Harry Potter, Little Women, and Lady Bird

What do Harry Potter, Little Women, and Lady Bird have in common? They all have interesting representations of Mom. Well, to be precise, the Demeter Mother archetype.

Yes, this is one of those academic topics. Okay, maybe you just rolled your eyes. But hear me out. Maybe you’ll discover something good to watch tonight.

Mother has everything to do with home. Mother is our first home. (Yes, I’ve written about this before.) But not every mother is a nurturing-baking cookies-always there with a hug kind of mom. In my post titled, “Not Every Mother is a Good Mother,” I examine how mothers who primarily embody the Greek goddess Hera archetype are more focused on their husbands and being wives than they are on their children.

This time I’m exploring the ideal mother. The archetypal Mother. The Greek goddess Demeter, mother of Persephone.

Together, they make a pretty interesting pair. And the film, Lady Bird, is a wonderful illustration of their story. Not the one where Persephone is abducted and raped but the older Pre-Hellenic version where Persephone chooses her destiny and her mother Demeter assists her. Except in Lady Bird, the mother doesn’t assist. Instead, she resists her daughter growing up and is hurt by her daughter’s need for more than her mother.

In the Harry Potter series, there are two spot-on examples of the mother archetype. One is awful (Harry’s aunt, Petunia) and the other is everything we expect a mother to be (Mrs. Weasley).

And then, of course, there’s Marmee in Little Woman and Max’s mom in Where the Wild Things Are. There’s also the 2019 film, Troop Zero, and the 2016 film, Mr. Church with Eddie Murphy. In both of these examples, someone other than the mother is required to step into the Mother role.

And then what happens when Persephone becomes a mom? TV sitcom examples include Lorelai in Gilmore Girls and both Bonnie and Christy in Mom.

If you have seen or read any of these examples, you may be interested in reading my paper titled, Demeter and Persephone: The Mother and Child Archetypes as Expressed Through Myth. Note: it’s a paper, and extracted from my still-to-be-published book so, admittedly, it’s much longer than a blog. But truly, understanding the archetypes present in our mothers when we were young can provide very helpful insights into our adult relationships and our connection to home.

Or maybe you’re just a little bit interested. In which case, you can listen to my interview with Tony Mierzwicki on his podcast Living Hellenismos, presented by Mount Olympus. In this chat, we discuss much of what I just mentioned along with nannies, Italian mothers, and Mama Rosa of Chicago Blues Club fame. Oh, and the importance of leaving home. (come on, doesn’t that tweak your interest just a bit?)

The point is: Ancient myths are still relevant today. These stories and the archetypes in them can validate our own experiences and provide new possibilities for how our personal narratives can evolve and improve.

I hope you’ll take a look or listen.

Thanks for reading! Jan

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