The following was the Main Rite I wrote for Ozark Mountain Grove's 2010 Fall ritual. As I had been working with Demeter in meditation and developing materials to create the Demeter and Eleusinian Order I wanted to create a ritual that the Grove could use that would reflect the mythology surrounding the Eleusinian Mysteries. I wanted the main offering to be the telling of the story of Demeter's loss of her daughter Kore. In that telling I wanted to reflect some of the actions that were taken during the Lesser Mysteries. To that end, I included Grove actions and responses to the story telling. Also since part of the story centers around the purification and attempt to immortalize Demophon I felt that the enactment of this purification would be appropriate. I had done a similar ritual a few years before. I created an abstract baby form which was hollow. It was filled with season herbs that had been harvested from one of the Grove members gardens. We also poured olive oil and honey into the belly of the form to signify the ambrosia that Demeter fed to Demophon before placing him into the fires for purification.
Kindred of the Occasion Invocation:
Daughter to the Great Titans Kronos and Rhea,
Earth Goddess par excellence,
She who brings forth the fruits of the earth
And the life sustaining grains of the land,
[pour oil and honey around the Tree]
Goddess who forsake the throne and riches offered to Her by Her might brother Zeus,
Father of all the Gods,
So that She could live among men upon the earth,
[pour oil and honey around the Tree]
She who taught man the arts of seed and plow
To end the nomadic lives they lead,
Who became the Goddess of planned society.
[pour oil and honey around the Tree]
Great Beloved Goddess Demeter, Mother of Persephone,
We come to honor and praise you!
In Your sadness from the lose of you daughter,
The world suffered bitter winter and death, finding no relief or joy,
Teaching men that all things end.
With the return of Your Daughter, Persephone,
You allowed life to return to the land sending away the cold winter of death.
With this You taught man that life once gone returns anew to the world,
That the eternal soul of all things flows with the cycle of the land.
Demeter, Goddess of the Eleusinian Mysteries,
We come before You in honor of all Your teachings to man,
We come before You to ask that You burn away our impurities
As You once sought to do with Demophon.
Blessed Mysteries of life, death, and life again are yours,
Great Beloved Demeter.
λαμπρή θεά, δέχεται την προσφορά μας! (repeat 3 times)
(Lam-prai The-ah, de-ke-tigh tain pros-por-ah mas!
All: Glorious Goddess, accept our offerings!
Praise Offerings (First round to DoO, a round for each Kindred Invoked, then open to all):
Main Offering [Reading from Homeric Hymns]
I begin with Demeter, the holy goddess with the beautiful hair.
And her daughter [Persephone] too. The one with the delicate ankles, whom Hadês seized. She was given away by Zeus, the loud-thunderer, the one who sees far and wide.
Demeter did not take part in this, she of the golden double-axe, she who glories in the harvest.
She [Persephone] was having a good time, along with the daughters of Okeanos, who wear their girdles slung low.
She was picking flowers: roses, crocus, and beautiful violets. Up and down the soft meadow. Iris blossoms too she picked, and hyacinth. And the narcissus, which was grown as a lure for the flower-faced girl by Ge [Earth]. All according to the plans of Zeus. She [Ge] was doing a favor for the one who receives many guests [Hadês].
It [the narcissus] was a wondrous thing in its splendor. To look at it gives a sense of holy awe
to the immortal gods as well as mortal humans. It has a hundred heads growing from the root up.
Its sweet fragrance spread over the wide skies up above. And the earth below smiled back in all its radiance. So too the churning mass of the salty sea. She [Persephone] was filled with a sense of wonder, and she reached out with both hands to take hold of the pretty plaything. And the earth, full of roads leading every which way, opened up under her. It happened on the Plain of Nysa. There it was that the Lord who receives many guests made his lunge.
[Grove members scream out]
Thereafter, for nine days did the Lady Demeter wander all over the earth, holding torches ablaze in her hands.
Not once did she take of ambrosia and nectar, sweet to drink, in her grief, nor did she bathe her skin in water.
