26 April 2013

Demeter's rejoicing brings spring!!!

In Greek Mythology, Hades the god of the underworld, abducted Persephone, married her and made her the goddess of his realm. While Hades hoped for a loving marriage, it was basically a loveless union. They had no children together, yet they were both faithful to each other.

As husband and wife, they were only together for six months during the year. The reason they could only be together for this amount of time was because it was the only way to appease the other gods and Persephone's mother, Demeter, who was the goddess of the harvest. It was easy to tell when they were together and when they were apart by just looking at the earth.

When Persephone was in the underworld, Demeter missed her daughter immensely and went into depression. The grass quit growing, leaves fell from the trees, fruits and vegetables disappeared. Food for livestock was at a minimum and chickens quit laying eggs.

At first, Hades didn't want to return Persephone to the world because he was fearful that she would not return to him. To solve this problem the gods made it impossible for Persephone to live entirely in the underworld or entirely on the earth.

Till this day, when she is with Hades, her mother Demeter, misses her so much that the earth goes dormant... which is our winter. Demeter rejoices when her daughter returns and things slowly come back to life... which is our spring.

During the time that Persephone is in the underworld, people learned that they needed to be frugal and save the food they had because they really had no idea when she would return and Demeter would again supply a harvest for everyone.

Slowly though, the brown grass turned green, trees began having leaves again, and seeds that were planted began to grow. Even the chickens began laying eggs again. It was a reason to celebrate. A celebration of renewal and rebirth.

Children were allowed to eat eggs freely... there were so many of them. Baby chicks were born. The people had survived the long winter and with Persephone's return all was right with the world.

It is from the ancient myth that the reason of chickens and eggs fit into our Easter celebration. It is hard to believe how pagan symbolism’s have fit into Easter. Years ago, I worked for a Christian church and school and the head pastor would not allow candied chickens or eggs into the school just because of this old myth.

I share this story because no matter what our faith is or what we believe, deep down we all pray and hope for renewal and rebirth. Easter and spring fill our hearts with this hope. A hope built on gratitude and Love.

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