Demeter’s Winter.


When the movie Hercules came out I was so fascinated. I bought it later on and every time I’d go straightly to the scene when Hercules goes to Mount Olympus and meets all the Gods and Goddesses. They were so beautiful and powerful. And it seemed as if they were flying on clouds right behind this heavenly golden gate.

And then I grew up which wasn’t a long time after I watched the movie, but still the idea was in the back of my mind. I actually believe that at some point in life these Gods and Goddesses existed. Maybe they didn’t exist in such an elaborate way but the idea and the mythology must have started somewhere at sometime. People must have believed in these heavenly creatures at some point. I mean however can we explain the existence of the pottery and the temples and the citadels if it weren’t for these beliefs?

Demeter, Goddess of the seasons

In any case, ever since I’ve had these notes, these clips and photos about heroes, Gods, Goddesses, muses, nymphs, titans… you name it… and every time I fall upon a version of any mythology it is brand new yet so familiar. They are all interconnected. But still the actual story is a blur. And that’s in itself fascinating and intriguing.

Moreover, all the mythologies revolve around one pure ultimate see-through genuine feeling: love!

Love, and above all things… love!

One of the stories I love is the one of Demeter, the Goddess of seasons and her daughter Cora.

Demeter had an affair with Zeus. Of course Zeus used one of his many ruses to approach Demeter behind Hera’s back. (His ways are a different story) Out of Zeus’ and Demeter’s union came Cora.

Cora and her mother were so close. And because of that love and the happiness that took place between them Demeter bestowed upon the earth the good season: colorful flowers down the hills, streams of water gushing from the valleys, bright green trees all around the villagers’ homes… everything was peaceful and beautiful.

But down below, in the deepest cores of the earth, down where nothing lives or sees the light, the place where life subsists from existence Hades, the God of the dead resided. And one day he came upon Cora. He fell madly in love and he wanted to possess that beauty. He wanted to make that divine women and he didn’t care how he obtained his goal. So he went to Zeus and offered him a deal in exchange for Cora… Zeus agreed.
When Demeter woke up one morning and didn’t find her daughter she got so scared. She started searching for her all over the world: from Mount Olympus until the far depth of the world. Of course she couldn’t go into the underworld, because it was said that whoever got in could never ever get out. They belonged to the dead.
Demeter was heartbroken. Therefore, she went to Helios, the God of the sun. Helios told her that if Demeter were to know the whereabouts of her daughter she ought to go to Zeus for he was the reason of this heart aching situation.
So did Demeter. After she heard the truth from Zeus, the God of Gods, Demeter retired herself, for no one can object to Zeus. Demeter then went to sob over her Cora in her temple: Eleusis.

She was so desperate and sad. She stopped eating or drinking. She even stopped feeding on ambrosia which was the divine food of the Gods and Goddesses.

Due to this fast, nature started drying up. Fruits no longer grew. Flowers were parched. Trees lost their leaves. Rivers became arid. People were dying of hunger and thirst.

The Gods were starting to get worried. They feared on the lives of the mortals because like it or not these mortals were their source of fun. Gods and Goddesses tried to approach Demeter to convince to get back on her two feet and let go of her daughter. But Demeter wouldn’t even let them into her temple.

Persephone (Cora), Goddess of Innocence and Receptivity and Queen of the Underworld.

Finally Zeus tried to get through to her but no luck as well. Demeter was too heartbroken and so enraged that she yelled at Zeus and told him that if anything, all of this was his fault.

Zeus then tried to repair his mistake and sent Hermes, his son and the God of speed and communication, to the underworld. Hermes was able to go there in a heartbeat. At first, he was told that there was no woman called Cora in the underworld. He demanded to see Hades after threatening them with Zeus’ rage. Hades told him that Cora no longer existed and that his wife’s name was Persephone.

Nevertheless, Hermes was able to come to terms with Hades so that he would let Persephone go see her mother. Hades was very fond of his wife and he didn’t want to let go. When he was saying good bye to his wife he plucked grenadine from a tree nearby and gave it to her as a symbol of his love. Persephone bit into the grenadine savored it and kissed Hades good bye.

The reunion between Demeter and Cora in Eleusis’ temple was so overwhelming and emotional that all the Gods and Goddesses were looking down on them with tears in their eyes. Mother and daughter were crying, hugging and kissing.

However, Demeter being the Goddess of seasons and all that comes along could smell grenadine on her daughter. She asked Cora why that was. Cora told her mother about her emotional farewells. Demeter fell to the ground in sobs. She was shaking at the thought. She then explained to her daughter that grenadine was the symbol of marital union and that Cora will always belong to Hades from now on and had to go back to him. But Demeter didn’t want to let go of her.

Both mother and daughter went to Zeus asking him to find a way to let Cora stay with her mother since it was his obligation being the one who caused the mistake in the first place.
Finally, an agreement was made: Cora was to spend 4 months in the underworld with her husband and the rest of the year with her mother.

Demeter and her Daughter Cora

Thus were born the seasons: for 4 months, while Cora was with Hades, Demeter would feel saddened and desperate, thus winter was born. The last month, before her daughter’s arrival, Demeter would prepare the earth to welcome her with its colors and fruits, thus spring was born. When Cora came back to her mother, the earth would be at its peak of glamour and heat, thus summer was born. And before her daughter’s departure, Demeter and Cora would be dwelling and aching because of the time they were about to spend apart, thus autumn was born.

This story amazes me. It would be something I would want my daughter to listen to before I tuck her in. I mean what more could explain a mother’s love towards her children?! Demeter spent weeks and weeks looking for her daughter and then she was able to change the entire world because of her sorrow. What could be a bigger prove of motherly love?!

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