Ceres gets less attention than her older sister, Demeter, but she's long been a favorite Goddess of mine.
Cereswas the Roman goddess of agriculture, grain, and the love a mother bears for her child. She was the daughter of Saturn and Ops, the sister of Jupiter, and the mother of Proserpine. Cereswas a kind and benevolent goddess to the Romans and they had a common expression, "fit for Ceres," which meant splendid.
She was beloved for her service to mankind in giving them the gift of the harvest, the reward for cultivation of the soil. . . . Ceres was the goddess of the harvest and was credited with teaching humans how to grow, preserve, and prepare grain and corn. She was thought to be responsible for the fertility of the land.
Ceres was the only one of the gods who was involved on a day-to-day basis in the lives of the common folk. While others occasionally "dabbled" in human affairs when it suited their personal interests, or came to the aid of "special" mortals they favored, the goddess Ceres was truly the nurturer of mankind.
Ceres was worshipped at her temple on the Aventine Hill, one of the Seven Hills of ancient Rome.
. . .
The Romans explained the turning of the seasons with the following story: Ceres was the sister of Jupiter, and Proserpine was their daughter. Proserpine was kidnapped by Pluto, god of the underworld, to be his bride. By the time Ceres followed her daughter, she was gone into the earth. Making matters worse, Ceres learned that Pluto had been given Jupiter's approval to be the husband of his daughter. Ceres was so angry that she went to live in the world of men, disguised as an old woman, and stopped all the plants and crops from growing, causing a famine. Jupiter and the other gods tried to get her to change her mind but she was adamant. Jupiter eventually realized that he had to get Proserpine back from the underworld, and sent for her. Unfortunately, Pluto secretly gave her food before she left, and once one had eaten in the underworld one could not forever leave. Proserpine was therefore forced to return to the underworld for four months every year. She comes out in spring and spends the time until autumn with Ceres, but has to go back to the underworld in the winter. Her parting from Ceres every fall is why plants lose their leaves, seeds lie dormant under the ground, and nothing grows until spring when Proserpine is reunited with her mother.
Additionally, Ceres had twelve minor gods who assisted her, and were in charge of specific aspects of farming: "Vervactor who turns fallow land, Reparator who prepares fallow land, Imporcitor who plows with wide furrows" (whose name comes from the Latin imporcare, to put into furrows), "Insitor who sowed, Obarator who plowed the surface, Occator who harrowed, Sarritor who weeded, Subruncinator who thinned out, Messor who harvested, Conuector who carted, Conditor who stored, and Promitor who distributed".
Lammastide seems a good time to remember this agricultural Goddess who, although a benefactor of humankind, was willing to revoke her benificence when her daughter was mistreated.
There will be anger Followed by the deluge. We know we will be among the drowned. But we will take the devil with us down To the deepest of deeps: Our end will be his... But slowly... What will be said Of us when they look back on it all? What will be said Of us after the deluge, After the coming drowning, after the coming anger, What will be said of us poets and writers? Were we men in truth, Half-men Or mere shadows? Fear, Fear of the sword, Made of us something unspeakable -- Except in the vulgar tongue. [...] What will be said? Will it be said we chose silence For fear of death? The letter has an edge like a sword, Can turn against its speaker. [...] What will be said? Will it be said that we chose to speak in symbols, Whispers, silent gestures, In all the arts of coded speech? We said it all -- in vino veritas, But people Had other concerns: Their daily bread, A kilo of meat. [...] Maqrizi, You who always come after the deluge: A plague is a plague -- It always comes on the tail of a famine. It snatched your daughter, and many other daughters As the wolf was standing guard. [...] I hereby solemnly swear, Maqrizi, Not to leave this world Without scandal. I ask no one for justice: True justice is not to be begged. Our judges are high priests, Our high priests are distant And all are traitors. Let someone else write poetry, I am writing the Chronicles of Maqrizi. [...] I drink, day And night I drink. Sinking... I sink into my depths. There I see him, In my heart a holy pearl, Unbreakable, Even if a giant mountain falls upon it. When I sober up, I float to the surface, lose my pearl. Was it lost? No. It was me who was lost-- When I sobered up I floated to the surface. For sure the pearl is down there in the depths... No. It is between two thighs, trampled under feet Shod in military or civilian boots, Under the wheels of petro-dollar cars. [...]