A guest post by Maria Ede-Weaving…
This week saw the first anniversary of my father’s death. It has been such a tough year learning to let go. That awful time twelve, short months ago when my dad passed away, came at the very moment my partner lost his job and we were forced to leave our much loved Glasgow home to relocate for employment. It felt to me like a tsunami of loss – my father and home gone and my sense of security in the world shaken. To make matters worse, we were stuck in miserable lodgings for the first five months of returning to the south of England with little privacy or peace that might have made the transition a little easier; even after finding a proper home, I found it hard to readjust, grief seeping like a grey wash through the emotional fracture that death can so often inflict.
All this, enough in itself, had come after two years of massive upheaval: leaving a 27 year marriage, moving six times in that period, the financial insecurity that comes with separation, finding new work and falling in love again and adjusting to a new relationship with all its accompanying joys and challenges. The intensity and the sheer enormity of the changes I have encountered in the last three years have left me exhausted and fragile. With grief stirred in for good measure, life has been difficult to digest and process. As time has passed, I have found that there are good days when the balance is kept and joy is possible but grief behaves in unpredictable ways, it can swoop in silently on my blindside and upend me when I least expect it.
This week also saw the full moon in Scorpio. It has felt very apt. As the sun moves through Taurus bringing the blossoming and greening of the world, the full moon rises in its opposite sign. With the sun in Taurus comes Beltane, reminding us of the passion and union that conceives new life and ways to be; the time of Scorpio brings us Samhain, the mystery of death and release. These two signs and festivals are intimately linked: sex ultimately brings death – we are born and therefore we will one day die – but the link works on several levels. Through the alchemy of our relationships, through our coming together in union with others (Beltane) – be it lovers, friends, family, the world or even ourselves – we are transformed (Samhain); we die to our old selves, letting go that we might engage with the mystery of becoming something more than we were. I have pondered this relationship a good deal this week as I vacillate between the grief of letting go and the desire to begin again.
I have written here before about my attraction to the Goddess Persephone and the Beltane/Samhain axis helps me to understand more deeply her complexity and how she can be a guide through the pain of loss. In truth, to fully understand, we must see her not only as Persephone, Queen of the Shades and the Underworld but also as Kore, the innocent maiden, the kernel that is the seed of potential.
Last summer, I had a vision of Kore-Persephone during a meditation. In it, she held out both her hands to me; in one she offered me a narcissus – the flower most associated with her in her aspect as Kore; in the other she offered me a pomegranate – the fruit that Hades tricks Persephone into eating, ensuring her place alongside him in the Underworld. She presented me with both the blossom and the seed: the resurgence of, and opening to, new life that blossoming brings, alongside the fruit of experience and its seeds, each one containing the future of countless fruits and seeds, a kind of life everlasting expressed through the cycles of birth, life, death and rebirth. Life offers each one of us these gifts – they are the foundation of our learning and growth.
At around the same time as this meditation, I had found a little stone on a beach. It drew my eye and I took it home with me. It was an unusual, opaque orange and was the size and shape of a runner bean. It took my thoughts to a painting I had once seen of Persephone as a bean buried in the dark soil, beginning to sprout, its shoot snaking its way to the surface and the light. It also reminded me of my dad; he grew runner beans for years; loved cooking and eating them, always keeping a bowl aside for replanting.
Today, as spring moves towards summer and I wrestle with the changes moving through my life, I remembered that little stone. I have it here with me now as I write. It serves to remind me of the happy memories I have of my father but also of the balance that must be struck between the Queen of Shades and the Maiden of Renewal and Innocence. We must all make space for and embrace the paradox at the heart of the Beltane/Samhain/Taurus/Scorpio axis. Persephone reminds me that I need to feel and reflect upon my grief; to allow myself time and quiet moments to immerse myself in the spiritual practices that aid healing and acceptance. In her Kore aspect, she reminds me that, despite it all – the hurt, confusion, and the feeling that life’s colour is forever lost – that I must hold on and trust that the child-like wonder and joy in life will return. It’s ok to give expression to her more introverted qualities without forgetting her power to help us re-emerge.
Kore-Persephone is Queen of the Dead; she understands the exhaustion, pain and hopelessness that can accompany bereavement and loss of things held precious; she brings peace, healing and acceptance, and in time, a renewal of our hope and joy. My magic ‘bean’ is her talisman; a reminder to place my trust in her wisdom and guidance. It is a journey of struggle and challenge but also of learning, growth and enlightenment; a crooked path that meanders back and forth between the sunlight and the shadow.