In Greek mythology, Cassandra is one of my favourite supporting characters. She’s struggling through a life of prophecy, watching things come true as they happen, and yet no-one believes her when she predicts something. All because she spurned a god’s affection.
Some would probably say that it wasn’t the wisest move to anger a god – in fact I would apply that as a general rule in the mythology, since Greek gods weren’t exactly well-known for being forgiving. And yet, she had the bravery to do something like follow her heart even if she knew she might be punished for it.
My main line of thought when I think of Cassandra tends to centre on the Trojan War. How much exactly did she see with the Sight? Did she know in advance that loved ones would die, or did she manage to blot out the visions? I like to pick this line of thinking apart, taking it very analytically. Was it something she could focus, or, like other literary seers, was she drawn against her control into a vision? Did she reject Apollo knowing he would punish her, and the way in which he would do so or did she just take the gamble?
When thinking of songs to put to the theme, I thought of Cassandra and I thought of Sacred Heart, by The Civil Wars. In French, the song talks about being at a place and waiting on someone to arrive. Waiting on them to show up, even thinking about reasons that the person might not come.
How long was it after she spurned a god that she started waiting for people to believe her? I like to think of her as not a subservient type, brazenly telling someone that misfortune would happen, damn the consequences.
Eventually though, it must’ve worn her down. Eventually, I can imagine her seeing something that’s about to happen and giving up on saying anything, aware that someone wouldn’t welcome the prophecy anyway.
That’s what I want to see in the poems for prophetesses. Show me despondent, unbelieved and ignored prophecies. Create your own with a warning. Tell me about a bold woman who tells people everything they don’t want to hear and add a bit of destiny – but maybe avoid fate. Show me someone bold who makes her own rules, creates her path in life. Depict someone who has foresight, and uses it. Or maybe she doesn’t.
As an atheist, I’ve always been fascinated by biblical women; they’re so often relegated to mere objects or plot points in their husband’s or father’s stories, much like headlines pitch us wives and daughters instead of proper names now. Women like Lot’s wife aren’t even afforded a name (except for in a few Jewish traditions) while women like Jezebel have names translated as “where is the prince?” in a reference to her deity (yes, this is literally what biblical scholars translate her name as). Jezebel is both a strong woman, who is murdered for her strength and yet also a pawn; women are seen as duplicitous but only as a relational device for or against the men in their lives. Give me the Jezebels who have full interior lives and relationships with other women and staunchly hold their beliefs in the face of death. It’s always a good time to reclaim our names for ourselves.
Cauldron Anthology’s staff is so excited and proud to give you our first issue for 2018. InIssue 4 - Seasons we have collected poetry, art and fiction all based around the themes of the mythical figures Eostre, Persephone and Corn Mother.
Seasons come and change, and at the heart of it all so do we, this issue reflects on the changes that come through life. Each of the themes has a different story to tell in mythology and we hope you enjoy reading our contributors’ takes on them. In this issue we have a total of 16 different writers and artists and I thank each and every one of them for submitting to us. I also want to thank all of our readers and I sincerely hope you enjoySeasons.
Cauldron Anthology is now closed for Issue 4 submissions! The editors and founders would like to thank everyone who submitted, we have really enjoyed reading all your work.
We will be sending out acceptances/rejections in the next week or so and we thank you all for being patient. The issue will be live sometime early next month and we can't wait to share it with you all!
The editors and I had such a fun time putting together the playlist for last issue, that we decided to make a second one. The mix of music is rather eclectic, but maybe one or two songs will inspire you to contribute to Issue 4: Seasons. Our official themes are Eostre, Persephone and Corn Mother, and the deadline is March 27th.
If you follow us on twitter you might have heard a hint about this exciting change to Cauldron Anthology. Today we are officially changing out essay category to Non-Fiction. As of today we will accept creative 3rd person Non-Fiction, short memoirs, flash essays and book reviews. The word limit is up to 2000.
We are all very excited about these new changes, and we hope that this encourages you to submit to us. Just as a reminder the themes for Issue 4 are Eostre, Persephone and Corn Mother, and we close submissions on March 27th.
Corn Mother is a powerful symbol of feminism because she represents one of the most underappreciated jobs of a mother: her sacrifice. Details on the various versions of her story have been covered by previous posts, but the part that stands out to me is that despite being branded a witch by her own community and family, Corn Mother continues to love them and sacrifice of herself for their good. When I think of heroes, this is the type of story I think of: one in which the heroine is betrayed by her own people, but instead of seeking revenge, she blesses them and gives of her final breathes to make their lives better. This is important to me because I have a mother who sacrificed a lot to raise me and my siblings, and she deserves to be thanked more than I will ever have the chance to. So in my mind, Corn Mother is the perfect symbol for the undying love of the mother, whose love is so great it brings back the corn anew each harvest. Corn Mother is here to remind us that our mothers are looking out for us and deserve our thanks and our blessings because they have sacrificed more than many of us can ever imagine. And if/when we become mothers, I hope we can do their memories justice.
Persephone, queen of the underworld. It’s a title that sounds great on the surface, but then you peel back the layers of the story to find she was abducted by Hades, that she left behind a grieving mother determined to retrieve her by whatever means she could. Later in the story it’s found that she is bound to Hades, either through his trickery or her own intent, and thus, she can’t ever fully escape.
I’ve always considered this story to be one of symbiosis: how Persephone and her mother Demeter are separated for half the year, how the seasons were created in Demeter’s grief. How Hades demanded Persephone to be in the Underworld, permitting her to leave if she had abided by a rule she didn’t know existed. With poetry, I want to see beyond harvesting and autumn. Show me symbiotic relationships: show me gut-wrenching grief that shapes the world around a character; show me the closeness of two people familial or otherwise. Show me trickery, a strong character who makes their own decisions, plays by their own rules.
Persephone was the woman held captive in the underworld, forced by Hades to become his bride. She was the face of abused ladies who never had a choice, who cannot break free and were forced to call their cage a home, only in her case, she became queen of the dead and damaged.
She is also the goddess of spring, of rebirth--a far cry from the image she became known for. In her return lie resurrection for the barren earth and in her departure, the rest of everything fertile and in bloom.
Essentially, Persephone is a paradox, reigning in both death and life, always pacing at the edge. There is something so familiar, so comforting about learning this apparent duality to her being. Are we not all paradoxes ourselves?
For Issue 4, I want you to find answers of your own to this question. Show me the two sides of who you are. Tell me about how you survive, how you thrive, how you are both darkness and light wedged together in this earthly body. Go beyond the barriers of genres; pierce through the mind of Persephone and tell me about the parallels of who she is to who you are. Give me truth rooted on mythology. Tell me about her secrets by telling me yours. In the midst of your own chaos, your own underworld, rise and conquer. May your reign, your mystical words bring these bleak spaces, these blank pages back to life.