Making Light: Demeter

Making Light: Demeter March 27, 2014

Triptolemus, Demeter and Persephone by the Triptolemos-painter, ca 470 BC, Louvre. Public domain image.

Triptolemos, for helping Demeter in her time of need, you get not only agriculture, but we’re throwing in a brand new chariot with optional wings! “What will I use to pull this chariot?” you ask. Why, your very own snakes, of course!

Apollo has unpacked from his vacation and Persephone has returned from the Underworld, bringing with her the daffodils, the pansies, and a great number of yard weeds that now bloom. I’m variously working on my springtime frolic, turning the compost pile, and introducing the youngest offspring to the wonders of rocks and dirt. So far, she’s a fan. It won’t be long before I’m throwing more plants at the ground to see what will grow and I’m planning on having a bulb exchange and spaghetti dinner at my place.


I may or may not have stretched out in the grass like a cat when we had one of our first warm days. Grass in my hair? Dirt under my fingernails? It’s springtime. Your arguments are invalid.

I get ridiculously, stupidly happy when the first flowers show themselves, and that’s related to why I am now a Pagan. One of my main addictions is planting things. I can’t get enough of having my hands in the dirt and helping things grow. When I saw that the mint and oregano have returned, I giggled and clapped my little hands. They survived their first winter and boy, it was a doozy. The rosemary didn’t make it, but I can use that bed for other plants. I’m going to grow food on my own little stretch of dirt. My compost pile will fulfill its purpose and the dead leaves leftover from last year will soon join their brethren to make more compost so that I can grow more things. It’s a vicious dirt-filled cycle that sometimes results in food.

And this is where Demeter comes in, because a lot of my practice looks like gardening. Really, my relationship with her is no more complicated than that. I grow food, I make bread, and I give thanks for her help doing those things. I also give thanks to her for the farmers that grow the food that I buy. She taught Triptolemos how to grow grains and Kyamites how to grow beans. That’s half my menu right there, with much of the rest of it going to Aristaeos, one of Apollo’s children. I like to eat, so I thank the Blessed Mother of Growing Things. I suppose this is the part where one might normally go into the Eleusinian Mysteries, but there’s little that I or anyone else can say about the Mysteries that isn’t pure speculation. I’m not an initiate, I don’t celebrate the Mysteries, and it’s not part of my practice.

With Demeter, my practice is about as simple and ordinary as it gets. I don’t do any complicated rites and I don’t have a lot of high-falutin’ prayers; I just do some gardening and show some gratitude. I don’t even bother with the Homeric Hymns. You don’t need a master’s degree in classical studies to be able to show her some gratitude. It’s simple and ordinary. I kind of think of her like a favorite aunt that always insists on feeding me. She does ask that I turn the compost every now and then, pull weeds, and otherwise tend the plants in the garden, but she’s not the one I go to for digging deep into my soul. One could; I just don’t. Frankly, digging deep into my soul with even the twelve Olympians would be emotionally exhausting and I like having a no-frills relationship with her.

This relationship may change as time passes and my daughters eventually start dating. After all, she’s also the goddess of being protective of your daughter who is making questionable life choices that turn out not to be terrible after all, even though the guy she likes is a shady character (as in: literally hangs out with shades). We haven’t crossed that bridge yet, but I’m hoping to avoid the whole “wandering the Earth in a fit of rage” thing.

Meanwhile, I’m going to baby my sprouts and listen to You Bet Your Garden for tips on organic gardening. The host will occasionally mention his love for the Earth Mother and whether or not he’s serious (I think he is), it makes me happy. As he would say: That’s it for now, cats and kittens! My editor will compost me if I don’t sign off soon! Yikes!

Making Light is an occasional column by Hellenic polytheist Sunweaver. Follow it via RSS or e-mail!

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