. Usually I drink from two glasses... My comrade in the madhouse died. He used to share my drink And share my grief. We had no time for joy: He used to share my past anger, And present anger -- and that to come. Usually I drink from two glasses, The second to toast him. But tonight I drink from one glass: It seems my friend, upon his death, Had given up drinking; Or maybe it was me who gave up. Then let me drink to giving up drinking Until the last of all the Noahs' arks has left With all those who will be saved from the coming deluge. ................. I sink and sink And see in my glass Monkey fornicating with rat Or rat fornicating with wolf Or wolf with owl. ................ Maqrizi's daughter is lost In the plague And the plague always comes on the tail of a famine, When prices are measured against a kilo of meat, Even the price of writers, novelists, poets, Artists and scientists, When the stuff of the dreams of the poor is meat; And fuul beans, Fruit for the masters. [...] I recall a poet's saying: I shall sleep not to see My country being bought and sold. [...] Then drink from two glasses, Or, if you wish, drink from one. If my death cannot be driven away, Then let me engage with it With what I have at hand.
- Naguib Surur ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Translated by Mona Anis and Nur Elmessiri Extracted from the Faris Akhir Zaman (Knight of Our Time) collection of poetry; published in Naguib Surur's Complete Works, vol. 4, General Egyptian Book Organization: Cairo, 1997 * Naguib Surur's son, Shohdy Naguib (Al-Ahram Weekly's webmaster), was arrested in the early hours of Thursday November 22 from his home in Sayeda Zeinab, Egypt.. Security forces raided his house at dawn, confiscated his computer and took him to Al-Sayeda Zeinab police station. According to Naguib, he's accused of posting the above poem, online, by his late father Naguib Surur, the renowned poet, playwright, actor and controversial figure
Here's a nice article about a soldier who made it home after an extended tour in Afghanistan. He discusses what it was like being over there and how he continued to practice his religion under those circumstances, giving a nice nod to Wicca:
The soldier, who brought his own siddur and kippah to Afghanistan, said that prayerbooks could be obtained from visiting chaplains. And, he noted, kosher food could be obtained on request.
"There’s a stereotype," he said. "People hear ‘Jewish’ and they hear ‘military’ — a minority within a minority. They ask me to tell them about anti-Semitism in the army, but I haven’t seen any," he said, noting that fellow soldiers "may be curious but I haven’t seen any discrimination."
"This country is great because it’s a conglomeration [of people] of all different backgrounds," he said, noting that he served along with Muslim, Buddhist, and Wiccan soldiers. "We’re fighting to keep it that way."
What I think that I want to say tonight is that living the life of a witch is, as the titular head of the resident junta often says, hard. It's hard to live with, as the Temperance Card in the Tarot shows, one foot in this world and one foot in the next. It's hard work, hard work, to function here and to function there. It's the deep secret that the High Priestess knows, the secret that she's brought back from the underworld.
Last night, my brilliant circle of women, my wonderful gift of a college of priestesses, were discussing, after our Lammas ritual, what is WRONG with so many Pagans. Why do so many Pagans seem to miss what it is about magic that is supposed to make life in the "mundane" (Goddess, do I hate that word as a complete misrepresentation of reality) world so effective? Margot Adler, whom I adore, has apparently been on about this, recently.
Even the amazing women with whom I practice, didn't have a real answer. And, I am gifted to practice with such an amazing group of initiates. Last night, K. priestessed a ritual that spanned from the ancestors to the future. N., wounded and yet, still magically effective, called to our ancestors. E called all the women of the world to open their throat chakra, as she and K. opened ours. The heady scents of rosemary (for remembrance) and the mint on E's hands (for immediate life) made us all a bit high and the chocolate of B.'s cake made us all a bit serious and full of courage. Today, BP. came home with photos of places in the homeland where women were sacrificed, where she, in memory of them, sat looking magnificent. I am so proud of her. She is working so hard right now to manifest the Goddess as mother, wife, mathematician, Hestia, teacher, gardener, witch.
