from Re-Imagining Mary by Mariann Burke
I had never felt much attraction to the Sorrowing Mary until I visited Sicily. Here the Holy Week festivities have as much to do with Mary, it seems, as with Jesus. This is probably true since in Sicily the Earth Goddess Demeter is very much present in Mary.
One senses that Demeter’s journey to the depths of the earth in search of her child strongly parallels Mary’s search and Mary’s sorrow. Demeter was a fertility goddess, whose daughter Persephone had been abducted by Hades into the underworld. Psychologically speaking, her search for Persephone (daughter, meaning “sprout” or new form of the mother) can be viewed as a search for herself. Persephone is the “seed” dying into the earth and returning in the spring as the new shoot. The story and its vegetation imagery is about personal rebirth. And it echoes the stories of earlier goddesses like Inanna and Isis searching for their sons and/or lovers who have gone into the land of death. There is no question here that in Sicily Mary plays a unique role in the Easter Mysteries similar to Demeter in earlier times.