For us, this is our last chance for a while to give thanks and bathe in
Her love and light. But each of us recognises there is an empty
and oddly lonely time approaching. This is a period where we must
walk alone, without the gentle and reassuring touch of the Lady.
You’d be very surprised to learn the varying experience we have during
this time. I, for example, have managed to plunge into a deep
depression that knew no solace until the following Moon.
Fortunately, over the years, I have learned to temper my distress…..but
that was not a pleasant experience.
know, for our ancestors (at least here in the Northern hemisphere) this
was always a completely crucial period. It gave them their
first opportunity to assess how bountiful might be the coming
harvest. Myth and symbol abound across so many cultures
about this time in the year, reflecting the life or death nature of
this period immediately preceding harvest. The concept of loss
and sacrifice is not at all uncommon across many myths.
Roman goddess, Ceres, mislaid her daughter, Prosperine - she searched
frantically across a hot summer, but her daughter was nowhere to be
found. It turns out that Pluto had run away with her. Greek Demeter
also lost Persephone who – variously, depending on which tale you
decide to depend upon – was kidnapped by Hades as his unwilling bride,
or alternately took pity on the dark dwellers of the Underworld and
descended there to shed light through darkness; and with a
slightly different twist the Mesopotamian Goddess, Ishtar, misplaced
her lover, Tammuz. The two joint themes here are that in
all cases the missing person ended up in the Underworld, and needed,
one way or another to be freed, and that all grains ceased to grow
during the period of loss.
These recurrent themes surrounding
the success or failure of the harvest reflected the importance and
necessity of grain to see communities through the sparse winter months,
and underlined the importance of assuring the goodwill of whichever
deity it was who was regarded as holding within them “the spirit of the
It is, perhaps, difficult for us to relate to the
intensity and urgency of this period of the year, so readily can we
“pop out for a fresh loaf”. Yet when we struggle to draw closer
to the harsh realities that existed for our ancestors, it casts this
abundant and fruitful few months of the year into a completely new
light. It would do us no harm at all to enter into this spirit as
we can. [More...]
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