Demeter (In Rome Ceres)
She is one of the great Olympian Gods,
and the Goddess of fertility and agriculture. She is seen as a part
of the trinity, The Maiden, The Mother and The Crone. Demeter is
seen as The Mother, and her daughter Persephone
is seen is The Maiden. Hekate is Seen as The Crone. Demeter also
gave grain to humans.
Her parents were the Titans Kronos
and Rhea, who ruled everything before Zeus exiled them to Tartaros,
a place in the underworld, and took the place of the ultimate ruler.
The Titans were first-born children of the primordial couple Gaia
(earth) and Ouranos (sky). Kronos swallowed Demeter, and her siblings,
when they were born, because of a prophecy told by his parents,
that said that he was destined to be overpowered by his son (Zeus).
Rhea were able to hide Zeus, who after growing up, forced his father
to vomit his siblings, including Demeter.
Demeter had an affair with Zeus (or
in some stories Zeus raped her), and Persephone,
also known as Kore, was born. One day when Persephone was outside
gathering flowers without her mother, the ground opened and Hades,
Demeter´s brother and God of the underworld, emerged in his
golden chariots to take her with him to Hades, the Underworld, and
to rule with him. Demeter became worried and searched for her everywhere.
With two torches (Intuition and Reason) Demeter wandered around
the world for nine days without eating or resting. In the ninth
day she came across Hekate, who with Helios, had heard her daughters
cries. Helios, sun God, who was able to see everything from the
sky, told Demeter that Hades had taken Persephone with the connivance
of Zeus. Demeter became so angry that she abandoned the company
of the Gods and hid herself among mortals in the guise of an old
As an old crone, she arrived in Eleusis.
Daughters of the King Keleos saw her and said that she was welcome
to stay in the town. Demeter, who let them believe that she was
an old woman abducted from Crete by pirates, asked them for some
work. The girls took her to their mother, queen Metaneira, who hired
her as a nursemaid for her infant son Demophoon. To repay Mataneira
for her kindness, Demeter decided to make her son immortal. The
plan went well until Mateneira saw her holding her son over the
fire one night, and cried out in dismay. Demeter became angry, and
resumed her true form, and denied immortality from Mateneiras son.
She said that there should be a temple built in her honor and each
year there was to be a festival to honor her. When her demands had
been obeyed, she would come to Eleusis and teach them in her sacred
rites, which would be celebrated there in the future as the famous
As long as Demeter was away from Olympus,
the earth was unfertile and nothing grew. Zeus sent the divine messenger
Iris to tell her to return to Olympus, but Demeter refused. The
Gods brought her gifts, but she said that the only thing she wanted
was her daughter to come home, and only then she would let the earth
become fertile again. Zeus did not have any choice, but to ask his
brother to release Persephone. Hades promised to release her, but
in secret asked Persephone to eat a Pomegranate seed before she
left, to ensure that she would stay bound to the Underworld forever.
Askalaphos, inhabitant of the underworld, told everybody that Persephone
had eaten while staying in Hades. Because of this, Persephone had
to spend one third of the year in the Underworld and two-thirds
with Demeter. So while Persephone was with her mother the earth
was fertile and when she was in the Underworld nothing would grow
and there would be winter. Demeter punished Askalaphos, because
he told about Persephone, by confining him under a heavy rock, and
later when he was released, she turned him into an owl. When Persephone
entered the Underworld, previous mistress of Hades, nymph Minthe
boasted that she was more beautiful and would soon win the love
of Hades back. When Demeter heard that, she turned the nymph into
Demeter also had children with Poseidon,
the God of sea. Their son was a divine horse called Areion or Arion,
and a daughter whose name could be revealed to initiates alone.
Demeter had also two sons with Iasion, son of Zeus and a mortal
woman called Elektra. The sons names were Ploutos and Philomelos,
who did not get along with each other, because Ploutos was richer
than his brother. Philomelos bought two oxes and invented the plough
to make his living from the land. Demeter was so impressed by his
son that she placed him in the heaven as the constellation Boötes.
One time Thessalian hero Erysichthon
wanted to build himself a new palace. He chose trees that were sacred
to Demeter as material for his palace. After ignoring the warning
of Demeter herself as a guise of her priestess Nikippe and killing
the nymph that lived in one of the sacred trees, Demeter became
so angry that she cursed him with a never ending hunger. The more
Thessalian ate, the more hungrier and thinner he became. Once he
had lost all his money to buy food, he sold his daughter Mestra
to slavery. Mestra was a mistress of Poseidon, and he granted her
power to transform into an animal at will. That way she was able
to escape every time her father tried to sell her. Thessalians father,
Triopas, had also been cursed by Demeter. Triopas destroyed Demeter´s
temple, and the Goddess killed him by sending a huge serpent against
him. After his death, she placed him among the stars where the serpent
torments him forever.
Sacred Days :
Phases of the moon dedicated to
Days 13-15 Dedicated to Demeter, the
Mabon (autumn equinox) about 23 September.
Time of the greater Eleusinian mysteries in ancient Greece. Day
is sacred to Demeter and Persephone.
August is dedicated to Demeter (Ceres).
Michael Jordan, Encyclopedia of gods
Michael Senior, Who´s who in mythology
Elizabeth Hallan, Mytologian Jumalat
(Gods and Goddesses, 96) 1997
Nigel Pennick, the Pagan book of days
Arthur Cotterell, Mytologia: Jumalia,
Sankareita, Myyttejä 2005
Robin Hard, the Routledge handbook
of Greek mythology 2004