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The Goddesses: Meet Demeter

Dr. Helen Johnson

6 May 2014

Demeter is the goddess of motherhood and oversees the reproductive cycles of both women and nature...

Demeter is the goddess of motherhood and oversees the reproductive cycles of both women and nature. She is in touch with the earth and with the body, which is necessary for her to fulfil her role as nurturer. Demeter women feel that their purpose in life is to become a mother and are likely to be found surrounded by children, catering to their needs and providing strength and emotional support.  She is a homebody. However, her mothering role extends beyond this; it is an attitude that she adopts towards all who surround her and she will display mothering behaviour regardless of whether she has started her own family. Indeed, Demeter’s energy may be found in women who adopt other important caring roles.

In whatever she does, Demeter nurtures new life, possibility and growth… All the goddesses have the capacity for mothering in their own unique way, however, none find the same sense of fulfilment and identity in the mothering role as Demeter. Her sense of self is entwined with the role, she enjoys the very activity of mothering, and she will pursue this at the exclusion of other aspects of her life. She is not even the type to hire a babysitter! She is ruled by love and finds mothering deeply satisfying in and of itself; she is not driven by a sense of pride or ego.

This caring nature is instinctive to her, she is selflessly giving and drawn to helping the vulnerable and in need – people, plants or animals. She has boundless energy for looking after others; however, she may lose herself in the process. Demeter’s story is bound up with her daughter Persephone, who is kidnapped and taken to the underworld. This story represents the profound sense of loss that Demeter women suffer as those they care for lose their innocence and depart. Further, although Demeter may be needed, she may not feel respected or valued. Her powerful fertile energy is no longer celebrated and revered. She has lost her important place in the community and workplace and modern portrayals depict her as one-dimensional and weak, confining her only to the realm of the family. This lack of support for

Demeter women can be demonstrated by economic and social policies that fail to support caring roles. Demeter is further denigrated by the fact that the realm of reproduction and the non-sexual aspects of women’s bodies have become sites of shame, control and judgement. Celebrating Demeter means acknowledging the wonder of women as creators of life – the mystery and power of this cannot be underestimated.

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