Demeter / Ceres

Triple Goddess

Mother Demeter has been known by many names down through the ages including, Ceres, Old Woman, Mother Earth, Gaia, One of the Furies, Wise One of the Earth & Sea – Daeira; Mother of Abundance & Plenty; Queen of Heaven, Barley Mother, Corn Bride or Maiden, Law Giver; Mistress of the Underworld and the Deep Breasted One. Her symbols are the sheaves of grain – wheat/corn; crocus flowers and beautiful pomegranates.  Known also as Mistress of the Rain, Mistress of Earth Fertility and mistress of the Underworld; her father is Uranus – She was born from his blood. Her daughter Persephone is also known as Kore the Maiden.

Gaia/Earth Mother/Grain Goddess

In the Roman times Ceres was identified with the Greek Goddess Demeter, an Earth Mother and Grain Goddess, from whose name comes the word “cereal”.  The story of Ceres and  her daughter Proserpina is the same as that of Demeter and Kore-Persephone. 

Asteroid Ceres Resurrected Spirit

Astrologically Ceres is associated with our ability to give and receive nurturing – be it family, lovers, humanity or the Divine. Her symbol is that of the sickle, from which we harvest the bounty of Mother Earth. In her meditation book the “17 Steps to Perfection” Ananda Tara Shan, describes Ceres as having the qualities of ”humility, inner emotional peace and modesty.  She is the final goal;  she is resurrected Spirit.  She is the greatness of humility, the calm that follows the storm.  She is free of all demands.”

Festival of Cerealiaduring Advent

She was celebrated at this Festival in the middle of summer (June or December), one form of which was said to have  been practiced in Britain until the late nineteenth century. Farmers viewed her as the source of all food and kept  her rites faithfully, for fear of crop failure.  Cerealia, is celebrated in the British Isles even to the present day – “In the middle of June, farmers go round their corn with bringing torches,  in memory of the Cerealia/Ceres/Mother of the Harvest.”

Corn Mother

The Ancients and indigenous people today, never ceased believing that Demeter’s spirit was manifest in the final sheaf of the harvest, often called the Demeter, the Corn Mother, the Old Woman etc. 

Medieval Freemasonry also drew some symbolism from the cults of the ancient Mistress of the Earth and Sea, particularly the Masonic sacred image of Plenty “an ear of corn near a fall of water.”

Earliest Myth                                                                                             

"Persephone liked to wander the hills after the grain was growing to be among  the wildflowers, especially gathering red poppies.  One day she told Demeter that She had met the spirits of the  dead drifting aimlessly over the Earth, hovering about their old homes  and families.  “They  seemed lost”, the girl said.  “Do they not have anyone to watch over them in the underworld?’  Demeter answered that She was also Mistress of the Underworld, as well as of the growing  rain.  Her most important function was caring for the crops, and  She could not take the time to care for the spirits of the dead.
“Then I will go and care for them,” Kore-Persephone said.  Demeter tried to dissuade the girl, but She was determined.  The girl gathered red poppies and sheaves of grain to take with Her in remembrance of Her mother’s upper domain.  Demeter led Her to a deep chasm that went  far down into the Earth.  The Grain Mother handed her daughter a torch to light Her way,  kissed  Her, and wept as the girl disappeared into the chilly abyss.
Mother Demeter
Kore-Persephone walked downward in the cold harness until She came to an enormous cavern filled with the spirits of the dead.  There the girl set up the torch near a rocky throne;  beside it She placed a dish of pomegranate seeds, food of the dead.  She called each spirit to her, embraced it, and marked its forehead with pomegranate juice.  This initiation marked a preparation for rebirth into the upper world.
Meantime, Demeter continued to mourn for Her daughter.  The crops stopped growing;  everything became dormant, the weather cold.  After several months, Demeter noticed a crocus blooming.  She knew Kore-Persephone was returning to Her.  The Grain Mother waved  her hands in blessing over the land, and the crops flourished.  Animals began to bear young again.  Soon Kore-Persephone emerged from a cleft in the Earth and greeted Her mother with joy.  But part of each year the young Maiden returns to the underworld to comfort and guide  the spirits of the dead.  While She is gone, Her mother weeps and awaits Her daughter’s return in the spring."

