More than Persephone’s Mom by Mary Malinski Priestess of Demeter

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Author: Temple of Demeter
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Demeter and Persephone. Demeter and Kore. You can’t have one without the other, can you?

The two are forever entwined in the Mysteries and mythology. Their identities are so thoroughly intertwined that Demeter loses her mind with grief when Kore is abducted. She is no longer herself when she blights the Earth – her identity vanished along with the Holy Daughter.

And yet she wasn’t always Persephone’s mom. She had a life and identity before (and after) she was a mother.

Second born of Rhea and second swallowed by Kronus, Demeter played a role in the overthrowing of the Titans, and again in the uprising of the Gigantes, she was called khrysaoros, Lady of the Golden Sword.

She was known as a Giver of Law – Ovid tells us in Metamorphoses,

…she first gave corn and crops to bless the land; she first gave laws; all things are Ceres’ [Demeter’s] gift.

~Ovid, Metamorphoses 5. 341 ff (trans. Melville)

Demeter of the Golden Tresses is a woman beautiful and desirable in her own right. She had a lover, the hero Iaison. Hesiod tells us,

Demeter, bright goddess, was joined in sweet love with the hero Iasion in a thrice-ploughed fallow in the rich land of Krete, and bare Ploutos (Wealth), a kindly god who goes everywhere over land and the sea’s wide back, and him who finds him and into whose hands he comes he makes rich, bestowing great wealth upon him.

~Hesiod, Theogony 969 ff (trans. Evelyn-White)

As a mother, I can relate to Demeter identifying herself by her child. When I think about how to describe myself, “mother” is one of the first words that comes to mind. After giving birth to three (amazing) boys, nursing them and changing their diapers and helping them to grow, it is hard to see myself as “desirable”, or even as separate.

So much of my life and my choices involve what I need to do to support them. They are constantly in my thoughts and plans for the future. I often sacrifice my own needs and desires to accommodate theirs.

And yet I wouldn’t want to live without them. I can’t imagine – I don’t even want to think about – the heart-wrenching grief of losing one (or all) of my children. Knowing mothers who have lost their children, it is a pain that never truly goes away.

Demeter is lucky, her child returns. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have had signs of spring since Imbolc. The Great Mother is ecstatic that her baby is coming home soon.

For Her, the cycle plays out year after year. For us living here on this Earth plane, we move through the cycles in more of a spiral, going deeper into our experience with each turn of the Wheel. We grow and change and learn.

I am a mother, and more than a mother. I get to experience the Great Mother’s loss of her child and her sense of self through Her Mysteries, so that I may learn and grow and build a stronger, more diverse sense of my own identity. I learn to make time to care for myself, and allow others to care for me, so that no one ending becomes catastrophic.

Thank you, Demeter, for sharing your lessons with me.

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