And the strength of a Mother’s love.
Place your hand upon mine
That I might walk the paths where you’ve stepped
And learn the hidden ways of Eleusis.
Connecting with the Goddess
M U S I N G S
For centuries in Ancient Rome the ultimate vision of a mother was seen through the face of Ceres. She is most commonly thought of as Grain Goddess; a solely agricultural deity and patroness of those who work the land. This is far too simple a role for such an important Goddess as Ceres. To followers of her mysteries she was the caregiver of the Earth and all who lived upon it. In many ways she was seen as the Earth itself.
Kore, Ceres’ daughter, brought the Goddess much joy and while Ceres could hold her child in her arms all was right on Earth. Crops grew, animals multiplied, and flowers colored the land in splendor. But then Kore was taken into the Underworld by Pluton (Hades). Ceres’joy turned into terrible sorrow. Her heart broke without her little girl and the Earth began to wilt and die. As the Goddess mourned, so too did the Earth. Fruit rotted on the vine, flowers turned black with death, and nothing would grow. The land was barren and empty like Great Mother Ceres’
Ceres called to me initially on her own, as part of an ancient, timeless myth surrounded by mysteries and traditions that have captured the hearts and imaginations of people all over the world for millennia. Her daughter Kore (in her guise as Proserpina) soon began to take my focus however. It was Proserpina whose voice rang out the loudest and it is through her that the understanding of her mother comes into light.
Step into this little temple and reach out your arms to Mother Ceres. Raise them up as if you were young Kore and embrace the Goddess who is Mother of all Life. Walk up to her shrine and light candles in her honor. Beckon her to enter your heart and gift you will the lessons you require. And, as with her daughter Proserpina, may her light embrace you, taking you into the hallowed caves of Eleusis with all the wisdom of an initiate.
U N D E R S T A N D I N G
Ceres was once called Ge-Meter or Earth-Mother. As I spent time with this aspect of the Goddess I came to the revelation that the triad of Kore, Ceres, and Proserpina are all aspects of the earlier Greek Earth Goddess Gaia. It’s not much of a stretch really as Gaia is seen as somewhat of a primordial, early incarnation of the Great Goddess. Gaia is the Earth in ways that at times can seem very literal. As time went on Gaia took on a more complex face and her aspects were split into different deities, all with a specific set of spiritual lessons to teach. Ceres is perhaps the face that is closest to the Great All-Goddess Gaia, as seen in mythology as the Earth personified.
In myth there are times when Ceres may seem very distant, like a mother who finds it difficult to be affectionate, yet can’t let go emotionally either. Perhaps this is because she is very dependent. As with any triplicate form of the Goddess, each part is at the same time connected with the other two yet also separate and dependent on the other faces to function. Ceres has her own power – the power to make the Earth thrive or die – yet that power is subject to her moods and emotions.
Without Kore, Ceres cannot function. Without Ceres the Earth dies. Perhaps Ceres gives a feeling that she is somewhat controlling because she is not actually in control at all. This is not to say that her other two aspects are not also dependent on her, but for Ceres dependence is something she seems to resent. She is the Mother. She is the one who gives life. Yet she must resign herself to the fact that she can’t do it all alone; that she needs the love of her daughter to go on.
It seems to be that Ceres is a perfect archetype for many modern women, especially those with children. We try so hard to do it all on our own; raising children, working, taking care of the home. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we need anyone else and sometimes it’s easy to resent that dependence when we are so used to being in control of everything.
On a more spiritual level, Ceres is the balancing aspect of the Gaian Triad. While Kore brings about the function of birth (conception), it is Ceres’ job to nourish it within her womb and give it life (creation); to care for it until it returns to Proserpina and another sort of womb in death (transformation).
Ceres gives care, compassion, and love the way a healthy mother does to her children. She needs nothing in return. Even when Kore goes missing, all Ceres wants is another opportunity to love her child. She is not ready to “cut the apron strings” and for a mother it is never the right time to let go of her children. Just because a mother must let her child go off into the world and find their way, does not mean that mother wants to be without her child or not be given the opportunity to be in that child’s life.
So the Goddess is telling us, as her children, that she will never let us go. That though she gave us life and must allow us to fall down, skin our knees, and make mistakes, she will never leave us. And though at times she may seem distant and out of our reach she is forever looking for us and never giving up hope that we might find each other again and again.
So, after a great amount of musing I have come to some conclusions on keywords for Ceres. love, independence, and balance.
– All beings are capable of love.
– Love is the strongest force in existence.
– Life can only be nourished by other life.
– Independence is good but we must know when to accept help.
– Dependence should not cause negative emotions or distance.
– It is good to be needed and need others.
– There is balance in all things.
– Love must be balanced, firmly rooted in reality, and unselfish.
– Dependence must be balanced by self sufficiency.
Meditation and Worship
A L T A R I D E A S
An altar to Ceres could be covered in white, yellow, red, or green fabric. In fact, any color can work with this Goddess. Set natural items on your altar such as cut grain, fresh flowers (poppies), and seeds. Altar figures can be purchased, created, or printed from your computer. Light candles in Ceres’ name, perhaps even creating the candle holders yourself, and honor her as you see fit.
S I M P L E R I T U A L
Set up your altar to Ceres and prepare yourself for ritual/meditation in your usual way. Make offerings of any type of grain on your altar and say the following:
Mother, I must make this journey of life alone
But I know always that you are with me.
Your hand with never leave my hand.
Your heart will never be far from mine.
We are always together; always one.
Though I must journey alone I ask
That you lend me your strength in times of need,
Your shoulder in times of sorrow,
Your smile in times of joy,
And your love always.
When the time comes
I shall return to you
As in all things there is a cycle
That has no end.
Spend time in meditation reflecting on Ceres and the relationships in your life then end the ritual in your own way. Take the grain outside to return it to the Earth – to Mother Ceres
E X T R A I N F O
- Homeric Hymn to Ceres
- Orphic Hymn to Ceres
- Ceres on Goddess Gift
- Ceres on Wikipedia
- Mythography: Ceres
- Ceres on Paleothea
- Summary of the Roman Goddess Ceres
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