The Dual, Part Duo


Thanks to A. Venefica’s synchroblog, I now see the dual everywhere I go. So, I’m doing a second installment on the topic, this time about a more popular topic: toin theoin. That is, the two deities known to be Demeter and Persephone. As in my last post on the dual, the form enhances the inseparability of the two rather than their estrangement. And, as before,Demeter and Persephone, by Susan M. Stanton it enhances the pain of their forced separation, because it is their separation that is at the center of their myths.

The fact that these two important members of the pantheon are female is, unsurprisingly, very exciting to many women today. It definitely excites me! We are lacking feminine representation in the Abrahamic religions (you know, Judaism, Christianity and Islam), and there have been many eloquent calls to remedy that.* However, that is not what appears to have excited the ancient Greeks, Carl Kerenyi says,

Everyone knew that the two deities were goddesses. The stress, as far as the public was concerned, was more on the dual. As soon as initiates entered the sphere of the aporrheta [the law that keeps the Big Secret], they actually encountered even more deities. And it is not theoretically excluded that in the arrheton [Big Secret] the Two became One.**

I think this is a much more traditional representation of duality, with Demeter “turned outward” and her Daughter with changing (secret?) names and shame and an underworld domicile. It might be an oversimplification of Kerenyi’s message, but it appears that it is the Girl (Kore/Persephone) who puts the mystery in the Eleusian Mysteries.

Does this mean that we should extrapolate this Dualism to the rest of Greek mythology? No. There’s a reason that everyone who saw toin theoin (“the two deities”) immediately knew who it referred to, and that’s because it was a pretty unique occurrence.

*Don’t know about ’em? Start with Womanspirit Rising, then check out Women and Spirituality where a lot of those authors blog.
**The italics are Kerenyi’s, as is all of the information about Demeter and Persephone in this post, and they come from his book Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter.


2 responses to “The Dual, Part Duo”

  1. To me, these dieties represent various levels of duality that can be realized externally in their mythology, but also internally, as we seek both Demeter and Persephone in ourselves. At times we turn inward, at times outward. I enjoyed this immensely!


  2. Donna,
    I think that’s one of the more useful things I have heard about using such myths spiritually.
    Thank you for your comments!

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