A print of a part of my most favourite of myths….
As we head towards the Autumn Equinox /Mabon – the turn towards Autumn describes some of the events within the myth of Demeter and Persephone . At this time Persephone descends into the underworld to be with her new husband Hades. And so the grieving Demeter, the Dark mother once more travels across our Lands bringing death to our landscape in the shape of the dying Earth -Autumn followed by the dark days and the absence of light in Winter. The Alchemists would call this a state of NIGREDO – a time of the Black sun . This myth sustained a cultural ritual known as the Eleusinian mysteries for over 2,000 years…….which taught belief in man’s immortal soul and the future life after death. In all the Mediterranean area and Europe it was the religious teaching of immortality: dying before death, followed by a resurrection.
The myth of Demeter, Persephone and Hades was dramatized every year with parades and pageants. This was the means of conveying the teaching to the people. The first stage of the mysteries was the outer work of dancing and feasting which went on for eight days while all other activity stopped. The second stage was the drama and role-play. The third stage was the immersion into the inner meaning of Demeter and Persephone through meditation and visualization.
In the myth it begins on earth, in the fields, and reaches down into the underworld and up into the heights of Olympus. In our psyche it begins in infancy with the first nature explorations of mother with daughter. Demeter, the mother is between earth and heaven; Persephone, the daughter, is between earth and the underworld; this exemplifies the lower and higher self through realizing expansion of the higher self and transformation of the lower self.
The cult of Eleusis was a philosophy of life satisfying the deepest yearnings and desires of the human heart. Its secret was never divulged, even by former devotees who became Christians.
Sophocles said, “Happy is he who, having seen these rites, goes below the hollow earth; for he knows the end of life and knows its God sent beginning.” When Christianity conquered the world of that day the inspiring and divine rites of Demeter came to an end.