Persephone Speaks

I was meditating with Persephone this morning, and my mind wandered. I kept thinking about the things I had to do for work, or how I was going to do a sewing project, or… any tedious thing.

So I apologized to Persephone, for not being able to stay focused.

The Blood of a Pomegranate by Stephen Mackey

The Blood of a Pomegranate by Stephen Mackey

“It’s all right,” she told me. “I understand. You have a lot of burdens and responsibilities. So many of them. I know you dream of getting away. It would be nice to crawl underground and rest. However, I have even more responsibilities in the Underworld. Here I am Queen. Even when I do go back, while it seems like a break to be the Maiden of Spring, my responsibilities are still here in my kingdom. They don’t go away.

“There was a time where I wanted more – more responsibility, more respect, more adventure, a greater feeling of contribution. Be careful what you wish for! Though I would not trade my story for anything.

“Remember that my power came through adversity. Your strength and your power also comes through your challenges and adversity. Use it. Hone it. Own it. Transform it. Allow it to transform you. You have no idea how strong you really are, how much you can accomplish. Keep pushing.”

This message was meant for me. Hopefully you find it meaningful too.

Blessings,

Mary

Happy Family Day!

Yesterday (as this posts) was Family Day here in BC. A blessed, long awaited, statutory holiday – a day off.

Family Day BCWhen it lies in the future, a day off seems so full of promise. There are so many things one might be able to accomplish on a day off – rest and relaxation, chores, projects…

And then when the day arrives, it seems to rush by in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, darkness falls and the day has passed, and barely any of those wished for, hoped for, things have been done.

My day consisted of sleeping in (a rare treat in the weeks leading up to Spring Mysteries); a trip to the chiropractor followed by yoga, brunch, and a walk in the sunshine with my family. I did some laundry, and sat with my youngest watching a series on Netflix that we have watched on and off.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner that almost all of us contributed to making, before I taught a class.

I have a whole weekend off coming up, which I intend to fill with all the sewing I need to do before the Festival. Had I not had the promise of that weekend, I would have felt the need to pack every moment of this day with productivity, instead of the even more important rest and relaxation.

I NEEDED the extra rest. I NEEDED the opportunity to connect with my boys. I needed the exercise, and the chance to linger at yoga without rushing off to work. I needed the gentle walk in the sunshine and the fresh air. I needed to forget all of my responsibilities for even a moment. And yes, I needed clean clothes!

I am so grateful for the down time today. And I will be better able to make use of my weekend having taken the time to rest.

Blessings,

Mary

Everything is Energy

Everything is energy. Even you and me. Anyone who’s seen “What the Bleep Do We Know” knows that. (And if you haven’t seen it, it’s a very interesting film.)

Everything is energyExcept, my energy has been pretty low lately. I’ve been varying from tired to exhausted.

Now, it’s true, I am a very busy woman. I have a lot of commitments on my schedule. I’m not going to go into them here, because I’m not complaining. And yes, I have only a little bit of down time.

I know how to manage my energy, though. While my schedule is very full, I am actively working at self care. I’m going to yoga at least once, and often twice a week. I’m writing in my journal almost every night. I am taking vitamins, and stretching daily. I’m drinking lots of water and eating healthy foods. OK, mostly healthy foods. We have a new mattress and bedding that helps me sleep better. I have an air purifier in my bedroom.

I’ve been working with my naturopath to adjust my thyroid medication and supplements to balance my energy. And we’re not seeing lasting results with any of the adjustments. I had a setback just last week. I thought I was improving, and then the next morning it took all of my willpower to get out of bed. It was extremely frustrating.

One thing that I have also started doing, thanks to my friend Lori’s recommendation, is the Donna Eden Daily Energy Routine. It’s a simple, weird series of exercises, that really make me feel better. Because in spite of being exhausted, I haven’t had a real cold or flu (knock on wood).

Here’s the energy routine:

I’ve even been teaching all my friends, because it makes such a difference! Now, I just need to remember to do it more often throughout the day…

Blessings,

Mary

Book Review: Persephone

One of the things I do when I am preparing for Spring Mysteries is read as much as I can. I read scholarly research, websites, devotional anthologies, and fiction. Yes, I enjoy reading modern fiction about the Gods.

Persephone by Kaitlin BevisI don’t often expect a lot out of the fiction, especially because much of it is Young Adult. (I’m not knocking Young Adult Fiction – there’s some pretty amazing stuff out there in the YA genre. There’s also some pretty amazing drivel.) For example, a few years ago, I read a YA novel about the Furies being modern day teenage girls. It was a nice distraction, but I didn’t give much weight to it’s interpretation of the Furies.

