Hymn to Demeter

The anniversary of the epic tragedy in Haiti has just passed, and Channel 4 news last night showed an update on one of the stories from that time that has stayed with me since then. A woman trapped underground would not be given up upon by her husband, he just knew she was in there alive. Day after day, he stood by and would not believe she had died under there. News cameras showed his expression as he gazed over the massive rubble, the intentness, focus and heart that he expressed, the purpose. That man would not be moved from there, his wife was in there and he knew it. Because of his sureness, big equipment continued to move massive rubble and search. Six days later, the husband heard his wife’s voice from deep below, they called to each other. When the rescue workers finally pulled her out of the ground on a stretcher, after six days of darkness, starvation and thirst, she came out singing, bellowing a powerful song.

A friend and I were talking about the Greek myth of Demeter tonight. The aspect of her story that always struck me deeply was the fact that after her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades into the underworld, Demeter never, ever gave up on finding her daughter. She wandered the earth night and day. Because she was the goddess of the seasons, she caused them to stop and the earth to lay fallow. Zeus finally noticed and got Hades to release Persephone to her mother.

When this myth came up tonight I thought of that man in Haiti, his Demeter-like persistence, and damned if he didn’t force the gods to release his wife. He got her back.

I built an altar last night to my Twin Self, as a shaman I worked with years ago told me that his Nigerian people do. The Twin Self is that part of us that lives outside of this sphere of temporal reality, connected to us while not suffering the trials and tribulations of duality. It watches with us. I will keep this altar alive during a 40-day ritual I just started. I think now of that Twin Self as Demeter. She is holding a vigil for the Persephone part of me that has been abducted to Hades. She’s going to bring her back.

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