Part 5

In the last two entries we spoke of Dionysus and Demeterís mystery religion and the association with ceremony and ritual involving imitative magic based on universal beliefs about spirit-containers, orcas, pits, and the larger issue of "as on earth, so in heaven".

While much is still unknown about the mysteries of these deities, the basis of Demeterís popularity was almost certainly rooted in her divinity as a mother-earth goddess. Demeter (De or Da "earth", and meter "mother") actually means "earth mother." As mother earth, Demeter was the giver of generosity and grace and the controller of the awesome forces of nature. She was loved as the giver of food and fertility and feared as the taker of life. She could open her womb with blessings and abundance or enclose the dead in her soil.

Without a doubt, the worship of the earthís "spirit" as a mother, and the incarnation of the earthís fertility forces within specific goddesses, was one of the oldest and most widely held religious ideas in antiquity. Whether it was Inanna of the Sumerians, Ishtar of the Babylonians, or Fortuna of the Romans, every civilization had a sect based on the embodiment of the earthís spirit as a mother-goddess. The Egyptians worshipped Hathor in this way, as did the Chinese, Shingmoo. The Germans worshipped Hertha as the great Mother Earth, and even some Hebrews idolized "the queen of heaven". In Greece, the queen of the Olympian goddesses and wife of Zeus was Hera; the benevolent earth mother. Before her was Gaia (Gaea, the Greek creator-mother earth) and beneath her many others including Artemis, Aphrodite and Hecate.

The principle idea was that the earth is a living entity. The ancient and universally accepted notion that the "living earth" was also a fertile mother was conceptualized in different ways and in various goddess myths and images throughout the ancient world. In The Golden Asse, by second century Roman philosopher Lucius Apuleius, the earth was perceived as a feminine force, which incarnated itself at various times and to different people within the goddess mothers. Note how Lucius prays to the earth spirit:

"O blessed Queene of Heaven, whether thou be the Dame Ceres [Demeter] which art the original and motherly source of all fruitful things in earth, who after the finding of thy daughter Proserpina [Persephone], through thy great joy which thou diddest presently conceive, madest barraine and unfruitful ground to be plowed and sowne, and now thou inhabitest in the land of Eleusie [Eleusis]; or whether thou be the celestiall Venus....[or] horrible Proserpina...thou hast the power to stoppe and put away the invasion of the hags and ghoasts which appeare unto men, and to keep them downe in the closures [womb] of the earth; thou which nourishest all the fruits of the world by thy vigor and force; with whatsoever name is or fashion it is lawful to call upon thee, I pray thee, to end my great travaile..."

The earth spirit responds to Lucius:

"Behold Lucius I am come, thy weeping and prayers hath mooved me to succour thee. I am she that is the natural mother of all things, mistresse and governesse of all the elements, the initial progeny of worlds, chiefe of powers divine, Queene of heaven, the principall of the Gods celestiall, the light of the goddesses: at my will the planets of the ayre [air], the wholesome winds of the Seas, and the silence of hell be disposed; my name, my divinity is adored throughout all the world in divers manners, in variable customes and in many names, for the Phrygians call me the mother of the Gods: the Athenians, Minerva: the Cyprians, Venus: the Candians, Diana: the Sicilians, Proserpina: the Eleusians, Ceres: some Juno, other Bellona, other Hecate: and principally the aethiopians...Queene Isis."

Some assume, based on such texts, that a single spiritual source or realm energized the many goddess myths. In the ancient Hymn, To Earth The Mother Of All, Homer illustrates how the earth-spirit was universally involved in the affairs and lives of nations. Through Homerís dedication to the earth, we discover how far-reaching and omnipresent the mother-earth spirit was thought to be:

"I will sing of well founded Earth, mother of all, eldest of all beings. She feeds all creatures that are in the world, all that go upon the goodly land, and all that are in the paths of the seas, and all that fly: all these are fed by her store. Through you, O queen, men are blessed in their children and blessed in their harvests, and to you it belongs to give means of life to mortal men and to take it away. Happy is the man whom you delight to honour! He hath all things abundantly: his fruitful land is laden with corn, his pastures are covered with cattle, and his house is filled with good things. Such men rule orderly in their cities of fair women: great riches and wealth follow them: their sons exult with ever-fresh delight, and their daughters in flower-laden bands play and skip merrily over the soft flowers of the field. Thus it is with those whom you honour O holy goddess, bountiful spirit. Hail, mother of the gods, wife of starry Heaven; freely bestow upon me for this my song substance that cheers the heart! And now I will remember you and another song also."

From these and other ancient records it is obvious that the earth spirit was more than an agricultural or herbaceous facility, she was the personable and "eldest of all beings," the "holy goddess," the "bountiful spirit," the all nourishing mother of men who manifested herself within the popular idols of the many goddess myths.

Christian theologians agree that the physical earth contains living, spiritual forces. In the Book of Revelation, chapter nine and verse fourteen, we read of "the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates." Likewise, in Job 26:5, we find "Dead things are formed from under the waters." The literal Hebrew translation is, "The Rafa (fallen angels) are made to writhe from beneath the waters."

Additional biblical references typify the earth as a kind of holding tank, or prison, where God has bound certain fallen entities. (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6) That such fallen spirits seek to communicate with, or participate in, the affairs of humanity, is defined in Scripture. As previously noted, the Hebrews were warned of spirits that might seek regular communion with men ( Deut. 18:11), and, when the witch of Endor communicated with the same, they ascended up from "out of the earth" (1 Sam. 28:13) as "gods". 

Back to Contents        Next - Part Six