December 7th is the Haloia of Demeter which is a remembrance of Demeter's mourning for Her loss of Persephone. She withdrew Herself from the world and all things ceased to grow. The Earth turned cold, barren, as the one who had provided for all suffered the sorrow and loss of Her daughter.
Much is to be learned from the myth of Demeter and Persephone for women. Many women watch their children grow and leave home, suffering empty nest syndrome and withdrawing themselves from their usual pursuits while they figure out their new life. I have always thought this was exactly what Demeter was doing. Ultimately, there was no choice but to accept the inevitable and continue on, which is just what She did.
At this time, close to the Winter Solstice, the Earth had withdrawn Her bounty, there is cold and stillness, time for reflection, a time to look within and review the past year. In honor of Demeter and Her time of mourning, reflection and moving on, I take time to review and reflect as well. I light some candles, and recite the following prayer, then spend some time considering my own losses and how, whatever the situation, I continue on, as Demeter does, as we all must do. This remembrance is a part of the cycle of life.
Prayer to Demeter Melaina
an adaptation from Jennifer Reif's Mysteries of Demeter
The Land lies barren as You search, dark & sorrowing
For Your maiden daughter.
Your great powers of creation draw inward.
As field & meadow lie fallow, You mourn.
For She who was born from Your womb has descended
Into Tartarus and is no longer by Your side.
But from Thee, Melaina, and Thy shadows
Shall compassion rise.
Into the darkness of Your solitude,
You dwell alone in Your fragrant temple.
Life gives birth to understanding.
One who once raged in sorrow finds tenderness
Being born in Her Divine Being.
In compassion, You descend into the Underworld
To give Your blessings which heal all worlds,
Teaching understanding to
Tartarus, Earth & High Olympus.
O Blessed art Thou, Holy One.
Great praises to both the fallow & the dark.
All honor to Demeter Melaina!
Tonight I make an offering of barley, fruit and seeds along with a libation of sweetened, spiced wine at the hedge circle, then I will have a quiet little time of contemplation. And... I will consider all my blessings as well!
An little tidbit from About.com which I have never heard of and thought was a appropriate finish for this post - "Ancient Greeks might also dedicate sneezes to Demeter, similar to someone saying "God bless you!" An unexpected or timely sneeze could be thought to have oracular meaning as a message from Demeter, perhaps to abandon the idea under discussion. This may be the origin of the phrase "not to be sneezed at", not to be discounted or taken lightly." Well, that is interesting, especially as my post began with a sneeze!