Saturday, April 15
THIS WEEK’S LESSON
Demeter and Persephone
Demeter, goddess of the harvest, had a daughter named Persephone who loved to spend time in the meadows, picking flowers.
One day, the god of the underworld, Hades, saw Persephone and wanted to marry her. He rode out of the depths and took her to the underworld, a dark and gloomy place beneath the surface of the earth.
Persephone longed to return home.
Meanwhile, Demeter was grief-stricken and roamed the earth in search of her lost child. Being the goddess of the harvest, she refused to allow crops to grow while she desperately searched, making the earth cold, dark, and lifeless. Soon there were famines across the land.
Zeus pleaded with Demeter to bring life back to the earth so plants would thrive and food could grow again, but Demeter refused until she found Persephone.
So Zeus commanded Hades to return Persephone, and Hades had to comply.
But before he did, he gave Persephone some pomegranate seeds, knowing that anyone who ate food while in the underworld would be bound to return again. Desperately hungry, Persephone ate a few of the seeds.
When Persephone surfaced, she and Demeter had a joyous reunion, and the earth became warm and fruitful again. But their reunion was tempered by knowing that Persephone would have to return again to the underworld.
In time, Persephone embraced her two homes and was known as the goddess of spring and the goddess of the underworld, ruling both realms. For part of the year, she lived in the underworld, and the earth was plunged into winter, becoming cold and barren. For the other part of the year, she returned to spring to the world, with warmth, new growth, and abundant crops.
For more, watch “The Myth of Hades and Persephone” (6-min video) from TED-Ed
- How does Demeter and Persephone’s experiences remind you of the hero’s journey?
- Have you ever faced a situation that felt like winter?
- Have you ever felt love for someone — perhaps a family member — that felt like spring?