Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Final Harvest

This weekend, we celebrated the harvest with our friends and family.

The day began with a project - corn dollies!
Some people brought fabric and ribbon, 
others brought glue guns and flowers.
And of course, the corn husks!

We soaked the husks, 
then bent, twisted and tied until we had a host of dollies! 

Someone asked what the Corn Dolly represented, 
and I was too distracted to give a good answer. 
It is an important question.

More than anything else, 
the Corn Dolly represents the Cailleach, 
the Old Woman, the Grandmother. 
 The Cailleach is the last breath of life 
before the season of death, Winter, arrives.  

She also represents Mother Nature, or Ceres, the Earth Mother. 
She is dressed for a journey, 
and her journey is into the center of the earth, or underworld, 
where she will rest and grown younger until her appearance again in the Spring. 

Do you remember the seeds we planted in the Spring Rites? 
We planted actual seeds, but they represented 
our dreams, our wishes, and our hopes for the future.  
Those seeds have grown and have borne fruit. 
The Corn Dolly represents the harvest you made this year.

In older times, 
people in a community helped each other out with the harvest. 

The first farmer to finish his harvesting 
would make a corn-dolly from the last stand of grain. 

He would then pass it on to the next, and the next, and the next.  
The last farmer to harvest would receive the dolly 
and would be assigned to “watch the old woman” through the winter, 
speaking to her as though she were alive, 
asking for favorable weather, healing from sickness, 
or relief from hunger.

What can you do with YOUR corn dolly? 
You can use her to decorate your Samhain altar.  
You can keep her as a reminder of the year’s harvest if you wish. 
You can do as the old folks did, and "watch the old woman." 
Some folks burn her in the Samhain fire to release her, 
and the wishes or prayers she represents, into the Universe.  
It's really up to you!

After a short ritual to remind us of the season change, 
we were given time to burn a list of the things we were ready to release.  
This might be things such as a bad relationship or marriage, 
or tendencies such as gossiping, jealousy, or pettiness. 
It also might be needs we thought were important, 
such as the need to be right, or the need to control.  
Anything you'd like to rid your life of!
Anything outgrown and outworn.

The lists were not shared, but privately written and burned.  
The ashes will be used to fertilize next year's seeds.

* * *

In closing,  the following poem was recited.  
If anyone has the author of this poem,
 I would love to give him/her credit. 

"The soft snow is falling on my Lady Bride,
And her heart is so heavy as she walks alone.
The forest is dark and a single wolf cries,
As she waits ...for her love...to return.

My Lady, I watch from where you cannot see,
And in silence I'll wait for the Solstice to come.
Let it be known that the time is now right
For my journey back into your arms!

Spring, you’re a maid again in your new gown of green.
Blush of the rose … dawns on your cheek.
Innocence shines in your eyes, blue as skies,
As your hand enters mine in the dance…

Warm Summer days and we dance slower now.
The luster of love brings a glow to your skin.
My lips brush your hair, long and golden as corn,
And we watch as our children grow strong.

And each change you make through the course of the year
I marvel, and I love you much more than before!
We hold hands and gave, the field ripe with grain,
As the time for our parting grows near.

Something approaches in clouds dark and fierce!
It’s time for the battle to start!
Lady… don’t weep… for you know I must go,
The harvest of our love is grown.

Even a God goes when destiny calls
Our parting will not be for long.
Hand me my sword!
It’s time, I must go
To battle the Dark Lord once more!

The soft snow is falling on my Lady Bride
And her heart is so heavy as she walks alone.
The forest is dark
And a single wolf cries,
As she waits
For her love
To return…
* * *

As the days grow shorter, 
and time of darkness and rest returns,
 may you all find the LIGHT
hidden deep within.

Happy Harvest!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Celebrating the Eleusinian Mysteries

Celebrating the Eleusinian Mysteries 
by Waverly Fitzgerald

I love Waverly Fitzgerald's little booklet School of the Seasons and use it in my lesson material for Oakmist. Here is a piece Waverly wrote for the Harvest. It is a wonderful way to develop your OWN myth and celebration of the season.

* * *
The writer, Deena Metzger, who has led two re-enactments of the Eleusinian Mysteries in Greece, writes that mystery religions (including early Christianity which overlapped with the Eleusinian Mysteries), teach individuals how to enter a mythic story, live it out and be transformed. 

She has outlined the nine stations of the Eleusinian Mysteries as

I am abducted [to Hades].
I am separated [from the mother].
I am grieving [for the daughter].
I am in the dark.
I am barren.
I embrace death.
I am fertile.
I am reunited [with different parts of myself]. There is light.

I know that this myth was a powerful beacon for me when I was grieving for my 14-year- old daughter who was going through her own Underworld journey of depression, rage and threats of suicide. I understood that despite my belief that I should protect her from the darkness, I could not go into the Underworld with her but had to stay above, with torches lit, demanding her return. Demeter in one version of the myth says that she will not conduct business as usual until her daughter is returned to her and this was also my vow. (In fact, I was fired from my job during this time, a pretty concrete realization of the events of the myth.) In the end, my daughter did emerge from the darkness and our relationship shifted in a positive way.

1.     Meditate on the stories of Demeter and Persephone. You can find several versions. Robert Graves in The Greek Myths tells the stories of Demeter preserved in Greek literature and elaborates on them with his own unique Goddess-oriented interpretation.

2.     Develop your own mythic drama, based on the version of the myth which has the most power for you in your life. Act it out alone or with friends. You can make this as elaborate or as simple as you like.

3.     Consider the nine stations of the myth listed by Deena Metzger. Have you lived this myth in your life? Write about it, perhaps focusing on a different station every day. You might want to make your own Stations, as Catholics do for the Stations of the Cross, by designating a place in your home or outside which represents each station of the Mystery and spending time there.

Rose Petal Wine
3 quarts rose petals
1 gallon water
3 lbs sugar
1⁄2 oz baker's yeast or 1 pkg wine yeast 2 lemons

Pour 1⁄2 gallon of boiling water over the petals in a crock; cover well and leave for 48 hours, stirring often. Boil half the sugar in a quart of water for 2 minutes and when this is cool, add to the petal mixture and ferment for 3 days. Strain and wring out well and return the liquid to the crock and let it ferment for another 10 days. Pour the liquid into a gallon jar, leaving as much of the sediment behind as you can. Boil the rest of the sugar and water and when cool, add to the rest together with the juice of the lemons. Cover again or use a fermentation lock and leave till all fermentation has ceased.

From http://earthnotes.tripod.com/winer_y.htm#rhubarb