It's hard work, hard work to smash other lawyers all day and then to come home and tend your gardens all night. And yet, it's the work of a witch, the work that I took up more than 20 years ago.
The Highland Clearances hard recruiting sergeants Scottish regiments for English battles potato famine later economic dearth and half a million Scots not to mention Irish directly or by circumstance driven from their land
As was for the Iraqi Kurds so was for the Gaelic ones ‘You see,’ said the Iranian scholar: ‘We are looking at a common history’ an archetypal commonality of suppurating colonisation perpetuation and re-perpetuation broken emigrants breaking First Nations hunting Aborigines, indenturing Africans Calvinist Apartheid oppressed turned oppressor lowest common denominator of brutality
And England ! You carver-up of nations for perpetual advantage! Divided self’s divide-and-rule worldview Yes, you, England ! dear England you too were cleft within your soul viscerally cauterised much further back in time by Roman and by Norman yokes of robber barons lords of war and land that laid you low
But still I sense your taproot yet to winnow from the karmic curse Winstanley’s England , Blake and Mary Webb Benjamin Zephaniah and Elizabeth Fry and George Monbiot in the Manchester Guardian and even a Great Chain of Liverpool Bishops grooving with Jah people in their struggle, their desperation their elation and their elevation
And did those feet on green and pleasant land? Of course they did! Aye … England … Sill writhing in the birth pangs of your great vocation See you, England … Jerusalem England !
Every summer I listen and look under the sun's brass and even into the moonlight, but I can't hear
anything, I can't see anything -- not the pale roots digging down, nor the green stalks muscling up, nor the leaves deepening their damp pleats,
nor the tassels making, nor the shucks, nor the cobs. And still, every day,
the leafy fields grow taller and thicker -- green gowns lofting up in the night, showered with silk.
And so, every summer, I fail as a witness, seeing nothing -- I am deaf too to the tick of the leaves,
the tapping of downwardness from the banyan feet -- all of it happening beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum.
And, therefore, let the immeasurable come. Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine. Let the wind turn in the trees, and the mystery hidden in the dirt
swing through the air. How could I look at anything in this world and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart? What should I fear?
One morning in the leafy green ocean the honeycomb of the corn's beautiful body is sure to be there.
~ Mary Oliver ~
Goddess only knows how many times I've blogged this poem, but it's the perfect Lammas poem. The final time that I blog it will be when I die -- it's one of three poems specified in my will to be read at my death.
Lammas is the feast of the first harvests. In February, we were starving and all our discipline went towards not eating our seed corn. Now, for every seed we saved, there are four tomatoes, three ears of corn, and, apparently, hundreds of zucchinis. (I love you, R., and I love your zucchinis.) Lammas is about how, if you persist, even when, especially when, things seem dark and horrible, things get better. The flip side of Lammas is about how, even when the sun shines brightly all day long in cloudless blue skies, even when there's gazspacho and pesto coming out the wazoo, even when you've eaten so many blackberries that your tongue is stained, you should put away as much as you can for February. My mother used to can food from her garden and August, for me, is inextricably bound up in steamy clouds of tomato juice and blackberry jelly and peaches, in the sudden "pop" that a Mason jar lid makes when the seal, that will protect the food from bacteria until you open the jar in winter, forms, in the feel of hundreds of skinned tomatoes and peaches passing through your hands in order to nourish your family. No. I didn't appreciate or enjoy it at the time -- it kept me from reading -- but that's what August means to me now, even though I haven't canned a thing in years and years and years. But tomorrow morning, I'll harvest herbs and hang them up to dry.
May your Lammas be a time of feasting, of enjoying whatever bounty your life has led you to create. May you have a true Lammas dream this evening and may you wake up tomorrow crystal clear about what it is that you need to put aside for the coming Hunger Moon. Let the immeasurable come. Let the unknowable touch the buckle of your spine. Let the wind turn in the trees, and the mystery hidden in the dirt swing through the air. How could you look at anything in this world and tremble, and grip you hands over your heart? What should you fear? One morning in the leafy green ocean the honeycomb of the corn's beautiful body is sure to be there. It's something to remember during the deep, dark Februaries of the soul.
