|The Return of Persephone by Frederick Leighton. |
Demeter was heartbroken. She wandered the world searching for her beloved child, and because she was the goddess of fruitfulness, the world became barren as she grieved.
Eventutally, and after many adventures, she went back to Sicily and found Persephone's girdle in a pool. This was the clue she needed. Demeter realised that her child had been stolen and by whom. To get her back she had to appeal to Zeus himself, the king of the gods, her brother, and Persephone's father too.
A deal was struck. Demeter could have her daughter back, but only if Persephone had eaten nothing in the underworld. Hermes, the messenger god, one of the few beings who could pass between the worlds unharmed, went to fetch her. But it was too late, she had eaten six pomegranate seeds.
Still, Demeter was too powerful a goddess to cross. A compromise had to be reached. And it was. For one third of the year, Persephone would be a wife and for the rest of the time, Demeter could have her daughter back. Persephone became a queen underground, and a girl again every spring.
|Demeter Mourning - Burne Jones|
Robert Graves, author of The White Goddess, saw Persephone, Demeter and Hecate together as three faces of the triple goddess: girl, mother, crone.
Perhaps for the ancient world, one of Demeter's greatest gifts, for she was a benefactor of the human race, was the Eleusinian Mysteries, a religious initiation which took place annually for at least 2000 years. The Greater Mysteries were a ten-day event that took place around this time of year. They included re-enactments of parts of the story of Persephone and Demeter, for example eating the seeds of the pomegranate, and shouting rude words in honour of Baubo, an old lady who made Demeter laugh when she was at her most gloomy. The Lesser Mysteries took place in January/February and included the sacrifice of a piglet, an animal sacred to Demeter.
The central myth of Persephone's Abduction is the same though. It is about the abduction of a child, and her reunion with her mother, and it tells the story of the seasons in the Northern hemisphere.
Here are some of the themes:
•Grief and Shock
•Mother-daughter love/infinite love
Demeter is, of course, called Ceres by the Romans, who were partial to bringing the cults of foreign goddesses – Cybele and Isis as well as the Olympians – home and reworking them into Romans.
In Rome, as well as building a cracking great temple to Ceres, who became one of their most important goddesses, there was "the world of Ceres", a pit with a stone lid, was ceremonially opened three times a year – August 24, October 5 and November 8 – and offerings were left for the goddess of abundance.
Ceres was worshipped not only as a goddess of agriculture but also as one of the guardians of the gates of the underworld. The point is that she managed to retrieve her daughter from death itself. Hers is one of the few classical myths with a happy(ish) ending. It seems that her powers were conflated with those of Hecate at some point, because she as well as her role guarding the gates of death, she was worshipped at crossroads too.
But how does this relate to the planet called Ceres and her place in astrology, because, as we know from other planets - Uranus and Neptune, for example – you cannot simply transpose the myth into the astrology?
The previous post went some way to discussing the theme of mother love, but today I want to show you a few examples of Ceres at work in stories of abduction and underground. You can see that Ceres represents the child as well as the parent – good or bad.
Here is the chart of Joseph Fritzl who imprisoned his daughter for 24 years, treating her as a sex slave from the age of 11. Ceres-Pluto-North Node in Cancer, the sign of parenting, in trine to Jupiter, the planet which overdoes it, in Scorpio, sex. She was kept in a basement. On the day that sealed Elisabeth into her prison, Ceres was applying to his Venus in Taurus, which is locked into that Pluto-Jupiter. Venus is the girl-child.
Like Madeleine McCann, Elisabeth Fritzl has a Sun-Ceres conjunction, but hers is intercepted by violent Mars. (Her Lilith is at 0° Pisces (the sign of imprisonment) conjunct her Venus - her stolen girlhood. But we're focusing on Ceres here.)
Finally, do you remember the miners who were imprisoned underground for weeks in Chile in 2010? And their escape? I wrote about it at the time: here is the link. Their release came under a Ceres transit. She opened the portal of the hell and released them.