Demeter’s Sorrow ~ Autumn Equinox ~ September 17th-23rd, 2018

Love, love is a verb

Love is a doing word

The last days of Virgo season are exquisitely beautiful. The golden light of the September Sun illuminates the jeweled beauty of glowing leaves and ripe fruits. The figs are purple as the dusk, bursting with juice and seeds.

And the pomegranates have deepened into that seductive red, recalling the tragic story of how Persephone, Virgin goddess of fertility, became bound to the underworld. With Venus currently traversing the sign of Scorpio, the theme of Persephone’s entombment will be particularly palpable.

Gentle impulsion

Shakes me, makes me lighter

This is the week of the equinox, (Latin for equal night) which arrives on Saturday, September 22nd. This marks the the moment when the hours of the day and night reach equilibrium. In the northern hemisphere, moments after this perfect balance is achieved, the Sun will begin to descend, ushering in the autumn season.

Fearless on my breath

Teardrop on the fire

In this moment of perfect balance between dark and light, your conscious and unconscious mind will be equally intelligent, offering you a natural sense of equanimity. In this brief repose, seek to find renewed peace of mind regarding the cycle of life and death.

Night, night of matter

Black flowers blossom

The days leading up to the equinox may bring a haunting melancholy. The Sun sings a sad song through the final degrees of Virgo, for nothing gold can stay and summer will soon be lost.

Fearless on my breath

Black flowers blossom

The sadness in the air slows things down, asking you to ponder and appreciate each golden moment. Savor all the beauty you are blessed with. The world is still blushing with warmth and fragrance, but you may begin to perceive the first signs of winter appearing upon the edge of twilight.

 

Water is my eye

Most faithful mirror

Every pleasure may seem fleeting, for in transitory moments such as these, life’s ephemerality reveals itself. And with the wisdom inherent in such revelations, you will begin to think of your time as being very precious.

It is important to remember that the darkening mood present in the last degrees of Virgo once had great religious significance in the ancient world.

Some of the most ancient esoteric practices in Greece revolved around the Eleusinian Mysteries, a mythic study of the meaning of death. The story associated the decay of the earth’s resplendent beauty with Persephone’s annual descent into the underworld.

For those unfamiliar with the myth, the generous earth goddess Demeter had a beloved daughter, Persephone, who was abducted by Hades, god of the underworld. Cast down by grief and sorrow, Demeter let the earth grow cold and bare until her daughter was returned.

Teardrop on the fire

But Persephone could only stay with her mother for part of the year. She was bound to return to the underworld at every fall equinox. Thus, every autumn, Demeter fell into mourning and the earth grew cold once again.

According to Manley P. Hall in The Secret Teachings of All Ages: 

“The Greeks believed that Persephone was a manifestation of the solar energy, which in the winter months lived under the earth… but in the summer returned again…the flowers loved Persephone and that every year when she left for the dark realms…the plants and shrubs would die of grief…”

According to the Rites of Eleusis, the Lesser Mysteries took place every spring when the world came back to life. But the Greater Mysteries were celebrated every five years, during the September equinox, when the darkness began to usurp the light. Though the revelations of Eleusis remain unknown to historians, it was said that those initiated into the Greater Mysteries no longer feared death.

Teardrop on the fire

Of a confession

The Greater Mysteries offered wisdom about the nature of death and rebirth. The priests of Demeter taught that the soul was immortal. The cycle of descent and ascent illustrated that the mortal body may be subject decay, but that the soul remains alive and regenerative. 

Many of the great thinkers of ancient Greece and Rome were initiates in the Eleusinian Mysteries, including Socrates, Plato, and the Roman historian Plutarch who once wrote:

“because of those sacred and faithful promises given in the mysteries…we hold it firmly for an undoubted truth that our soul is incorruptible and immortal. Let us behave ourselves accordingly.”

The rites at Eleusis remain shrouded in mystery, but some of its important elements have been recovered. A great temple to Demeter stood in Eleusis, and on the fifth day of the rites, the initiates took a long walk to the temple, reenacting Demeter’s fruitless search for her daughter.

Thus, they were asked to embody Demeter’s sorrow as a part of their path to wisdom. You can conclude that it is spiritually healthy to feel solemn at this time of year because it is Demeter’s sorrow that will eventually liberate you from your fear of death.

Demeter’s sorrow symbolizes the sadness which penetrates your spirit at the sight of all dying things. To celebrate the mythic meaning of this time of year find a graceful lament, something that heals your darkened mood like Teardrop by Massive Attack. This exquisite song perfectly captures the haunting mystery of Demeter’s sorrow. The lyrics are spare and impressionistic, an elegy for a lost dream.

Black flowers blossom.

In melancholic delirium, you are pulled into its mystery with the primordial rhythm of a heartbeat, that first sound you heard in your mother’s womb.

Absorbed into the darkness by the pulse, you descend into inner space,  where time seems to stand still. You can feel Demeter’s pain in the glistening voice of Elisabeth Fraser: how the tenderness of her love has been met with cruelty.

Like all great music, Teardrop breaks your heart with beauty, summoning the light of your soul to emerge from the darkness.

Teardrop on the fire

To know the earth is to know the Mysteries of sorrow and death.

It’s tumbling down (as in love falling apart)

As the light begins to fall and the darkness begins to rise, you may feel Demeter’s sorrow, her mourning for the Virgin’s golden warmth. But do not despairLight and life are in an eternal flux of rise and fall.

The mysteries of the ancient world surrounded the September equinox with extraordinary veneration. To them, the death of summer opened the gateway to eternity.

Consider this as you go about your days this week. Happy equinox!