The Homeric Hymn to Demeter - 03
Type of Spiritual Experience
Zeus, pressed by the cries of the hungry people and by the other deities who also heard their anguish, force Hades to return Persephone. However, it was a rule of the Fates that whoever consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. Before Persephone was released to Hermes, who had been sent to retrieve her, Hades tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds which forced her to return to the underworld for a season each year.
When Demeter and her daughter are united, the Earth flourishes with vegetation and colour, but for some months each year, when Persephone returns to the underworld, the earth once again becomes a barren realm.
A description of the experience
Homeric Hymn to Demeter
So he spoke. Hades, King of the Dead, smiled with his brows, and he did not disobey the order of Zeus the King.
Swiftly he gave an order to bright-minded Persephone.
"Go, Persephone, to your mother, the one with the dark robe.
Have a kindly disposition and thumos in your breast.
Do not be too upset, ….I will not be an unseemly husband to you, in the company of the immortals.
I am the brother of Zeus the Father.
If you are here, you will be queen of everything that lives and moves about,
So he spoke. And high-minded Persephone rejoiced.
Swiftly she set out, with joy.
But he Hades gave her, stealthily, the honey-sweet berry of the pomegranate to eat, ….
He did not want her to stay for all time …, at the side of her honourable mother, the one with the dark robe
The immortal horses were harnessed to the golden chariot by Hades….
She got up on the chariot, and next to her was the powerful Argos-killer,
who took reins and whip into his philai hands…. And the horses sped away eagerly.
Swiftly they made their way along the long journey. Neither the sea
nor the water of the rivers nor the grassy valleys
nor the mountain peaks could hold up the onrush of the immortal horses.
High! He came to a halt at the place where Demeter, was staying, at the forefront of the temple fragrant with incense.
When she saw them, she rushed forth like a maenad….. down the wooded mountain slope.