Eating the Flesh of the Goddess: Demeter and the “Bread of Life”

by Harita Meenee

Two stand foremost among humans:
Goddess Demeter—call her Earth if you like—
who nourishes mortals with solid food;
the other one came later, Semele’s son,
who discovered the liquor of the grape,
and brought it to mortals, giving
the poor fellows surcease of sorrow…[1]

Euripides, Bacchae

The Mycenaean Earth Goddess holding ears of wheat (photo by the author)Strange as it may sound today, religion and food were once intimately connected. Ensuring adequate provisions for survival has been a major concern since the dawn of humanity. Since all food ultimately comes from the Earth, it came to be regarded as a generous Mother Goddess who nourishes her offspring, human or otherwise. As such, she had to be propitiated and thanked, in order to continue providing. It is barely stretching the imagination to think that rituals and offerings may have first been invented for this purpose.

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