journey with her, she told me to walk on lavender flowers –

Lavender oil is known for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It also has antispasmodic, analgesic, detoxifying, hypotensive and sedative effects. 

Meditating with Persephone, and the poppy came to mind. I remember from when I was working with Demeter that the poppy was often associated with Demeter, because you often find poppies in wheat fields. I found some references online to a myth that the poppy was created to help Demeter sleep when she was in her deepest mourning searching for her daughter, though I couldn’t find an actual myth reference to that. I did find this very brief reference on Theoi:

MEKON (Mecon) A man loved by the goddess Demeter who was metamorphosed into a poppy flower.

And this interesting tidbit:

Virgil, Georgics 1. 208 ff (trans. Fairclough) (Roman bucolic C1st B.C.):
“When the Balance [Libra] makes the hours of daytime and sleep equal [in autumn], and now parts the world in twain . . . then is the time to hide in the ground your crop of flax and the poppy of Ceres [Demeter].” [N.B. Poppies and flax were apparently planted to revitalise the soil in the crop rotations.] 

So, the poppies were sown in the autumn… when Persephone left for the Underworld… They revitalized the soil for the next growing season. They literally transformed the Earth so that it would be fertile in the spring.

Another fascinating connection between poppies and wheat is as a cure for ergot poisoning.

Poppy leaves when bruised and mixed with vinegar, barley meal, and hog’s grease, will cool all inflammations and the disease called St. Anthony’s fire [ergot poisoning]

Ergot is a fungus that grows on grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Some scholars suggest that psychotropic substances, like ergot or amanita, were a part of the rites at Eleusis. If this theory is correct, then the poppy mixture would have been a key medicine to have on hand in case of adverse reaction.

The more I search, the more I feel that poppies in the wheat fields are a visual and herbal representation of the Holy Daughter and the Great Mother, Persephone and Demeter.

What if the poppy was a gift from Persephone to Demeter so she could rest and revitalize through the winter, and also be reminded of her daughter with the bright red flower? As well as make the fields ready for the spring planting of the wheat? And to heal from the poison of her anger and depression?



Food Issues

Once upon a time, I said to myself (and the Gods apparently) that I was not going to have food issues. I was going to eat whatever I wanted.

And the Gods laughed at me.

no wheat no dairy no eggs no sugarI discovered I had a sensitivity to dairy after my second child was born. It had been suggested to me several years before, on more than one occasion, but I was NOT willing to give up milk. Or cheese. Or yogurt. Or ice cream. Especially not ice cream.

However, after developing eczema, and having stomach cramps after every meal, I finally decided it might be worth a giving up dairy. Lo and behold, the stomach cramps stopped, and the eczema cleared up! I was cured! (As long as I stay away from dairy…)

Until the eczema started coming back. Not as bad, but still. I didn’t want MORE food issues. So I just dealt with it.

Fast forward several years. I’ve had a number of health issues come up, one of them being fatigue, which I’m sure I’ve shared about before.

The latest effort to alleviate fatigue is searching for food sensitivities that might be blocking the absorption of nutrients and supplements that would otherwise help me feel great. I went for the blood test. It may be more expensive, but it’s faster and easier than a total elimination diet. It tests various food groups, and searches for the inflammation markers in the blood. There’s also a psychological difference with having on paper the foods that bother me, as opposed to guess work on my own. When it comes from outside, I generally have an easier time following the “rules”.

Dairy came back with a very high inflammation response, which was no surprise at all. Wheat and similar grains, including amaranth and quinoa, also came back with a fairly high marker, which I suspected after my Whole30 testing. The surprises were almonds (almond milk has been my go-to replacement for dairy!), blueberries, cranberries, eggs, string beans and tomatoes. Other nightshades were okay, as were potatoes and rice, and most vegetables and fruits (thank goodness!).

Starting now, I’m eliminating the foods that show the inflammation markers. I’m looking forward to more energy and less pain, and if that means dealing with these food issues, that’s what I’m willing to do.

Have you had food issues? Did you resist, or deal with them graciously?