Day 92: Devotional Day, Honoring Demeter

Today is the third devotional day, and it is dedicated to Demeter.

Unlike the previous two devotions, I have more knowledge of this goddess.  In fact, she’s twined with memories of my mother.  There was a period of time where my mother was phasing out of reading Jordan and me picture books, and one of the last I can remember her reading to me was Nathaniel Hawthorne’s A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales.  Jordan and I would pick one of the stories, and she’d read us parts over a week or so.  I very much remember “The Pomegranate Seeds” because it made me so sad that a child could be stolen from her mother.  Hawthorne’s description of Mother Ceres wandering through the world (and looking in all the wrong places because Proserpina was being held in the underworld) made me cry…and made me much more affectionate towards my own mother!

It is from Demeter’s sorrow that we have the light and the dark year, for while she searched the world for her lost daughter, she neglected her fertile responsibilities and the earth became barren.  Now when Persephone returns to the underworld, Demeter grieves until her daughter is returned to her for the light half of the year.

Roderick notes that Wiccans “associate Demeter with the mother aspect of the feminine divine” and that when”you tap into the archetypal energies of Demeter, you also evoke your ability to work within the framework of natural cycles.”  In other words, we see that there is “time for every purpose under heaven” to quote Ecclesiastes 3.1 (or a lovely Byrds song).

Exercise:

Assemble an altar in Demeter’s honor today.  When you have completed this task, face the altar and intone her name, one syllable at a time, until you sense her presence surrounding you.  Once she has arrived, spend some time contemplating what it might mean to serve this aspect of deity.  Take time to ask Demeter what it would mean to live life through her energy and listen for her answer.

Spend the day honoring this goddess by celebrating the diversity and bounty of your own existence.  It does exist.  Look for it!

I was a little flummoxed as to what I should present to Demeter on my altar.  Roderick notes that her symbols include grain and a scythe, and that the boline and other working knives are among her magical tools.  So my boline went on the altar, as did a handful of tiger’s eye stones, lodestones, and bloodstone.  I chose the tiger’s eye because Demeter watches for the return of her daughter, bloodstone for the hardship that colors her most fertile time, and the lodestones to represent the polarity of her calendar and the rhythms it creates.

I also added the Susan Seddon Boulet depiction of Demeter, but my altar still looked pretty empty.  I went to our kitchen to snag some fruit (alas, we only had apples) and to pick up some beans.  When I went to scoop up the beans, however, it just didn’t feel right.  The barley, however, picked me immediately.  I went out to pick some daisies from across the street, but the poppies growing outside our front door called to me.  I chose one of our red ones and a couple wild California poppies, too.

I don’t know if I knew this and forgot, but barley and poppies are both significant to Demeter.  One etymology of her name is “barley goddess” and blood-red poppies often grew among the barley.  The figure ‘Demeter’ may also be linked to a Minoan poppy goddess.  At any rate, poppies seem to fit Demeter for their riotous summer explosion, their pod’s resemblance to pomegranates, the food source of their seeds, and their soporific effects.  One might say Demeter would want to sleep her way through the winter to forget the loss of her child.

Interestingly enough, there are several sources that note that beans were excluded from the feasts of Demeter.  No wonder they didn’t feel right!

After performing the meditation, I came away with the sense that to live life through Demeter’s energy is to accept and move with change.

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