Demeter: Nurtured by the Mother Within

Joseph Dispenza


The ancients believed that there was a time when the earth enjoyed an unending season of temperate weather. Because trees were always green and flowers always bloomed, the world was filled with life and beauty. Crops also grew in abundance, and humans were blissfully happy in this earthly paradise.

The goddess responsible for the earth’s bounty was Demeter (DEM-eh-ter), the goddess of grain and the harvest. Her beautiful daughter Persephone (Per-SEH-fo-nee), gladdened Demeter’s heart; Demeter’s love for her daughter kept the earth in bloom.

Demeter and Persephone were seldom far from each other, but occasionally Persephone would wander out of her mother’s sight. One day as Pluto, lord of the Underworld, watched the lovely maiden picking flowers in a meadow, he immediately fell in love with her and determined that she must marry him and become queen of the Underworld.

As Persephone bent to gather more flowers, the ground beside her opened wide. Out from the gaping hole in the ground came Pluto, in a chariot drawn by a team of mighty black horses. He seized the terrified girl, dragged her into his chariot, and took her off to the Underworld.

Overcome by grief, Demeter left her home on Mt. Olympus and wandered the earth dressed as an old woman. No one recognized her in her mourning. For an entire year Demeter refused to allow the earth to bloom. Every growing thing withered and died; the once green earth turned brown and barren. All over the world people starved.

Concerned that the mortals would all die out, the other gods begged Zeus to talk to Demeter and recall her to her duties. But his efforts were unavailing. Until her daughter was returned to her, she vowed, the earth would never bloom.

Finally Zeus sent Hermes, the messenger of the gods, to demand that Pluto return Persephone to her mother for half of every year. During the other half of the year, she would be required to go back to the Underworld and continue her rule as queen of that shadowy place.

Each year, during the months when Persephone returns to her, Demeter makes the earth green and blesses the harvest. But during the months when Persephone has to stay in the Underworld, Demeter mourns, and in her grief and loneliness she makes the earth turn barren and cold. Nothing is allowed to grow during these seasons of grief. The world waits with Demeter for Persephone’s return each spring, when the earth will turn green and warm once more.

A mother’s love for her child is so powerful that it moves all of nature to change and come alive. The ancients understood that the mother within us is activated when we nourish and nurture our inner child.

Only recently have we begun to discover the concept of the inner child. It coexists in our personalities alongside our adult selves and is part of the multidimensionality of who we are at all times. When as adults we suppress the memory, needs, and desires of our inner child, we run the risk of never learning how to feel normally, or how to play and have fun, or to manage stress. We can take ourselves too seriously, feel guilty about not being ‘good enough,’ and become suspicious of people who enjoy life, and know how to play.

Nurture Your Inner Self this Month

This month, if you would like to be more nurturing to your inner self, in the same way Demeter was nurturing to Persephone, try some of these techniques. Tell your inner child that it is OK to:

  • take the time to do the things you want to do…

  • associate only with the people you want to associate with…

  • give and accept love from others…

  • have the freedom to make choices…

  • allow someone else to care for you…

  • enjoy the fruits of your labor with no guilt feelings…

  • take time to play and have fun each day…

  • be in charge of your life and not let others dictate to you…

  • be honest with others about your thoughts and feelings…

  • not be so serious, intense, and inflexible about life…

  • cry, hurt, and be in pain, as long as you share your feelings without suppressing them…

  • be angry, and bring your anger to some resolution…

  • make decisions for yourself…

  • make mistakes, laugh at them, and carry on…

  • let your imagination and creativity be set free to soar with the eagles.

These are ways you can be a mother to yourself. Nurturing that part of you that does not often receive your attention can bring about some surprising results. For one thing, you may find that you are living more fully in joy than you have been in quite some time. For another, life may stop seeming to be such a struggle and might appear more manageable, and…more fun.

As you get in touch with your Demeter/Persephone energy, remember that love — in this case love of self — can have an enormous impact on the world around you. Demeter loved Persephone so much that when her daughter returned to her every year, she caused the rivers to run and the trees to bloom.

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