demeterA little light levity…

Spring: Persephone wasn’t known –as princess—except at home. Now she’s queen in Hades half the year, ever far, ever near these 1000s of years –angst for the memories; there aren’t nearly enough.

Hail Hallowed Heathenites,

I use that term affectionately. I’ve called my darling daughter a wild heathen more times than I can count. She’s a sideways seducing entrancer, and bellows quite the wicked war hoot when things don’t go her way. They also say she’s a necromancer! More than once I thought her flaming red hair would catch her face on fire.  She curses like a sailor and dances like a dervish. Who do you think taught them? Once she gets going, everyone feels the earth move under her feats…

Last post in the Maddening Moon I wrote I had a plan for finding my errant offspring. The idea came to me when I was conferring with besties Hermes & Hekate. We wondered which is the 2nd oldest profession—motherhood or spying? We admitted there were similarities: love and devotion to the craft, sacrifice, an ability to spot a lie, and both crafts mentor all races, countries, economic levels… After several magnums of Retsina (it’s an acquired taste), we couldn’t agree which came 2nd, however, we decided the perks were better as a spy. I suspect mothers are the best spies of all.

For a few hundred years, Persephone was easy to track and return to her native soil. I simply followed her heel kicking, joy jigging, heel stomping footsteps round the world. Hermes let me borrow his invisibility gear, and Ares lent me the very same lasso he later gave to his kid Hippolyta. He regretted that decision and vowed revenge on supreme bitch Hera after her actions caused the worst sort of calamity. You can bet your sweet ass he got even, but how he did it is another story for another time.

To recap—Heracles 9th Labor was to steal Queen Hippolyta treasures and deliver them to Admete, crooked King Eurystheus’ daughter. But Heracles was so impressed by those audacious Amazons, he couldn’t do it. Hippolyta was enamored by the brawny bugger and gifted him with a gilded girdle and the lasso anyway. She decided to throw his crew a bon voyage feast, followed by a symposium, aka drinking orgy.

Meanwhile, atop Mount Olympus, Hera was smoking mad. Though centuries had elapsed, Hera’s hatred of Heracles burned like a white hot poker. She looked for any opportunity to muck him up.  While everyone was drunk and disorderly, Hera morphed into a faux Amazonian and whispered Io a few semi-sober sisters that his men were going to kidnap their queen. A bloody terrible battle ensued, one that even the god of war had no stomach for—his daughter Hippolyta was killed. After that, in grief and solidarity, the Amazons swore off men and hacked off one of their breasts.

9th labor…that reminds me what I went through birthing her, and keeping secret about who her father was. For those who haven’t ever had a labor pain, imagine the agony of 100 Brazilian wax jobs, while passing a fully formed 10 pound alien porcupine through a hole no bigger than a drachma, and simultaneously getting smacked in the gut by a team of Titan Cyclops, that’s childbirth.

The pain and glory of knowing her father isn’t describable. We had the most breathtakingly tempestuous affair. On our second tryst, when I thought he said, ‘kiss me, I’m bored,’ I wacked him so hard with a sheath of barley, he saw stars and moons. Still, he persisted, explaining what he’d said was ‘kiss me, I’m yours.’ I was his from that moment on, smitten, swooning at mere mention of his name, still am. But that’s another story, and telling it in the spring, when you Heathenites think love, lust, and sex is all the same thing would make me sadder than the Cumae Sybil when she realized all that remained of her after 1,000 years was her voice. What I learned from him was love gives, lust and sex takes away. Love is like that virus you’re passing round the world—you never know who’s going to catch it or how bad it will affect you.

There I was, a single mom with two full time jobs—raising and taming Persephone and regulating and sowing the seasons. Millions of you Heathenites depended on me. But as soon as she could walk, my girl wandered. She took off across Europe on Io’s back, scaled the Atlas Mountains with Pan, and rode with Hyperion in his chariot across the universe. I had my work cut out steering her straight; we only herd the ones we love, no? She was more than a handful. Let me put it in words you would understand. She was a nightmare on Sesame Street. She had a saucy way and a tart tongue. By age 13, she was fire and ice, with a pinch of vice. But ain’t it just like that Frenchie St. Exupery said, ‘you become responsible forever for what you have tamed.’

Upon reflection, her flippant ways were far preferable to the dramatic bouts of deadly quiet. The ancients said silence is golden. That’s true unless you have a child, then silence is suspicious. Another Frenchie, a Monsieur DeGalle, said ‘silence is the ultimate weapon of power.’ That man was on to something. Not only did I have to content with Persephone’s willful ways and teaching Agi 101 to you Heathenites, I had to deal with the other immortals.

Amid their incessant squabbling about whose power was the greatest, or most valuable, I desperately wished just one of them possessed a radar sharp gift for finding lost kindred kind. Selene bragged she caused oceans and women’s monthly tides to rise and fall. Medusa’s talking head liked to remind us she still had power to turn flesh and bone to stone and ashes. The men were the loudest braggarts, naturally. Only Hermes and Hekate remained mute regarding their cornucopia of capabilities.

