I am a being of nature
I am a piece of infinity and inconceivability
I am a part of the universe that goes beyond mind
I exist in this human body and I exist in the body of nature
I am surrounded by myself and I am salvaged in the universe’s womb
And in this place I am eternal
Persephone - Greek Goddess of Spring and the Underworld
Persephone, a Greek goddess known in her childhood by the name Kore (or Cora, meaning young maiden), was the only child of the union of Demeter (goddess of the bountiful harvest) and Zeus, the mighty king of the Olympians. The Greek goddess Persephone was born when Demeter was Zeus’ consort, long before his marriage to the goddess Hera. By all accounts Persephone had an idyllic childhood, raised by her nurturing mother and played with her father’s other daughters, the Greek goddesses Athena and Aphrodite. Always a cheerful and compliant child, the little goddess Persephone was a parent’s dream.
According to Greek mythology Persephone’s life was soon to change. As signs of womanly beauty began to shine along side her childlike innocence, the adolescent goddess Persephone unwittingly attracted the attention of the Greek god Hades, brother of Zeus and ruler of the underworld. One can hardly blame Hades because the underworld, in Greek mythology, was the realm of the sleeping and the dead. It probably needed some “brightening up”, and the young goddess Persephone’s radiance would assuredly liven up the place.
The god Hades, however, did not bother to woo the young Persephone, traditional goddess protocol notwithstanding. After asking for (and receiving) her father’s approval for Persephone’s hand in marriage, Hades simply abducted her one bright sunny day when she stooped to pluck a narcissus from a field of wildflowers near her home. The meadow was suddenly rent open, and Hades simply reached out and snatched Persephone away, taking her to his underworld kingdom and making her his queen. Although the young goddess Persephone grew to love Hades, she remained lonely for her mother and the life she’d known on earth.
Her mother, the goddess Demeter, had heard Persephone’s screams when Hades grabbed her. She began an intensive search for Persephone. After learning how Zeus had betrayed their daughter, and consumed by grief and sorrow, Demeter demonstrated her outrage by withholding her blessing from the earth until Persephone was returned to her. Droughts ensued, and the earth lay barren. Mankind was facing a major famine. Zeus finally relented and sent the god Hermes to bring the young goddess Persephone back to her mother.
Part of Persephone missed her mother horribly, but another part had grown rather fond of the god Hades. And Persephone was rather enjoying her role as Queen, even if it was in the underworld. While preparing to return to the earth with Hermes, Persephone accepted a pomegranate offered to her by Hades. She knew full well that anyone who had eaten while in the underworld would not be allowed to return, even a goddess — Persephone went ahead and ate seven of the seeds. Her choice prevented her from ever being fully restored to Demeter, but did open up the possibility of a compromise. Hermes was able to negotiate an agreement on her behalf between Hades, a god who was usually rather cold-natured and self-centered, and Demeter. Persephone would be allowed to stay with Hades in the underworld for four months each year (winter) and would return to the earth and her mother the remaining months. The goddess Persephone was soon reunited joyfully with her mother. Each year as Persephone left to join her husband in the underworld, Greek mythology tells us that the goddess Demeter would begin to grieve, bringing on the cold, barren winters. But a few months later Persephone, the goddess associated with awakening, would return to bring spring and its verdant growth in her wake … thus were the seasons established.
Not that the goddess Persephone sloughed off any of her responsibilities as the Queen of the Underworld . Apparently Persephone didn’t spend all her time “going home to momma”. Having made the decision to consume the seeds of the pomegranate while in the underworld, Persephone managed to somehow always be there when others came visiting, ready to receive them into the underworld and to serve as their hostess and guide.
The goddess Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, was willing to help Psyche pass Aphrodite’s tests so that Psyche could be reunited with her beloved husband. Psyche had been assigned to go to the underworld and return with some of Persephone’s famous youth serum/beauty ointment (actually it was a sleeping potion, but hey, we all know what a bad night’s sleep can do to our appearance!) While Psyche was in the underworld, she found Persephone to be both a gracious and generous hostess.
The Greek goddess Persephone also helped Heracles (Hercules), loaning him Cerberus, the ferocious three-headed dog that guarded the entrance of the underworld, so that he could complete the Twelve Labors he’d been assigned to make retribution for the death of his wife. The goddess Persephone was also at home in the underworld when Odysseus (Ulysses) arrived. She rewarded him with a legendary tour of the souls of women of great renown.
