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The Greek goddess Demeter

Demeter is the Greek goddess of fertility, responsible for the eternal cycle of birth and death and the seasonal course of seedtime and harvest. She appears as three different figures: Kore (the maiden goddess of spring), Demetrie (the mother, goddess of the summer or harvest) and Persephone (old woman, goddess of death or winter).

According to Greek mythology Demeter was the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea and the sister and mistress of Zeus, by whom she had a daughter, Persephone, and a son, Zagreus-Dionysos.

Demeter’s main attributes are the wreath of ears of corn and the double-headed axe (labrys). The labrys is thought to stand for the waxing and waning sickle of the moon and was used as a tool for chopping firewood or cutting arable crops rather than as a weapon. Demeter is also depicted together with fruits, seeds or flowers – often with a poppy.

The most important centre of cult worship for Demeter was in Eleusis, where reception to the underworld (Hades) was assumed to take place too. The emerging Christian faith was opposed to the Demeter cult, and in the year 396 the temple was destroyed. The cult continued nevertheless, and is still to be found in the traditions of the rural population of Greece: the last sheaf of corn to be harvested each year is called “Demeter” and dressed in a woman’s clothes for harvest festival celebrations.

A portrait of Demeter, the goddess of fertility, formed from ten thousand hand-made knots is to be seen at the front end of the Sackotheque. The Berlin artist Kathinka Willinek created it specially for the FlourWorld Museum in 2008.