From Sadness to Joy

It’s been pretty quiet here at Walks Within lately. Well, here at the blog anyway.

As you know, I will be carrying Demeter for the upcoming Spring Mysteries Festival that is happening this weekend. I’ve been on a pretty epic journey, traveling from my home on Vancouver Island to rural Washington state and Seattle each weekend, and straight back home to work for Monday morning. I’ve had to drop almost all of my other commitments just so I could make sure I stay healthy and don’t burn out.

Demeter Rejoices at Persephone's ReturnAnd here we are – the week of the festival. The 30th anniversary festival. No pressure.

We had our final rehearsal yesterday. As I was observing myself, it occurred to me that I find it much easier to express the extremes of “painful” emotions that Demeter goes through – sadness, anger, grief – than it is to express extreme joy. I can express happiness just fine. I felt glowing at one point in rehearsal yesterday.

However, expressing real joy and elation takes more work. It feels forced somehow, more like work. It doesn’t come easily.

And it is not like I have never felt joy. I’ve experienced a lot of wonderful moments in my life, and laughed a lot.

I wonder if perhaps my challenge is that we were not very expressive with emotions when I was a child. I’ve been working at becoming more comfortable with crying in front of other people. I haven’t consciously worked at expressing more joy, though.

That’s what I will endeavor to work on for a while – expressing more joy, sharing my happiness with other people and being comfortable being really happy.

To more joy!

Blessings,

Mary

Demeter and the Bees – Journey to Eleusis

It’s probably going to be pretty quiet around here for the next month. Every weekend between now and Easter I will be traveling the long journey from northern Vancouver Island to Seattle and back in preparation for the 30th Annual Spring Mysteries Festival.

The Journey to Eleusis is definitely taking its toll. That’s only to be expected, though. Even back in ancient Greece, individuals would have to save up for many months, or more likely many years to attend the Mysteries once in their lifetime. How blessed am I that this is my 10th journey?

I’ve given up some commitments along the way – two of my monthly coffee meetings have fallen by the wayside, and my work towards my Bachelor of Wiccan Ministry is currently on hold. Those are small sacrifices for the honor of serving the Great Mother.

I’ve been asking Her lately how I can best serve Her, beyond learning my lines and making my own offerings to Her. The two messages I keep receiving are:

  1. Save the beesDemeter is more than Persephone’s mom. (There’s an upcoming post on Panegyria about this.)
  2. SAVE THE BEES!

Why are bees so important to Demeter?

As the Goddess of the Grain, the Goddess of the Harvest and the Goddess of Abundance, bees are vital to Her domain. Bees help to pollinate the plants and crops. Without the bees, there would be no harvest.

Priestesses of Demeter were called Melissai, or bees. Interestingly, the standards for beekeeping (at least in the UK) are called the Demeter Standards.

There’s a whole article that you can read about Demeter’s connection to bees in ancient times.

Bayer and other large companies are producing pesticides that are endangering the health of bee populations. There are tons of options out there for you to support the bees. Here are a few:

Please save the bees. The Earth needs them. WE need them.

Blessings,

Mary

My Kingdom for a WORKING Time-Turner

Last year a friend of mine gave me a Time-Turner for my birthday. Unfortunately, it was a toy, and not an actual working Time-Turner.

time_turner_by_chriscoven-d5dum9y

I mark the hours every one, nor have I yet outrun the Sun. My use & value unto you, are gauged by what you have to do.

For anyone who doesn’t know what a Time-Turner is, (I’m sorry you’re so sheltered!) it is a device in the Harry Potter series that allowed Hermione to attend extra classes, do all of her homework AND get some sleep by turning time backwards and allowing her to re-live the same hour twice. Oh, and she used it to save the day in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”.

As much as I might have needed a *working* Time-Turner last year, I’m wishing for one even more this year.

I’ve been stepping down from many of my commitments in the past month. This is a big deal for me. I generally want to do ALL THE THINGS. I hate having to say no. I want to experience and accomplish so much, letting any opportunity pass me by is difficult.

