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Demeter Ceres Goddess of Harvest and Fertility

Updated on September 21, 2014

Demeter, Earth Goddess Mother of Persephone Kore

The classical Greek myth of the mother-and-daughter goddesses Demeter and Persephone as told in Homer's Hymn to Demeter has seized the imagination of people from ancient times to the present.

I haven't retold the myth on this page, but have provided links to places where you can read various versions of the story, including a link to purchase Dr. Estes recording.

I hope you will enjoy this page and will leave your comments in the guestbook at the end of the page.

This image Ceres, goddess of agriculture, grain crop and fertility. Public Domain

Bringer Of Seasons

"She is invoked as the "bringer of seasons", a subtle sign that she was worshipped long before she was made one of the Olympians."

The Myth of Demeter and Persephone

The myth of Demeter and Persephone has been used most often to explain the cycle of the seasons. However, a closer examination will reveal insights on living and dying, loss and reconciliation, and suffering and healing.

Known by her Greek name Demeter or by her Roman name Ceres, she is the great Olympian goddess of the health-giving cycle of life and death, Demeter is depicted as a mature woman, the fair haired earth goddess who blesses all phases of the harvest, she is often crowned and holding sheafs of wheat and a torch. Her attributes in iconography can include a sceptre. She is often portrayed with her daughter, Persephone (Roman name Kore). Demeter is the fair haired earth goddess who blesses all phases of the harvest. She walks the furrowed fields dressed in green and displays her moods with feast and famine.

Do You Know The Story Of Demeter And Persephone?

Do You Know The Story Of Demeter And Persephone?

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While the names Demeter and Persephone were names I recognized from studies in Greek Mythology and the study of Greek Art History, I was not really familiar with the story and it's application to contemporary life until I listened to the audio book "Women Who Run With The Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. It was while listening to Dr. Estes that I decided to create this page about Demeter.

Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

This Audio Book features rare interview excerpts and probes the instinctual nature of women through world myths, folktales, and commentary. "Through an exploration into the nature of the wild woman archetype, Dr. Estes helps listeners discover and reclaim their passion, creativity, and power." ~Amazon

 

Women Who Run with the Wolves Audiobook [Audio CD]

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, the internationally acclaimed Jungian analyst, has a mesmerizing way of storytelling. Included in this CD collection of stories, she gives insight into the myth of Demeter and Persephone and how this myth relates to women of today. I've listened to it over and over and always pick up a new glimmpse into the wild woman archetype.Estes is an internationally recognized scholar, award-winning poet, and cantadora (keeper of the old stories) in the Latina tradition. With over two million copies in print, her New York Times bestseller Women Who Run With the Wolves has been hailed as a classic and the seminal work on the instinctual nature of women.

Each Autumn Demeter loses her beloved daughter to the underworld and the vegetation begins to die, the days grow shorter as the sun retreats and the cold winds return.

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The Myth of Demeter and Persephone - Long Journey Home

The story of Demeter and her daughter Persephone is considered by many to be the archetypal myth for women today.

The Long Journey Home: Revisioning the Myth of Demeter and Persephone for Our Time
The Long Journey Home: Revisioning the Myth of Demeter and Persephone for Our Time

"Christine Downing has combined essays, prose, poetry, and even performance art with her own insightful commentary to shed new light on the myth's ancient meanings and to offer new insights in its implications for contemporary men and women." ~~Amazon

 
The Return of Persephone
The Return of Persephone

The Turn Of The Seasons

In the myth story of Demeter and her daughter, Persephone was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld.The myth of Persephone's abduction represents her function as the personification of Spring when the earth comes back to life after winter, and the autumn when the crops are harvested and the earth turns brown.

Each Spring Demeter joyfully welcomes back her daughter from the underworld and the earth begins to turn green again. The sun returns and as the days grow longer, the warm winds begin to blow.

Each Autumn Demeter loses her beloved daughter to the underworld and the vegetation begins to die, the days grow shorter as the sun retreats and the cold winds return.

Image Frederic Leighton depicts Hermes helping Persephone to return to her mother Demeter after Zeus forced Hades to return Persepone. Public Domain

"Of Demeter, the lovely haired and august goddess, and of her daughter, the fair Persephone, I begin to sing." ~~ Homeric Hymn to Demeter

Orphic Hymn 40 to Demeter

(trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :

The story of the adduction of Persephone is best told in the Hymn to Demeter. Eleusinian Demeter & Plutus,The Orphic Hymn referred to Demeter as "Demeter Eleusinia,". universal mother, the source of wealth, the great nurse, all-bounteous, blessed and divine, nourisher of corn, Goddess of seed, "lovely delightful queen, by all desired, who dwellest in Eleusis' holy vales retired," and nurse of all mortals,And the holy Koure [Persephone].is called much-producing queen, Bright Goddess.

