Thesmophoria

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Holly Hazeltree

Hallowe’en was known to the ancient Greeks as Thesmophoria. As with the Harvest celebration, Demetrion, it is centred around Demeter. This time, it commemorates the loss of her daughter, Kore (later known as Persephone) to Hades, Lord of the Underworld. This was a women’s festival and the women would grieve and mourn with Demeter for the loss of her precious child. It was also known as seed-time and the ancient festival is basically a three-day rite to bless the depths of the Earth and to ask for its fertility for the planting of the season to come. The focus is renewal and continuation, which often involves a sacrifice of some kind. The bush must be pruned in late autumn so that it will bloom and flourish in the spring. At the tail-end of the year, when the nights grow ever longer, the weather colder, we are asked what can we let go of, what can we release, to ensure growth as we move forward? Put simply, what needs to die or be laid to rest for a while? What has changed? This is what we reflect upon as the life force of the world retreats for the winter. Release, hibernation, rest, our own relationship with the ancestors and also our descendants. Do we need to make peace with anyone? Are we doing all we can for our children and the descendants? Do our children know about their ancestors and their stories? Where are we in the stream of life? These are the questions to ponder over the long nights, as there is much wisdom to be found through surrendering to this tide of darkness and allowing it to quietly restore and nurture us after the activity of spring and summer.

Meditation: Ancestors, descendants, aging, death, rest and transformation.

Planet/s of the week: Pluto.

Offering: Pork (for fertility). A small bit of soil – preferably from your own garden.

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Work, exercise and rest: At this time of year, the harvest is gathered. What has not been possible to integrate? What burden is too heavy to carry? What can you release? What needs to be let go of? In classical mythology, Demeter has gone from the bountiful mother to the grieving one, scouring the land for her beloved daughter. As the nights grow long and the light is gentle and pale, it is a good time to quietly reflect upon some of the deeper and often more uncomfortable aspects of life, our aging, or parents aging, our failures, our relationships with our ancestors, what we need to do for our descendants. Often, such reflection is not always pleasant – but it is rewarding and necessary. Rest and reflection is of the upmost importance at this time.

Ritual: Light your candle, at sunset or at moonrise. The moon will be full this year, so this will be an excellent time. Make your offering and then say your prayer. Reflect on any insight you receive.

Prayer: O beloved Demeter, grieving mother. In your grief you gave your daughter so that we, those who followed, could live and enjoy your fruits. Thank you, blessed lady, for your sacrifice. I ask you to help me now in relieving this (name problem here) burden for me. Bless the soil of my house and my life so that all my ongoing endeavours and labours will be fruitful.

(If you are a parent, it is a good idea to offer your thanks for your children and add any blessings for your children here. If you are trying for a family, or wish to meet a life partner with whom to have a family, ask here. I caution to only use this time for asking specifically for life partners as this is strong energy concerned with your individual lineage and not to be trifled with in just asking for a temporary romantic interest – your intention here is key. As always, you can also add the names of other gods you wish to thank that are personal to you and your practice, and also if you have any specific skills or areas of life you wish to develop, then name them.)

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