FOTO CREDIT: Jastrow (2006) who has kindly released the foto to the Public Domain


12. Dîmítîr

(Demeter; Δημήτηρ, ΔΗΜHΤΗΡ)

The daughter of Krónos (Cronus, Κρόνος) and Rǽa (Rhea, Ῥέα) and one of the Twelve Olympian Gods, Dîmítîr is one of the most important deities of Ællînismόs (Hellênismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, and is strongly connected with the foremost of the Mystery Cults. Dîmítîr is the sister of Æstía (Hestia, Ἑστία), Íra (Hêra, Ἥρα), Plouton (Plutô, Πλούτων), Poseidóhn (Poseidôn, Ποσειδῶν), and Zefs (Ζεύς). Dîmítîr is the mother of Pærsæphónî (Persephonê, Περσεφόνη) by Zefs; she is the mother of the divine horse Aríôn (Ἀρίων) and the Goddess Dǽspina (Despoina, Δέσποινα) by Poseidóhn.

Characteristics of Dîmítîr

Dîmítîr is the great Goddess of fertility and of the fruitful Earth. She has given us agriculture and, particularly, the cultivation of grain, and by doing so she has given us the ability to rise above the level of the beasts of the world.

Dîmítîr gives us awesome Mysteries which sweeten our lot in this life and bestow hope for good things after death.

Dîmítîr is one of several Goddesses who protects marriage.

Dîmítîr bestows peace and the laws which enable peace to flourish.

Dîmítîr may be worshipped with a gift of storax (use benzoin), as her Orphic hymn suggests. Fruit is another traditional offering to the Goddess. Cakes in the shape of pigs and cows and bulls may be offered to her as these animals were sacrificed to her in ancient times.

Rǽa, Zefs, Dîmítîr, and Pærsæphónî

As told in the Orphic theogony, when Rǽa gave birth to Zefs (Ζεύς), she became Dîmítîr [1]. The infant Zefs was rushed to the Cave of Nyx (Νύξ) and when he grew in strength, he defeated his father; he then ordered the universe anew, and ascended to become king of Gods and men forever and ever. Zefs conceived a plan and realized the necessity to unite with his mother and conceive a child. To escape his advances, Dîmítîr transformed herself into a snake. Zefs partook of this dance and became a snake himself; the two enwrapped themselves together into a Knot of Iraklís (ἅμμα Ἡρακλέους) [2] producing the Daughter (Corê, Κόρη), destined to become the mother of Zagréfs (Zagreus, Ζαγρεύς).

Dîmítîr and the Abduction of Pærsæphónî

The story of the abduction of Pærsæphónî (Περσεφόνη) is the most familiar mythology concerning Dîmítîr.

Zefs had secretly promised his daughter Pærsæphónî to Ploutôn and allowed her to be kidnapped by him. Dîmítîr heard the echo of her daughter's voice as Pærsæphónî descended into Ploutôn's realm and began her despondent search for her beloved daughter. On the tenth day, she met Ækátî (Hecatê, Ἑκάτη), who had also heard Pærsæphónî's cries. They inquired of Ílios (Hêlios, Ἥλιος), the Sun, who had seen all and now revealed this to Dîmítîr. The angry Goddess caused famine by not allowing the earth to produce fruit. She refused to ascend to Ólymbos (Olympus, Ὄλυμπος) but rather took up residence on earth, particularly at Ælefsís (Eleusis, Ἐλευσίς). Zefs became afraid for the future of earth, so he retrieved Pærsæphónî, but Ploutôn gave Pærsæphónî some seeds of a pomegranate to eat before she left his kingdom, a trick which required her to return. Zefs agreed to allow Pærsæphónî to stay with her mother for most of the year, but in winter she must return to Ploutôn. Ækáti henceforth remained with Pærsæphónî as her constant attendant. Dîmítîr agreed to the arrangement made by Zefs, returned fruitfulness back to the earth, and prepared to depart back to Ólympos. Before she left, Dimítir instructed Triptólæmos (Triptolemus, Τριπτόλεμος), King Kælæós (Celeus, Κελεός) of Ælefsís, Évmolpos (Eumolpus, Εύμολπος), Polýxeinos (Polyxeinus, Πολύξεινος), and Dioklís (Dioclês, Διοκλῆς) in her Mysteries, the great Ælefsinian (Eleusinian) Mysteries.

