I was surprised.
She didn’t want to be Persephone in the school play. I thought all the girls would have lusted after the part of the maiden, dancing with her friends amidst the spring flowers, her head crowned with a ring of blossoms.
But not 11 year old Mira. She wanted to be Hades.
Each year, at the height of Spring, I make a new attempt to reconcile what I’ve seen as a jarring clash. Southern hemisphere Beltane, Whiringanuku, Flowering and Saprise has been invaded, it seems, by the northern hemisphere festival of Halloween. At dusk, children form excited clusters, clad in black cloaks and spooky gear, and giggle their way down the streets to trick and treat.
Once upon a spring
This was unheard of when I was a child. Spring stood supreme, showering us with pollen and petals as we walked to school, raining its bounty over our heads and into the eager warm soil. The idea of death remained aloof as we launched ourselves into outdoor games, swimming, and running freely once more over the hills. The cows came back into milk, hens were clucking and laying again, and calves were ready to be groomed for Calf Club Day.
Our mothers baked their soft airy sponges, dusted with icing sugar, our fathers cut their best cabbages, and we kids pushed pansies and daisies into sand saucers, ready for the flower show.
Spring was simple then: a season of awakening and enthusiasm as we shook off the shackles of winter.
“Why Hades?” I asked my grand daughter.
‘Because he’s much more interesting than Persephone. I like the sound of him. He’s a tiny bit evil and powerful too.’
Have you noticed how children are drawn to the bad characters? Maybe that’s the attraction of Halloween, imported into our southern hemisphere season of peak spring from America.
Spring is full of the brightness of newly awakened oak leaves, lush grass and a sea of rain flowers, the white crocus-like blooms that spring up like mushrooms after warm rain.
But then, spring in all her innocence, is abducted. The earth opens and Hades charges up from the underworld in his chariot, grabs Persephone and takes her down to the realm of death.
The dark realm is the current season of the northern hemisphere, on the brink of Samhain, the Festival of the Dead where chaos rules and the usual social order is turned upside down. The import of this festival to the southern hemisphere threatens to swallow up any celebrations of spring.
But I have a fantasy. In it, two seasons live in one day. The day is October 31. I imagine clusters of Persephones tripping down the streets, laying flowers on people’s door steps at dawn. Then at dusk, gaggles of ghosts and goblins prowling the darkening streets with their bags of trick and treats. Not just the Halloween takeover, but space for flowers, maypoles and maidenhood as well. Two hemispheres in one day, a kind of reconciliation.
Is there a way for the young ones to flirt with the shadow without being abducted by it?
What do you think? I would welcome your thoughts.
Blessings of the season to you,
If you’d like to connect with the earth more fully, creating partnership and healing through this connection, then do check out my new course, SACRED EARTH. Registrations are open now.
This blog post is an excerpt from my Seasons Newsletter. To receive the Newsletter you may sign up on the home page of this website and receive a free audio meditation.