1890 Wood Engraving Demeter Kora Sculpture - Original Engraving Statue Agriculture Goddess Earth

1890 Wood Engraving Demeter Kora Sculpture Statue Agriculture Goddess Earth
1890 Wood Engraving Demeter Kora Sculpture Statue Agriculture Goddess Earth

Mythology For Teachers and Students - Mythology by Edith Hamilton

This is the book I used when I was in school. I love the way Edith Hamilton tells the stories of the Gods and Heros, giving the background for how they came to be and what they mean to us. She gives her formal references and uses word of mouth legends and myths.

Spark Notes Edith Hamilton's Mythology
Spark Notes Edith Hamilton's Mythology

SparkNotes are today's most popular study guides-with everything you need to succeed in school. Written by Harvard students for students.

 

Study Guides

"The gods and their stories depict life's lessons and personal relationships and present a moral code of human conduct. These stories are also a map to understanding history."

"She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that also predated the Olympian pantheon."

Temple of Demeter Kriti, Greece - By Martijn Nijenhuis

Temple of Demeter by Martijn Nijenhuis
Temple of Demeter by Martijn Nijenhuis

Demeter and Persephone: Lessons from a Myth - Buy Demeter and Persephone

Demeter - Flickr Photo by Zaqarbal

Statue of Demeter
Statue of Demeter

Statue of Demeter of the "Madrid-Capitol" type, at the Prado Museum (Madrid, Spain). Roman copy, sculpted in marble in the early 3rd century CE, of a Greek original made for the Eleusis sanctuary circa 425-420 BC. Head and arms are Baroque additions.

Votive statue of Kore or Demeter by mharrsch

Votive statue of Kore or Demeter by mharrsch
Votive statue of Kore or Demeter by mharrsch

Votive statue of Kore or Demeter

photo by mharrsch

from the sanctuary at Casaletto Roman end of 4th or beginning of 3rd century BCEPhotographed at the National Museum of Rome galleries in the remains of the Baths of Diocletian, Rome, Italy.

© 2006 patinkc

Do You Have A Story About Demeter? - I want to hear from you.

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      patinkc 5 years ago from Midwest

      @grannysage: Diane, I didn't read the book, but listened to her audio version. I love listening to her telling her stories. I got the CD from the library. Thanks for your comment! Glad you like the banners.

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      grannysage 5 years ago

      Women Who Run with the Wolves is my favorite book but I had forgotten the part of Demeter and Baubo. One of Demeter's symbols is the cornucopia with which we decorate our homes this harvest season. Very inspiring lens. I love the countdown banners.

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      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Wonderfully put together, educational lens! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      Nicely done lens & great resource. ***Angel blessed*** :)

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      WhiteOak50 6 years ago

      After finally catching up with the Angel School Bus, I am fluttering around Legends & Folklore-ville to drop off some Blessings. Just wanted you to know I am here because your page caught my attention. Leaving you with a *Blessing* for doing such a great job on this page.

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      scar4 6 years ago

      Great to know the greek goddess. Nice lens!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      this was an beautiful lens describing the history of the ancient Greek goddess of harvest and fertility. this lens shows the older Greeks traditions and lifestyle and how they lead a peaceful life. - custom Greek threads

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      Pat 6 years ago from Midwest, USA

      @ZenandChic: Patricia, thank you for nominating me! Always nice to see you have visited my lenses.

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      Patricia 6 years ago

      I nominated you for Giant Squid.

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      TapIn2U 6 years ago

      I've always been fascinated with the Greek gods and goddesses. Thanks for this informative lens! The photos are classic. Hey, your Tweets were one of the ones I followed from Twitter when I found Squidoo. I have just finished my first Lens and now have great ideas to add thanks to you. Sundae ;-)

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      Susanna Duffy 9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      There can NEVER be enough information on the Goddess and I'm so very pleased to read of Demeter in this excellent lens 5*

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      squadette 10 years ago

      Demeter and the founding of Eleusinian Mysteries from Mircea Eliade's "From Primitives to Zen"

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      Ellen Brundige 10 years ago from California

      Great lens! Short, simple, and informative! I've added yours to the lensroll of my Ancient Greece Odyssey lens. :)

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      Sensitive Fern 10 years ago

      Great lens! I've added you to the lensroll of my Celtic Goddess Brigid lens...they are related, I believe. :)