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Demeter

Demeter was the goddess of corn, grain, and the harvest. She was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. It was Demeter that makes the crops grow each year. The first loaf of bread from the harvest was sacrificed to her.

Demeter was intimately associated with the seasons. Her daughter, Persephone, was abducted by Hades to be his wife in the underworld. In her anger at her daughter's loss, Demeter laid a curse on the world that caused plants to wither and die, the land became desolate. Zeus became alarmed and sought Persephone's return. However, because she had eaten while in the underworld Hades had a claim on her. Therefore, it was decreed that Persephone would spend four months each year in the underworld. During these months Demeter grieved her daughter's absence, and withdrew her gifts from the world, creating winter. Her return brought the spring.

Demeter was also known for founding the Eleusinian Mysteries. These were huge festivals held every five years. They were important events for many centuries. Yet, little was known of them as those attending were sworn to secrecy. The central tenant seemed to have been that just as grain returns every spring after its harvest and wintery death, so too the human soul could be reborn after the death of the body.

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