D is for Demeter.
Demeter is Goddess of the Harvest, of the Greek Pantheon.
It is Demeter, who grows the crops of grain and corn and oversees the harvest of the primary sustenance of mankind.
She is an Earth Goddess, a Goddess of Agriculture and fertility in general.
Demeter is the daughter of Cronus and Rhea, and mother of Persephone, whom she bore from Zeus, King of the Gods.
Demeter and Zeus mated in the form of two entwining serpents.
Persephone is the Goddess of Springtime, and also Queen of the Underworld for the other half of the year.
While out picking flowers, Persephone was abducted by Hades, Lord of the Underworld.
He dragged her down to his abode, intending to take her as his wife.
Demeter loved her daughter dearly, and was very distraught when she discovered her missing.
Both Helios and Hekate had heard Persephone’s cries for help, yet only the soft-hearted Hekate sought out Demeter, to inform her of her daughter’s fate.
In her grief and upset, Demeter brought down a curse upon the earth, that nothing should bloom or grow there upon, in short, winter.
Only after a time of watching the earth shrivel away and die, did Zeus vow to help Demeter retrieve Persephone.
He ordered Hades that Persephone be returned to her mother.
Tricky old Hades had foreseen this problem, so in the meantime, he had tricked the young Goddess into eating the seeds of a pomegranate.
It is held that if one is to swallow any food in the land of the dead, that they are to remain there for eternity, property of Hades.
Demeter would not accept this, demanding the return of her much-loved daughter.
So, a compromise was struck, Persephone could return to Demeter, but must return to her Husband, and take her throne as his Queen for part of the year.
So now, each year, when Persephone returns to Hades, Demeter mourns, too distraught to fertilize the earth, bringing the bareness of winter upon us.
Another myth of Demeter, is the Nursing of Demophoon.
Immediately preceding the kidnapping of Persephone, Demeter went in search of her daughter, disguising herself as an aged, mortal woman.
During her wanderings, she came upon the Kingdom of Eleusis.
Queen Metaneira, who had borne a son at a ripe old age, gave her offspring to Demeter, begging The Goddess to nurse and raise the child.
Demeter, her motherly instincts keen, took the child, Demophoon, to her bosom.
Demeter took it upon herself to make the child a God, immortal, a great gift to his parents.
Nightly, she anointed the infant with ambrosia, breathed upon him her sacred breath, and slept him in the flames of the hearth.
The process was well underway, until one night, the unsuspecting Queen came to Demeter’s quarters, to visit with her son.
She was horrified to find her son laying in the flames, not understanding the process of transformation to a God, she screamed the palace down.
Angry at this mortals ignorance, Demeter revealed herself as a Goddess and cast the child to the ground, returning him, once again, to his mortal state and cursing the palace to war and uprising.
But, good at heart, she did instruct Demophoon’s older brother in the ways of agriculture, the skill of growing grain and corn to feed the people.
The elder son took this knowledge and spread it amongst all, and farming and agriculture was born.
Demeter also bore a daughter to Poseidon, God of the Sea, who lusted deeply after The Goddess.
His advances were unwanted, and Demeter fled from him, changing herself into a mare and hiding amongst the herds of grazing horses at Ogkios.
Poseidon, not to be outwitted, made himself into a stallion and set himself amongst the herd, where he forcefully mated himself with the Goddess.
Demeter was angry at first, but eventually softened, after she bore him two children – the horse Areion and the goddess Despoine.
Demeter is sometimes seen as a Triple Goddess, alongside Persephone and Hekate.
Persephone is the Maiden aspect, Demeter the Mother and Hekate the wise old Crone.
Demeter is a much-loved Goddess, having given mankind the gift of Agriculture.
She is also empathetic to the suffering of mortals, having suffered herself at the disappearance of her daughter.
Sacred to The Goddess Demeter:
- Symbolism: Sheaves of wheat, Ear of Corn, Cornucopia, Torches (Link to Hekate)
- Animals: Owls, Pigs and Snakes (Demeter’s chariot was pulled by two, winged serpents.
- Plants: Wheat and Barley, Corn, Pennyroyal, Poppies and Sunflowers
- Incense: Frankincense and Myrrh