by Tim Kavi
Demeter is known as the Greek goddess of the harvest and fertility. She is known as a goddess of origin, divine order and giver of food. She is also frequently associated with ruling over unwritten law, the law of nature which defines agriculture and civilized society. This can be implied that she helps to control the cycle of life and death, though not all interpretations of the myth of Demeter include this interpretation. Much of the association with Demeter and life and death stems from the myth of her daughter, Persephone who is featured along with Demeter in the Eleusinian mysteries.
The religious writing around Demeter shows her as taking on a variety of different religious functions. In ancient history, many worshiped her as the “mother earth” or the Great Goddess who oversees the function of agriculture. Many harvesters would worship her, hoping that Demeter would offer her blessing for the work that they completed. Some areas of Greece have found earlier descriptions of Demeter acting as a poppy goddess with the belief that she was responsible for bringing poppies to Eleusis in Crete.
Demeter’s daughter Persephone was said to have been kidnapped by Hades who was looking for a queen to rule beside him in the underworld. Upon realizing that her daughter had been taken, Demeter fell into a deep sense of grief, causing all life on earth to begin dying. To prevent extinction, Zeus sent Hermes to return Persephone to her mother. To prevent this, Hades tricked Persephone into eating a pomegranate which bound her to the underworld. It was agreed that Persephone would spend a third of the year with Hades in the underworld and the remaining time on earth with her mother. This corresponds to the changing of the seasons. As Persephone leaves to perform her duties in the underworld, Demeter falls sad and life dies away in the winter months.
There were several cults that honor Demeter throughout Greece, Sicily and Crete. The ancient cult of Amphictyony on the coast of Thessaly was one of the most well-known of these cults. There is also the festival of Demeter of Mysia. This festival lasts for seven days and passes the shrine to Demeter as the parade moves from Mycenae to Argos. Only a few ancient texts describing this festival have been found so it is unclear how the deity was honored during the festivities.
Another interetsing fact about Demeter as she is presented in mythology (Demeter, who was also known in other terms as 'Ceres') is that she never wanted to make her abode with other goddesses on Olympus. Rather, she wanted to be down to Earth and abide with her followers and those close to her, in her own temples, as a goddess with them.--TK
The image above is artwork from the work of a contemporary and interesting artist; Howard David Johnson --who draws goddesses, beautiful women, and mythological figures. ~~TK