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!

Blessings,

Mary

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.   https://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/lavender-oil.aspx 

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.    http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/DemeterFamily.html

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.]    http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/DemeterTreasures.html#Plants 

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]  https://nutritionalgeography.faculty.ucdavis.edu/poppy/

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?

Blessings,

Mary

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?

Blessings,

Mary

Happy Birthday!

Tomorrow is my birthday! I’m taking the day off work, sleeping in, going for lunch with a friend, getting a massage, going for coffee with my husband, and then going for coffee with more friends!

Red Hat FairyI am extremely blessed in so many ways. While there are some things I might want, I have almost everything I need.

So I’m borrowing a hobbit tradition, and giving away a guided meditation for my birthday!

Now, before you get too excited, there is a caveat. You have to be subscribed to my e-newsletter. (If you’re not a subscriber, you can join using the form below. And yes, I will be checking before I send you your gift!)

Leave me a comment on this post before March 7th, and I will send you a download link for Playing With Fairies Guided Meditation (one of my most fun and playful meditations).

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Thanks for playing with me!

Blessings,
Mary

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