Big goals require big energy and big focus. I can’t say I’ve had big energy or focus lately. I’ve been feeling like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland lately – “I’m late!” I’m barely keeping up with my workload. And look ahead? Ha!

I was home sick for two days last week. That’s unheard of for me. Usually I’m back up and running after one day, if I even get sick at all. Even my body was telling me to slow down.

After breaking down in tears last night – again – over something that wouldn’t normally upset me that much, I had to take a closer look at myself. I could take the easy excuse and say that Demeter’s energy was affecting me. That may be part of it, and it’s not the whole picture.

The bigger picture is that I am upset with myself. I haven’t been giving ANYTHING the time and attention I would prefer. So I looked at what is really important to me and scaled back again.

I’m always amazed at how good it feels to decommit from something. I put pressure on myself to keep all these balls in the air – no one is looking down on me wondering why I’m not doing more.

Please don’t be surprised if I miss a blog post here or there over the next couple of months. I’m working on maintaining my sanity and relieving some of the pressure I have put on myself.

How about you? How are you handling your commitments? Are you putting too much pressure on yourself?

Blessings,

Mary

 

Journey to Eleusis – Epic Emotions, Travel and Tiredness

The Journey to Eleusis is long and tiring. This week is a very short video blog I made on my way home from rehearsal. So. Tired.

 

I’m just going to close my eyes for a minute…..

exhausted

 

Can I hibernate now?

Blessings,

Mary

Depression, Demeter, and Gilmore Girls

Demeter Mourning for Persephone Evelyn Pickering De Morgan (1906)

Demeter Mourning for Persephone
Evelyn Pickering De Morgan (1906)

She snuck up on me.

She’s been quiet, dormant, mostly unresponsive. Then suddenly, I was hit by a wave of it. Depression. The Great Mother (Demeter) is depressed.

It reminded me of the time after the birth of my second child. It was a challenging labour – five hours of pretty much continuous contractions. I didn’t hold my baby right away. But I thought everything was good. He was healthy and thriving, and I was healthy. Things were good.

Then the Public Health Nurse that I saw every week at the moms group I went to asked me if maybe I had postpartum depression. I said no. Everything was fine. She kept asking though, and one day I actually looked inward, and wham! I was depressed!

Last weekend I went down to the first rehearsal for Spring Mysteries Festival. We spent the evening before at the Tab (the Mother Church). Bella, the ArchPriestess, kept asking me if I was ok. My immediate response was yes, everything is good. Because, well, things are going fairly well for me right now. Sure, I was heading into mediation for work and we could be doing better financially, and I feel confident that a solution is coming for that.

So when she asked me again the next morning, I was confused. I looked inward, and couldn’t find anything that was really troubling me, and yet suddenly I was holding back tears. She asked if I was going to cry, and I said, “Well, I am now!”

She grilled me for a bit, like a good friend does when they think you’re holding something back. The only thing we could find was Her. The Great Mother is sad and depressed. She misses her daughter. And because of my connection with Her, I have been depressed.

Looking back, I can see it now – wanting to just watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix (what a great mother-daughter relationship, except for when Rory went to live with her grandparents, that was like the trip to the Underworld a bit), not feeling motivated to do anything, keeping myself busy with whatever is right in front of me, wanting to hibernate. Classic signs of depression for me.

Thankfully, my experiences with depression have all been fairly mild. And simply being aware that by aligning myself with Demeter, I am going through what she is going through makes it easier to separate my own emotions from Hers. I can give myself the space to take it slow. And keep watching Gilmore Girls. 😉

Blessings,

Mary

Journey to Eleusis: The Journey Begins…Again

Yesterday was the first read through for the Spring Mysteries Festival. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the festival as a whole, and the 10th anniversary of my attendance.

Demeter by dhauber on deviantart

10 years. I can hardly believe it has been that long. I am so excited that I not only have *a* role in this anniversary festival, I have *the* role – the Eleusinian Mysteries are Demeter’s Mysteries, and I am honored to be able to carry Her energy for this event.

I’m also nervous. Demeter is a powerful Goddess. The ancient Greeks believed that if the Mysteries were not celebrated, their civilization would end. To hold this archetype that has been celebrated for so many years – and I’m not talking about the meager 30 years that this festival has been happening in Washington – is a daunting undertaking.