In another intriguing story, the Greek goddess Persephone agreed to hide Adonis, a mortal youth who was Aphrodite’s lover, from Aphrodite’s suspicious husband. But upon seeing the beautiful Adonis, Persephone, receptive goddess that she was, also fell for his charms and refused to give him back to Aphrodite. (Remember, these Greek goddesses were the original “wild women”, refusing to yield to convention!)
Eventually, Zeus had to step in to settle the argument. He ruled that Adonis should spend a third of the year with each of the goddesses, Persephone and Aphrodite, and be left to his own pursuits the remainder of the year. Unfortunately, Adonis chose to spend his free time hunting and was killed in a hunting accident a few years later.
The Greek goddess Persephone represents both the youthful, innocent, and joyous maiden aspect of a woman as well as the more womanly self who, innocence lost and family attachments loosened, can begin to consciously decide for herself.
In Greek mythology Persephone, goddess of the soul, is the possessor of its dark and frightening wisdom. But the goddess Persephone is also the harbinger of spring … and a reminder of all the growth and hope that it brings.
Many Holidays, Many Names:
The word Ostara is just one of the names applied to the celebration of the spring equinox on March 21. The Venerable Bede said the origin of the word is actually from Eostre, a Germanic goddess of spring. Of course, it’s also the same time as the Christian Eastercelebration, and in the Jewish faith, Passover takes place as well. For early Pagans in the Germanic countries, this was a time to celebrate planting and the new crop season. Typically, the Celtic peoples did not celebrate Ostara as a holiday, although they were in tune with the changing of the seasons.
A New Day Begins:
A dynasty of Persian kings known as the Achaemenians celebrated the spring equinox with the festival of No Ruz — which means “new day.” It is a celebration of hope and renewal still observed today in many Persian countries, and has its roots inZoroastrianism. In Iran, a festival called Chahar-Shanbeh Suri takes place right before No Ruz begins, and people purify their homes and leap over fires to welcome the 13-day celebration of No Ruz.
Mad as a March Hare:
Spring equinox is a time for fertility and sowing seeds, and so nature’s fertility goes a little crazy. In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol — this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in March when mating season begins, there are bunnies everywhere all day long. The female of the species is superfecund and can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with a first. As if that wasn’t enough, the males tend to get frustrated when rebuffed by their mates, and bounce around erratically when discouraged.
The Legends of Mithras:
The story of the Roman god, Mithras, is similar to the tale of Jesus Christ and his resurrection. Born at the winter solstice and resurrected in the spring, Mithras helped his followers ascend to the realm of light after death. In one legend, Mithras, who was popular amongst members of the Roman military, was ordered by the Sun to sacrifice a white bull. He reluctantly obeyed, but at the moment when his knife entered the creature’s body, a miracle took place. The bull turned into the moon, and Mithras’ cloak became the night sky. Where the bull’s blood fell flowers grew, and stalks of grain sprouted from its tail.
Spring Celebrations Around the World:
In ancient Rome, the followers of Cybele believed that their goddess had a consort who was born via a virgin birth. His name was Attis, and he died and was resurrected each year during the time of the vernal equinox on the Julian Calendar(between March 22 and March 25). Around the same time, the Germanic tribes honored a lunar goddess known as Ostara, who mated with a fertility god around this time of year, and then gave birth nine months later – at Yule.
The indigenous Mayan people in Central American have celebrated a spring equinox festival for ten centuries. As the sun sets on the day of the equinox on the great ceremonial pyramid, El Castillo, Mexico, its “western face…is bathed in the late afternoon sunlight. The lengthening shadows appear to run from the top of the pyramid’s northern staircase to the bottom, giving the illusion of a diamond-backed snake in descent.” This has been called “The Return of the Sun Serpent” since ancient times.
According to the Venerable Bede, Eostre was the Saxon version of the Germanic goddess Ostara. Her feast day was held on the full moon following the vernal equinox — almost theidentical calculation as for the Christian Easter in the west. There is very little documented evidence to prove this, but one popular legend is that Eostre found a bird, wounded, on the ground late in winter. To save its life, she transformed it into a hare. But “the transformation was not a complete one. The bird took the appearance of a hare but retained the ability to lay eggs…the hare would decorate these eggs and leave them as gifts to Eostre.”
