The loss of the daughter to mother, the mother to the daughter, is the essential female tragedy. It was expressed in the religious mystery of Eleusis, which constituted the spiritual foundation of Greek life for two thousand years…
The separation of Demeter and Kore is an unwilling one; it is neither a question of the daughter’s rebellion against the mother, nor the mother’s rejection of the daughter… Each daughter, even in the millennia before Christ, must have longed for a mother whose love for her and whose power were so great as to undo rape and bring her back from death. And every mother must have longed for the power of Demeter, the efficacy of her anger, the reconciliation with her lost self.
Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born
One definition of “myth” might be: “A once sacred narrative which has lost its original context.” Like the flotsam and jetsam of a shipwreck on the high seas, we encounter fragments of myth, such as in Hesiod’s Theogony, drifting about detached from their original cultural setting and so read them as curious stories, quaint remnants, or illogical accounts of the cosmos.
What is lost in such fragments is the original wholeness of mythos, symbol, and ritual within which the myth had its transformative power. Continue reading “Remembering Persephone and the Eleusinian Mysteries”