When I met Yvette, she was spending a significant amount of time with the story of Demeter, as she navigated her way through entering a new phase of life — as a being with simple titles. Artist. Yvette. Just her. Children grown, daily vocation set aside, a woman in her 60’s engages a pivotal time in which she is able to sit with Herself. I was at the time discovering the magic of Persephone, as a 30-something discovering my own identity apart from family and dependency for the first time. Same journey, different expressions. We got together, shared our stories, and from this an invitation for me to work with Yvette to create the story of Demeter with photographs was extended and happily accepted. As we both explore finding the Goddess Within, Yvette gave me and now all of us a special window into the heart of the Divine Feminine stepping into her power and all the joy, heartbreak, and bravery that journey requires.
“I begin to sing of Demeter, the holy goddess with the beautiful hair…. she of the golden double-axe, she who glories in the harvest.
Hades, the Lord of the Underworld, fell in love with Demeter’s virgin-daughter Persephone and decided to take her into marriage. So, one day, as she was gathering flowers with her girlfriends, he lured her aside using a fragrant and inexpressibly beautiful narcissus, and then snatched her up with his chariot, suddenly darting out of a chasm under her feet.
As Persephone tumbles into the chasm of the Underworld, her screams echo across the Earth and up to the reaches of Olympus. Demeter hears her, and begins a frenzied search for her.
Inconsolable, Demeter walked the earth far and wide for nine days to find her daughter – but to no avail. And then, on the tenth day, Hecate told her what she had seen and Helios, the All-Seeing God of the Sun, confirmed her story. Demeter wasn’t just brokenhearted anymore. She was now a torrent of Anger, devastating the Earth with her grief and rage.
Demeter left Mount Olympus and went to grieve her daughter among the mortals, disguised as an old woman. She was broken, completely bereft. For what is a mother with no children?
After some time, Demeter, in the guise of an old, mortal woman, and was given the care of a baby boy. She poured her broken mother’s heart into the boy, and put him into the fire each night to gradually give him immortality. But one night she was discovered by the boy’s mother as she put the babe in the fire, and the woman raised the village against her. Demeter, in her wrath, gave the boy back to his mother, and revealed herself as the Goddess she was. She demanded immediate worship, and for the King to immediately build her a temple. Her glory as Woman was resplendent.
King Celeus did just that, and Demeter spent a whole year living in her newly built temple, grieving, and, in her grief, neglecting all her duties as a goddess of fertility and agriculture. As a consequence, the earth turned barren, and people started dying out of hunger. Everyone in the king's household tried to console and lift the spirits of the severely depressed woman, but to no avail—until Baubo showed up. The two women started chatting, with Baubo making a number of humorous, risqué remarks. Demeter began to smile. Then, Baubo suddenly lifted her skirt in front of Demeter. She responded with a long and hearty belly laugh. Her depression lifted. She demanded that Zeus restore her daughter to her, or she would never smile upon the Earth again. Zeus realized that he would have to bring Persephone back to her mother if he didn’t want to see humanity starve. He sent Hermes to Hades, and the divine messenger fetched back Persephone to her mother. However, the gods soon realized that Demeter’s daughter had already eaten one seed of pomegranate in the Underworld, which obliged her to remain in the Underworld. Knowing that Demeter wouldn’t allow such thing to happen, Zeus proposed a compromise: Persephone would spend one-third of the year with Hades and the other two-thirds with Demeter.
The former, the period during which Demeter is grieving, corresponds to the winter months of the year when the earth is infertile and bare; the latter, when she rejoices, overlaps with the abundant months of our springs and summers. Spring is the advent of Persephone’s rise from the Underworld, where she reigns with Hades, back into the fertile land and the bosom of her Mother. This Homeric Myth is the story of the Goddess Revealed.