Persephone’s Departure, To Her Throne Beyond The Veil

“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

The Spectre of Self

Spec*tre

a ghost.

  • something widely feared as a possible unpleasant or dangerous occurance

e.g. “the spectre of war”

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“We all have a social mask, right? We put it on, we go out, put our best foot forward, our best image. But behind that social mask is a personal truth, what we really, really believe about who we are and what we’re capable of.” – Phil McGraw

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.” – Jim Morrison

It can be the most difficult thing in the world to honestly be yourself.  Being who we truly are begins to be socialized out of us in early childhood.  We learn how to please others because we are taught that pleasing others is more important than pleasing ourselves.  We are taught that we are better people if we put ourselves aside and present to the world what the world wants us to be.  We learn how to wear masks to suite the people, places and situations in our lives.  We learn that being ourselves can be excruciatingly painful, because being ourselves makes us vulnerable.  If they see our true colours, they can criticize us, laugh at us, or reject us.  We are social creatures, so we begin to believe that fitting in and being the same is safer and more comfortable. The truth is, it causes more damage to us and those around us than being ourselves ever will.  When we are our truest selves we have so much more to offer the world that only we can give.  Wearing masks to protect our vulnerability dims the powerful light that is within each of us and weakens our ability to let it out and benefit the world.

So we suppress our truest spirit.  We put on a brave face when we are scared, a happy face when we are sad, an agreeable face when we are angry.  We pretend that we like things that we don’t, we compromise when we are fundamentally opposed to something that’s important to us, and we tell ourselves that we are being nice, and keeping the peace.  We wouldn’t want to rock the boat now would we?  But is it actually being nice and keeping the peace, or are we just trading the potential conflict with others with a very real and very immediate conflict within ourselves?  We are so afraid of what others might think of us, that we have given them all the power and have placed more significance on what they think than what we think of ourselves, and it slowly eats at our spirit.  In reality, we end up more lonely, isolated and insignificant by letting that fear rule us, than we would be if we just allowed ourselves to be authentic.

I am not saying that we should all air our dirty laundry, or go around telling everyone the details of our exceptionally crappy day when they ask how we are.  You can be real without being negative, complaining or wallowing in self pity. You can look your unhappiness or discomfort in the face, admit to it, talk to a friend or loved-one about it and then, put your energy into a solution. I do believe in the power of positivity.  I do believe in looking for the good in all situations, and I do believe in compromise for the greater good.  I don’t however, believe that these things should be done when they are in direct conflict with your truest self.  If the foot you put forward for the world to see requires you to lie to yourself about who you are and how you really feel, you do the world a great dis-service.

It’s time to throw off the veil.  Time to come out of the shadows and let the world see you.  Time to take off all the different masks we wear and be brave enough to look criticism and conflict in the eye and realize that avoiding it is not more important and less painful than being honest with yourself and finding your true place in the world.  The world needs you.  The authentic you.  The most beautiful part of this is that all we really want is love and belonging and the more of us that throw off the veil, the more authentic people there will be in the world to have real and meaningful relationships with.  The more we allow ourselves to be known, the more we allow others to be known.  Freedom and authenticity are contagious.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

MODELS, HAIR & MAKEUP: Leanne Sanders and Tara Cole-McCaffrey

STYLING: Patron of Dreams

VINTAGE: White dresses, shawls and scarves from The Goodwill Store in Winnipeg

CRYSTALS and STONES: Shakti in Winnipeg

Mirror Mirror

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who in this land is fairest of all?

It answered: You, my queen, are fair; it is true.
But Snow-White is a thousand times fairer than you.
The queen took fright and turned yellow and green with envy. From that hour on whenever she looked at Snow-White her heart turned over inside her body, so great was her hatred for the girl. The envy and pride grew ever greater, like a weed in her heart, until she had no peace day and night.

