Gaia versus Demeter

By the way, just as a supplement to my last post, Lovelock picked the wrong name for his earth goddess. He should really have called her Demeter.

The narrative he says will occur – the goddess of the earth gets angry with the pesky human population, and turns her face from us, leaving the earth a wilderness – was told by the ancient Greeks.

Demeter loses her daughter, and she goes into mourning. The earth becomes a wasteland:

“Then she caused a most dreadful and cruel year for mankind over the all-nourishing earth: the ground would not make the seed sprout, for rich-crowned Demeter kept it hid. In the fields the oxen drew many a curved plough in vain, and much white barley was cast upon the land without avail.”

The humans try to propitiate the goddess through the Eleusinian Mysteries, and finally she comes out of mourning, and we are re-born, as children of the goddess.

This ancient myth was one of the most sacred myths for the Greeks. It was the mythical foundation of many of the greatest tragedies, such as Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus and Aeschylus’ Eumenides. It was also the basis of their most sacred religious festival, the Eleusinian Mysteries.

These tragedies, and the mysteries, taught the Greeks the same basic fact that we are now about to learn, most bitterly: civilisation depends on the benevolence of nature. If we forget that, we are heading for a fall.

You can read the ancient hymn to Demeter, which tells the story of the Mysteries, here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *