by George Knowles
Page One: Zeus / Poseidon / Hades and Hell / Athena / Apollo / Artemis / Dionysus
Demeter is the goddess of corn, grain and the harvest. She is the daughter of the Titan gods Cronus and Rhea, and sister to Zeus the most powerful of the Olympian gods. It is Demeter who makes the crops grow each year, as she is intimately associated with the seasons. A fair-haired earth goddess she blesses all phases of the harvest as she walks through the fields dressed in green, but as the seasons change so to do her moods change and like all the other gods she is fain to show her darker side when displeased.
The cause of these mood changes in Demeter, which in turn caused the changes in the seasons, is best told in the story about the abduction of her daughter Persephone by the Lord of the Underworld, her brother Hades.
abduction of Persephone:
As the story goes Hades had long lusted after the beautiful Persephone and although Demeter was one of the six Olympians, he conspired in a secret agreement with Zeus to kidnap Persephone and make her his wife in the Underworld.
While playing in the garden with the daughters of Oceanus, Persephone looked out into the surrounding meadow and saw a beautiful stretch of flowers, with a cry of delight she rushed out to pick some for her mother Demeter. However these flowers were not the natural work of nature, but divine flowers put there by Zeus to entice the girl into a trap. The trigger for the trap was an irresistible flower with one hundred stems of fragrant blossoms. When Persephone reached out with both hands to pluck the flower, the earth opened up at her feet. Hades roared forth in his golden chariot and seized her before the alarm could be raised.
Only Demeter, Hecate and Apollo, heard Persephone’s faint cries, but no one knew where she had been taken. Demeter searched in vain for her daughter, and so great was her sorrow that she denied herself food, drink and comfort for nine days. When Dawn arrived on the tenth day, Hecate (Goddess of the Moon, Enchantment and Night Spirits) came to Demeter and told her that she had heard but not seen the abduction of poor Persephone. The two goddesses went to consult with Apollo, the God of Truth who cannot speak a lie, who during his daily travels sees all mortal and immortal actions.
Apollo of course, knew about the secret plot between Zeus and Hades and told Demeter who was to blame. He further advised her to accept the situation, as Hades was a ‘Lord of Many’ and not an unseemly husband. Demeter did not like this advice and set out on a long journey searching for and determined to find her precious daughter. She started her search in Eleusis, disguised as an old woman called Doso. While there she was requested by the King of Eleusis, Keleos and his wife Metanira, to nurse their two sons Demophon and Triptolemus.
In some twisted sense of revenge, perhaps due to the loss of her own daughter, Demeter determined to win the affections of the boy Demophon and make him immortal. This she did by placing him each night in the hearth, to ritually burn away his mortal nature. However the spell was broken when Metanira walked in on her while she was performing the ritual. To make amends she then taught the other son Triptolemus, the mysteries and principles of agriculture, which he in turn taught to others, ensuring bounteous harvests for the future of mankind. In thanks the King and other nobles built the Telesterion Temple at Eleusis in her honour. After it was completed, she retreated into the temple were her brooding took on a deadly turn.
In her anger at the loss of her daughter, Demeter laid a curse on the world causing plants to wither and die, and the land became desolate. Zeus alarmed at the resulting famine brought on by Demeter’s distress, sought Persephone's return and dispatched Hermes to bring her back. Hades knew he must obey Zeus, but was unwilling to give up his wife completely. Before he consented to release her, he cunningly gave her a pomegranate. Persephone ever curious with the fruits of nature, tasted a seed from the pomegranate and by doing so became eternally bound to Hades and the Underworld.
Zeus then asked Rhea his mother to offer Demeter special honours if she would return to Mount Olympus and lift the curse that was killing the earth. Zeus promised that Persephone could spend two thirds of the year with her mother, but the remaining third must be spent with her husband Hades.
Demeter was moved by her mother’s plea and overjoyed with her daughters return, however her joy was tempered by the trick Hades had pulled, and that Persephone must eventually return to him. The earth swiftly recovered and became fertile again, but each year when Persephone is with Hades, Demeter grieves and the earth becomes barren throughout winter. Only when she returns in the spring does the earth blossom and bear fruit again.
Eleusinian mysteries are the sacred rituals that
became the most important religious festivals celebrated in ancient Greece.
The Eleusinian mysteries derived their name from the town of Eleusis in
Attica, near Athens, where the festivals were held in honor of Demeter and
Persephone. After Demeter had
taught Triptolemus the mysteries and principles of agriculture, the people’s
of Eleusis began to observe the mysteries.
These were later adopted by Athens as official festivals, but the
Eleusinian priesthood remained in charge. The
most important part of the festival was the initiation of candidates, and these
took place every year for centuries in the Telesterion Temple at Eleusis.
Initiation into the mysteries eventually became open to all Greek
The ritual itself was divided into two parts: the Lesser Mysteries, honoring the return of Persephone, were celebrated each year in February; and the Greater Mysteries, honoring Demeter, were held once every five years in early autumn. Initiation into the Lesser Mysteries involved a series of four rituals, one each year, that began early in the spring. At that time, candidates for the first stage of the mysteries were told the legend of Demeter and Persephone. Details of the other three stages have never been revealed and remain a secret. Purification rites were also part of the ceremony of the Lesser Mysteries.
In the autumn the fifth year, revelation of the Greater Mysteries began by parading sacred objects from Eleusis to Athens. There the ceremonies included an address by a priest to the candidates, a cleansing in the sea, a sacrificial rite, followed by a great procession from Athens back to Eleusis where the final part of the initiation was conducted in secret ceremonies.
It is believed that the tale of Demeter’ search for Persephone was probably enacted at the initiation, and was related to immortality and happiness in a future world, just as grain returns every spring after its harvest and wintry death, so too can the human soul be reborn after the death of the body.
The Eleusinian mysteries are thought to have been celebrated until the 4th century, when Alaric I, King of the Visigoths, destroyed Eleusis. In more resent times, near the village of Lefsina, the site of ancient Eleusis, modern archaeologists have found the remains of the Telesterion temple and other sacred buildings.
Page One: Zeus / Poseidon / Hades and Hell / Athena / Apollo / Artemis / Dionysus
To be continued...
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
A Universal Message:
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
Wicca & Witchcraft
Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek
Mythology) / Esbats &
Full Moons / Links
to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft
Resources / What's a spell? /
Circle Casting and
Sacred Space / Pentagram
- Pentacle / Marks
of a Witch / The Witches
Power / The Witches Hat
esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism
Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1
/ Part 2 / Part
3 / A
history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope
Innocent VIII /
papal Bull /
Malleus Maleficarum /
An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum
/ The letter of approbation
Nider’s Formicarius /
Heinrich Kramer /
/ Montague Summers /
/ The Albigenses
The Hussites / The
/ Shielding (Occult
and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Rituals:
Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder. Also see: The Willow Tree (Folk Music)
Rocks and Stones:
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin: / Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murder by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders and Elders)
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A. Kelly / Albertus Magnus “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary / Carl Llewellyn Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Dorothy Morrison / Doreen Valiente / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry / Fiona Horne / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gerald B. Gardner / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater "Horrible Herman" / Israel Regardie / James "Cunning" Murrell / Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) / John Michael Greer / John Score / Johannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg / Karl von Eckartshausen / Laurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata / Monique Wilson the “Queen of the Witches” / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellers / Mrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /Rudolf Steiner / Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids / Sabrina - The Ink Witch / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather / Thomas Ady / Vera Chapman / Victor Henry Anderson / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest
Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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