Back to my plan, I realized I needed a clandestinely clever spy device. Now officially, Hermes is considered the master spy; isn’t it just like historians to give all the credit to a man. Would it surprise you to learn Supreme bitch Hera was second to none as a super spy? She sent gadflies to plague Io who had disguised herself as a cow to escape Hera’s randy husband Zeus. He’s worse than Narcissus, Pan, and his son Cupid combined. He likes to say things like ‘if loving muses is wrong, I don’t want to be right.’ I think, though, he met his match in Hera. She bribed Medea to make potions that loosened tongues, paralyzed, or cunningly killed. She helped Bubo invent all kinds of technological wonders, a flying owl made of brass and tin, a mesh veil that worked much like Hermes cloaking devise, and a crystal bowl that when vibrated drove humans mad.

While earth slept and you Heathenites hibernated, Bubo made me dozens of teeny, tiny little motorized golden gadflies. I knew Hades was releasing Persephone from the portal inside the Cumae cave this year. My friend Demo—that was the Sibyl’s name when she was flesh and blood—promised to activate the gadflies with her voice as Persephone emerged from the underworld. The gadflies would hitch a ride in her hair. I’d track her movements via GPS. When she settled down to sleep, I’d snatch her, and with Hyperion’s help, get her back to terra firma in time for those pesky rites vital to ensuring spring is sprung, the grass is riz, and all the pollinating gets did…whatever.

That was the plan and it would’ve gone off without a hitch except for one thing—she brought with her a pup from Cerberus’ latest litter. He was a cute little rascal. She called him Sirius. He had just one head and a hellacious appetite. Unfortunately, his saliva was deadly. My delinquent daughter should have known this. The precocious pup swallowed most of the gadflies before they could perch in Persephone’s hair. Before I could grab her and the pup, I noticed wherever the dog had drooled or peed around the cave, poisonous plants sprang up. As they ripped and romped across Italy’s boot, I raced behind them, pulling up by the root as many of the deadly plants as I could.

In the harbor in Napoli, my cheeky lass saw me and chirped, ‘Hey mother, I mythed you. Bye now.’ A ship with black sails and cross bones was hugging the shoreline and Persephone and the mutt dove into the water and swam towards the ship. I cried out to my rum drunk faux bro Poseidon to lend me a hand, but the pompous potentate just waved.

Now I don’t expect much from my errant offspring; an occasional thanks would be nice. I don’t even like your 20th century idea of a mothering day. It’s ridiculous. Motherhood was a grand disappointment to Madame Bovary. Hamlet’s mom was overly preoccupied with other men. We don’t need to mention Hera’s bestie Medea and what she did. As for Mommy Dearest, there was a reason she wasn’t able to bear children. I think about the sad motherless moms and moms that lost their child and the other 364 days of the year when kids ignore their moms, and you Heathenites ignore the Great Mother.

However, during the ages you called dark, there actually was a reason for a mothering day. Children were taken from their parents and put to work on farms or in mines, or became servants to the gentry. After the spring planting was done, they were allowed to go home and visit their moms; it was a short lived celebration and commiseration for the sagging breasts and stretch marks we acquired.

Life is full of ironies; when Persephone was 12 and I allowed her to visit Auntie Hekate in what was considered an unsavory part of the city, she asked, ‘but what if I’m kidnapped?’ My response was ‘trust me, they’ll bring you right back.’ Despite the fact that she actually was kidnapped at 15, I wish someone would do that right now—bring her back to me, sassy mouth and all. ‘Reach for the stars,’ she told me laughingly when she was 13, it’ll keep your bobs from sagging.’

Bad decisions make for good stories. How I want that to be true. The most important thing we do as parents is to teach our children is how to succeed without us. Sorry, my daughter’s just not ready. I read that young caterpillars in the Mediterranean eat their moms as soon as they hatch. I coulda morphed into a bug and spared myself all this pain…but I’m an immortal. My daughter wanted the baklava baking, kiss the boo boo kind of mom, the one that stayed home in a big, white palace with a furry pet, and greeted her daily with kisses. She got me, Demeter, Titan Goddess of seasons and cycles, fertility and fragility of life; the crone, the eldest elder, bringer of beginnings and endings…yada, yada.

It was 24 hours until the equinox and accompanying rites of spring; I was one pissed mother, and I had several immortal scores to settle. There was no choice but to contact her father to help me set her straight and on terra firming—sans roaming ability until Fall. The gadflies had been deactivated, and while Sirius’ saliva did no damage to the sea, the minute the pup slobbered on dry land, more poisonous plants would appear. Her father was pro Heathenites as well, but he’d sacrificed a great deal already. It was time for Plan P, and maybe, just maybe, in addition to getting my daughter back, there’d be a little romancing of the crone as well?

(to be continued)