Demeter and Persephone

This drawing illustrates one of the classic stories from Greek Mythology that explains the change of seasons and the growth of plants.  I have been drawn to this myth for many years and sometime ago this pen and ink drawing I did was inspired by this story.  As autumn winds roar and golden leaves dance in the chilly air, the earth prepares for its winter rest and I revisit the myth once more…from The Children’s Book of Myths and Legends by Ronne Randall,

“There was a time when the world was warm and sunny all year, trees bore fruit continually, and grain grew again as soon as it was cut down.  The goddess Demeter ruled over all these growing things, and she had a daughter named Kore, which means ‘maiden’ in Greek.

One day Kore  was out gathering flowers when the earth opened up and Hades, lord of the Underworld, rose up in his chariot.  He grabbed the screaming Kore and pulled her down, into the depths of the Underworld.  When Demeter learned that her daughter had become the bride of Hades and was now named Persephone, she stormed and raged.  The earth became cold and barren.

At last Zeus persuaded Hades to send Persephone back, but Hades had one condition – Persephone could return only if she had not eaten anything, but she had sucked six pomegranate seeds. ‘Then she will have to remain in the Underworld for six months of every year,’ Hades declared. ‘For the other six months, she may return to Demeter.’

So for six months every year, when Persephone is in the Underworld, the earth is cold and wintry.  But when she returns to her mother, warmth and life come with her, and the earth brings forth its bounty once more.”

The drawing depicts the rebirth of the earth in spring and the return of Persephone from the Underworld to her mother.  There are layers of meaning and metaphors galore in this tale of wonder.  Imagine Demeter’s  grateful heart full of love as she welcomes her lost daughter home again.

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