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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.

You 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.

The 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 corn”.

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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