-Snow White, Grimm’s Fairytales

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“Nobody sees anybody truly but all through the flaws of their own egos. That is the way we all see …each other in life. Vanity, fear, desire, competition– all such distortions within our own egos– condition our vision of those in relation to us. Add to those distortions to our own egos the corresponding distortions in the egos of others, and you see how cloudy the glass must become through which we look at each other. That’s how it is in all living relationships except when there is that rare case of two people who love intensely enough to burn through all those layers of opacity and see each other’s naked hearts.”
― Tennessee Williams

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 It is staggering to think that even still in the year 2016, so much of a woman’s sense of worth and identity is deeply connected to her physical appearance.  It is so much a part of our culture and heritage, that many of us women are not even aware of our imprisonment to a value system that is as ancient as the first human civilizations.  Throughout the history of humanity, woman of countless cultures and generations have found themselves living in a world dominated by men, where they have had very little power or influence.  As a result, their appearance was often the only thing that gave them any sense of significance.  Women used their beauty and sexuality to manipulate, compete and control as a basic survival tactic in a world where their intelligence, compassion, resourcefulness, creativity, and all other assets were not recognized or valued by society.  I believe this has had a profound impact on every woman that is alive today.  We carry this history in our DNA.  We carry those experiences of our ancestors and we still have difficulty breaking free of it and not basing our self worth on what we see in the mirror.  The saddest part of this is how our diminished self worth and  has made us behave towards other women, who ultimately are suffering from the same lack of self love, whether they know it or not. We have come so far in our move towards feminism and empowerment of women, yet we still have so much further to go.  We still grasp desperately to youth and beauty and go to great lengths to reverse or stall a process that is inevitable and the most natural part of being human.  We desperately cling to something we can never keep, and place impossible standards and requirements on ourselves and others.  It’s insanity really.

Everyone appreciates beauty. Beauty is a gift of nature and it is a wonderful thing that should be celebrated. I am a fashion blogger/stylist after all!  I love beautiful things, people and aesthetic.  I admire and appreciate a beautiful woman as much as anyone else, but are we so superficial that that is as deep as it goes?  Does a beautiful women truly deserve the level of praise, attention and admiration that we place on her just because she was blessed with exceptional  DNA?  When did we start to value a woman’s beauty more than a woman’s accomplishments?  It’s scary to say, but I think it has always been this way.  I think we are still stuck here, and it is more than time to break free of these shackles ladies!  It is time to look a little deeper!  It is time to see each other for who we truly are and what we have actually accomplished in life, and praise those things. By all means, embrace beauty and celebrate it in yourself and others, but let’s not put it above all else. Let us not praise beauty above character and integrity.  Unfortunately the list is way to long of women we as a society are putting up on pedestals for their beauty alone, even when their character and integrity are questionable at best. This is incredibly sad, when there is a plethora of women in history that have accomplished incredible things, yet most of us have never heard of them because they were not notably beautiful and their accomplishments were undervalued simply because they were women. When someone mentions Audrey Hepburn, what comes to mind?  Like most people you probably think of her exceptional beauty and fame as an actress.  Did you know that she was an accomplished ballerina as well as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF (United Nation’s Children’s Fund) since 1954?  Did you know she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her incredible contributions to UNICEF?  Neither did I. We need to turn this around.

Ladies, I’m asking you to celebrate each other’s accomplishments and find who we actually are as people.  And for goodness sake, let’s please stop comparing and competing with one another and putting each other down!  Need I even say it? Confident women raise each other up and support one another.  This is how we build a better world.  This is how we encourage the next generation of girls to want to be more than just beautiful. This is how we teach the next generation of boys to value women for who they are, not for their appearance. #WomenSupportingWomen is not a fad or a trend.  It is a way of life and it is here to stay.  Get on board.  Join the tribe.  I’ve got your back, have you got mine? We can accomplish so much more if we work together and support one another.

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<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/164028819″>Mirror, Mirror</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/electricmonkmedia”>Electric Monk Media</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

MODELS, HAIR & MAKEUP: Leanne Sanders and Tara Cole-McCaffrey

STYLING: Patron of Dreams

FASHION: 

Leanne’s Look: Cheetah print bikini by American Apparel, vintage dress, mask by Rampant Design Leather

Tara’s Look: Vintage boots, vintage belt, embroidered jacket by Nygard, mask by Rampant Design Leather