Today’s topic is concerning aspects and regional variations. While I confess freely that I don’t know much about regional variations of Demeter other than that there WERE regional variations, most notably the prominence of her cultus in Eleusis.
I can infer more about Demeter’s aspects from the mythos and from her epithets. As I said in yesterday’s post on epithets, they seem to be concentrated around various areas of her observed qualities, to the point that I personally would consider them to be aspects of Demeter in the religious sense.
She is the beautiful woman, who is both the daughter of the Titan Queen Rhea and mother of the Queen of the Underworld Persephone. In this she seems to hold a liminal role between the forces of generation typified by Rhea and the forces of decay that Persephone sometimes could be considered to govern in the Underworld. This MAY be part of the reason that she is honored at Eleusis in the Mysteries along with her Honored Daughter.
She is the Queen, in that she bestows bountiful gifts. She actually has two different words meaning “queen” as her epithets, which interestingly Hera — as Queen of Heaven — does NOT seem to have as an epithet. This points to Demeter possibly even having prominence over Hera in some areas.
The third aspect is the Lady of Growing Things, that could be considered analogous with many other Goddesses around the world who share that role such as Hoori in Japan, Gefjon in the Norse Pantheon, and Chicomecoatl among the Aztecs of Mesoamerica. This is mainly concerning grain crops, but other crops are also included in this with the notable exceptions of grapes and olives which were sacred to Dionysus and Athena respectively. As an interesting aside, this may be the reason that Demeter states while she is disguised as a mortal that she is “forbidden” to drink wine and instead asks for a grain beverage.