“Persephone (aka Kore) was the Greek goddess of vegetation, especially grain, and the wife of Hades, with whom she rules the Underworld…According to mythology, Hades, god of the Underworld, fell in love with beautiful Persephone when he saw her picking flowers one day in a meadow. The god then carried her off in his chariot to live with him in the dark Underworld…Meanwhile, Demeter (Persephone’s Mother) searched the earth for her lost daughter and though Helios (or Hermes) told her of her daughter’s fate, she, nevertheless, continued her wanderings…it was decided that Persephone would be released but that she would have to return to Hades for one-third of the year…The story of Demeter and Persephone was perhaps symbolic of the changing seasons and the perennial change from life to death, to life once more, or in other words, the changes from summer to winter and the return of life in spring.”
-Ancient History Encyclopedia
I asked Persephone, “How could you grow to love him? He took you from flowers to a kingdom where not a single living thing can grow.”
Persephone smiled, “My darling, every flower on your earth withers. What Hades gave me was a crown made for the immortal flowers in my bones.”
– Nikita Gill, Conversations With Persephone
The autumnal winds of change have returned, and so we are called like a sweet song of decaying leaves on the wind, to the last frolic of fall before we descent once again into the underworld. That deep, dark, expansive death where nothing grows, called Winter.
Before we heed the call, we fortify our hearts agains the cold and dark, and prepare our minds by breathing the last remnants of summers bounty deeply into the depths of our beings. We frolic with nature, enraptured and in touch with our most youthful maiden selves. Innocence, playing at the flirtations of the sensuality of womanhood, and childlike wonder before life enters its next phase. We give endless thanks and gratitude for her gifts and wonders, and revel in her glorious display of colour and beauty. It feels as though she saves the best for last. A party of such elaborate decoration as to befit a Queen’s departure, back to her throne beyond the veil, sealed beneath a thick blanket of pure white snow.
As I sit here now, two days before All Hallows Eve, by the light of a beeswax candle, the tips of my fingers and nose cold with the newly arrived chill from an early onset of winter. I turn my mind back to this day of revelry. With it’s moody autumn skies and earthen scent of organic decay and a cacophony of colour exploding like yellow, red and orange fireworks in celebration from the roots, a parting gift to us all. The scent of wild sage and poplar leaves on the air, women lift their long skirts to romp in tall grasses, playful and natural, wearing boots made for a journey of adventure. Tucking the memories of summer away inside their travelling trunk, filled with peculiarities and earthen wonders to keep them company on their journey inward and down to the soul dark depths.
The day before this photoshoot, I embarked on a harvesting task with my two young sons in tow to carry on an autumnal tradition of building a besom (broom) made of sustainably harvested plants that have meaning and medicine for it’s maker. Traditionally it is hung above a doorway in your home for protection, and continued connection to all that grows, throughout the frozen days ahead. We found a beautiful fallen branch from a gnarly oak tree for the base, and gathered plants from one of our favourite nature haunts, with Persephone, sweet Goddess of vegetation in my thoughts. That night before the shoot, I added the harvested plants to other dried flowers with bits and pieces I had been collecting here and there during the summer. I wrapped all of them lovingly and with intention for the year to come around the oak branch with twine and white crocheted trim.
The next day, for our photoshoot, I took down the broom I had wild-crafted the year before and we used both the old and the new for our photoshoot. The shoot itself served as a ceremonial send off, a beautiful farewell to our old broom that graced our home for the previous year, as well as a consecration for our new broom that would live with us for the year to come. After the photoshoot, I lovingly untied my old broom and released it to the flames of a bonfire in our backyard, bathing in it’s sacred cleaning smoke. I then hung my new broom up above the door in place of the old one.
“The broom had been associated with female magic and the social contributions of the wise-woman ever since ancient Rome, where sacred mid-wives used special broomsticks to sweep the threshold of the house after childbirth, to repel evil influences from mothers and their babes. The broom was also associated with the ceremony of marriage as conducted by priestesses. Among Gypsies, whose marriages continued to be performed by wise-women, jumping over the broomstick was an essential part of the rite.
So closely connected were the wise-women and their brooms that medieval authorities naturally supposed the broom to serve as a magical steed able to carry a witch to her sabbats. Hence the image of the broom-riding heretical women:
“So witches some enchanted wand bestride/ And think they through the airy regions ride.”
Many superstitions attached themselves to this basic idea.” – Barbara G. Walker, The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects
“While it does not usually touch the ground, it is used to “sweep out” the negative energies in a room, and is often held a few inches above the ground to do so.” -Wikipedia, Besom
With our hearts warmed by the nurturing company of women, meaningful tradition in harmony and connection with the earth, we prepare. We embrace the natural life-death-life cycle, syncing up with the rhythms of the sun, moon and earth. Like Mother Nature herself we flow without resistance through change and transformation again and again through the seasons of our lives. Our homes, now warmed by bringing some of natures bounty and medicine indoors for the cold, dark months ahead, we fortify our spirit for the most challenging season ahead.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Joey Senft Photography
MODELS: Kitty Berns (Freshair Boutique), and Tara Cole-McCaffrey (Patron of Dreams)
HAIR & MAKEUP: Each model did her own hair and makeup, although it should be noted that Kitty is a phenomenal hair stylist!
STYLING and ARTISTIC DIRECTION: Tara Cole-McCaffrey(Patron of Dreams)
WEARING: Vintage wardrobe (Coats, dresses and boots) for sale at Patron of Dreams Shop