Goddess of the Week - Demeter

The Goddess Demeter
(I know, it's been a really goddess-y week around here, but hey, why not?)
a young goddess-y me

Hello Beautiful,

Back in the mid-eighties, I was a combat-boot-wearing-indigo-girls-listening-moon-circle-attending undergraduate, and a card-carrying member of what we called the Goddess Movement. It was pretty great. My copy of The Spiral Dance was heavily annotated in the margins and falling apart from constant use; I also loved Goddesses in Everywoman, When God was a Woman (!) and of course The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. Ha! It was all really fun and empowering.

And, yes, a little over-the-top. By the late eighties I was shaving my legs and wearing lipstick again, but here's the thing:

I'm still (kinda secretly) an active member of the Goddess Movement.
Some things really didn't work for me. Like the idea that men are sort of bad and if women ruled the world everything would be awesome (umm... Sarah Palin?) And like the idea that absolutely everything should be decided by consensus (I still think hierarchies can work really well in some situations - like firefighting for instance.)

But a whole lot of things did, and still do, really work for me. Like the idea that women are, in our natural being, beautiful, sacred, and powerful. And the idea that there are many aspects of traditional femininity (and I'm not talking 1950's traditional here...) that, far from being oppressive, are empowering, emboldening, important, and worth preserving. And the idea that shame has no place in our sense of our selves, our sexuality, and our bodies

Another thing that really works for me is the idea of the importance of archetypes in patterning our lives. The history of human culture is rich with beautiful or fascinating or empowering images of the Divine Feminine.

These images and archetypes are a rich well of wisdom from which we can draw, a place of inspiration we can visit to learn more about the many aspects of our Selves. We lack a shared mythology in our culture, and so are cut off from the incredible value and power of the teaching stories that are part of most traditional cultures. I am going to make it a habit, here on The Artful Life, to share with you a weekly goddess image and/or story - I hope this will enrich your sense of the beauty and possibilities of being alive in a woman's body.

This week's lady is Demeter, the ancient Greek Goddess 
of the seasons, fertility, the grain harvest, and the mysteries of the life cycle. I'm celebrating her this week because we are approaching harvest time, but she is much more than a simple Harvest Queen. She embodies the vegetative cycle, and so holds the mysteries of death and regeneration. Big stuff!

She also embodies the heart-devotion of motherhood, and I will tell the story of her daughter Persephone another time here. For now I'll say that Demeter is that part of motherhood which witnesses with the inevitability of children being marked by the world, and their suffering - she is the mother who feels a child's pain in her own body, and who will defend her child with her life. Very beautiful.

She brought in a harvest
from fertile lands.
And the whole earth 
was weighted with leaves and flowers.
And she went
and taught the kings...
....and she revealed to them
her beautiful mysteries,
which are impossible
to transgress,
or pry into,
or to divulge:
for so great
is one's awe
of the gods
that it stops
the tongue.
-from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter

Journal/Pondering Prompts
What is coming to fruition in my life right now? Is there an area of my life that needs the blessing of fertility? Where am I feeling the pain of the world right now, and is there anything, even something small, that I can do to exercise my compassion? (one idea: the Red Cross could sure use our help in Pakistan)

p.s.  We'll be spending a whole week on nurturing our spirit-selves in the Seven Weeks to an Artful Life ecourse - will you be joining us?


3pieceonline said...

Woah! I absolutely loved this post Bronwyn. I have to pick up some of the tomes you listed because I have an encylopedia of the gods however think I should pick up a companion book. I agree also that there cannot be one without the other (gods/goddesses).


Bronwyn said...

Hi j,

Yeah, there is an encyclopedia of Goddesses...by Barbara Walker - a must for women's bookshelves...

Madame One Tree said...

Wonderful! i own and (actually have read for reference) several of Barbara Walkers works.

Fantastic post, B.

Bronwyn said...

Yay! Thanks. I'll keep the goddesses coming!


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