Where is Baubo now?
The seasonal rituals of ancient goddess religions, based on the cycles of death and rebirth in Nature, offer a very different perspective from current patriarchal religious and scientific traditions. The ancient myths offer us stories of eternally returni
On my first day in Athens I took the bus to Elefsina, a town about 18 kilometres northwest of the city. The bus moved slowly with the traffic along the ancient Sacred Way where people once walked in procession to celebrate the Eleusinian Mysteries. No one really knows what happened in the initiation rituals based on Persephone’s descent and return from the Underworld, but the rites were celebrated for thousands of years and were thought to keep the world in balance.
Today the Sacred Way is surrounded by urban development, and Elefsina is a major industrial area. Yet I could still imagine the sacred procession winding from Athens to Eleusis: initiates swinging leafy branches, singing, chanting, and shouting obscenities in commemoration of Baubo, the mysterious Greek goddess who was bawdy, fun-loving and sexually liberated. Baubo – a ‘ daughter’ of the ancient Mother Goddess, Cybele – was celebrated for consoling Demeter with ribald jesting when the goddess was mourning the loss of Persephone.
The modern and ancient exist side by side in Greece – a kaleidoscope of images and impressions spanning millennia. It is easy to assume that modern life represents the pinnacle of civilisation, yet where is Baubo now?
Baubo has been degraded into over-sexualised images of women and girls. The obscenities that were once shouted in sacred play are now directed at women as aggression,