The last three months I have been pretty preoccupied. I had a dream come true, and it took most of my time outside work.
A little more than seven years ago, I was trying to connect with the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. A friend at the time was also working on that, and she was a little more persistent than I was. She talked to the head of the church, Pete Pathfinder Davis, who invited us to a festival happening over the Easter weekend.
I had an infant at that time (he was four months old at the time of the festival). She and I managed in the space of a couple of weeks to register and get ourselves to Washington state for the Spring Mysteries Festival.
Spring Mysteries Festival is a “recreation” of the Eleusinian Mysteries*. I say “recreation” because the participants were sworn to secrecy. So there is not a script or plan to follow. There are, of course, myths and ritual dramas, and some mosaics or other pieces of art that depict events.
As a Mystery tradition, the teachings have to be experienced rather than read about. The modern day Mysteries are based on the same principle. I can’t really tell you about it because my experience and the lessons that I received from the experience may be different from yours. I can tell you that the Mysteries revolve around the mythology of Demeter and Persephone’s abduction by Hades.
Me as Athena descending to talk to the mortals. And yes, I made the shield.
On the way home from that first festival experience, I told my friend that I wanted to be on the cast. I’ve been to Spring Mysteries every year since. For the first several years, I had no idea how one auditioned. In fact, I could barely remember people’s names from one year to the next. When I finally found out about the audition process, the next challenge was that the auditions and rehearsals are all held in Seattle – quite a commute from Vancouver Island. I never seemed to be able to make the trip at the time needed.
Last year at SMF we installed a new head of the church, and one of the changes that she made was that she wanted to make being on the cast to be accessible to people all over, not just those around Seattle. There was more than one opportunity to audition this year. And so I was able to be a part of the cast.
What an incredible experience it was! From getting to know other members of the cast (in brief 4-6 hour stints), to learning more about the goddess Athena and realizing that I have quite a lot in common with her, to being her Priestess for the 250+ attendees at the festival.
It was a huge commitment for me. I traveled about 450 km each way (about 6-8 hours) for a 4 hour rehearsal once every two weeks for three months. And all of it was on my own dime and my own time. I spent my own money for my costumes and items for Athena’s shrine (thankfully, there was quite a bit of stuff that was passed down from previous priestesses). And I wouldn’t have traded it or given it up for anything.
Athena in her temple
It’s taken me so long to write because I’ve been completely exhausted, and I’ve also been grieving. There’s no rehearsal this week. Or next. We came together as a family to make this amazing event happen for our community, and now the work is done. Everyone has had to go back to their normal lives. And yet we all share the memory of what we created. And I know I have grown from my experience, as a Priestess and as a person.
And there is always next year to look forward to! 🙂
*Eleusis was Demeter’s sacred city. The Mysteries were her teachings.