Persephone Speaks

by Katie LaFond

Editor’s note: Twelve women, supporting a Web that cradled the Earth, wearing masks crafted by Lauren Raine, presented “Goddess Speaks: Our Earth Has a Voice” at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago. The presentation was organized by the Rev. Angie Buchanan of Earth Traditions, and supported by drummer Helen Bond and harper Chris LaFond. In this post, Katie LaFond reflects on her preparation for, and participation in, the presentation. The masks can be seen here:

Part of my summer work this year was working with Persephone. I was invited by my friend Angie Buchanan of Earth Traditions to bring the voice of Persephone to her ritual, “Goddess Speaks,” at the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
It shouldn’t have surprised me that the work permeated my dreams and worked its way into my daily habits. It was such a part of my life by Lunasdal that it took me several minutes to remember it; for many surprised minutes I thought that I hadn’t done any summer work.
While I’m an animist, I appreciated the opportunity to delve more deeply into my relationship with Persephone, and to work to bring her forward on the world stage. I got to work with some incredible priestesses from around the country, and explore stories and webs, both old and very new. 
Persephone was Kore, daughter of Demeter and Maiden of the Spring Flowers. She is also Queen of the Underworld. Tending both Kids Club at Rites of Spring and working with Twilight Covening helped me appreciate the way she fully embodies both roles without apology. 
In preparing our presentation, when the other priestesses seemed to be doing their best writing in the deep of night with the full moon, I shouldn’t have been shocked that at Beltane, Persephone waited until the sun was high in the sky to send words to fall out of me. Completely unprepared, surrounded by flowers, in my gardening gloves and a big hat, sitting in a pile of mulch next to radishes that had just sprung up from the deep dark depths of fertile soil, I recorded the following on my phone which needed almost no editing after:
Even the God of the Underworld didn’t know what he was asking for when he brought me to his realm. I don’t need you to understand me. Your need for understanding isn’t my problem. Still, I bring you these words.
I have dirt under the fingernails of one hand, and blood beneath the other. What would happen if you stopped underestimating women? 
If you don’t seek rest, rest will take you. What would be possible if cultures embraced rest and reflection, and not unsustainable, cancerous growth? 
Sometimes, change comes that we don’t choose, and we learn things about ourselves that we don’t like. What happens if instead of fighting change, we decide to be curious?
I love my mother. I love my husband. I love the slender seedlings and I love tending the bones.Who would you be if you embraced all of your parts? 
Dance with discomfort. Breathe into the gray areas. Release your need to be right.What does it feel like if you learn to hold paradox like you hold your lover’s hand?
I receive both my crown of flowers and my crown of bones with eagerness and poise. What would this world look like if we weren’t a death denying culture? 
I cannot be all things to all people all of the time, but the night is long, and all of us are complicated creatures. What would be possible if we eased into our discomforts and asked what power lies beneath?
Be unashamed of your naked self, and savor the joy of sharing your bodies in consensual sex. Why must I remind you again and again that sex, bodies, and joy are sacred?
Live your stories of courage, growth, and kindness, that you have stories to share in my unending halls. Are you in a rush to meet me, with all of these climate disasters you nurture with your short sightedness? 
Who are you if you let go of who you’re expected to be?Bloom where you are planted.

In the Spirit of the Earth, Katie LaFond

Katie LaFond is a member of the Board of Directors of the EarthSpirit Community.

Photos by Drake Spaeth and Angie Buchanan

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