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This is a story about family...
Demeter and Persephone
Demeter and Persephone were sisters, it is said, daughters of the old earth mother Gea. Demeter was as bright as sunlight, as clear as a forest stream, as beautiful as the summer. Persephone was as dark as the night, her eyes shone like stars, she was as gentle and timid as the deer.
Together they brought life and fertility to the world, delighting in the growth of the wonders of the daylight and the of the dark secret things of the night. They did this without spells or magic such as men use. Their powers were innate, part of their nature, they regarded them as no more special than breathing or sleeping – They were goddesses – spirits of nature.
Demeter and Persephone gave great joy to their dark old mother, who delighted in the life that flourished under their influence and care. And they delighted in each other too – no sisters could have been closer, opposite to each other in every way, they complimented each other perfectly and together they brought the world to life.
But Gea was not the only one who walked in those woods, and hers were not the only eyes that noticed the sisters' beauty. Hades, King of Death, Lord of the Underworld walked in the shadows of that wood, and hunted in the darkness of it's night. He found the sisters bathing together one day and was overcome by their beauty. He captured them, bound them, and carried them away with him to be his slaves in his dark kingdom under the ground.
The Earth is old and eternal, she does not change. She did not even notice that the sisters were gone for a long time. When she did notice a great sadness seized her and she mourned. The sky grew dark, the world grew cold. Snow and ice covered the ground and the trees died. Men, and the animals, began to starve to death – all the children of Gea were threatened. Meanwhile Gea walked the frozen earth for season after season, wailing for her missing daughters.
Hades had covered his tracks well, but Gea is one of the oldest of the old ones and he could not keep the knowledge of what had happened from reaching her in the end. When Gea heard that her daughters had been taken by Hades she gave a great howl of anguish that shook the very foundations of the earth. She strode to the portal of the underworld to demand justice and with every step she took the stones trembled.
Demeter and Persephone had quickly become Hades' favourite handmaidens, his concubines, and eventually his consorts. When he heard that Gea was coming to take away his favourite playthings he was anguished for he had grown to love them in his own dark fashion. He went to his mother Rhea for help. Rhea reminded him of the ancient law: Whoever eats the food of the underworld is doomed to remain there. They could not fool Demeter for her bright clear light reveals all deceptions, but together they persuaded gentle Persephone to eat seven pomegranate seeds, binding her to remain in the underworld forever.
When Gea arrived and heard that only one of her daughters could be returned to her she was wrathful and threatened to destroy everything. To keep the peace Demeter suggested a compromise – for half the year she would take her sister's place in the underworld, allowing her mother to have each of her daughters for half the year. Thus in Spring and Summer Demeter returns to her mother and the earth rejoices in light and warmth, while in Autumn and Winter Persephone rises from the Underworld bringing darkness and cold as Gea remembers her sorrow.
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