We all encounter shadows, darkness, oubliettes, and the abyss in our lives. These are the places that some fear to go. After all, they are ugly truths, forgotten memories, and desolating trauma. I love those places because they are opportunities for healing and making ones self whole again. I found out during one healing process that I could be beautiful with lots of stitches and imperfections.
Every year, I have to come to terms with my mothers passing, which occurred in May 2003. I know, long time, and I should be at a point where there has been closure. Well, that depends on ones definition of the word ‘closure’. Every year the anxiety mounts near the day she passed and then for a week, I live in that moment of time. Hard to ignore since a series of events occurred and are permanent reminders. My mother started organ failure on Mother’s Day that year, she passed the next day on my youngest sister’s birthday, our middle sister had her daughter on the following day, and our mother would have been 56 years old the very next day.
One of my favorite subjects to research, I found comfort and solace in recreating the Eleusinian Mysteries with a modern feel. I journeyed with Kore (Persephone), Demeter, and Hekate and created something simple yet effective. As the Greater Mysteries are upon us come September, I wanted to share my version of the Lesser Mystery that takes place usually in March. I have used this as a tool to work with my shadows and hope that each person reading this finds it useful or inspiring to their own path. This ritual is written primarily from a women’s only perspective. However, I have found that this ritual can be applied to all people’s and any situation that you need healing in.
Lesser Mystery: (In Honor of Kore’s descent into the Underworld) You will need the following items:
1 Black candle (Hekate), 1 Brown candle (Demeter), 1 Green candle (Kore), 1 White candle (Ancestors/Spirit), 1 bowl of water (Offering for Demeter for her long journey), 1 bowl of salt water (Purification), 1 glass of red wine or fruit juice Incense of your choice, Offerings of your choice for the Goddesses, Ancestors, and Spirit.
Before you begin, be sure to take a purifying bath or shower and open/close your space however you wish to. Spend a few minutes in silence or however long feels right to you. Once you have done this, dim the lights and light each candle in the name of each Goddess. Do not light the white candle yet. Once the other candles have been lit, focus on an image of Hekate or envision Her while saying the following three times: “Queen Hekate, Mistress of the dead, Guardian of the Crossroads, lift your torch and guide me through my descent into Darkness. Let the Womb of the earth swallow me and your love over shadow my fears of the dark.” Now, light the white candle for your Ancestors, extend your offering, and say the following three times: “Ancient Mothers, both known and unknown, who have walked before me, lend me your wisdom on this journey into Death itself. Your blood flows through my veins and in my memories. I love you and I thank you.” Now, envision yourself and Kore in a meadow, extend your offering, and say the following one time:
“Sister Kore, you who have been taken. Sweet Virginal Maiden of Spring. You have now gone to the Underworld, lost to your mother Demeter, and I will follow.” Now, envision Demeter, extend your offering, and say the following one time: “Mother Demeter, do not weep for your daughters. The Great Queen Hekate will light my way and I will return with Kore by my side.” At this time stand before your altar and ask yourself the following three questions. Answer “No” to each one: “Do you go unwillingly into the Underworld?” “Do you proceed with fear in your heart?” “Do you know why you are descending?”
Historically, questions were asked of each Initiate, but my studies have not turned up the exact questions. You can change the questions to suit your specific situation. My main focus was the loss of my mother and how to face that. The story of Demeter and Persephone symbolizes that loss for me. The point is to leap without thought or question into the Abyss and give yourself over to the Unknown. Once you have done this, use a chant or affirmation that fits the shadow or pertains to what you wish to heal. You can meditate on whatever you wish to change, shed, release, forgive, etc. When you feel you have spent enough time doing this then proceed with the Closing. “Kore, Demeter, Hekate, Matriarchs of days long past. I thank you for your presence, your wisdom, and your love. My eyes have now been closed to the old. May you guide me to the new. So mote it be.”
Raise your glass of red wine or fruit juice and drink in honor of the Divine that flows through your blood. You may now ready yourself for bed or some contemplative time. Make sure to journal your experience either right before bed or upon waking. You will want to record any thoughts, feelings, and emotions from the experience. The amount of time that you spend in this healing process is up to you. It could be days, months, or years. With that being said, in dealing with healing trauma, one has to commit to the process. This ritual is highly adaptive and can be used with any pantheon and in a group setting. I always recommend that the process is not done alone. Feel free to change this ritual to meet your needs or needs of others. I have used this work for personal and global healing. It is a small part of a larger tradition that I have personally created and have recently decided to share with others. May each of you walk in love and peace.