Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lectio Homerica: The Homeric Hymn to Demeter Part Two

As I mentioned in my last installment of Lectio Homerica: The Hymn to Demeter I started this nearly four years ago.  I only made it to Part Two.  I am reposting that here, with no alterations.  In the intro I talk about going to the Unitarian Church.  I don't do that so regularly any more, but not because I don't want to.  The pastor moved to another church and I have never quite connected with any of his replacements.  So, here is Part Two with the firm promise that I will make it to Part Three and Beyond. 

Posted on Jan. 29th, 2006 at 02:52 pm

I regularly attend a local Unitarian Universalist church here in the Atlanta area. This morning the sermon was centered on a text rather than an idea. The text was about the leftovers of our lives and it was a lovely metaphor. However, during the sermon our pastor mentioned the practice of Lectio Divina and how he felt it could be used with any text to meditation on and internalize the words. I couldn't agree with him more. Which is why I came home to write this next installment of the devotional reading of Homer and the Hymn to Demeter.

"And so long as she, the goddess, yet beheld earth and starry heaven and the strong-flowing sea where fishes shoal, and the rays of the sun, and still hoped to see her dear mother and the tribes of the eternal gods, so long hope calmed her great heart for all her trouble. . . . and the heights of the mountains and the depths of the sea rang with her immortal voice: and her queenly mother heard her.

Bitter pain seized her heart, and she rent the covering upon her divine hair with her dear hands: her dark cloak she cast down from both her shoulders and sped, like a wild-bird, over the firm land and yielding sea, seeking her child. But no one would tell her the truth, neither god nor mortal man; and of the birds of omen none came with true news for her."

We begin this next section with Persephone again as she cries out in hopes someone would hear her and rescue her. How are we the abducted and innocent goddess? My inner dialogue with Persephone takes me often through her journey - things that carry me into the "depths" of my psyche and how I can "rule" over them as Queen to emerge again in my own "spring time". Sometimes our cry is so primordial that the earth herself hears our pain.

But how does Persephone's dear mother answer her? As any mother would, we expect - by rushing off after the cries of her daughter and searching every possible place on earth for her.

The translation by Diane Rayor that I am reading uses the phrase, "She tore the veil from her ambrosial hair, threw a black cloak across her shoulders and sped like a bird..." In the translation from it appears that Demeter casts off her cloak, but in Rayor's version she dons it. It is like the veil of mourning - Demeter cannot be seen in her motherly veil of the celebration of life, but needs to clothe herself in the darkness of sorrow.

Sometimes I too don the cloak of sorrow. I think we all do from time to time. And, like Demeter, we search the lands for that which was lost to us. Sometimes this is in the form of finding our spiritual center. That is the journey that I have been on with Persephone for many years.

How does the sorry of Persephone and Demeter speak to you? What is your internal dialogue with these two goddesses - each of them in mourning but for various reasons. Is there something that you have lost? Is there something that has been taken from you? How far will you go to get it back?

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