A man dreamed of finding an intricate old key. The key is associated with the mystery in the cave, the divine birth. (CW 18 par 266) The Eleusinian Mysteries developed from the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone: Persephone, lovely young daughter of Demeter, was abducted by Hades, Lord of the Underworld, while picking flowers.
Her enraged mother Demeter caused much suffering, whilst roaming the earth, seeking her daughter, until her pleas were finally responded to and Persephone was re-united with her mother, on condition that she spent a part of each year underground. Her return brings about renewal, and the birth of the divine child. The child is seen to belong to both mother and maid, a product of uniting upper and lower worlds.
In the much older myth of Inanna and Ereshkigal, Inanna, heavenly queen of Sumer, influenced by the reality of living in this world, must undertake the journey to her dark underground sister, terrifying Ereshkigal, to rejuvenate the relationship to her archetypal foundation. Both these myths are thought to be a dramatization of the death, or phases, of the moon.
Baring and Cashford describe an ancient Lunar Myth of loss, searching and finding, of Demeter’s or Inanna’s quest for the lost part of herself:
“It follows the course of the moon after the full, when it wanders across the heavens in search of its vanishing light until the darkness seizes it completely and it is gone. The new moon that returns after three days is then the light that the old moon has found, so that the moon has been restored to itself.” (Baring and Cashford, 1991, p. 385)
‘Mother and daughter’ are two aspects of the feminine principle, the moon horns of waxing, seeking or waning, withdrawing, inner opposites forever in conflict. They are two relational patterns found in all of us, men and women alike, one pattern always preferred above the other. (Dougherty and West, 2007) A conscious descent into one’s own depths is needed to restore this wounded inner relationship, the circular, alternating process of loss, seeking, death and birth, the mystery of life.