The Nurturing Mother of Late Summer

August 18, 2023 2:56 pm Published by

The golden glow of summer is present but slowly fading. Fruits are ripe as the land continues to give, and the Earth’s love for us can be seen, felt, and tasted. There’s much to celebrate and much to grieve. Burning land, displacement, and smoke-tinged air offer potent reminders of where we are. It feels like too much more often than not. Then I remember these cycles, even human-created, will continue with or without me and that soft spaces are needed. The Nurturing Mother of late summer holds out her bountiful arms to nurture our grief. Soft spaces exist to grieve and be held but sometimes need to be cultivated from within. 

In this month’s Seasonal Magic and Medicine, enjoy reflections on the Goddesses Ceres and Demeter, a short writing about our need for soft spaces, a guided journey meditation to connect with Nurturing Mother of Late Summer, and a ritual to connect with plants in your local environment. Click here to join my newsletter to receive these monthly Seasonal Magic and Medicine articles in your inbox. 

Ceres and Demeter

The presence of the Greek Goddess Demeter and Roman Goddess Ceres, who many believe are one and the same, move to the foreground during this season. Ceres and Demeter are Mother Goddesses of the harvest, grain, nourishment, protection, grief, and fertility. They help to ensure and protect a bountiful harvest while providing a warm lap for the impending grief of winter. 

L’ete, Ceres – Jean-François Millet (1864-1865). Wikimedia Commons.

In the case of Demeter, she knows her daughter, Persephone, who some view as an aspect of Demeter, will soon return to the Underworld for six months during the dark half of the year. Persephone returns to the Underworld by choice each year, rather than force, as a necessary aspect of the birth-death-rebirth cycle. Monica Sjöö references this in The Great Cosmic Mother, “As the Grieving, determined mother she descends to the Underworld–into social rebellion, role-reversals, personal madness, the dark journeys of introspection and disintegration that precedes creative, visionary power–to rediscover her own soul, retrieve the joyous daughter of self-determining life.”

Ceres was an especially beloved Goddess of the common people of Rome because she offered protection from the Roman empire and more closely resembled the original regenerative Earth Goddesses. I feel this protective essence of Ceres especially potent this season, in the land, and for the masses (human and more-than-human) demanding a liveable future. 

We see in these Goddesses an opportunity to be nourished by the land and be held in our grief as we honor cycles of death in the land and ourselves to “rediscover” our “own soul,” as Sjöö puts it. 

Creating Soft Spaces

Earth’s cycles persist. Embrace or ignore them, but know they won’t stop because you are them. Where’s your soft space, the unconditional embrace that helps you dance through these bright, burning unknowns?

Soft spaces exist. Flowers bloom, and trees fruit amidst climate collapse as their kin die, burn, or drown. They don’t hide away til it’s done. They lean in to be held and nourished from within and around. They allow it because they know they‘ll have a soft place to land, right here in the land. Swallowed up and held tight by the Great Mother’s embrace, all to rise and do it again. 

Painting: Ceres by Osmar Schindler. Wikimedia Commons.

Who holds you, dear one, when you realize the soft spaces were paved over? Where do you lay your grief and gather your love, or do they lie dormant and stagnant within you? 

The cycles will persist, with or without you, and whiteness and money will never be enough to save you. Mother Earth will forever continue to birth, dance, and die.

Every phase has its place in her warm embrace, readying for death and rebirth to continue. She’s breaking the pavement of soft spaces paved over.

Where does it leave you, us? The soft, warm lap of the Great Mother, the Earth, whoever you call them, offers this respite and the wisdom to remember. Their love can be seen in weeds weaving through cracks and Orcas fighting back. Each example a reminder that cultivating soft spaces together makes us much safer. 

Is it time for you to allow or to come out from hiding? When we build soft spaces together, they’re much harder to crack. The flowers do not struggle to bloom or do it alone. They take their time, roots connected to all. Taking cues from above and below, guiding them to grow, dance, and die. They know their blooming signals an eventual return to the soft space of compost, yet they move right along. Maybe that’s why we deny our own mysterious callings. We know it’s a surrender to eventually going back home. 

So, I ask you again, who holds you, dear one, when you realize the soft spaces were paved over? Where do you lay your grief and gather your love, or do they lie dormant within? Perhaps, we can create soft spaces together, held in the warm embrace of a Great Nurturing Mother. 

Nurturing Mother Meditation

What are you grieving this season? Let’s cultivate a soft space within to give it a home. Join me in a live circle to grieve and be held by the great Nurturing Mother of Summer by clicking here. Or, follow these steps to have a meditation journey of your own. As always, modify as needed. 

