The Power Of The Pomegranate

Pomegranates (melograni in Italian) are in season. Scholars believe that the fruit was brought to Sicily by both the Phoenicians and the Greeks, not only for food, but also for religious reasons. Pomegranate seeds represent fertility, prosperity, abundance, and generosity. And because of the Persephone myth–when the maiden daughter of the goddess Demeter eats the…

Ancient Sicilian Devotion

As we prepare for our annual Feast of Santa Lucia on Sunday, Dec. 9 in NYC at Cacio e Vino (Details and register at https://experiencesicily.com/events/festa-di-santa-lucia/), we must first start long before Lucia’s time, in the 7th century B.C.E. During this ancient Greek era, women devotees prayed to the goddesses Persephone and Demeter for healthful fertility…

Autumn Is Here And So Are Pomegranates

“By what guile did the mighty Host-to-Many deceive you?” the Goddess Demeter asked her daughter Persephone in the The Homeric Hymn to Demeter (As translated by Helene P. Foley). … If you guessed that Hades (the “Host-to-Many”) deceived Persephone by feeding her pomegranate seeds (based on the photo), you are correct. Hades’ cunning action condemned…

Ancient Origins

In ancient Greek times in Sicily, especially in the eastern coastal cities such as Catania and Siracusa, extending to Enna, in the island’s center, Demeter and her daughter Persephone were venerated with fervor. Pictured here on this krater (a cistern used for mixing water with fermented grapes to make wine) from 425-400 BCE, now in…

Catania’s Persephone Fountain

This fountain, Fontana Ratto di Proserpina (The Rape of Persephone Fountain), exists in Catania at the Piazza Giovanni XXIII. It was sculpted in 1904 for Sicily’s second largest city by Giulio Moschetti (1847-1909). Moschetti is the same sculptor who created the Fountain of Diana in 1906 for Ortigia’s Piazza Archimede. With a nod to the…

Demeter’s Joy: Summer 

Happy Summer! I present to you the magnificent Goddess of Morgantina, in celebration of the solstice. Scholars don’t know if she represents Aphrodite, Demeter, Persephone, or Hera. But her size (2.20-2.25 meters high), indicates that it was certainly a mystery cult statue of great importance. Personally, I believe that she is Persephone because her right…

Persephone’s Guidance 

As the seasons change where I live in the northeastern United States, and the days are darker longer, I turn to Persephone for assistance during the transition to winter. Part of the “Queen of the Underworld’s” responsibilities, once she descends into Hades each autumn, is the role of psychopomp–a guide for new souls crossing over;…