Demeter is an ancient Greek Great Mother goddess, a goddess of life and death. The Greeks emphasized her role as goddess of cultivated earth, the giver of fruitfulness and abundance and provider of the gift of agriculture. She and her daughter, Persephone, called by the Greeks “the Goddesses,” together represent the continuous cycles of life and death, the two phases of the vegetative power of the earth. Demeter is remembered primarily for her great love for her daughter — when Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter’s grief caused the whole earth to go barren. Here we see Demeter ready to give birth, to produce life.
Demeter offers a blessing of fruitfulness and possibility, of coming joy, of abundant life, and of hope.
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Written By Priestess Hypatia
For Coven Life
Priestess of Bacchus, John Collier (taken from Wikimedia commons), 1886
In Thebes the birth place of Dionysus, the God of wine, the Maenads were born. They were known as the Priestesses who were part of the Dionysus cult and performed ecstatic dance. Roaming the mountains of Thebes, trancing and dancing in fawn skin dresses and panther throws, snake crowns and barefoot. Snakes in ancient times were used as healers.
The list of Maenads is long in history, these women that maintained the Dionysian cult with ecstatic ceremonies were distinct to the Hellenic world. A religious cult unlike no other, the women maintained a frenzied state of ecstasy. Extended periods of dancing (usually to the point of absolute and utter exhaustion) and drinking wine, the Maenads participated in orgiastic celebrations dancing naked through the forests of Thrace.
Dedicated to the God of debauch and fertility the Dionysian followers such as the Maenads experienced states of sexual drunken pleasure that allowed them to become closer to their God.
As members of a respected cult in Hellenic society the Maenads were actually celebrated for their sexual promiscuity, a welcoming change from the ever virtuous virgin Goddesses. Their sexuality gave them power and position more so than many other women in the Hellenic world.
Dancing Maenad. Detail from an ancient Greek Paestum red figure skyphos, made by Python, ca. 330-320 BC. British Museum, London.
When Medusa was slain, the winged horse Pegasus sprang from her blood. The Greeks pottery Medusa as a horrifying gorgon, an ugly woman with snakes for hair; anyone who looked at her face was turned to stone. Yet her name has the same root as medicine and measure, and derives from a Greek word meaning “to protect, to rule over.” Medusa is a moon goddess, the triple-headed Great Goddess in her death aspect. She is associated with blood, so to meet her is to meet the mysteries of moon-blood or menstrual blood, sacred and terrible, in many mythologies the source of life. Medusa is serpent energy, enlivening, terrifying, impersonal. Somehow Medusa, a symbol of growth and generation that dies so that from death may come life, became a symbol of fear, for to look directly upon the divine is to face a terrifying reality.
Pegasus is instinct, wisdom, imagination, life force, and intuitive understanding.
For more information about the Goddess Medusa here is the link for a general search: Information about Medusa
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