- Attributes: Goddess of Agriculture, Harvest, Fertility and Seasons
- Symbols: Cornucopia, wheat beam, corn, torch, bread, sickle
- Place: Greece
Daughter of Cronos and Reia, Demeter is the Greek Goddess of the cultivated land, the crops, fertility and the seasons. Known as Ceres in Roman mythology, she was named after the word cereal, thus referring to all types of grain.
This goddess has no certain origin myth, but being Rhea’s daughter and granddaughter of Gaia, she was regarded as the reincarnation of Mother Earth and worshiped in many rural communities in the old days. It was believed that walking with direct contact with the earth increased the connection with Demeter.
Demeter is the one who rules the seeds and the fruits, sometimes called Lady of the Plants. She has a deep connection with all aspects of food, growth, harvesting and preserving food. She dedicates to nurturing and caring for the growth of the body, directing most of her energy to the sustenance and protection of all growing creatures.
She had several children, including mortals, and the best known are Persephone, who represents spring, and Despina, who represents winter. It is said that at some point Hades kidnapped Persephone and led her into the underworld, leaving Demeter in despair. Demeter went out into the world looking for her, without eating or resting. She decided not to return to Olympus until she had found her daughter and blamed the earth for opening the way for the God of the Underworld to kidnap her.
During the time Demeter stayed out of Olympus the land became barren, the cattle died, the plow broke and the grains did not germinate. Without food the population suffered from hunger and diseases. Zeus asked Hades to return Persephone. He agreed but before he gave her a pomegranate berry, causing her to get bound to the underworld, because whoever ate something in that region was obliged to return.
So it was established that Persephone would spend a period of the year with the mother, and another with Hades. The first period corresponds to spring, when the grains sprout out of the earth and the second is the sowing of autumn when the grains are buried, just as she returns to the underworld.
The Greek festival “Thesmophoria” was celebrated annually in October, in the autumn, in honor of Demeter and it was exclusively for women. It was three days of celebrations for the return of Persephone to the Underworld. The initiates shared a sacred drink made of barley and cakes during the festival. One of the characteristics of the Thesmophoria was a punishment to the criminals who acted against the sacred laws and against the women.
Priestesses read the list with the names of the criminals outside the doors of the temples of the Goddesses, especially those dedicated to Demeter and Artemis. It was believed that in this way they would be damned would die before the end of a year.