Celebrating the Dead, Decay and Letting Go: The Journey of Persephone

Celebrating the Dead, Decay and Letting Go: The Journey of Persephone October 21, 2018

I feel the movement of Persephone to her throne in the Underworld, to follow the voices of the dead.

When I look around, I can see the seasons shifting to slumber. When I stop looking at computer screens and notifications, I see the leaves falling and the light changing.

Each step is moving from green grass to crunchy leaves that give way to damp. Each step is moving from vibrancy to decay.

Letting go. Letting go.

I let go of the anxieties of the past year. I let go of the things I thought to be permanent. I let go of the way things have been. I let go of my expectations. I let go of future plans, future beliefs, and future decisions.

It’s a time for letting go.

It’s a time for celebrating the dead, for celebrating what might have been and all that could be next.

Nicolas RaymondAttribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The Veins of Possibility

I used to fight against change, even as I invited it. I used to believe I could change everything if I just tried hard enough. If I just talked enough, I could prevent the decay and the hurt that went along with it.

It’s funny how humans are hardwired to avoid pain. We will do everything we can to avoid the feeling of discomfort. And while we know, deep down, that the pain will come anyway, we turn away or ignore or put it off as long as possible.

In this time of the dead, we face the reality that things die, promises fade, and people leave us.

How the Dead Need Us

What if we could look to this Samhain time as an opportunity to celebrate all that has been? What if it were possible to believe and to know that everything that changes doesn’t really ever leave? Perhaps it’s just beside us in the wind, in the trees.

What if instead of mourning the loss, we can celebrate the new phase of experience — and of the experience of that which has gone before?

CC0 Creative Commons

This is not to say that grief does not have a place or a voice that seeks to be heard. Grief about lost projects, lost opportunties, lost connections, lost loved ones.

(And this is not to say that celebration comes first or soon.)

But I was reminded the other day in a class I co-taught that the advice you get when you want to avoid drowning is to move directly into the wave. When you try to avoid it, it sucks you in and takes you under.

The way I hold the story of Persephone is not that she was tricked or taken. She went to the underworld because she heard the cries of the dead and sought them out, to hold them in their confusion, to initiate them into the greatest mystery.

Perhaps we too can be initiators on this side of the veil and travel the veins of decaying leaves and words and expectations, the underside of stretching up to the sky.

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