Baubo, Great Goddess and Demeter’s Female Fool in the Eleusinian Mysteries

Baubo, Great Goddess and Demeter’s Female Fool in the Eleusinian Mysteries

In 1898, a group of German archaeologists working in the Demeter sanctuary at Priene unearthed a peculiar set of Hellenistic female figurines. The head of each of these figurines sits directly on her legs. Each figure also has long hair that drapes around her back resembling a lifted veil. These figures represent Baubo, sometimes referred to as Iambe. Homeric legends identify her as a daughter of Pan and Echo.

Terracotta Baubo figurine from Priene. (Public Domain )

Baubo in the Eleusinian Mysteries

The few lines in the 7th century BC Homeric Hymn to Demeter relating to Baubo provides the background story of the greatest mystery of the ancient world - the Eleusinian Mysteries. Celebrations of these mysteries began at Eleusis (bordering present-day Athens) in about 1450 BC and continued for some 2,000 years until the sanctuary was completely obliterated by the 5th century AD.

Unfortunately, Baubo’s history is somewhat obscured by strict prohibitions against revealing the ancient mysteries of Demeter, in which she plays an integral part. Due to this secrecy, what is known of her is revealed by theologians who railed against the ritual of the pagan religions. In time, these assumptions were somewhat amplified by more contemporary scholars to fill in the gaps that have been purposely left unfilled by the silence surrounding the Eleusinian mysteries.

Demeter was wandering the earth mourning the loss of her daughter, Kore, who had been violently abducted by Hades, the god of the underworld. Disguising herself as an old woman, Demeter took refuge in the city of Eleusis and was soon welcomed into the home of the king.

Copy of a votive relief found in Eleusis representing the Eleusinian deities in a scene of mysterious ritual, circa 440-430 BC ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Everyone in the king's household tried unsuccessfully to console the depressed old woman until Baubo appeared. Baubo made a number of humorous and risqué remarks causing Demeter to smile. Then, Baubo suddenly lifted her skirt in front of Demeter, who responded with a long and hearty belly laugh. Although different versions of this story provide different images of what Demeter saw under Baubo's skirt, whatever she saw lifted her out of her depression. With her spirits and confidence restored, Demeter then persuaded Zeus to command Hades to release her daughter.


IAKKHOS (Iacchus) was a daimon attendant of the goddess Demeter and the leader-in-chief of the Eleusinian Mysteries. He was the god of the ritual cry of joy "iakhe" of the initiates' procession.

Iakkhos was depicted as a young man holding the twin torches of the Mysteries, usually in the company of Demeter, Persephone, Hekate and other Eleusinian gods.

Iakkhos was sometimes equated with the god Dionysos in the same way that the Eleusinian Hekate was paired with Artemis. The Orphics identified him with the Eleusinian demi-gods Dysaules and Eubouleus. Their Iakkhos also had a female aspect named Misa and the two were equated with the bi-gendered creator-god Phanes.

Baubô's Myth

Baubô is a mythical character from Ancient Greece. Sometimes a servant, a queen or even a goddess, her story reminds us of the positive force of female sexuality, the importance of joy and the healing power of the vulva.

When Baubô meets Demeter, the goddess of Agriculture and the harvest, in Eleusis near Athens, the latter is in despair because of the disappearance of her daughter Persephone.

Welcomed in Baubô’s house, Demeter, who is depressed, refuses any food or drink, her sadness bringing about a drought in the whole country. A free, fun and wise Baubô whispers secret words to Demeter, then suddenly lifts her tunic to unveil her sex. Demeter is surprised and bursts out laughing, and then finally accepts a drink – and through this gesture the cycle of seasons is reborn with her. Baubô, through her bawdy words (which are never revealed. ) takes the goddess out of her stupor and restores the balance of the world.

There are many representations of this myth, with Baubô depicted as a grotesque but endearing vagina-woman, with a face on her bust and the vulva as mouth. Baubô is our “sacred fool”, ancestral healer and clown.

The Eleusinian Mysteries, in Demeter’s temple, celebrated Baubô for a long time, encouraging women to live joyfully, to dance, to free themselves sexually, and to face death without fear as part of the great cycle of life.

Baûbo is a French brand, feminist and eco-responsible, committed to the well-being of women and their loved ones.


Eleusinian Mysteries (Greek: Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια ) was the name of the mysteries of the city Eleusis.