Dîmítîr in Iconography

In iconography, Dîmítîr is depicted as very beautiful, dressed in long flowing garments, a mature and motherly figure, with warm countenance, bearing a ribbon or a garland of ears of corn [3] about her head. She is often seen bearing a torch, in memory of her search for Pærsæphónî, her daughter, and a symbol of the Mystíria, or carrying the sacred basket of the Mystíria. She may also hold a scepter, sheaves of wheat, or a poppy flower. Sometimes she is seen in a glorious chariot with dragons or horses at its head.

"The name Rhea they gave to the power of rocky and mountainous land, and Demeter to that of level and productive land. Demeter in other respects is the same as Rhea, but differs in the fact that she gives birth to Kore by Zeus, that is, she produces the shoot from the seeds of plants. And on this account her statue is crowned with ears of corn, and poppies are set round her as a symbol of productiveness." [4]

The Names Zefs, Diós, and Dióh

There is confusion between the words Diós (Διός) and Dióh (Dêo, Δηώ), but the confusion is not so great when you see the actual Greek words:

Διός is the genitive of Ζεύς; it means "of Zefs" and it is the name used to designate the dividing power of the God. The name Ζεύς is used to designate the uniting power of the God.

Δηώ is a name of the Goddess Dîmítîr (Δημήτηρ). The dǽlta (Δ) at the beginning of Δημήτηρ became a gámma (Γ), so the first syllable Δη became Γῆ. Δη originally was a word meaning "Earth" but became Γῆ. The other half of her name, μήτηρ, means mother, so Δημήτηρ means "Earth-Mother."

The Epithets of Dîmítîr

The Orphic Hymn to Dîmítîr Ælefsinía


[1] Orphic Fragment 145. (106. 128) σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Κρατύλου Πλάτωνος 403e, (90, 28 Pasqu.):

Ῥείη τὸ πρὶν ἐοῦσα, ἐπεὶ Διὸς ἔπλετο μήτηρ, Δημήτηρ γέγονε.

“Formerly she was Rǽa, but having become mother of Zefs, she became Dîmítîr.”

(trans. by the author)

[2] excerpt from Kern Orphic Fragment 58. (41) Πρεσβεία περί των Χριστιανών Ἀθηναγόρου 20 p. 22, 10 Schw.:

Ῥέαν ἀπαγορεύουσαν αὐτοῦ τὸν γάμον ἐδίωκε, δρακαίνης δ´ αὐτῆς γενομένης καὶ αὐτὸς εἰς δράκοντα μεταβαλὼν συνδήσας αὐτὴν τῷ καλουμένῳ Ἡρακλειωτικῷ ἅμματι ἐμίγη (τοῦ σχήματος τῆς μίξεως σύμβολον ἡ τοῦ Ἑρμοῦ ῥάβδος), εἶθ´ ὅτι Φερσεφόνῃ τῇ θυγατρὶ ἐμίγη βιασάμενος καὶ ταύτην ἐν δράκοντος σχήματι, ἐξ ἧς παῖς Διόνυσος αὐτῷ·

“…and how he (Ζεύς) pursued his mother Rhea when she refused to wed him, and, she becoming a she-dragon, and he himself being changed into a dragon, bound her with what is called the Herculean knot, and accomplished his purpose, of which fact the rod of Hermes is a symbol; and again, how he violated his daughter Phersephoné;, in this case also assuming the form of a dragon, and became the father of Dionysos.”

(trans. Rev. B. P. Pratten, 1885)

The knot of Iraklís (Ἡρακλῆς) is marriage.

[3] The word corn in modern American usage is identified as maize, which is grain from a plant of the Americas, but this grain was unknown to the ancient European world. The word corn was not originally used to designate maize, but it is actually a generic term for any grain, the fruit of a cereal plant. In English translations of ancient texts, corn usually refers to ears of wheat, barley, or rye.

[4] Περί ἀγαλμάτων Πορφυρίου Fragment 6, excerpt, trans. Edwin Hamilton Gifford, 1894.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.

How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.

This logo is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllôn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

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