Persephone, Hades, Demeter, Us

Perhaps you don’t know this, but I have a deep fondness for Greek mythology and Paganism, in fact, most narratives involving human nature, the celestial meaning of our seasons, characteristics/wisdom of beasts that roam Earth, the element of spirit that imbues life here–I could go on, but I won’t–this post is about Autumn and Balance. Persephone~Demeter~r80r95.jpgWhen I’m a crone, I will know truths about the earth that aren’t fully intelligible to me now–but the crone in me knows some things, intuits others: This time of year, this fleeting transition, this bridge between time and space and transformation and quiet on earth is also one of seeking the balance amid constant change, finding individual strength to face winter, overcoming fears of approaching dark/death, and, I think, taking risks. I won’t recap the myth involving Persephone, Demeter, and Hades, but I suggest finding several different readings of the story, all of which are easily accessible if googled– because these readings, myths, and interpretations help us, and I’m pretty sure helped millions before us (ok, maybe also hindered…but that’s a different post), find great solace/understanding/beauty, and perhaps most importantly, our place in this wild world. As a farmer, I find the responsibility even greater to observe and understand the language of earth and her seasons: living outside, living one step off the ground in our yurt separated from the earth only by canvas and wool–has pushed me further down the path of learning these truths, and facing these fears, and it is something I had expected, desired.

My favorite season, of course, at its Kore (another name for Persephone) is about balance: Balance between dark and light–balance between polarities of all kinds; It is true, I’ll make this post even more personal, my life’s journey has been a struggle with polarity: charted paths or (mostly) uncharted ones, a life of the mind (graduate school) or a life of the body (farming), a life of togetherness-We (I am a twin) or separation-I, and perhaps with the most pain, being a human being of the West having to choose between (intelligibly) inhabiting male or female–for some of us, this choice is best left undone; for all of our choices, we have to learn to follow our heart and take risks, discover if there is even a choice to be made. This either/or world is something we have, and with great harm, imposed on the earth, which, of course, balances all things if left to her own devices!Copyright ©2007 Susan Eleanor Boulet Trust

Seeking the balance on earth is harder than ever, so it seems, after what we’ve done. Can you feel it, too? I am one person of the Midwest, surrounded by woods and corn and soy and pasture, and it is quiet here, quiet enough to feel earth feel. I check the weather often, but have also gotten quite good at intuiting it–I see these fear ads of typhoons and hurricanes and threats, telling us how we should all be afraid to die at the hand of Gaia, and they’re real; has the earth always been this angry? I don’t think so. Storms like those are a serious warning signs of our bad choices, and will quickly swallow the earth if we don’t stop imposing our false needs and security onto this land and water and sky we’ve been blessed with as Stewards. We all know this–but how far do we each have to go to keep earth intact–is that even earth’s/our Destiny? 2012 is right around the corner, and after this season on the land I’m not sure what all the signs mean–where are the Crones? Please share your comments and your thoughts, your wisdom.

My fear of Death, the underworld, was seriously manifested this Spring and Summer with the great winds and storms; to me, they’re unforgettable. I spent many hours in panic of the winds and splitting trees and lightening and not having shelter, not being able to go underground, the safest shelter…and I’m pretty sure those levels of stress take years off one’s life: Yet, how does one come to Peace with the destruction of the natural order we’ve caused?

No, this time of year causes me no fear–these calm winds and rains that tell us Fall is here and coming all at once, that Persephone will soon descend and perhaps find shelter there, most likely to return again in Spring, is a great comfort. Thank you, Persephone, for choosing Balance, death and life, Mother and Lover, fertility and barrenness, both instead of either/or.

Perhaps it is simply time for us to share old, maybe ancient stories, recall myths, build altars to honor and celebrate the Balance that we each seek, that earth finds (even amongst all of the barriers and poisons we’ve unleashed and invented), to eat the seeds of the pomegranate and not fear Death, to honor and taste all the fruits that this season of chaos has given us before the barrenness returns, and darkness once again dominates light.

Hades & Persephone, enthroned in the underworld | Greek vase, Apulian red figure volute krater

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