I am always conscious of the passing of my ceremonial circle’s sister-friend Lyn at this time of the year’s cycle; the Seasonal Moment of Autumn Equinox – “Mabon” as it is often named.
Since Lyn’s passing over a decade ago, I have always kept a place in the Autumn Equinox ceremonial circle for the Lost Beloved One, who is actually all the Lost Beloved Ones for whom we may grieve particularly in this Season: and I drape this cushion with the purple satin cloth and the thick red ribbon that we had put on Lyn’s coffin. I put with it an apple cut across the diameter revealing the core/Kore: signifying that Lyn, like all Persephones, is in the Heart of the Mother.
When a beloved one departs, passes, trans-forms, the world becomes a different place; yet the practice in our circle is that Lyn and all Lost Beloved Ones are still with us – very much – in a new form. The Beloved’s life has been harvested, and we may give thanks for their gift, as it was given and continues to be given and received. Our lives too will be harvested … will our lives be as interesting and creative? – will our lives nourish the Plenum, the richness out of which we come? Our richness of being and our care (Care it may be written, as the name of a power) may contribute to the future: in that sense we are the Persephones of the Autumn Equinox story … the Persephones, the Seeds, who descend to wisdom and vision.
We live in a time when the planet is apparently tipping into the point of no return with global warming. We are all descending – as a planet: the change is pressing into human consciousness. We as a planet are both Demeter and Persephone … the Mother and the Daughter. We may grieve the losses, and we are also the lost – in so many ways. Yet even as we descend, like the Persephone of Goddess tradition, we may do so with intent – to seek further wisdom, and with action – to comfort and empower others and ourselves within a changing context.
Connected to these thoughts is the story of Mabon, who is the Son of Modron, the Matrona or Mother of earlier times in the Celtic tradition. Mabon (whose name is also a title like “Daughter” is in the Eleusinian Mysteries) is taken from his Mother when only three nights old, as the story goes in the Mabignogion. He represents an innocence. In the still strong mysteries of Mabon and Modron, the Great Mother, he is lost and imprisoned, but his primal innocence is held to turn away harm. Though he is lost, he has the power of protecting Life.
As I look at a photo of my mother when she was sixteen, and another of her when she was about eighteen (when times were different), I am moved by the kind of innocence I see there – as one may be when gazing into young eyes particularly.The vision can make me weep … I know why mothers have cried at their daughters’ weddings – especially in a patriarchal context; for me, it is the losses and pain I see down the track for her, and it extends to my own personal journey and it is also Larger. As I see it, it is the loss of organic innocence – all the forgetting.
I feel the passion to honor this power of organic innocence – can we remember it? Do we know what it is?
For me, the Seed which is celebrated at Autumn Equinox, as it was in the Eleusinian Mysteries of Old, may represent this power – its information is direct from the Cosmos, an organic innocence: it is an intelligence. It is a power that may bring one through all kinds of compost … as in the stories of Mabon and Persephone and other Courageous Beloved Ones that journeyed/journey to the dark depths and return – ever-new.
This primal innocence is also the certainty that all will be well – a deep confidence in the delicate yet perdurable balance of Creativity that the Cosmos has exhibited for some thirteen point seven billion years, a faith in the curvature of space-time. The red threads and ribbons that are part of the Autumn Equinox ceremony as it is done at my place, may represent this organic innocence which is deep connection to the Mother. The red threads tied on each participant may signify that this organic innocence – life – persists, and continues beneath the seen: is never lost. The red thread is like the Seed – alive under the earth; and it represents our hope … IS our hope, for the resurgence of life. The Seed within each one holds all that is needed.
The balance of this time of Equinox, may express a Sacred Balance, a Care(-ful balance) that streams through the Cosmos. It is a power of the Universe. We may feel it. This is the Persephone who tends the sorrows. Participants in the Eleusinian Mysteries of Demeter and Persphone are said to have worn red threads, signifying their participation in the vision of the continuity of life, their capacity to see it: all are the Seed. Just so, we may be the Seed – it is in our Hearts. The red threads beneath the surface pulse with life. Earth is Seed … what will grow?
(c) Glenys Livingstone 2017
For the full text of Lyn’s funeral ceremony: Lost Beloved One at Autumn Equinox
If you enjoyed this essay, you may also enjoy PaGaian Cosmology Meditations CDs – also available in digital format, the whole set or just the AutumnEquinox/Mabon track.
 In later tales Mabon is transformed into the role model for the Western knight. See Claire French, The Celtic Goddess, p.58.
 See also Caitlin and John Matthews, The Western Way, p.83.
 Cosmologist Brian Swimme has said that his faith “is in the curvature of space-time”, Canticle to the Cosmos.
 Brian Swimme names Earth this way, Canticle to the Cosmos, video #6 “A Magical Planet”.
French, Claire. The Celtic Goddess. Edinburgh: Floris Books, 2001.
Livingstone, Glenys. PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion NE: iUniverse, 2005.
Matthews, Caitlin and John. The Western Way. London: Penguin, 1994.
Swimme, Brian. Canticle to the Cosmos, DVD series. https://storyoftheuniverse.org/store-2/dvd/canticle-to-the-cosmos-2/