  1. Before you begin, bring something to mind that feels tender and needs grieving. You might decide to have a physical representation of what you are grieving. If so, you can have that with you for meditation, but it is not a necessity.
  2. Create a sacred space for your meditation in line with your practice. There are many ways to do this, like lighting incense, a candle, calling upon guides, and honoring the four directions. You might also like to play soft drumming music, or nature sounds that help you meditate. 
  3. Begin to focus on your breath and body. Spend as much time here as you need to feel aware and embodied. 
  4. Close your eyes or gaze softly ahead and begin to visualize with your mind’s eye an environment that feels safe. If you work with any guides or allies, you can connect with them here and invite them on the journey. 
  5. Notice a door appears, and if it feels aligned, walk through it. 
  6. Out ahead, you see a great stone circle. Walk in through the East to the center. From the center stone, orient yourself towards the Southwest and notice a warm golden glow. 
  7. As you exit the stone circle and walk towards the warm glow, become aware of how the environment looks, smells, and feels. 
  8. With the warm sun overhead, call upon the Great Mother with your grief in hand. She will appear uniquely to all, perhaps as a person or not or as the land itself. Allow yourself to be guided in how you interact with her. 
  9. Offer your grief to be held, again allowing your intuitive connection with her to guide you. 
  10. Spend as much time here, perhaps sitting in her lap, weeping, or noticing the beauty and nourishment of the season. 
  11. When you feel ready to go, thank the Great Mother, and head back towards the stone circle to the center stone. Pause at the center stone before exiting out the east and heading back to the doorway. 
  12. Once through the doorway, thank any guides or allies who accompanied you. Open your eyes and return to your space as you are ready. Consider journaling your experience, looking around your room, and having food and drink to help reorient you to your physical environment. 

Plant Connection Ritual

This ritual is an invitation to connect deeply with a plant(s) in your local environment as a form of gratitude and nourishment. The plant world’s ability to continue to give fruit amidst our quickly changing world holds wisdom. 

This ritual does not require receiving anything physical from the plant (although it could) and might come through as an insight or simply through being present with a plant’s beauty. 

Vervain, Verbena Stricta.

You might find it helpful to take some time before committing to this ritual to become more aware of the plants growing in your local environment and notice if any particular plants call to you or if you notice some more than others. 

You’ll need:

  • 20-40 minutes
  • offering (smoke, water, stone, anything that feels aligned with your practice)
  • plant(s)
  1. Based on what is accessible to you and your body, go for a walk or find a place to sit where there are plants. Doing this does not require a lush forest or prairie and can be done with plants in your yard, community, or even a shopping center. 
  2. Once you’ve decided on a location, find a plant you feel called to connect with and sit with or near it. Before connecting with the plant, consider asking permission to connect with it. If getting close to a plant is not accessible, you can perform this ritual as a meditation by visualizing the plant within your mind’s eye. 
  3. Notice how the plant supports life and gives to its local environment. Does it have fruit, flowers, or seeds? Are there bugs, birds, or bees on or around it? Is it protecting the soil? Notice the plants, leaves, fruit, or flowers. What do you find beautiful about them? 
  4. Consider asking the plant questions. Some to consider might be, “Tell me about your essence?”, “Who do you nurture?”, “What bring you joy?”, “Can I do anything for you?”, or “Would you like to give anything to me?”. Answers might come through as inner knowings, feelings, visuals in the mind’s eye, or inner dialogue.
  5. Act accordingly, and as you can, if you receive invitations to give or receive from the plant. For example, if you feel the plant wants water, bring it. If you feel the plant wants to share itself with you in some physical way, allow yourself to receive it (of course, do not ingest anything unless you know it is safe to do so.)
  6. Thank the plant for its energy and give your offering. 

As late summer slowly yields to fall, its beauty and bounty feel especially transient and tender. Our ever-turning cycles are a constant reminder that nothing lasts forever. Fortunately, lasting forever is not a prerequisite to savoring the fruit of the season, the joys of life, or the beauty of the earth. May your grief give way to soft spaces that allow you to be nurtured enough to descend into your own personal underworlds.

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About Cassie

Cassie Uhl is the author of five books and two card decks, an artist, intuitive energy healer, and death doula. Her lineage and practices are rooted in pagan earth-based spiritual practices of Northern Europe. She approaches her work and clients with trauma-informed support through all phases of life. She currently resides on the land of the Myaamia people in so-called Indiana of the US.