The ATC’s Journey to the Underworld

They say that when we start playing with all these myths, and writing rituals, and sharing mysteries, that we often don’t know where that path will lead.  At Spring Mysteries Festival every year, the Aquarian Tabernacle Church puts on Paganism’s only annual passion play, the Eleusinian Mysteries.  If you’ve never been, Spring Mysteries Festival is the ONE pagan pilgrimage that you really owe it to yourself to find the money to attend.  If you were in Greece 3000 years ago, you would save up and make the pilgrimage to Eleusis.  If those mysteries were still going on in Greece today, we would all be saving up for a plane ticket and accommodations to experience the story of Great Mother and Holy Daughter and learn the mysteries imparted at the ancient altars of Eleusis.

Those mysteries are still going on today.  They are alive and well in Seattle, Washington.  Well, off the coast of Washington, over on the sound, but you’d fly into Seattle. The festival is held every year on Easter Weekend.  If you haven’t been, you absolutely owe it to your soul to come and experience when the Gods Walk the Earth.  My first year was one where they kept saying, “These mysteries will change you.”   I kept thinking, “Yeah, it will totally change all these other people.  Not me.  I mean, Persephone is my patron.  I teach these mysteries and perform similar rituals at my own coven.  So, I won’t be changed.  But, yeah – all these other people are in for a ride.”  Oh, the arrogance of a Leo child.  Oh, was I ever wrong.

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On Friday, at Parade to the Sea, when the Gods appeared as if from nowhere, Tears began leaking from my eyes and would not stop.  I was looking at Athena.  Not someone dressed as Athena, but ATHENA!  There was ARES!  There was HERMES!  There was the Great Mother and the Holy Daughter!  Tears stream down my face whenever I think of it.  That amazing moment touched me forever.  I cried the rest of the day.  Not sobs, just a continuous stream of tears.  I was home.

I joined the church as an affiliate leader.  I adored Pete, and talked with him often.  I worried about him being up at the Tab by himself.  Dusty encouraged me to start calling Pete every Tuesday to stave off Pete’s loneliness.  After asking him if I could help with anything every week for about 6 months, he decided to offer me the Seminary.  I was thinking more along the lines of writing an article for Panegyria.  But, we worked it out and it wasn’t soon before he presented me with the prospect of taking his place as Archpriest.  Archpriest? Or Archpriestess?  Uh…

I often think, how silly that there has been so much pain over a gender issue.  But this one thing, me being a woman and not a nan, caused a rippling impact in our church that plummeted us into our own group journey into the Underworld.  Oh, there were many other issues that rippled from this one.  So many, that we could not contain them all, or even sort them out.  Pain, hurt, anger, fear, and confusion brought gossip and tall tales which villainized our beloved leaders, or martyrd them depending on where your opinion landed.  The church that we knew, loved, and built our spiritual family in was torn in two, like the Great Mother and Holy Daughter, only in your face –  up close and personal.

The Mysteries seems so romantic when told in an afternoon, or over a period of a few days, hades_and_persephone_by_sayara_s-d4umejjwhen you can see the pattern clearly and all ends happily ever after.  But, when it’s happening to you personally, it’s dark, hard, cold, and depressing, with no end in site.  Why witches think the Underworld is a cool place to go see is beyond me, even though I too romanticize the journey.  The reality of experiencing death, whether in the loss of a person, or in the loss of anything, it hurts.  Oh yeah, it changes you, but it hurts like Hades too.

You’re this way because these are the choices you willingly made.  To change, the Goddess sometimes has to make choices for you.  Ones that you wouldn’t make.  Lessons of the Dark Goddess suck!  But, they are necessary, and they do often take you to your goals.

We ritualize and explain this over and over.  The Lessons of the Dark Mother are upon you when you’re angry at the path, when you don’t understand, when you don’t know, but have judged, when you think someone or something is WRONG.  We know it’s a time to reflect and look within.  It’s a time to consider other choices.  It’s a time to change within.  It’s not a time to attack others, but more often than not, in our pain, that’s what we do.  That’s what Demeter did.  She couldn’t help it.  She blighted the earth.  Maybe because she was mad.  But, probably because she was in so much pain she couldn’t help it.  It takes happiness and love to make something fertile.  It takes happiness and love to go to work everyday, to feed your family, to nurture your children.  It takes happiness and love to keep getting up every morning and doing what you have to do.

We were all real complacent with the ATC and what it was doing.  Things seemed Utopian from the outside, like Camelot, or maybe Avalon.  When it came to our realization that Pete and Debbie were not going to go on forever, and change was upon us, it plunged all of us into Demeter’s state of losing our own personal Holy Daughter, the church we all loved, nurtured, and put a ton of our sacred energy into.

How has it changed us?  How will we come through this?  The fear, the anger, the pain –  it has touched us all.  All of us have sacrificed.  All of us have lost something important to us.  None of us got what we wanted – not Pete, not Debbie, not me, not you.  But now that we have Blue Persephonerecognized that we are walking the Eleusinian Mysteries as a church, what do we do with that?

Release judgement, for one thing.  Release the fear.  Forgive everyone that hurt you.  Forgive yourself for being hurt.  Forgive the path for being hard.  Forgive the Goddess for giving us what we need to grow and transform.  Forgive the church for being part of the cycle that it has taught to the world for 30 years.

Remember this story ends in love, and get back to it.

How do you do that?  Well, you say it, you write it, you declare it to others.  Then you fill that void with gratitude.  You look at what good has come of it.  You look at what you learned.  You remember the good times, and those you loved, and you reconnect with them.  You vow to continue to be ever loving, ever growing, ever changing, ever lasting.

Eleusis.  It’ll change you.IMG_1340


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