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The Long Journey Home: Revisioning the Myth of Demeter and Persephone for Our Time

Overview

The story of the mother-and-daughter goddesses Demeter and Persephone has seized the imagination of people in every age, from ancient times to the present. Considered today by many to be the archetypal myth for women, it touches on timeless themes in every life, such as the male-female relationship, love between women, initiations into puberty and old age, the mother-daughter bond, death, and ecological renewal. Christine Downing has combined essays, prose, poetry, and even performance art with her own insightful...
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The Long Journey Home: Re-Visioning the Myth of Demeter and Persephone for Our Time

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Overview

The story of the mother-and-daughter goddesses Demeter and Persephone has seized the imagination of people in every age, from ancient times to the present. Considered today by many to be the archetypal myth for women, it touches on timeless themes in every life, such as the male-female relationship, love between women, initiations into puberty and old age, the mother-daughter bond, death, and ecological renewal. Christine Downing has combined essays, prose, poetry, and even performance art with her own insightful commentary to shed new light on the myth's ancient meanings and to offer new insights in its implications for contemporary men and women.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Heavily footnoted and broad in scope, this collection begins by examining the inconsistencies of the earliest versions of the Demeter and Persephone myth by Homer and Ovid. By cross-referencing classic and modern thought with literary, cultic and agrarian views, Downing ( The Goddess ) allows the ``various interpretations to contradict, complement, complicate, and ultimately enrich one another.'' Among the issues debated are Demeter's true character and motivations (nurturing, selfless mother vs. obsessed neurotic); the ``necessity'' of Persephone's rape (a commonplace cruelty vs. her own desires of womanhood); maidenhood vs. menopause; homosexual vs. heterosexual love; the secrets of the Eleusinian mysteries and the Thesmophoria; and life vs. death/renewal. Despite centuries of gender bias in the myth's retelling and translations, Downing and her contributors reclaim the myth as their own: ``We hoped that the discovery of a prepatriarchal world,'' the editor posits, ``might help us imagine forward to a postpatriarchal one.'' Standout contributions include ``Learning From My Mother Dying'' by Carol P. Christ, poetry by Alma Luz Villanueva and Herta Rosenblatt and John Daughters's wickedly funny ``Hades Speaks.'' (July)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570626852
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/1994
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 866,045
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
The Greek Literary Tradition 9
The Homeric "Hymn to Demeter" 26
The Rape of Proserpine 39
Art and Ritual 49
Mythography and Depth Psychology 59
The Woman's Experience of Herself and the Eleusinian Mysteries 72
Women's Re-visionings 77
Demeter 84
Persephone 88
A Richly Filled Cornucopia 101
In Search of a Prepatriachal Version 103
The Myth of Demeter and Persephone 109
The Mother-Daughter Bond 114
Three Poems 119
The Crux 123
Learning from My Mother Dying 125
Love Among Women 136
The Return to the Mother 140
Rape and Patriarchal Violation 146
Demeter, Persephone, and the Pedagogy of Archetypal Empowerment 149
The Two Goddesses 155
Puberty Rites 161
The Rape of Persephone 166
Cycles of Becoming 173
Midlife Passage 186
Mother and Daughter Mysteries 190
The Rape of Demeter/Persephone and Neurosis 197
Demeter's Folly: Experiencing Loss in Middle Life 206
Persephone in Hades 219
Hekate, Rhea, and Baubo: Perspectives on Menopause 233
Glimpses of a Postpatriarchal World 243
Sightings of Maternal Rage and Paternal Love in the Homeric "Hymn to Demeter" 248
Hades Speaks 254
Concern for the Earth 260
An Ecofeminist Perspective on the Demeter-Persephone Myth 262
A New Telling of the Myth 271
Long Journey Home 273
About the Contributors 291
Further Reading 295
Credits 299
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