As we celebrate the final harvest of the year and embrace the solstice, it is hard to ignore the goddess of agriculture, Demeter. She is often described as older, mind you she could have been in her thirties considering the time period. It is said she was still able to bare children, which she often does. The fact that she lead an interesting life, is why she isn't described as a blush cherub virgin. She is a woman who has lived life. Who has loved and suffered. Who has brought joy and left destruction.
She is a
Friend to mankind
She represents women during a time of constant war and chaos. When group of men, soldiers, thieves, locals etc could come and kill most a villege in day. Those who survived, were often the women, who were certainly raped. Demeter is said to have been raped by Poseidon and bore him a daughter and horse. Long story, though the story states Demeter was angry, but choose to wash her rage away in the river of Lodan. More so, in her world and situation, there was nothing she could do, but move on. It's a sign of her endurance.
Sadly Demeter beloved daughter she conceived from Zeus, Persephone was kidnapped and raped by her uncle Hades, who took her as a bride. This was actually custom of marriage during this time period. Many weddings traditions still followed today, come from these kidnapped marriages. For example, the grooms best man was the guy who helped him kidnap the bride. However this violant act must have been heart wrenching for the parents and girls, as described in the story Demeter's grief led to winter. Anyone who has suffered a great loss can relate to the cold bitter pain winter causes, being so symbolic of the physical chest pain of their grief.
I imagine Demeter story echo's stories of less happier ending (Demeter and Persephone are reunited) involving marriage's and slavery. These forgotten individuals are represented by these gods and we must not forget that even today in parts of Africa and Asia similar customs are still followed.
Yet, despite all the her tragedy, Demeter is still a friend to mankind. It said, she taught humanity how to use an iron shove and how to plant. She is often depicted hold wheat. She is the goddess of algraculture, grains and breads. Her mood depicts the seasons, as told in the story of Persephone kidnapping and her name though there is a conflict about which translation is correct, "earth mother," "mother" or "giver of barley or food." I see her as both a kind and sensitive woman.
As we remember our ancestors, let us reflect on their struggles and sacrifices. We are all the decendents of such survivors. Then let us move forward with our own trials and tribulations. Afterwards, reach out to those in their time of need, especially those escaping war in the middle east, seeking refuge!