Goddess Demeter  

Posted by Stella Clark

Goddess Demeter Cover
DEMETER (Roman name Ceres) was the goddess of agriculture who brings forth the fruits of the Earth, particularly the various grains.. Demeter as the sister of Zeus and the mother of Persephone. She taught mankind the art of sowing and ploughing so they could end their nomadic existence. As such, Demeter was also the goddess of planned society. She was very popular with the rural population. As a fertility goddess she is sometimes identified with Rhea and Gaia. Persephone was gathering flowers in a meadow one day when a huge crack opened up in the earth and Hades, King of the Dead, emerged from the Underworld. He seized Persephone and carried her off in his chariot, back down to his his realm below, where she became his queen. Demeter was heartbroken. She wandered the length and breadth of the earth in search of her daughter, during which time the crops withered and it became perpetual winter.

At length Hades was persuaded to surrender Persephone for one half of every year, the spring and summer seasons when flowers bloom and the earth bears fruit once more. The half year that Persephone spends in the Underworld as Hades' queen coincides with the barren season. When depicted in art, Demeter is often shown carrying a sheaf of grain.

In systematized theology, Demeter is a daughter of Cronus and Rhea and sister of Zeus by whom she became the mother of Persephone. When Persephone was abducted by Hades, lord of the underworld, Demeter wandered the Earth in search of her lost child. During this time the Earth brought forth no grain. Finally Zeus sent Hermes to the underworld, ordering Hades to restore Persephone to her mother. However, before she left, Hades gave her a pomegranate. When she ate from it, she was bound to spend a third of the year with her husband in the infernal regions. Only when her daughter is with her, Demeter lets things grow. The dying and blossoming of nature was thus connected with Demeter.

In the Eleusinian mysteries, Demeter and Persephone were especially venerated. When she was looking for her daughter, in the shape of an old woman called Doso, she was welcomed by Celeus, the king of Eleusis. He requested her to nurse his sons Demophon and Triptolemus. To reward his hospitality she intended to make the boy Demophon immortal by placing him each night in the hearth, to burn his mortal nature away. The spell was broken one night because Metanira, the wife of Celeus, walked in on her while she was performing this ritual. Demeter taught the other son, Triptolemus, the principles of agriculture, who in turn, taught others this art. In Demeter's honor as a goddess of marriage, women in Athens, and other centers in Greece, celebrated the feast of Thesmophoria. Throughout Classical times members of all social strata came from all parts of the Mediterranean world to be initiated in and celebrate her Mysteries at Eleusis.

In ancient art, Demeter was often portrayed sitting as a solemn woman, often wearing a wreath of braided ears of corn. Well-known is the statue made by Knidos mid-4th century B.C.E. Her usual symbolic attributes are the fruits of the earth and the torch, the latter presumably referring to her search for Persephone. Her sacred animals were the snake and the pig. Some of her epithets include Auxesia, Deo, Chloe, and Sito. The Romans equated her with the goddess Ceres.

Further reading (free e-books):

Francesca De Grandis - Be A Goddess
Francesca De Grandis - Goddess Initiation

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This entry was posted on 25 February 2009 at Wednesday, February 25, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the .