Demeter, sometimes depicted as a woman with the corn in her hands, is the mother of grain, specially barley, as barley was the one of the firsts cereals domesticated by humans, at least in the middle east, wheat will come later, she is also the mother of bread. Demeter is known as an ancient Greek goddess and her cult included the Anatolia region and arrived to the Roman culture as Ceres.
Demeter is well known by her relationship with her daughter Cora, the one raped by Hades. Cora became bound to the underworld after eating the pomegranate changing her name to Persephone. Demeter was so angry by loosing her daughter that she brought the cold winter in the earth. The winter was so cold that life started to disappear, and so Hades agree to return Persephone every Spring Equinox, with the promise she will return to the Hades during the fall Equinox.
She is well known as the Goddess from Eleusis mysteries. Eleusis was a sanctuary of pilgrimage for Greek civilian people willing to be initiated in the mysteries, the journey started at the Athenians gates, the actual archaeological site of Keramicos. Today Eleusina is a very industrial city around the ruins of this ancient place; there we can find a rock that seemed to be the entrance to the underworld, the Plutonium. Two gates, the greater and lesser Propylaia, awaited the candidates, and initiation took place at the Telesterion, where the hierophants performed ceremonies.
This is one of the Orphic hymns to Demeter Eleusina:
The Fumigation from Storax.
O Universal mother, Ceres [Deo] fam’d august, the source of wealth, and various nam’d:
Great nurse, all-bounteous, blessed and divine, who joy’st in peace, to nourish corn is thine:
Goddess of seed, of fruits abundant, fair, harvest and threshing, are thy constant care;
Who dwell’st in Eleusina’s seats retir’d, lovely, delightful queen, by all desir’d.
Nurse of all mortals, whose benignant mind, first ploughing oxen to the yoke confin’d;
And gave to men, what nature’s wants require, with plenteous means of bliss which all desire.
In verdure flourishing in honor bright, assessor of great Bacchus [Bromios], bearing light:
Rejoicing in the reapers sickles, kind, whose nature lucid, earthly, pure, we find.
Prolific, venerable, Nurse divine, thy daughter loving, holy Proserpine [Koure]:
A car with dragons yok’d, ’tis thine to guide, and orgies singing round thy throne to ride:
Only-begotten, much-producing queen, all flowers are thine and fruits of lovely green.
Bright Goddess, come, with Summer’s rich increase swelling and pregnant, leading smiling Peace;
Come, with fair Concord and imperial Health, and join with these a needful store of wealth.
The Hymns of Orpheus. Translated by Taylor, Thomas (1792)