So I wasn’t expecting a lot when I came across a book in the library’s e-book section called Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis. Especially because the description read:

The “talk” was bad enough, but how many teens get told that they’re a goddess? When her mom tells her, Persephone is sure her mother has lost her mind. It isn’t until Boreas, the god of winter, tries to abduct her that she realizes her mother was telling the truth. Hades rescues her, and in order to safely bring Persephone to the Underworld he marks her as his bride. But Boreas will stop at nothing to get Persephone. Despite her growing feelings for Hades, Persephone wants to return to the living realm. Persephone must find a way to defeat Boreas and reclaim her life.

Boreas? Trying to abduct Persephone? And THAT’S why she ends up in the Underworld? I really wasn’t expecting much. Boy, was I surprised! Well, once I got past the Boreas bit.

I truly enjoyed Ms. Bevis’s dialogue, especially between Hades and the crew in the Underworld. She writes a human-ness into the Gods, even while setting them apart from the rest of the humans. She creates a very logical world, with interesting rules such as, the Gods cannot lie; the Gods require worship to survive; worship is a broad term that includes people believing in them, as well as arguing about them, for example, whether or not Helios and Apollo are the same.

Kaitlin Bevis has definitely done her mythology homework, even if she does bend a bit here or there (even Rick Riordan does that). And for the record, Boreas did kidnap Oreitheiya in classical Greek mythology. I’m not convinced that is how winter began, but the rest of the story is engaging enough that I can suspend my disbelief.

In fact, I so thoroughly enjoyed the first book, that I went out and purchased the Kindle version of all of the books in her Daughters of Zeus series. There are three Persephone books (Persephone, Daughter of Earth and Sky, and The Iron Queen), and three Aphrodite books (Aphrodite, Love and War, and Venus Rising). It’s been just over a week, and I only have the last one left to read.

If you like mythological fiction, I highly recommend Kaitlin Bevis’s books.

Blessings,

Mary

PS. Full disclosure: if you buy any of the books I recommend, I receive NO commission. Enjoy!

 

Breakdown, No Breakdown

I don’t know if you noticed. I didn’t blog last week. That’s because instead of making it home after rehearsal for Spring Mysteries, we were stuck in Washington.

As we were on our way to rehearsal, the battery light came on. There didn’t seem to be any other effects, and it didn’t come back on after we made a stop, so we hoped it was just a fluke.

It wasn’t. The battery light came back on as we were on the way home. When we were about 40 miles from the border, the engine began revving high, and then other indicators started lighting up the dashboard. We pulled off at the next exit, which thankfully wasn’t far, and also had a gas station. Also, thankfully, we switched our cell plans a while ago so that we don’t have extra charges when in the US.

The first phone call I made was home to my eldest, who thankfully was home, and has his drivers license. I asked him to drive his brothers to school the next morning. My husband went into the gas station and got the phone number for a local auto shop. Next I called friends in Washington, Bella and Dusty. They agreed to come pick us up so we could stay with them for the night, and help us get back the next morning.

Then I sent a text message to the manager at work, letting him know I wouldn’t be in on Monday. He was awesome about it, asking if there was anything he could do to help. (There wasn’t, and it was nice to be asked.)

While we were waiting, I was patient and read. There was no panic. No freak out.

I had one moment of stress a couple of hours later. Our friends had over an hour drive to get us, and we had not eaten. We stopped for food, and it wasn’t quite what I had been looking forward to having (before the van stopped working). I was hungry, and the reality that I wasn’t going to see my boys or sleep in my own bed hit me pretty hard. With a couple of hugs, and a dose of Rescue Remedy, the moment passed quickly.

The next day, our friend Dusty took amazing care of us. He drove us to our van, and followed us to the auto shop to make sure we made it safely. Then he took us to lunch and to hang out with another friend while we waited for the repairs to be completed. The shop was able to replace the alternator (which was the problem) within a few hours. And the repairs didn’t cost more than we were able to cover.

For something that wasn’t a fun situation, it really had the best outcome possible. I am so grateful that it all went so smoothly and easily. And even more, I’m grateful that I was able to handle it without breaking down or getting upset with anyone.

The Universe threw me one more curve – Friday morning, the van had the exact same symptoms, as I was driving my boys to school. I got them safely to school, and the van to the shop. By sheer dumb luck, the part that was replaced was faulty. Our local shop was able to repair our van, again, and in time for us to make the trip to rehearsal. They are checking on the warranty on the part for us. Once again – so full of gratitude!

Blessings,

Mary

 

The Journey Begins Once More

This weekend was the first read through for Spring Mysteries. I’m in for a busy spring!

SMF Poster 2018We only finished revising the script Thursday evening. We had tried to complete it the week before, and the internet went out at the Tab…for the better part of a week. However, we got it done at the 11th hour!

