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Demeter and the Eleusinian Mysteries

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Claesson Welsh

Chapter 14Demeter and the Eleusinian mysteriesThe myth of Demeter and PersephoneDemeter is the goddess of fertility and her daughter with Zeus is Persephone the maiden of Spring According to Greek mythology the earth once enjoyed an unending season of temperate weather perfect for the growth of all plant life Because trees were always green and flowers always bloomed the world was filled with life and beauty Human beings lived amidst plenty for crops always grew in abundance and the gods were pleased to have so many worshipersThe goddess responsible for the earths bounty was Demeter the goddess of the grain and the harvest Her sweet and lovely daughter Persephone the Maiden of Spring gladdened Demeters heart and Demeters love and happiness kept the earth in bloomDemeter and Persephone were seldom far from each other but occasionally Persephone would wander out of her mothers sight while picking flowers One day as Hades lord of the Underworld watched the lovely maiden collecting blossoms Eros the mischievous god of love shot an arrow from his bow straight into Hades heartHades immediately fell in love with Persephone and determined that she must marry him and become queen of the Underworld As the maiden bent to gather more flowers the ground beside her opened wide Out from the gaping hole in the ground came Hades in a chariot drawn by a team of mighty black horses Hades seized the terrified girl and dragged her into his chariot Then he turned his horses heads and raced back down into the shadows with his prizePersephone cried out to her mother but it was too late The earth closed above her shutting out the sunlight and the beautiful meadow At the end of the dark journeyPersephone found herself in the kingdom of the dead where Hades ruled and where he intended that she should rule beside him Meanwhile Demeter having heard her daughters cry rushed to find her but Persephone had disappearedOvercome by grief Demeter searched for her daughter Finally she asked Apollo the sungod who could have taken Persephone away from her Apollo replied that Persephone now ruled over the kingdom of the dead with Hades who had taken her for his bride The thought of her precious lively daughter trapped in the shadowy wasteland of Hades broke Demeters heart She left her home on Mt Olympus and wandered the earth dressed as an old woman No one recognized her in her mourningFor an entire year Demeter refused to allow the earth to bloom She did not bless the crops or look with favor on the harvest Every growing thing withered and died the once green earth turned brown and barren All over the world people starvedConcerned that the mortals would all die out leaving no one to worship them the other gods begged Zeus to talk to Demeter and recall her to her duties But his efforts were unavailing Until her daughter was
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