Later Myth                                                                                                  

It is obvious in this ancient myth, that the Goddess and Her Maiden daughter are unpolluted by later patriarchal changes which relate their story with far more violent deeds, where Persephone is abducted and raped by Pluto and taken by force to Hades the Underworld, there to spend half of every year.

Demeter is the Mother aspect of the Goddess, the energy of grain and life after it has been planted.  But Kore-Persephone is a more complex version of the Goddess;  it is possible that She is an older definition of Demeter, a facet grafted onto a later, more inclusive form.   

Kore-Persephone is both the virginal Maiden, independent of the earthly responsibilities of her Mother, yet also an image of the Crone, the death-life goddess of rebirth. In the Asian tradition, Demeter was known as “ the doorway of the mysterious feminine the root from which Heaven and Earth sprang.

Furies/Dark Crone image

Furies – Guard door to the Underworld

Through her dark face She was the Subterranean One and the Avenger.  She was portrayed as  mare-headed – an  equine Fury.  Demeter was particularly associated with the Furies who it is  said were born  from  the blood of Uranus.  They represent Her dark face and their eyes were said to drip  poisonous  blood.  The Furies harried all those who escaped from or defied public  justice.   They were attendants of Persephone and they guarded the entrance to the Underworld.    They avenged  any mother who had been harmed.  In the Greek Tradition the Furies were transformed to the Eumenides and they were called the Kindly Ones.

Past Life Healing Meditation

Past Life Healing Meditation

Mother Goddess cult

In the Mycenean Culture in Greece Demeter is known as a Mother Goddess.  Her cult was well established in Mycenae in the 13th century BC.  Her Temple at Eleusis one of the greatest  shrines of Greece, it later became the centre of an elaborate mystery-religion.   The Eleusis  means Advent.  Its principal rites brought about the advent of the Divine Child or saviour –  the Liberator.  Like the corn, he was born of Demeter-the-earth and laid in a manger of  winnowing basket.  This myth parallels the life of Jesus and Demeter is seen to have links to the Holy Mother.

Mistress of Sea and Earth

Demeter was worshipped as “the Goddess” by peasants all the way through the Middle Ages,   even up to the 19th century at Eleusis where she was entitled “Mistress of Earth and Sea”.   In  her ancient cult centre in Mycenae the tombs had triangular doors, short passages and round   domes, all symbolic of the womb of the Goddess.  The triangular doors also  represented  Demeter’s trinity with Kore-Persphone and Hecate.  In Greek the word “meter” means mother and “de” is a delta or triangular the symbol for the female genitals as well as the  Holy Trinity.   She is a Holy Mother.

Eleusinian Mysteries  

Early Christians were much opposed to the Eleusinian rites because of their over  sexuality,  even though their goal was “regeneration and forgiveness of sins.”   Fanatic monks destroyed the temple of these sexual mysteries in 396 AD but the site remained holy to the Goddess  votaries, and the ceremonies were carried on there and elsewhere.

Mother of Heaven & Earth

Latin form of the Great/Triple Goddess, cognate with Greek Kore or Core, identified with Demeter as Mother Earth.  As the earth-ruling aspect of the Goddess’s trinity, Ceres combined  with Juno as Queen of Heaven, and Proserpine as queen of the Underworld. 

The Lawgiver

She was called Ceres Legifera, “Ceres the lawgiver.”  Her priestesses were considered the  founders of the Roman legal system. Ceres ruled Rome through her sacred matron, during that lost period of four centuries before 200 BC, a period whose written records were destroyed  by later patriarchal historians, leaving only a residue of myths and religious customs that were only vague explained.