I now tell the tale of most divine Queen Demeter, Mother to Beloved Persephone. A long time ago the Grainmother roamed the entire Earth
for ten long days in search for Her daughter Persephone who mysteriously vanished. Followed by most noble Hekate, friend to Persephone who with Her torch lit the way the Goddess flew over seas and oceans, stride across mountains, traverse vast deserts, charged over plains. Everywhere She went She called out and searched for Her beloved daughter. Tirelessly the Two Goddesses spanned the seven continents, the five oceans and the innumerate islands in search of Persephone.
This is but one of the many stories of the Great Goddesses sojourn through the world. On the morning of the seventh day of Their blessed journey the Goddesses embarked from a desert continent many thousands of leagues from Greece. They traversed a choppy sea and landed onto two large islands garlanded with streaming white clouds. The Goddesses began strode the land. Along the coast tall pohutakawa trees crowned in red ringed the coastline while forest of tall fern trees blanketed the plains and hillsides. Living under these massive ferns were innumerate large birds that paced around on two legs while overhead huge eagles swooped. The Goddesses ascended into the mountains as the trees gave way to brown windswept tussocks poking out from the snow and ice. They then paced down the hillside into a massive forest of large trees filled with an orchestra of bird songs.
“Oh Nymphais, Oureas and Potamis of this land, have you seen My daughter Persephone?” Demeter intoned, Her blessed voice instilling awe and reverence in the spirits of the land.
“Alas no Bringer of Seasons.” The Divinities of the land cried as one. “The whole wide world knows of the disappearance of beloved Kore. Innumerate Gods both of Earth and Heaven have gone in search of Her on this very land. Alas none have found Her. For Our part none of Us have seen Her.”
Hekate then asked, “Are there any oracles in this land who might reveal the location of My friend?”
“There is none for humans have yet to arrive in this land, I greet you most Blessed Hekate.” A masculine voice boomed as a tall muscular man with dark skin wearing a cloak of multicoloured feathers strode out from the trunk of a massive tree.
Then He then lowered his greenstone adze and bowed to Demeter. “Honored Bringer of Bounty, I on My part have looked hard both under the light of Helios and Selene in the vast expense of My forest. Alas I cannot find Your Daughter.”
Demeter bowed Her head. “Oh Blessed Tane, son of Gaia and Ouranos do thank You for Your effort. Forgive Me for this rush but I’ll now have to continue My search elsewhere, for I know nothing if they be in Your forest escapes Your attention. My daughter must therefore be elsewhere.”
“Do not leave yet Demeter!” Tane said. “I know of two other Gods that might be able to help. They’re My brothers who just arrived from the many small islands North of Us. They can I am sure tell You whether Your daughter has been seen there.”
Hekate lifted Her torch. “Then let Us hasten forward” She said as the Gods strode forward, each step They take spanning tens of miles. Soon They arrived in a clearing in the forest where two men were arguing furiously with each other. One was holding a red kumara in his hand, studying it carefully then slowly planting it under a pile of stones in the ground. The other was rolling up his eyes and shaking his head.
“You know as well as I do Your gift will not grow on these islands.” The taller and more muscular God said. “It’s too cold, it’s too temperate. My gift will work far better here. See, this land is so filled with natural food. This fern shoot is edible, this fern root is edible, this mushroom is edible. All a human need but do in times to come is to collect the food.”
The shorter God retorted as He buried another kumara into the soil, “I totally disagree with You. If I can get My kumara to grow here then at least the people in the future will have a stable food supply. Abundant though the food here be it’s still seasonal. They’ll feast during summer, starve during winter. My kumara remains good for months. One good harvest and they’ll have many long months of staple food supply.”
The taller God shook His head and stomped off. “Well You’ve another two millenias to try I suppose,” He said.
The shorter God watched the taller God leave. He sighed, squat down and continued burying the numerous sweet potatoes that materialized into His hands whenever He shook them. He then looked up and saw the Three Gods watching Him from under the shade of the tall kowhais trees. He then focused on Demeter.
“Oh Eldest Brother Tane how can You let the grandmother stand there like that for so long? Please grandmother do not just stand there. Here take a seat here to rest.” He said as He waved His hands. A large rock rose out from the ground and melded into the shape of a chair.
“Oh Elder Aunty, You look worn from a long journey. Come and have something to eat with Me.” He said as fire exploded in the pit on the
ground under Him. A few sweet potatoes then suddenly appeared in His open palms which He roasted over the flame.
“Here, taste some.” the young God said. Demeter initially declined this, feeling deep worry gnawing through Her everytime She thought of Persephone. However the young God insisted. The Blessed Goddess accepted the hot and warm kumara into Her hands. Tears fell from Her blue eyes as the sweet taste of the kumara exploded into Her mouth.
The young God then passed a warm kumara to blessed Hekate and one to His elder brother Tane. He then walk to the mound of stones, pulled out a kumara and sigh in disappointment.
“I’m afraid I’m in agreement with Our brother.” Tane said as the young God looked at His non sprouting kumara. “In this corner of the great body of Our Mother Gaia Your kumara will not go. Note even Great Poseidon and Holy Tethys carry cold current to this part of the world.”
Demeter laid Her hand on the shoulder of the young God. “What be Your name?”
The young man replied, “Rongo.” He said as He conjured more sweet potatoes and planted them into the ground.
Tane sighed, “You know that Haumia’s right, it’s best for people who’ll immigrate here in the future to just forage and collect food. This land is abundant. I’ll make sure that My forest remains abundant. Your kumara’s just not growing here.”
“Tane, I do think that’s up to Me to decide that.” Demeter said.
Rongo looked at the old lady who was sitting on the rock before Him. “Good Lady, my Brother knows many things.”
Tane raised an eyebrow. “Know You not Rongo Who stands before You?”
“I know that She and this Blessed Maiden here are one of the Great Gods.”
Lady Demeter stood up from Her seat. She then cast away the rags that cloaked Her, revealing Her true beauty, magnificence and glory to the young God who stood before Her.
Rongo fell to His kness. “Almighty Demeter, All Glorious Giver of Bounty, oh Goddess of Agriculture, oh Giver of Law I did not realize, I did not see. Forgive me. I must admit I was not expecting You for more than another two millenniums on this island”
Demeter smiled, strode forwards and plunged Her hands into the Earth and studied the kumaras. “Your sweet potatoes assuredly cannot grow given the method You’ve cultivated them in this temperate climate.However they most assuredly can be cultivated.”
So Demeter shared with Rongo the secrets of cultivation of His most blessed kumara in a temperate climate.
“Oh Demeter, if only I can thank You for the gifts You have shared with Me. All people who will come to these two islands in millenias from now will be indebted to You for the secrets You’ve so generously shared.” Rongo said.
“No, it’s to You they should be most grateful to for it is You who thought first to cultivate this blessed crop on these islands.”
“Oh beloved Demeter while on the islands both My brother Haumai and Myself along with the many island Gods and Nymphs have searched hard for Your Daughter to no avail. Even blessed Apollo, Artemis and Leto Who have traversed the islands Themselves have failed to find Your Daughter. I apologize for not recognizing Your blessed self earlier. Had I known I would have told You immediately.”
Demeter pulled around Herself the rags, hiding Her magnificent, beautiful and glorious self under the guise of an old, hunchback hag. “Then I must continue in search for My Daughter.” She said.
So thus the Goddesses continued Their Divine search across the orb of the Earth.