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Demeter and the Eleusinian Mysteries

temple of demeter

Little did I know when I visited the Temple of Demeter on Naxos four years ago what meaning its mythology would come to hold for me.

Commonly known as the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, Demeter also presided over the sacred law—the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries, a tradition that is thought to have predated the Olympian pantheon itself.

These Mysteries represented the myth of the abduction of Persephone by Hades, the king of the underworld, in a cycle with three phases: the descent, the search, and the ascent, with the main theme being her ascent and reunion with her mother. The rites were kept secret, especially the Greater Mysteries, which took place between what would be September-October on our Gregorian calendar. These included a ritual bath in the sea, three days of fasting, and a still-mysterious central rite which quite possibly culminated in drinking a psychedelic brew.

As the myth goes, Demeter’s distress over her daughter’s abduction halted the harvest, and while she searched for her ceaselessly, all living things began to die. Zeus, faced with the extinction of life on earth, convinced Hades to return her on condition that she had eaten nothing in the underworld (it is told Zeus had originally given Hades permission to take her in marriage) and when she was reunited with Demeter, the world burst into bloom. But Persephone had eaten a few pomegranate seeds in the underworld, so it was agreed that she must return to reign with Hades for a few months every year (one for each seed), and the cycle repeats itself.

Persphone and Hades

I've been fascinated with Jungian archetypes ever since reading Women Who Run With the Wolves, and I find solace in this mythology. This cycle is something I feel I've been going through since choosing to work on integrating my shadow, then turning 40 last year in the midst of COVID-19 and the climate change crisis, the Trump era of rampant misinformation and psychological warfare, AND also this amazing age of spiritual awakening and reckoning.

Demeter

Just as we must make this journey individually, I believe we also make it collectively. Enter DEMETER, coming this Autumn and the first reveal of our EQUINOX BOX: a room and body mist I’ve crafted with wild and Damascan rose, cardamom, palmarosa, sandalwood and benzoin to help carry us along our way and bring us back home to the present moment. It is divinely grounding, seductive and sultry with a hint of spice, and I can't wait for you to try it.

Reserve your box today by joining our CSH (community supported herbalism) program!