‘Demeter Mourning for Persephone’ by Evelyn De Morgan
December 7th is the annual rite of the Haloia of Demeter. It was performed in ancient Greece each year to honor the Goddess Demeter, who in mourning for the loss of Her daughter, Persephone, wanders the earth searching for Her. Demeter, in Her sorrow, refuses to bless the Earth with fertility therefore bringing Winter to the world. All crops, trees, and plants cease to bloom without those blessings and the world becomes still and mourns with Her. We also remember that Winter will pass and Persephone will return to Her mother in the Spring. In Her joy, Demeter will once again bestow Her blessings of earthly fertility and abundance upon the earth. The wheel turns and the cycle of life goes on.
I honor Demeter Melaina and Her Haloia with a simple ritual. I begin by lighting a bayberry tealight or votive candle and some incense, usually a blend of balsam, pomegranate, and pine in honor of the season. I spend some time feeling Demeter's loss and considering my own loses from the past year, acknowledging them and letting them go as best I can, knowing life goes on, the feelings these engender will pass. Yes, life will indeed go on. When my contemplations are finished, I recite the following invocation, then make offerings at my hedge of bread and honey, and a libation of a spiced and sweetened herbal brew. I allow the candle to burn itself out.
Invocation to Demeter Melaina*
The Land lies barren as You search, dark and sorrowing.
Your great powers of creation draw inward.
Field and meadow lie fallow. You mourn.
For She who was born from Your womb has descended.
She is no longer by Your side.
But from Thee, Melaina, and Thy Shadows shall compassion arise!
In the darkness, in solitude, alone in Your fragrant temple,
Life gives birth to understanding, to the cycle of life,
To change and transformation, birth, youth, maturity.
In compassion You descend into the Underworld,
Your blessings, healing all realms, are bestowed upon Your Daughter.
O Blessed art Thou, Holy One,
Great praises to both the fallow and the dark, the womb and tomb.
All honor to You Mother of Bounty,
Hear me, know my name, be with me!
* adapted from the Prayer for Demeter Melaina found in
The Mysteries of Demeter: Rebirth of the Pagan Way by Jennifer Reif.
Blessings dark and deep!