[Grove chants/cries out: Iakch' o Iakche]
But when the tenth bright dawn came upon her, Hekatê came to her, holding a light ablaze in her hands.
She came with a message, and she spoke up, saying to her:
“Lady Demeter, bringer of hôrai, giver of splendid gifts, which one of the gods who dwell in the sky or which one of mortal humans seized Persephone and brought grief to your philos thûmos? I heard the sounds, but I did not see with my eyes who it was. So I quickly came to tell you everything, without error.” So spoke Hekatê. But she was not answered by the daughter [Demeter] of Rhea with the beautiful hair. Instead, she [Demeter] joined her [Hekatê] and quickly set out with her, holding torches ablaze in her hands.
[Grove wonders around the space holding torches as if searching]
They came to Hêlios, the seeing-eye of gods and men. They stood in front of his chariot-team, and the resplendent goddess asked this question:
“Helios! Show me respect [aidôs], god to goddess, if ever I have pleased your heart and thûmos in word or deed. It is about the girl born to me, a sweet young seedling, renowned for her beauty, whose piercing cry I heard resounding through the boundless aether, as if she were being forced, though I did not see it with my eyes. I turn to you as one who ranges over all the earth and sea [pontos] as you look down from the bright aether with your sunbeams: tell me without error whether you have by any chance seen my philon child, and who has taken her away from me by force, against her will, and then gone away? Tell me which one of the gods or mortal humans did it.
So she spoke. And the son of Hyperion answered her with these words:
“Daughter of Rhea with the beautiful hair, Queen Demeter! You shall know the answer, for I greatly respect you and feel sorry for you as you grieve over your child, the one with the delicate ankles. No one else among all the immortals is responsible [aitios] except the cloud-gatherer Zeus himself, who gave her to Hadês as his beautiful wife. So he gave her to his own brother. And he [Hadês], heading for the misty realms of darkness, seized her as he drove his chariot and as she screamed out loud. But I urge you, goddess: stop your loud cry of lamentation: you should not have an anger without bounds, all in vain. It is not unseemly to have, of all the immortals, such a son-in-law as Hadês, the one who makes many sêmata.
In her anger at the one who is known for his dark clouds, the son of Kronos, she shunned the company of gods
and lofty Olympus. She went away, visiting the cities of humans, with all their fertile landholdings, shading over
her appearance, for a long time. Until, one day, she came to the house of bright-minded Keleos, who was at that
time ruler of Eleusis, fragrant with incense.
She sat down near the road, sad in her philon heart, at the well called Parthenion [the Virgin’s Place], where the
people of the polis used to draw water. She sat in the shade, under the thick growth of an olive tree, looking like
an old woman who had lived through many years and who is deprived of giving childbirth and of the gifts of
Aphrodite, lover of garlands in the hair. She was like those nursemaids who belong to kings, administrators
of themistes, and who are guardians of children in echoing palaces. She was seen by the daughters of Keleos, son
of Eleusinos, who were coming to get water, easy to draw [from the well], in order to carry it in bronze water-jars
to the phila home of their father. They [the daughters] stood near her and spoke these winged words:
“Who are you, and where are you from, old woman, old among old humans? Why has your path taken you
far away from the polis? Why have you not drawn near to the palace? There, throughout the shaded
chambers, are women who are as old as you are, and younger ones too, who would welcome you in word
and in deed.”
So she spoke. And the Lady Goddess spoke with the following words:
“Phila children! Whoever women you are among the female kind of humans, I wish you kharis [‘I wish you pleasure and happiness from our relationship, starting now’]. I shall tell you. It is not unseemly, since you ask, for me to tell you alêthea. Dôsô is my name. It was given to me by my honored mother.
But that was then. I am from Crete, having traveled over the wide stretches of sea against my will. Without
my consent, by biâ, by duress, I was abducted by pirates. After a while, sailing with their swift ship, they
landed at the harbor of Thorikos. There the ship was boarded by women of the mainland, many of them.
They [the pirates] started preparing dinner next to the prow of the beached ship. But my thûmos did not
yearn for food, that delight of the mind. I stole away and set out to travel over the dark earth of the
mainland, fleeing my arrogant captors. This way, I stopped them from drawing any benefit from my worth
without having paid the price.