Yet I also feel a very strong connection with The Great Mother. Even back in pre-school (so my parents tell me) I would take new students under my wing, show them around and make sure they were taken care of. In theatre, both in high school and university, I was almost always cast in a mother role, or a care taking role. I’ve known deep in my being for as long as I can remember that I would one day be a mother.

Demeter’s name literally means “the mother”. She is Mother Earth in its aspect of provider, the Goddess of the Grain. And her greatest joy is her daughter, Kore (literally “maiden”). Though she is technically an Olympian, she spends most of her time on the Earth, amongst the mortals. She sees them as her children, and delights in providing for their physical needs. For the blessings she bestowed, she was revered.

Demeter was the only Olympian to truly feel loss, and because of her understanding of grief she was considered approachable, accessible. The Great Mother nourishes, and provides comfort in grief because she understands. She knows what it is to lose that which you love. Her grief and her anger were as great as her love and compassion.

While this journey feels familiar, I know that it will also be challenging. Even in the read-through, Her energy was so strong, almost overwhelming, that others were nervous when She got mad. The journey to Eleusis is one of growth, of learning about the self. I invite you to walk with me as I learn the lessons the Mother has to teach me.

Blessings,

Mary

Reflections of Aphrodite

Spring Mysteries Festival is now over for another year. Life returns to its slightly less frantic pace. I’m home, mostly rested, and falling back into my regular routine.

There’s a bit of post-festival let-down, for sure. Being in that magical space, with amazing people – most of whom I only get to see once or twice a year – and helping to facilitate transformation is exhilarating and incredibly rewarding. It’s my other real world.

Peter Paul Rubens Venus (Aphrodite) at a mirror ca 615Looking back on the past few months, I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to work so closely with Aphrodite. She has challenged me on so many levels. And so I have grown in a lot of ways.

Our modern society portrays Aphrodite as a bubble-headed bombshell who only cares about sex. I had the chance to discover that she is so much more than that.

The Goddess of Love and Beauty and Pleasure sees the bigger picture. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Growth requires change. It requires stepping outside your comfort zone. And yes, sometimes that means you may get hurt. But it’s better than dying.

The message that Aphrodite shared most often this weekend (and therefore, the message that was also meant for me) is that you have to love yourself before you can truly love others and receive love from others. Look in the mirror and say, “Hello, beautiful, Goddess (or handsome God). I love you!” Do it even if you don’t believe it – ESPECIALLY if you don’t believe it – repeat it daily until you do. Have fun, enjoy the pleasures of this physical form: the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and touch. And yes, even the pain has something to teach you.

I received many compliments last weekend that have helped reinforce the work I have done. I thought perhaps I might miss the compliments after the festival, and I don’t really. I feel so much more confident and comfortable in my body as it is than I did at the start of this journey. And I am so very grateful.

Though I will not be working as closely with Aphrodite, I know She will always be there if I need her. I am familiar with her energy, and I can recognize it and call upon it.

For all of you who have been afraid of working with Aphrodite, like I was, I encourage you to continue. She is gentle and compassionate when needed, saucy and irreverent when needed, and pushy as all get out if you don’t listen the first time! The growth is worth the effort, though.

Blessings,

Mary

Gratitudes – Journey to Eleusis

As this is published, I am still at the festival site, but the event is over. Today is the day of letting go, saying goodbye, and traveling home.

A lot of people helped me get to Eleusis this year, and I am so very grateful.

To David, my husband, who kept my tight schedule, driving me to the ferry, picking me up, having meals ready, getting up and driving the children to school when I got in at 3 in the morning, and putting up with me being away for almost every weekend in the last 3 months. I love you, and I appreciate you!

To Barb, who many weeks picked me up from the last ferry of the night and drove me home safely and let me sleep on the way.

To all the people who let me, or me and my son, sleep at your house: Russ and Gina, Joy, Shawna and Eman, Mary and Gabriel.

To Joy and Liz who let me carpool with them.

