Thursday, June 16, 2011

Today's Goddess Card - Demeter

Today's Goddess Card
Demeter (Feelings/Emotions)

 Today's Goddess is the Great Mother of the Greek pantheon, Demeter.  She is a Goddess who has many associations but only one truly great story, one that many Goddess lovers are familiar with because it involves another popular Goddess, Demeter's daughter Persephone.  

Hades, the God of the Underworld, had fallen in love with the beautiful maiden Persephone. He had seen her picking flowers and watched her from afar trying to plan how he could make her his.  He knew that it wouldn't be easy to woo her in any way so he decided instead to talk to Zeus, Persephone's father, and attempt to work out something with him.  Zeus agreed to help and promised that she would be given to Hades as his wife.  Unfortunately Zeus failed to tell Demeter, Persephone's mother, about his deal with Hades, nor did he tell Persephone herself.  

One day as she was doing her flower picking in a field, Hades saw Persephone and opened up the earth causing Persephone to fall into the Underworld, where Hades then took her and made her his wife and queen.  Demeter, who was also in the fields with Persephone, suddenly realized she'd lost sight of her daughter and began to search for her, calling out her name that she was known by to her...calling "Kore!  Kore!"  There was no answer but she continued to walk the earth and search for her daughter day and night.  Her joy turned to sadness and then to desperation.  As this happened the earth began to lose it's life. Demeter felt that since the light in her life had been taken away then the world did not deserve to have light and joy either.  And so the world went into darkness; the earth turned grey, the flowers died, and it seemed all had been lost and sent into a dark descent. 

Hearing of the pain Demeter was in, Zeus revealed his deal with Hades, though in some versions of the story it's said that he had no idea Persephone was going to be taken in that manner saying he'd only given his promise that Hades could have Persephone for his bride.  Demeter became angry and threatened to keep the world in famine and despair if her daughter wasn't returned to her. Zeus relented and sent Hermes to the Underworld to retrieve his daughter and bring her back to the surface.

Again from here we see different versions of the story.  In one version we see that when Hermes arrived he discovered that Persephone wasn't necessarily being tortured or being treated poorly.  In fact, Persephone quite enjoyed her new role as Queen.  At first she didn't want to leave Hades but after hearing the tails of her mother's sadness, Persephone began to miss her. In other versions Hermes arrives to find that Persephone is despondent, missing the surface and her mother, and miserable being in the Underworld.  

In all versions of the tale, the next part is important and involves the eating of seeds from a pomegranate.  It was said that once you had been in the Underworld and left you couldn't return, but if you ever ate or drank anything while you were there you wouldn't be able to leave.  This is where the pomegranate comes into play.

In the versions where she is happy and doesn't want to leave Hades she makes an agreement with him to eat six seeds from a pomegranate which would mean she would be able to return to be with him for half the year and with her mother the other half.  In versions where she is there against her will she is tricked into eating the six seeds which is why Hades is more willing to let Persephone return with Hermes knowing that she will have no choice but to return to him for half the year from that point on.  

Persephone eats the seeds and returns to the surface with Hermes to be reunited with her mother Demeter.  When she arrives Demeter's anger and sorrow are instantly released. The earth turned green, the clouds parted and the sun shone through, and the flowers bloomed once again.  Demeter's sadness again was turned to joy.  This would become the cycle of the seasons; when Persephone was with Demeter we would be in the time of growth, the spring and summer.  When Persephone would return to the Underworld to rule as queen with Hades, Demeter would become lonely and we see the dying time of autumn and winter.  

So what does this have to do with feelings and emotions?  Everything!  Demeter goes though an amazing cycle of emotions that we are all subject to by seeing and sensing the seasons.  Demeter goes through a time of having to re-identify, in a way, because she is so closely associated with her daughter.  When she's not there it's almost as if she isn't sure who she is, what she's supposed to do, and who she's supposed to be.  It's a time of uncertainty and worry.  Demeter's story is one that many women, and even some men, can really relate to when going through the beginnings of the empty nest phase where the last child has left for college or moved out on their own.  It's a challenging time emotionally.

Demeter reminds us that there is always a light at the end of the emotional tunnel.  She comes through with her light, her torch of love, and lights the way for you.  Just when you think you aren't going to find what you're looking for or that you aren't going to get to the point of having the joy back in your life, it suddenly returns!  

Call on Demeter today to help you see where you have lost joy or love in your life and ask her to help you get through those emotional hurdles you're dealing with.  Is there a specific issue that you know needs help?  Ask her to light the way.  As a Goddess of the harvest as well she can help you to get through those last steps of gathering together the fruits of your labor as well, so ask her to show you the way through those difficult feelings and emotions that are sometimes part of the final harvest.  Light a candle in her honor and offer her grain offerings and know that like the seasons, you'll cycle through too.