The daughters of Keleos spoke:
“The wives of all of these manage the palace. Of these women, not a single one of them, when they first
look at you, would deprive you of tîmê, the way you look, and turn you away from the palace. Rather, they
will receive you. For, right now, you look like the gods. If you wish, wait for us, while we go to the palace
of our father and tell our mother, Metaneira with the low-slung girdle, all these things from beginning to
end, in the hope that she will tell you to come to our house and not to seek out the houses of others. She
has a treasured son, growing up in the well-built palace. He was born late, after many a prayer for the birth
of a son: a great joy to his parents. If you nourish him to grow till he reaches the crossing-point of life,
coming of age, I can predict that you will be the envy of any woman who lays eyes on you. That is how
much compensation she [Metaneira] would give you in return for raising him.”
So they, filling their splendid jars with water, carried it off, looking magnificent. Swiftly they came to the great
palace of their father, and quickly they told their mother what they saw and heard. And she told them quickly
to go and invite her [Demeter] for whatever wages, no limits, and they, much as deer or heifers in the hôrâ of
spring prance along the meadow, satiating their dispositions as they graze on the grass, so also they, hitching up
the folds of their lovely dresses, dashed along the rutted roadway, their hair flowing over their shoulders, looking
like crocus blossoms. Metaneira was seized by a sense of aidôs, by a holy wonder, by a blanching fear.
She [Metaneira] yielded to her [Demeter] the chair on which she was sitting, and she told her to sit down. But
Demeter, the bringer of hôrai, the giver of splendid gifts, refused to sit down on the splendid chair, but she stood
there silent, with her beautiful eyes downcast, until Iambê, the one who knows what is worth caring about
[kednon] and what is not, set down for her a well-built stool, on top of which she threw a splendid fleece.
For a long time she sat on the stool, without uttering a sound, in her sadness. And she made no approach, either by
word or by gesture, to anyone. Unsmiling, not partaking of food or drink, she sat there, wasting away with
yearning for her daughter with the low-slung girdle, until Iambê, the one who knows what is dear and what is not,
started making fun. Making many jokes, she turned the Holy Lady’s disposition in another direction, making her
smile and laugh and have a merry thûmos.
[Grove tells a few off color jokes and rude gestures]
Then Metaneira offered her [Demeter] a cup, having filled it with honey-sweet wine. But she refused, saying that
it was divinely ordained that she not drink red wine. Then she [Demeter] ordered her [Metaneira] to mix some
barley and water with delicate pennyroyal, and to give her [Demeter] that potion to drink.
[Grove passes the kykeon around to drink from as Demeter did]
The Lady known far and wide as Dêô accepted it, for the sake of the hosia. Then well-girded Metaneira
spoke up in their midst:
“Woman, I wish you kharis [‘I wish you pleasure and happiness from our relationship, starting now’]. I
speak this way because I think you are descended not from base parents but from noble ones. You have the
look of aidôs in your eyes, and the look of kharis, just as if you were descended from kings, who uphold
the themistes. We humans endure the gifts the gods give us, even when we are grieving over what has to be.
The yoke has been placed on our neck. But now that you have come here, there will be as many things that
they give to you as they give to me. Take this little boy of mine and nourish him. He is late-born, and it was
beyond my expectations that the immortals could have given him to me. I prayed many times to have him.
If you nourish him to grow till he reaches the crossing-point of life, coming of age, I can predict that you
will be the envy of any woman who lays eyes on you. That is how much compensation I [Metaneira] would
give you in return for raising him.”
Then Demeter, with the beautiful garlands in her hair, addressed her:
“Woman, I wish you kharis back, and then some. May the gods give you good things. With positive
intentions, I will take your little boy as you tell me to. I will nourish him, and I do not expect that, through
the inadvertence of her nursemaid, he would perish from a pestilence or from the Undercutter. I know an
antidote that is far more powerful than the Woodcutter; I know a genuine remedy for the painful
Having so spoken, she took the child to her fragrant bosom, in her immortal hands. And the mother [Metaneira]
rejoiced in her mind.