To Dawne, who has helped take over some of the Circle administration while I’ve been preoccupied.

To Karen and Marybeth, who helped with donations to make my travel easier.

To all of the ritual presenting team for supporting and encouraging me to stretch outside my comfort zone.

To Aphrodite, for helping me see beauty and love, in myself and others.

And to everyone else who has offered encouragement and support along the way.

Thank you roseBlessings,

Mary

 

In the Home Stretch

Yesterday was our last rehearsal for Spring Mysteries Festival. We’re in the final leg of our Journey to Eleusis.

It felt weird coming home yesterday after rehearsal, knowing that in less than 3 days I would be traveling to Fort Flagler, the site of the Festival, where Eleusis has been created every Easter weekend for 29 years.

Spring Mysteries Festival Parade to the SeaAnd events seemed to be conspiring against me actually making it home. Rehearsal ran a bit over time as we did our best to pack as much into the last rehearsal as possible. And then it took a while to say farewells and finalize last minute details before actually leaving.

After dropping my son’s girlfriend off, I somehow managed to miss part of an exit – I know I took the exit for 405 North, and somehow I managed to end up on 522 East. Thankfully my other passenger had GPS on her phone, which I don’t on my US phone and I prefer not to pay hideous roaming charges on my Canadian phone. She was able to navigate us back to I5 north, after a detour some distance to the northeast.

I got her safely home and stopped as briefly as I could for fuel for body and vehicle. We were still an hour behind our normal schedule, and the border wait was over an hour long. I was very grateful that it was only my son and I crossing the border. We both have NEXUS passes, and so I was able to cut through town and get to the NEXUS lane, bypassing the line and getting through the border in about 5 minutes. (NEXUS FTW!)

Still, it didn’t make up for the earlier delays. As we were heading to the airport to return the rental car, I realized that we were not going to make the transit connection to get us out to the last ferry of the night.

I started frantically going through the list of people I know in or around Vancouver who have a vehicle and might be willing to help drive us. My son made the calls, and we found a rescuer. (Have I mentioned that I have AMAZING friends?) We returned the rental car, and I looked for my wallet so I could give my friend some gas money.

It wasn’t in my purse.

Panic began – that’s how I was going to pay for the ferry as well. I emptied my purse, and it wasn’t there. Had it fallen out at the rehearsal hall, or at our friend’s house where we stayed the night?

Thankfully, my son went back and checked the rental car – it was there! It still took a bit for the adrenalin rush to subside.

We made it to the ferry in plenty of time, and I am home to be able to make my final preparations. I have a mixture of feelings – excitement, nervousness, sadness, relief, gratitude. Next time I write, it will be all over. It’s been a huge commitment, both of time and resources. It has challenged me physically, mentally and spiritually. I don’t regret it, though. And I’m already making plans for next year.

Blessings,

Mary

Bumps in the Road

We’re in the home stretch for Spring Mysteries. There’s only one more rehearsal, and then we’re on site.

ATC SMF 2014Yesterday’s rehearsal had some interesting challenges. Quite a number of people were not able to be there, due to work or health or other unexpected circumstances. When we arrived at the rehearsal location, we found out that we were not on the schedule for the day, and the whole building was booked! Thankfully, some of the other cast members live nearby, and we were able to go to their home to run lines. And there are still several people who are struggling with their lines.

When you are this close to production, all of that can lead to a little anxiety.

I’m pretty calm, though (at least about that). I know my lines. I trust that the people who are struggling will spend the next week and a half buckling down and working on memorization.

This is the test of faith. Are you still willing to keep going when it gets challenging? Will you see it through to the end, or throw in the towel?

I’m one of the “I’ve come this far, and I’m going to see it through until the end” kind of people. So despite the fact that I’m really tired, despite the extra challenges at work, despite not seeing as much of my family as I would like, I’m excited for the main event.

I still have my own work to do. I don’t know everything there is to know about Aphrodite. I still have a ritual to prepare. And I am honored to be doing this work, and to serve the Gods and my fellow pilgrims to Eleusis.

Blessings,

Mary

PS. There is still space to register – room and board is included in the registration cost! Join me in Eleusis!