This is a good time of year to start your seedlings. If you grow an herb garden, start getting the soil ready for late spring plantings. Celebrate the balance of light and dark as the sun begins to tip the scales, and the return of new growth is near.
Many modern Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Ostara as a time of renewal and rebirth. Take some time to celebrate the new life that surrounds you in nature — walk in park, lay in the grass, hike through a forest. As you do so, observe all the new things beginning around you — plants, flowers, insects, birds. Meditate upon the ever-moving Wheel of the Year, and celebrate the change of seasons.
What is a Labyrinth?
The labyrinth has long been considered a place of magic and introspection. Labyrinthine designs have been found in nearly every major religion, and are an integral part of many ancient cultures. Labyrinths have been found all over the world. They are, in essence, a magical geometric shape which helps define sacred space. A labyrinth is not the same as a maze — there is only one path in, and one path out.
During the period of the Crusades, wealthy families often built a labyrinth as a way to represent the pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Today, they can be built and used by anyone as a tool of reflection and prayer. You can make a labyrinth out of just about anything — planted flowers, shrubs, or stones for a permanent structure, string or sand or cornmeal for a more temporary one.
When walking through a labyrinth, your body tends to turn back and forth - first you’re moving right, next you’re going to the left, with a 180 degree turn each time. This causes you to shift your awareness from the right side of the brain to the left, and then back again. It is believed that this is one of the reasons why a labyrinth walk can induce varied states of consciousness.
The Labyrinth as Problem-Solving Tool
To do this meditation, if you don’t have access to a labyrinth, you’ll need to construct a simple one of your own. Use the pattern above as a guideline if you wish, but if you’re working in a smaller physical space, feel free to make your design more simple than that. You can mark out your labyrinth with tape, string, or paint on the ground. If you’re doing it outside, I like to use a trail of birdseed — it doesn’t damage the grass, and the local wildlife cleans up for you afterwards.
Once you’ve marked out your path, take a moment to meditate on what sort of issues you would like to resolve in your life. Ostara is a time of balance, so one of the great uses for this meditation is that of finding polarity and solving problems. Consider for a moment what problems — either physical, spiritual, external, or emotional — you would like to find a resolution for at this time. As you walk towards the center, you will begin working out solutions for your problem.
Take your first step into the labyrinth, walking slowly. Stop after each step, and think. Become aware of your surroundings, and what lies before you, and what lies behind you. Begin by thinking about not only your problem, but what you think of it on an intellectual level. Explore how the problem has come to exist, from a non-emotional standpoint.
As you continue to walk, move on to how the problem makes you feel. What emotions does it bring about in you? Do you find yourself unable to make rational decisions when you’re dealing with your problem? What is it about this problem that brings about such an emotional response within you, and WHY does it effect you so much?
As you begin the third part of the journey, move on to how your problem effects you in your physical world. Are you running out of money because of a bad job? Do you have someone in your life who is hurting you? Have you become ill because of your problem?
Continue walking slowly, and examine how the problem has effected your spiritual needs. Do you feel as though you are at a loss in your spiritual path? Does it inhibit your growth as a spiritual person?
As you approach the center of the labyrinth, it is time to begin looking for solutions. If you have a patron deity, you can ask them to take the problem into their hands. You can ask the universe to help with a solution. You can ask for a vision to guide you — whatever choice works best with you and your faith. As you reach the center, ideas will begin to come to you that will help resolve your issue at hand. When these visions arrive, accept them without questioning or judgment — even if they don’t make sense right now, you can analyze them later on. Meanwhile, accept that a solution has been given to you by a higher power.
Stand in the center of the labyrinth. Ask yourself, “What is the first step? How may I make this solution come to be?” Take some time to just stand — or sit — there, and let your solution sink in. You have completed the first part of your journey — the reaching of a resolution. When you are ready, start making your way back out of the labyrinth.
The Return Path
As you take your first few steps from the center, consider the solution you were given. Look at it in a non-judgmental way, and think of it logically. Is it something you can make happen? Even if it seems difficult or hard to achieve, if you set yourself a goal, it IS obtainable.
Continue walking towards the exit, and keep thinking about the answer to your problem. Consider the deities or other higher power which provided you with this answer. Do you believe they have your best interest in mind? Of course they do — so be sure to thank them for taking the time to pay attention to you and your needs, and for helping you reach this state of awareness.
