Spotlight on: Demeter

Who is Demeter?

Demeter is from the Greek pantheon, and governs agriculture, fertility, and the harvest. She’s the daughter of Cronus and Rhea, making her one of the original Olympian deities. Her Roman equivalent is Ceres.

Demeter is the mother of Persephone, who was kidnapped by Hades, the god of the underworld. In her grief, despair and rage, Demeter roamed the earth in search of her daughter, neglecting her duties as the goddess of agriculture. 

Essentially? She went on strike. 

As a result, the earth turned barren, drought came, and crops failed to grow. The other gods and goddesses were alarmed by this and intervened to bring Persephone back to Demeter. However, because Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds while in the underworld, she was forced to spend part of each year in Hades. This is why we have Winter and Autumn – Demeter mourns the loss of her daughter every time Persephone descends to the underworld.

Demeter’s Power

Demeter’s power lies in her ability to bestow blessings, and take them away just as easily. Because of this, she was rarely taken for granted. The impact of her wrath was just too great a price.

Additionally, Demeter’s connection to the cycle of the seasons symbolises the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Just as the earth lies dormant in Winter only to be resurrected in Spring, Demeter embodies the concept of renewal and regeneration. When her daughter is returned (the Maiden joining the Mother once more), this moment is not only a source of physical sustenance, but a sacred cycle in action. The changing of the seasons is something we all experience together.

When Persephone was taken, Demeter fell into a deep depression. But before this, she was angry. This is often an overlooked part of her story. Her initial rage at Persephone’s disappearance is what started the first Winter, so she does have an ‘F— around and find out’ element.

During her search for Persephone, Demeter told her story and found solace in having community. This shows her Mother archetype, and the role that relationships and storytelling plays when dealing with mental health and darker times.

Working with Demeter

Demeter’s most often depicted as a classic maternal figure, symbolising the nurturing and sustaining aspects of the earth. Her main focus is the cycle of life and death, as she’s responsible for the growth and harvest of crops. 

One way to work with Demeter is through rituals that focus on fertility and abundance. This can include planting and tending to a garden, participating in harvest festivals, or creating offerings of fruits and grains to honour her. You can also create an altar dedicated to her, using symbols of fertility like cornucopias, wheat, fruit, and flowers.

Demeter was one of – if not, the – most revered deities by the ancient Greeks. Agriculture was vital to their society, so her worship was widespread. Her festivals, such as the 3-day women-only Thesmophoria, were celebrated with great fervour. Each year, the Eleusinian Mysteries were held – a months-long ceremonial reenactment of the Demeter-Persephone myth, with secret initiations, sacrifices, and processions. People prayed to Demeter for fertile land, good harvests, and protection of their crops. 

She is a Mother, a consort, and a friend. 

She’s our health, safety, and consequence.

To the people, she is everything.


Polly is a practicing witch who primarily works with Persephone, Brigid and the Cailleach. She's the High Priestess expert on seasonal Australian practice and archetypal symbolism, and is a teacher at Witch School.