Palm Desert's Efficiency, Renewables Plan May Become California Model
The introduction of various measures to promote energy efficiency and renewables by the resort city of Palm Desert was considered a potential model for other California cities to adopt, the Associated Press reported. In order to meet its goal of cutting demand 30 percent within five years, Palm Desert has promoted the use of electric vehicles and solar panels, developed stricter efficiency codes for homes, and proposed an Estonia Protocol for energy efficiency. The protocol has received $14 million of funding from the California PUC, with potential further funding after Palm Desert submits a study of its initial impact to the agency in 2008.
The city already has cut demand by 7 percent in the six months since starting the effort, with John Phillips, head of the Energy Coalition group that has advised the city, saying that advanced metering and demand response programs could produce further cuts. California PUC President Michael Peevey said of the protocol: "I don't think I said, 'This is ridiculous,' but I certainly was astonished." He added: "Here's the point: If they can do it or come close, most communities in the U.S. can do it."
Associated Press via the Deseret Morning News , July 29.
Thank every form of deity that exists, every dryad, every house brownie, every fairy in my yard! It's raining! A slow, soaking rain, just what my plants so desperately need. You can stand on my porch and hear the dried ground going, "Oh, yes, oh, yes, oh, yes, baby, yes, yes, yes, don't stop, yes!" Actually, this sounds, and smells, and looks, and feels a bit more like an Autumn rain than a Summer rain, but, beggars, and my datura, can't be choosers. It's a full Moon, it thundered all day while the women from my circle made ritual candles from the stubs of our old candles, and it's mere days from Lughnasadah, the first of the harvest feasts.
You will come in any case -- so why not now? How long I wait and wait. The bad times fall. I have put out the light and opened the door for you, because you are simple and magical. Assume, then, any form that suits your wish, take aim, and blast at me with poisoned shot, or strangle me like an efficient mugger, or else infect me -- typhus be my lot -- or spring out of the fairytale you wrote, the one we're sick of hearing, day and night, where the blue hatband marches up the stairs, led by the janitor, pale with fright. It's all the same to me. The Yenisei swirls, the North Star shines, as it will shine forever; and the blue luster of my loved one's eyes is clouded over by the final horror.
"'You don't get it.' " He said a senior official told him that "this will be a political document, or it will not be released."
I've blogged before about the Bush junta's efforts to turn the office of the Surgeon General into yet another tentacle of the Republican National Committee. Today's WaPo provides more details concerning the junta's willingness to put health behind politicls.
A surgeon general's report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration's policy accomplishments, according to current and former public health officials.
The report described the link between poverty and poor health, urged the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign policy, and called on corporations to help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate. A copy of the report was obtained by The Washington Post. . . .
The draft report itself, in language linking public health problems with violence and other social ills, says "we cannot overstate . . . that problems in remote parts of the globe can no longer be ignored. Diseases that Americans once read about as affecting people in regions . . . most of us would never visit are now capable of reaching us directly. The hunger, disease, and death resulting from poor food and nutrition create social and political instability . . . and that instability may spread to other nations as people migrate to survive."
In 65 pages, the report charts trends in infectious and chronic disease; reviews efforts to curb AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; calls for the careful monitoring of public health to safeguard against bioterrorism; and explains the importance of proper nutrition, childhood immunizations and clean air and water, among other topics. Its underlying message is that disease and suffering do not respect political boundaries in an era of globalization and mass population movements.
Honestly, this ought to enrage every single American, regardless of party affiliation. The Mayberry Machiavelli junta completely fails to understand the difference between the government -- which belongs to the American people -- and the Republican Party. The Republican Senators who stand as a bulwark protecting these criminals from impeachment were so upset over Clinton's "politicization" of the White House travel office -- an office far less important to the health and welfare of America's citizens than the office of the Surgeon General -- that they demanded an investigation and held serious hearings. This is a call to them: you must have a little bit of conscience left inside your party-owned hearts. Stand up for America, for a change.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."