I took Friday off work, since the boys were still out of school, and we did some shopping in Vancouver and Washington. It was a VERY long day – getting up for one of the first ferries, to make sure we had enough time to do all the errands we had planned.

The nice part of that was we got to spend Saturday with our spiritual family, and connecting with the people who have held our roles in previous years. However, that meant that Saturday was another LONG day of rituals!

Sunday was the read through. We actually got to read through the entire script! There are still a few tweaks to be made, and it was wonderful to hear the interactions between cast members. I’m really looking forward to what this year, especially the next few months, has to bring.

It was still a rush to make the not-last ferry to get home. We made it right about midnight. I’m tired. And I’m looking forward to next weekend already!

Are you registered for Spring Mysteries Festival? It is well worth the pilgrimage…

Blessings,

Mary

What is your daily practice?

The turning of the wheel (in other words, the new year) has most people thinking about New Year’s resolutions.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that I’m not really one for making resolutions. I’ve begun thinking about the goals I have for the coming year, evaluating what worked and what didn’t this past year. The biggest thing I’m thinking about tweaking right now is my daily practice, as well as my weekly practice.

My current daily practice is mostly meditation. Each morning, I meditate for about 20-40 minutes. (OK, OK. Most mornings. I like to sleep in on weekends, and that usually messes with my routine.) Then I stretch for 12-20 minutes. Then it’s time to get up for work.

Last month, I started going to yoga during my lunch break a couple of times a week. I definitely plan to continue that. I’ve missed it over the past couple of weeks.

I’ve also missed writing in my journal. And I’ve have not been great at keeping up with my Passion Planner. So I’m adding a daily and weekly review/planning to my daily practice. I know how important it is to track my progress.

Why is a daily practice so important? If you want to grow or improve in any area, you have to work at it. Regularly. I didn’t get to where I am, in my life, in my spirituality, in my relationships, in my personal growth, without working at it. More than just now and then. Consistently.

Just like if your goal is to improve your fitness, you eat right and exercise consistently. Eating well once a week, or exercising once a month will not create the change you desire. Meditating once in a while, or working towards a goal occasionally isn’t going to get you there.

So what’s your daily practice?

Blessings,

Mary

 

Lazy Holidays

Hooray! It’s holiday time!

I’ve spent the last two days sleeping and reading. And playing games on my phone. And watching movies. It has been blissful!

I have a whole week off work. And it’s only a week. I know full well how quickly time flies by. In the wee hours of the morning, I made my to-do list, because I have a lot I would like to accomplish in this week. Well, less than a week now, because I spent two days being lazy.

That’s not true. I spent two days being. No agenda. No pressure. Just relaxing, and hanging out with my family. And I so needed that.

We celebrated on the Solstice. Actually, a bit before the Solstice. So by the time Christmas rolled around, we could just enjoy the time together. No pressure of big meals, or presents to wrap and unwrap. It was nice to sit by the fire, reading the books we received, sipping hot apple cider.

I hope your holidays are restful and re-energizing. Blissful and peaceful. Loving and joyful. Everything you need.

Blessings,

Mary

Coming of Age

The last few weeks I’ve focused on Hades’ abduction of Persephone, and whether or not it was rape, or rather, sexual assault.

While that’s a big part of the story, it’s not really the main theme. The Homeric Hymn to Demeter is really about Persephone coming of age, and separating from her mother; becoming an adult, if you will.

Demeter and Persephone by Sandra M Stanton

Demeter and Persephone by Sandra M Stanton

At the beginning of the Hymn, Persephone is out picking flowers with “the full-bosomed daughters of Okeanos”. Among the many flowers she plucks, she sees the narcissus, “wondrous and radiant, and a marvel to be seen by immortal gods and mortal men”.  This plant, a lure set by Gaia (supposedly at the will of Zeus, though that is open to some debate), represents Persephone’s desire for change.

She is the Kore, the eternal Maiden, forever the Mother’s daughter. She is her mother’s whole world, and Demeter is definitely not ready for her to stop being a little girl. And this is really why Hades goes to Zeus to ask permission – because Demeter would never give it.

Yet what young woman would want to stay a girl forever? At some point, every adolescent wants to become an adult, to become a person independent of their parent(s). Persephone picks the narcissus, the flower that represents self-love, to signify that she is ready for the next stage.

Is she really, though? What adolescent is truly ready to be an adult? Which of us has clarity about what will happen when we strike out on our own? Which of us, when faced with the harsh reality of our choices doesn’t long for the simpler days of our childhood? (OK, not everyone’s childhood was simple. And often, even challenging childhoods were simpler than those first forays into adulthood when we think we know more than we do.)

