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

 

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

Back to Ereshkigal

It’s been a crazy week for me – dealing with jet lag and airline crud and having a pretty full schedule that didn’t allow for much down time.

I’ve said before that when I am sick and/or overtired, the first things to fall out of my routine are the things that are healthy. This week, I have noticed that my meditation practice has been suffering. There has been a lot more sleeping than meditating. And I’m mostly ok with that. I needed the sleep.

Now, though, as I am recovering, I definitely feel the need to recharge my meditation practice. I’ve been missing the connection time with my higher self and with Deity. That connection with Deity is really important right now as I prepare for Hekate’s Sickle Festival next month because I’ll be holding the energy of Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal with InannaI’ve had a connection with Inanna for a very long time. As I’ve worked with different Greek goddesses over the past few years for Spring Mysteries Festival, I’ve been able to increase my connection with each of them by relating them to aspects of Inanna. I see the progression from one region of the Middle East through to the Mediterranean – the names of the goddesses may change, though their aspects and many of their myths stay remarkably similar.

Most of what I know of Ereshkigal is through the myth of the Descent of Inanna. Ereshkigal is often referred to as Inanna’s dark sister. To work with Her more closely, though, I need to develop a connection with Ereshkigal directly, and not through Inanna.

To do that, I’m going back to the source – Sumerian Mythology. Sumer was the cradle of civilization. It’s mythology, culture, and society had a large influence on the generations that followed. Even after the Akkadians (Babylonians) had conquered Sumer and it’s kings ruled no more, the Sumerian written language – cuneiform – was used for legal and religious texts.

I’m reading the works of Samuel Noah Kramer, who was one of the foremost experts in Sumerian history and language. I’m thoroughly enjoying learning about the cosmology of this ancient people who developed one of the first systems of writing. And as I am reading the stories, and fragments of stories, I’m starting to get a better picture of the world that Inanna fit into and the other deities that She interacted with.

And more importantly for this moment, I’m getting a fuller image of Ereshkigal. She’s not just the goddess of the dead and a hard task master. She’s had her loves and losses too. She can be scary, yes. And she’s so much more. I’m looking forward to deepening my relationship with the Queen of the Great Below.

Blessings,

Mary

Journey to Eleusis – On Beauty and Makeup

beautiful even without make up quotes
In working with Aphrodite, I find I’m thinking a lot about beauty. I’m wearing makeup more often, and I’m a bit conflicted about the connection between beauty and makeup.

I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below.

Blessings,
Mary

Journey to Eleusis: The Long Pilgrimage

Eleusis, spring mysteries, spring mysteries festival

Journey to Eleusis. Preparing for the Spring Mysteries festival!

Of all the cast and crew for Spring Mysteries 2014, I think I have the longest commute. Though the days are long, the time I get to spend with my “other” family is well worth the effort.

This video is a summary of one day of my travels to rehearsal for Spring Mysteries Festival. I’ll be sharing more as I work with Aphrodite about the Journey to Eleusis, preparing to recreate the Eleusinian Mysteries.

The travel from my home on Northern Vancouver Island to Seattle is quite expensive (BC Ferries are much more expensive than Washington State Ferries). I would appreciate any and all donations to support this work. For all donations over $20, I will send you a guided meditation of your choice. For any donations over $100, I will create a guided meditation on a subject you are working on.





May all your contributions return to you over and over and over again! You are blessed with abundance.

Blessings,

Mary

Honoring Hestia (and My Husband is a Super Star)

I’ve been enjoying almost a week off from work, and getting to do some projects that I don’t normally have time for. I’ve also been housebound, which is both a blessing and a challenge.

For the past several years, I have been the one who heads off to work each morning, while my husband works from home and takes care of the house and the children. Now, before you comment about what an amazing man he is (and he totally is), he’s not doing “woman’s work”. He’s participating in a partnership.

This past week, our roles have been reversed. He’s been away working, and I’ve been home, taking care of the house and family. It really is a challenging job.

Hestia Greek Goddess of the HearthLast night, as I was up stoking the fire, I found myself praying to Hestia, giving thanks for her warmth and her guidance.

Many years ago, I read a wonderful pair of books by Jean Shinoda Bolen: Goddesses in Every Woman and Gods in Every Man. Both are about the archetypes of the Greek Gods, and how they shape our lives. I remember when I was reading them, trying to figure out which archetype suited me best. Being human, I saw aspects of each of the Goddesses in my life. After reading all of them, I felt that Hestia was the one I related to best.

To the Greeks, Hestia was the first and the last, the oldest Olympian – the first-born child of Rhea and Kronus, which also means that she was the first one swallowed by her father, and the last one regurgitated when Zeus defeated him. She had a place of honor in most every home, because fire is warmth and cooked food. She keeps the home fires burning.

Every day, my husband honors Hestia, the Goddess of the Hearth and Home. He (literally) keeps the fire burning, he makes sure we are fed nutritious food, and gets the boys to their activities. He is extremely supportive.

This week, I found the job challenging.

I tend to get lost in whatever I am working on and forget to eat. Thankfully, the boys would remind me with their refrain of “I’m hungry”. I wasn’t anticipating it, though, and I didn’t have meals planned out ahead of time.

I got up several times a night to add wood to the fire. I’m very proud to say I have kept the fire burning for more than 5 days, though it was dicey a couple of times. I’m not so proud to say that what drove me out of my cozy bed was a fear that if the coals died out completely, I would have to start the fire from nothing, and that’s not something I’m confident about doing.

On the other hand, I haven’t been out of my house since New Year’s Eve. (Mostly because my husband has the vehicle, and we live a ways out of town.) Hestia is a home-body. She enjoys quiet, introspective time, and I have to say that this week has been wonderful for that. I feel most comfortable in my own home and surroundings. I’ve pecked away at the household chores, and cleaned and revitalized our home altars.

The flame that I tend is more of a spiritual flame than a physical one. I like to think I help light the way for others, help them shift their perspectives, and encourage them to shine their own lights brighter. In that way, Hestia is always a part of me.

ATC SMF 2014 adOver the next few months, I’ll be working more closely with Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. I have been given the opportunity to be her priestess and carry her energy in the upcoming Spring Mysteries Festival. Aphrodite is a bit farther out of my comfort zone, so it will be interesting to see where she takes me over the next few months.

As I move forward with Aphrodite, its good to know that Hestia is still with me, keeping the home fires burning, and patiently supporting me however I need. Thank you, David, for keeping a place of honor in our home for Hestia.

Blessings,

Mary