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

Thinning of the Veil

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“To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep”

– The Byrds (Lyrics for Turn! Turn! Turn!) (Adapted from the Bible: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

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The days are shortening and the darkness and cold is seeping in slowly like a fog, a little more each day. I no longer feel fresh and new like the first sprouts of spring. This does not sadden or disappoint me. Instead, I feel ripe, potent and intense like the sweet heady scent of decaying leaves with wafts of cinnamon and smoke from burning stubble on farmers’ fields. The air feels crackly and thin giving me shivers and making the little hairs all over my body stand on end, telling me daily that I’m not alone. On the contrary, I am closer to all things than I am during any other season. It is the time of great dying, when Mother Nature transitions from a time of life and growth and prepares for a great sleep after giving us her harvested bounty and moving towards the season of death. All times of transition can be times of great reflection. The darkening days reflect the shadows within our own souls that we must attend to and heal. All of us carry darkness that we must not fear and turn away from, but instead, look deeply into and move through it, like we move through winter towards the light and re-birth on the other side. The fall transition is a time of gratitude for the abundance received all summer and a time of preparation for the dark cold days where we must create our own light and warmth by turning within and projecting outward.

The veil is thinning.

The realms of the living world and spirit world are transitioning and in flux. The memories of loved ones that have passed come to us in dreams. We feel them closer than we tend to at other times of the year. We are reminded of our own mortality. We are reminded that like the seasons, we too are markers of time, change and transition. This is not morbid or negative. It serves as a reminder that we are all an integral part of everything. All life and all death. All lightness and all darkness. Connected.

As we age, we are given signs that we are getting closer to who we actually are, which lays just out of reach on the other side of the veil. Every wrinkle, age spot and change within our physical body is not something to hide, fear or loathe. We miss the point when we do not honour that they are signs that we are coming back to our source. We are getting closer to ourselves. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. This has nothing to do with religion or dogma, it means that our spirit never ages, but gets clearer and clearer as time moves on and our physical form fades. Have you not noticed that as people age, they seem to grow into themselves? When you speak to older people, they tend to talk about how they have become more confident over time, more self assured and have learned to care much less about what other people think of them. They may become more free or eccentric as time marches on. They may take more risks and do things that they never would have done when they were younger. They may become quiet, introspective, thoughtful and peaceful. They are not as rattled or as emotional about things that happen in life. They grow more patient, compassionate and generous with themselves and others.

Aging is a great gift and a mirror reflection of nature all around us. Just like we cannot stop winter from coming, we cannot stop aging, yet there are endless anti-aging products and techniques out there that are sabotaging our personal growth. They teach us to fear and be ashamed of aging. They teach us to hide it and covet youth which carries a great illusion of power. It is one of the great many lies that keep us from our own growth. This is not to say that beauty products or adornment are wrong or do not have their place. On the contrary, they can help us celebrate ourselves and the beauty of our own evolution at every stage of life that we move through. It is when the culture of shame and anti-aging takes over and manipulates us into striving for the illusion of youth that it becomes so damaging to the human spirit. The constant effort and attempts to look younger, spending money, time and energy on a losing battle, instead of on the development of spirit and character is robbing us of so many opportunities to evolve and grow into our potential. It stagnates us, so we are so glamoured by our own reflection, we forget that the true meaning of our life lives on the inside, where no one can see. Aging, like the changing seasons is a great teacher which never stops giving us opportunities to learn and grow until our time earth-side has come to an end. Whether or not we pay attention to the lessons and decide to learn from them becomes a matter of personal choice.

You may have heard the expression “what we resist, persists”. We cannot resist age, just as a flower cannot bloom forever, nor does it try to. Instead, it spends it’s time reaching for the light and growing as vibrant and to it’s fullest potential as it possibly can within the time it has before it’s death. It does not fear death, or try to stop the inevitable. It knows that this would be a waste of it’s energy in the limited time it has. We can learn a lot from a flower. We can learn a lot from the natural cycles of nature. We can learn from the thinning of the veil that occurs every autumn that we are nature, and nature is us, and it is precisely in that place where the physical world and spirit world connect that we find out who we actually are. But only if we choose to pay attention and learn.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING, HAIR & MAKEUP: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

VINTAGE FASHION: 90’s vintage from head to toe!

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