For ancient Celtic tribes, October is the Moon of Ivy, the evergreen plant that is said to harbor fairies dancing in its abundant folds. This association with fairies, an immortal race that rides the backs of butterflies, invokes the themes of the timelessness of the soul, physical death and resurrection. It is the time of Samhain, (Sow’ when) when the veil between this world and the next thins and those sensitive enough can communicate with the souls of the departed.
For the astrological significance of this moon we turn to the book the Celtic Lunar Zodiac by Helena Paterson,published in 1992 , a painstaking and rich work that recreates the meaning of the lost Celtic Calendar.
“Astrological rulership is partly designated to the moon, for in esoteric astrology the sun and moon are said to veil or eclipse hidden planets. The moon in the month of the ivy is therefore veiling a hidden planet yet to be discovered, and which, according the ancients, lies on the other side of Pluto. The of name of Persephone has been chosen because of the evidence for this planet . . . This choice of name is not by chance, but fits into the mythological cycle of the planets in our universe. In Greek mythology, Persephone, daughter of Ceres, the great earth mother goddess, was kidnapped by Pluto, god of the underworld, forced to remain with him for six months of the year.”
This planet was discovered in 2003, but not named Persephone. It is now called Sedna, the Inuit Goddess of the Sea, who among other things, demands a shaman to visit her from time to time in her watery depths, to tell her stories and comb her long beautiful hair. In return her allows her sea children, the seals and the whales, be hunted for food. Sedna was transmuted into the Goddess of the Sea by the betrayal of her father. He murdered her rather than face the wrath of Sedna’s demon husband. Persephone’s story is that she was forced into marriage to the powerful god of the Underworld who kidnapped, then raped her, to make her his bride.
In the story of Persephone and Sedna the common theme is that they faced the overwhelming force of the male principal as controllers of womens’ destinies, those that will use any means, murder, kidnapping, rape, to secure what they desire.
The Month of Ivy is a time of examination of what had gone before and a time a prophecy to see what it is to come. It is a time to look at the darker places of our soul. Maybe this is why of all months, for us Americans, October, in the natural synchronicity that governs our lives October is designated Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
This month we look at an ugly side for the life of some Americans, the abuse of family members at the hands of their significant others. This hidden side of women’s lives masks a bigger problem, that of a cultural dynamic that is so out of balance that one in four American women are subject to violence at the hands of their partners. However this is a world wide problem. In Afghanistan, one in nine women are abused.
The Celtic peoples strove to maintain balance in their lives with dire consequences if it was not maintained. The story of Branwen, the abused wife of the High King of Ireland, demonstrated the serious consequences of not valuing women. In the end, not just her and her husband’s families but two nations lay in ruin. This is a lesson to bring forward to our time, and something to reflect on during the Month of Ivy.