[Priest is handed Baby form is accepted and cradled in arms]
And thus it came to pass that the splendid son of bright-minded Keleos, Dêmophôn, who was born to well-girded
Metaneira, was nourished in the palace, and he grew up like a daimôn, not eating grain, not sucking from the
breast. But Demeter used to anoint him with ambrosia, as if he had been born of the goddess, and she would
breathe down her sweet breath on him as she held him to her bosom. At nights she would conceal him within
the menos of fire, as if he were a smoldering log, and his philoi parents were kept unaware.
[Place Baby form into the Fire]
But they marveled at how full in bloom he came to be, and to look at him was like looking at the gods. Now Demeter
would have made him ageless and immortal if it had not been for the heedlessness of well-girded Metaneira, who went
spying one night, leaving her own fragrant bedchamber, and caught sight of it [what Demeter was doing]. She let out a
shriek and struck her two thighs, afraid for her child. She had made a big mistake in her thûmos.
[Grove shrieks in terror]
Weeping, she spoke these winged words:
“My child! Demophon! The stranger, this woman, is making you disappear in a mass of flames!
This is making me weep in lamentation [goos]. This is giving me baneful anguish!”
Demeter, she of the beautiful garlands in the hair, became angry at her [Metaneira]. She [Demeter] took her
[Metaneira’s] philos little boy, who had been born to her mother in the palace, beyond her expectations,
—she took him in her immortal hands and put him down on the floor, away from her.
“Ignorant humans! Heedless, unable to recognize in advance the difference between future good fortune
[aisa] and future bad. In your heedlessness, you have made a big mistake, a mistake without remedy. I
swear by the Styx, the witness of oaths that gods make, as I say this: immortal and ageless for all
days would I have made your philos little boy, and I would have given him tîmê that is unwilting [a-phthi-
tos]. But now there is no way for him to avoid death and doom. Still, he will have a tîmê that is unwilting
[a-phthi-tos], for all time, because he had once sat on my knees and slept in my arms. At the right hôrâ,
every year, the sons of the Eleusinians will have a war, a terrible battle among each other. They will do so
for all days to come. I am Demeter, the holder of tîmai. I am the greatest boon and joy for immortals and
mortals alike. But come! Let a great temple, with a great altar at its base, be built by the entire dêmos. Make
it at the foot of the acropolis and its steep walls. Make it loom over the well of Kallikhoron, on a prominent
hill. And I will myself instruct you in the sacred rites so that, in the future, you may perform the rituals in
the proper way and thus be pleasing to my noos.”
So saying, the goddess changed her size and appearance, shedding her old age, and she was totally enveloped
in beauty. And a lovely fragrance wafted from her perfumed robes. The radiance of her immortal complexion
shone forth from the goddess.
And thus the Eleusinian Mysteries were born!
Prayer of Sacrifice-Communion: (Hold Plate of meat, fat and bones towards the fire)
We come before you Golden Wheat Goddess, as in days of old,
We offer unto the Gods which is the right and portion of the Gods,
In doing so we share this meal with you becoming closer,
(Place Fat and Bones into the Fire- Then circle through those attending so they make take their portion of the Sacred Meal)
Prayer of Sacrifice Libation Hymn: (Pour each out as it is said)
Shining Gods and Goddesses,
We come to you as in times of old, bringing libations, gifts to honour and soothe:
To you all that have come, to all that heard our call we give you these gifts;
White milk, sweet to drink from the animal sacred Hermes, the cow;
Golden honey, the distillation of the bees that work on sweet Persephone’s blossoms;
Holy water brought from the source a pure spring domain of the Nymphs;
This refreshing, unmixed drink from the ancient vine, its mother Demeter the Goddess of all growing things, the gift to human kind from Beloved Dionysus;
And the fragrant fruit of the pale green olive that lives its abundant life among the leaves and light of Helios, the gift of Athena to her people;
(Pour Olive Oil)
These gifts we give to you in love and in respect, in friendship and kinship.
Might Ones accept our offerings!