As you continue to walk, consider once more your spiritual life. Will this solution allow you to grow or learn spiritually? Will you feel more whole spiritually after the solution has been implemented? What about physically? Will your body and health be affected in a positive way once you begin working towards this resolution? How does the solution make you feel on an emotional level, and how will it effect the negative emotions you felt about your problem in the first place?
As you approach the end of your journey, try to look at your solution from a logical, non-emotional perspective. If you work towards this solution, will it resolve your problem? While it may create more work for you, and be difficult to obtain, will the end result ultimately be worth the effort of making it happen?
Once you step out of your labyrinth’s path, take a moment to once again thank the deities or higher power that assisted you. Think, as well, about how you feel as you emerge from the labyrinth. Do you feel lighter, as though you have truly found a way to resolve your issue? Take a deep breath, recognize the new power that you have, and get to work on making the necessary changes in your life!
Sure, Ostara is a time to celebrate spirituality and the turning of the earth, but there’s no reason we can’t have a good time with it as well. If you’ve got kids — or even if you don’t — this simple rite is a great way to welcome the season using some things that are readily available in the discount stores at this time of year!
Bear in mind, this is meant to be fun and a little bit silly. If you think the Universe has no sense of humor, click the Back button on your browser immediately to exit this page.
Time Required: 20 minutes
For this ritual, you’ll need the following:
- A bag of jellybeans
- Marshmallow Peeps — chicks, bunnies, etc.
- A chocolate rabbit for each particpant
- A glass of milk for each participant
Arrange your ritual supplies on your altar so they look pretty. Kids can do this — typically the chocolate rabbits end up in the center, surrounded by an army of Peeps and several rings of jellybeans. A quick note — you might want to perform this ritual well in advance of mealtime, or all the kids will be too full of candy to eat a real dinner.
First, give everyone present a handful of jellybeans. Point out the different colors in the jellybeans, and what they can represent. As you call out each one, eat the jellybeans in that color. Feel free to be a bit goofy. Say something like:
Behold, little jelly eggs, small symbols of the season,
How we adore you!
Green is for the grass that springs from the land! (eat all the green jellybeans)
Yellow is for the sun shining above our heads! (eat all your yellow jellybeans)
Red is for the tulips that grow in our garden! (eat your red jellybeans)
Pink is for Aunt Martha’s new Easter hat! (eat your pink jellybeans)
Purple is for the crocuses that sprout along our driveway! (eat the purple ones)
Continue this until all the colors are gone — if you really want to have some fun, make the kids take turns naming off the colors and what they mean to them. When they’re all gone, call out:
Hail! Hail! to the mighty jelly bean of Spring!
Next, hand out the marshmallow Peeps. As you do, say:
Behold the Peep! The Peep is life, brought back in the spring!
Little Peep chickens, we honor you! (bite the Peep chicks)
Little Peep bunnies, we honor you! (bite the Peep bunnies)…
Continue this until the Peeps are all gone — it’s probably a good idea to limit each kid to just two or three Peeps at the most. When the Peeps have all vanished, call out:
Hail! Hail! to the mighty Peeps of Spring!
Finally, distribute the chocolate rabbits. Say:
Behold the great chocolate rabbit!
As he hops through the land, he spreads joy and happiness!
O, how we adore the chocolate rabbit and his great big chocolate ears! (eat the rabbit’s ears)
Praise the chocolate rabbit, and his delicious chocolate tail! (eat the rabbit’s tail)
Honor this chocolate rabbit, and his chocolate hoppity legs! (eat the rabbit’s legs)
He is a wonderful rabbit, and he is special indeed! (eat the rest of the rabbit)
When the rabbits are all gone, say:
Hail! Hail! to the mighty chocolate rabbit of Spring!
Give everyone a glass of milk, and raise your drinks in a toast to these three symbols of the season.
To the jelly beans!
To the Peeps!
To the chocolate rabbit!
We drink in your honor!
Drink your milk, and sit back to enjoy the sensation of being stuffed with ritual candy.
I think I’m a cross between the “Ravin Pagan”, “Discordian Neo-Anarchist” and “TechnoPagan”.
Read it here.
Fairys,nymphs or things of that.
(Source: xxxksbutterflygirl17xxx, via fiendlover)