February 28, 2013

Demeter: Goddess of Determination

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , , , , at 9:46 am by Babs

Demeter, in Greek mythology, was the Goddess of corn and the harvest.  When her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades, God of the underworld, Demeter’s grief was so great that she refused to be goddess of the grain any longer.  Her neglect of the land meant no plants grew, and famine devastated the earth.  She neither ate nor slept, she roamed land and sea and refused to give her up for lost – her dedication to the search devastating herself and the earth.

Demeter is the Goddess of the earth, agriculture and fertility in general.  Sacred to her are livestock and agricultural products, poppy, narcissus and the crane.  She is the mother of Persephone by Zeus.  During the months Persephone lives with Hades, Demeter withdraws her gifts from the world, creating winter.  Upon Persephone’s return, spring comes into bloom.

Other names and titles: Achaiva – Spinner, Amphictyonis – name at Anthela, Achaea – name in Athens, Ceres in Roman Mythology.

Her celebration, 27th March, is actually shared by two Goddesses: Demeter Goddess of the Earth, and Selene Goddess of the Moon.  It represents the creation of Selene and the moment Demeter was granted power oer the earth.

The Goddess Demeter was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians in the form of Isis; to the Romans she was known as Ceres; and people in both ancient and modern times speak of Gaea, the earth, she is Demeter.  Demeter chooses to appear older than most other Goddesses, somewhere in her mid 50s. She has a full figure and rich golden hair the color of ripened corn, and she wears it plaited like a coronet, though sometimes this is covered by a veil.  Demeter radiates dignity.  Her eyes are most unusual: a mixture of blue and green and grey.  She wears a long, loose-flowing  pale blue gown.  Demeter features in one of the most dramatic of mythical tales: the abduction of Persephone by Hades.

“I am the mighty Goddess Demeter.  As the weeks pass my name will become more familiar.  Mortals need instructing on farming and I am the one to do it.  I have spoken and explained much and many are changing their methods.  Although it takes longer, the old way of plowing a field was much better for the earth than the way it is now done.  Oil seeps into the soil from machines; chemicals poison the earth.  The use of weed killers and pesticides must stop.  That is why there are so many strange illnesses that were not known in the past.  Those that destroy nature’s balance whether it be on land or sea will not be allowed the freedom that they hope will be theirs.  Those responsible will be punished, and in some cases severely.  There will be retribution.  Those who experiment and develop deadly chemicals for agricultural use will pay in full until they abandon this.”

Although Demeter may be the original ‘earth mother’, and people might assume her to be the kind and gentle Goddess of our planet, make no mistake she is fierce.  For nearly two years our team members were dragged through fields, withered with chemicals and burned along with stubble, the objective, explained Demeter, was for a mortal to literally experience what the chemicals and other modern agricultural practices felt like.

For those moments the team-members experienced what the earth experienced and it was both frightening and painful.  When Demeter makes threats, take them seriously.

“When mortals worshipped us centuries ago they grew flowers and crops without all this.  The crops grew in abundance.  Now with all this the crops are not as healthy and mortals endanger their own health yet think they are overriding nature.  That can never happen.  This is why I am trying to influence mortals as much as I can.  I am the great Demeter and I will succeed.  There were many ceremonies for me in the old days and fertility rites performed.  That was not necessary.  In days long gone there was celebration, much feasting and drinking of wine at festivals.  Entire villages were very merry, full of good food and wine.  It grieves me tha this practice was not continued.  Through the mists of time I have been forgotten, but mortals will again become aware of my presence.”

The Skirophoria, which is also known simply as the Skira, is somewhat of  a mystery to us now.  We know that there was a procession that included the priestess of Athena, a priest of Poseidon, and a priest of Appollon. They began at the Acropolis and took the Sacred Way towards Eleusis, ending at the Kephisos River.  Eleusis is of course the center of the cult of Demeter and Kore, and it was here that their mysteries were celebrated.  There was also a women’s ritual honoring Demeter on this day, in which pigs were sacrificed to her.  The participants were supposed to avoid sexual contact, and were said to eat much garlic as a “turn-off” to their husbands.

As the goddess of grain and fertility, Demeter played an important – indeed essential – role in ancient Greek society.  The Greeks, like most ancient cultures, relied upon agriculture for their sustenance.  As the patron deity of agriculture, Demeter was accordingly worshipped with festivals such as Thesmophoria and other honors.  Likewise, her association with grain also translated into a close relationship with human fertility, as this was another crucial part in continuing survival.  There are, consequently, many myths dealing with Demeter in her capacity as a fertility goddess.

Perhaps the most poignant of these myths is the so-called Homeric Hymn to Demeter, in which the story of the goddess and the loss of her daughter Persephone is told.  The Hymn to Demeter is thought by scholars to be not only a myth about the abduction of Persephone and the consequent anger of Demeter – it also alludes to aspects of the mystery cult referred to as the Eleusinian Mysteries.  This cult falls more properly into the realm of Greek religion, rather than myth, so it will not be discussed in any detail here.  However, as it is an integral aspect of the worship of Demeter, it should at least be mentioned in this context.

In addition to the myth of Demeter and her daughter Persephone in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, another intriguing tale that involves the goddess of fertility is her affair with the mortal Iasion.  According to the version told by the poet Hesiod, Demeter and the hero “coupled with passion on a field plowed three times, in the rich soil of Crete.”  Apparently, this legendary liaison with Iasion was quite a fruitful one, for Demeter became pregnant and eventually bore her human lover a son named Plutus.  The goddess Demeter was known as Ceres in Roman mythology.

Suggested Mantra: Determination

Suggested Affirmations:

  • I can achieve my dreams
  • I am determined to succeed
  • I am a success in all that I do
  • I believe in my dreams and desires
  • Lives are made better by my efforts
  • I find my path following my inclinations
  • I am allowed to stop and appreciate the quiet

Gemstones:

  • Rose quartz
  • Pink tourmaline
  • Emerald
  • Green fluorite
  • Moss agate (pink and green stones)
  • Red jasper
  • Boji stone

Demeter’s search for her lost daughter Persephone took her on the path of poverty, abuse, and eventually madness.  But her perseverance and determination paid off in the end – as truly devoted motherhood always does.

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