I strongly believe that spirituality should be joyful and even fun. As Madeleine L’Engle wrote, “joy is also a promise,” a promise of the inborn goodness of life, living beings, and the universe; a promise that joy is essential to who we are as human beings. In that spirit, every year I create a diorama retelling some ancient spring myth using Peeps candies, partly as a new kind of everyday celebration of the Spring Equinox and partly because I like to eat the leftover candy.
A number of people have asked for a photo of this year’s diorama, and it seemed that posting it was the most efficient way of both showing a picture and explaining the story. So, here it is:
The Reunion of Demeter and Persephone: A Moment in Peeps
The diorama depicts the moment when Demeter is reunited with her beloved daughter Persephone. This is a story with many versions, but the basic tale concerns Demeter, the goddess of abundance, who oversees the growth of life on Earth. Her daughter Persephone, is either kidnapped or chooses to go to the Underworld with Hades (depending on which version you follow), where she stays for some months. Demeter, in her grief, turns the world to a cold and desolate winter wasteland. Eventually, Persephone is rescued or chooses to return to the Earth’s surface, where she is reunited with her mother. In joy and gratitude, Demeter makes the world bloom once again, bringing springtime to the Earth. However, because Persephone has eaten pomegranate seeds while in the Underworld, she must return there for three months each year, in winter, before returning again every spring.
Demeter is the purple Peep and Persephone, the yellow Peep, is running to her. They are within moments of being reunited in the diorama. You can see the snow on the ground and in the trees, but also the flowers and green shoots beginning to appear. Hades, the pink Peep, is standing at the gate to the Underworld, trapped and watching, angry or sorrowful. The bears, gummi bears in fact, are doing a little romp while humans, the green Peeps, are dancing in a circle.
Ancient stories are most meaningful when we take them out of books and the realm of history and find ways to bring them into our own lives. I do this in many ways, and in Spring, I do it with this little, fun diorama ritual. If you have unique ways of celebrating the Spring Equinox or ancient stories, I would love to hear them!