Faced with the sudden change from the bright, nurturing world of her mother, to the dark, lonely world of her husband, Persephone missed the former. The change she asked for was not what she expected. However, that doesn’t mean she truly wants to go back to her old life. She wants the reassurance that she can go back, that her mother still loves her. And she wants confirmation that she made the right choice.

Before Persephone returns to her mother, Hades “gave her to eat a honey-sweet pomegranate seed, contriving secretly about her, so that she might not spend all her days again with dark-robed, revered Demeter”. Again, a choice. She could go back to her mother and stay there, returning to the earth and the life she knew, never having to return to her abductor. She has a perfect out – Zeus ordered it.

That’s not what she wants, though. A mind once expanded can never go back to the size it was before. She has had a taste of freedom, of independence, at least as much as a woman in ancient Greece might be afforded. Hades promises, “When you are here you shall be mistress of everything which lives and moves; your honors among the immortals shall be the greatest.”

She tells her mother, “Aidoneus (Hades) slyly placed in my hands a pomegranate seed, sweet as honey to eat. Against my will and by force he made me taste of it.” She’s afraid of her mother’s wrath; she is still a young woman seeking her mother’s approval. So she bends her story to the tale she thinks her mother wants to hear, and is most likely to tolerate. Her story is accepted, and she avoids conflict with Demeter, while asserting her will over her future.

The Hymn to Demeter is as much a story of Persephone’s coming of age as it is about a mother’s grief at her daughter growing up. It shows Persephone gaining agency over her life. She may not yet be ready to entirely face the consequences of her choices, and that is part of her learning process. She is testing out that agency, and finding out what others around her are willing to accept.

Blessings,

Mary

 

The Rape of Persephone, Part 3

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve established that the “Rape of Persephone” refers to abduction rather than sexual assault. However, Persephone’s myth often speaks to those who have experienced sexual assault. So it makes sense that some see it as assault.

Rape by modern definition or ancient definition aside, Hades still abducted her and held her in the Underworld. How long was she there before Zeus sent Hermes to retrieve her?

It must have been quite some time, at least by human standards. Zeus only made his decision because he was no longer receiving offerings at his altars and temples because so many of the humans had died due to the blight Demeter had caused. It would probably take a few years for enough people to starve to death that no one was honoring the Gods. Or the equivalent of years, because supposedly there were not seasons before this myth.

And what are years to an immortal being? How long does it take for an immortal to grow from an infant to an adolescent to an adult? We don’t hear much about the childhood of the different Gods. Zeus was raised in secret, with no indication of how long it took. Athena sprang fully formed from Zeus’s forehead; Artemis helped deliver her twin brother after she was born; Hermes stole Apollo’s cattle when he was just an infant.

What may take years for mortals, may seem like mere minutes to a God or Goddess. We really don’t know. Would it have been enough time for Persephone to develop an attachment to her captor? Would it even have been enough time to realize that she was a captive? Probably, actually.

Demeter goes through quite a lot in between Persephone’s disappearance and her return. She grieves. She blights the earth. She wanders for nine days before learning what happened to her daughter. Once told, Homer merely says she wandered “a long time” before settling in Eleusis, where she became nursemaid to Queen Metaneira’s son Demophoon.

Persephone therefore spend at least a few weeks in Erebos, if not closer to a couple of years. There definitely would have been time to realize that she was not free to leave, whether because of Hades himself or the rules of the Underworld. Or perhaps simply because she didn’t have a guide to get out. (“One does not simply walk out of Erebos…”)

Homer doesn’t tell us what happens, other than through what Persephone tells Demeter upon her return, which still isn’t much. She tells of Hermes arrival, and Hades giving her the pomegranate seed, and then of her abduction. No romance, and no tales of torture. No horror stories of how badly she was treated, and no protesting of how wonderful or kind or misunderstood her captor might be.

Generally speaking, Stockholm syndrome consists of “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.”

Mackenzie, Ian K. “The Stockholm Syndrome Revisited: Hostages, Relationships, Prediction, Control, and Psychological Science”. Journal For Police Crisis Negotiations. 4: 5–21 – via Wikipedia.

There is no textual evidence that Hades harassed, beat, threatened, or abused Persephone. Intimidated? Maybe. I’d be pretty intimidated if the Dark Lord abducted me! If he were an abusive partner, though, I doubt he would encourage her to go back to her mother, and promise her great honor by ruling at his side.

To me, Hades seems like a very lonely God, who only wanted someone with whom to share his rule. His actions were misguided by our modern standards, but not out of line for the laws of the time.

Next week I’ll talk more about Persephone’s coming of age, and how that plays into the myth.

Blessings,

Mary