The name of the city Eleusis is Pre-Greek, and may be related with the name of the goddess Eileithyia. [9] Her name Ἐλυσία ( Elysia) in Laconia and Messene, probably relates her with the month Eleusinios and Eleusis, [10] but this is debated. [11]

The ancient Greek word "mystery" ( μυστήριον ) means "mystery or secret rite" [12] and is related with the verb myéō ( μυέω ), which means initiation into the mysteries, [13] and the noun mýstēs ( μύστης ), which means one initiated. [14] The word mystikós ( μυστικός ) means "connected with the mysteries", or "private, secret" (as in Modern Greek). [15]

The Mysteries are related to a myth concerning Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and fertility as recounted in one of the Homeric Hymns (c. 650 BC). According to the hymn, Demeter's daughter Persephone (also referred to as Kore, "maiden") was assigned the task of painting all the flowers of the earth. Before completion, she was seized by Hades, the god of the underworld, who took her to his underworld kingdom. Distraught, Demeter searched high and low for her daughter. Because of her distress, and in an effort to coerce Zeus to allow the return of her daughter, she caused a terrible drought in which the people suffered and starved, depriving the gods of sacrifice and worship. As a result, Zeus relented and allowed Persephone to return to her mother. [16]

According to the myth, during her search Demeter traveled long distances and had many minor adventures along the way. In one she taught the secrets of agriculture to Triptolemus. [17] Finally, by consulting Zeus, Demeter reunited with her daughter and the earth returned to its former verdure and prosperity: the first spring.

Zeus, pressed by the cries of the hungry people and by the other deities who also heard their anguish, forced Hades to return Persephone. However, it was a rule of the Fates that whoever consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. Before Persephone was released to Hermes, who had been sent to retrieve her, Hades tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds, (either six or four according to the telling) which forced her to return to the underworld for some months each year. She was obliged to remain with Hades for six or four months (one month per seed) and lived above ground with her mother for the rest of the year. This left a long period of time when Demeter was unhappy due to Persephone's absence, neglecting to cultivate the earth. When Persephone returned to the surface, Demeter became joyful and cared for the earth again.

In the central foundation document of the mystery, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter line 415, Persephone is said to stay in Hades during winter and return in the spring of the year: "This was the day [of Persephone's return], at the very beginning of bountiful springtime." [18]

Persephone's rebirth is symbolic of the rebirth of all plant life and the symbol of eternity of life that flows from the generations that spring from each other. [19]

However, a scholar has proposed a different version, [20] according to which the four months during which Persephone is with Hades correspond to the dry Greek summer, a period during which plants are threatened with drought. [21]

The Eleusinian Mysteries are believed to be of considerable antiquity. Some findings in the temple Eleusinion in Attica suggest that their basis was an old agrarian cult. [22] Some practices of the mysteries seem to have been influenced by the religious practices of the Mycenaean period and thus predating the Greek Dark Ages. [3] [4] Excavations showed that a private building existed under the Telesterion in the Mycenean period, and it seems that originally the cult of Demeter was private. In the Homeric Hymn is mentioned the palace of the king Keleos. [23]

One line of thought by modern scholars has been that the Mysteries were intended "to elevate man above the human sphere into the divine and to assure his redemption by making him a god and so conferring immortality upon him". [24]

Some scholars argued that the Eleusinian cult was a continuation of a Minoan cult, [25] and that Demeter was a poppy goddess who brought the poppy from Crete to Eleusis. [26] [27] Some useful information from the Mycenean period can be taken from the study of the cult of Despoina, (the precursor goddess of Persephone), and the cult of Eileithyia who was the goddess of childbirth. The megaron of Despoina at Lycosura is quite similar with the Telesterion of Eleusis, [28] and Demeter is united with the god Poseidon, bearing a daughter, the unnamable Despoina (the mistress). [29] In the cave of Amnisos at Crete, the goddess Eileithyia is related with the annual birth of the divine child, and she is connected with Enesidaon (The Earth Shaker), [30] who is the chthonic aspect of Poseidon. [31]

At Eleusis inscriptions refer to "the Goddesses" accompanied by the agricultural god Triptolemus (probably son of Ge and Oceanus), [32] and "the God and the Goddess" (Persephone and Plouton) accompanied by Eubuleus who probably led the way back from the underworld. [33] The myth was represented in a cycle with three phases: the "descent", the "search", and the "ascent" (Greek "anodos") with contrasted emotions from sorrow to joy which roused the mystae to exultation. The main theme was the ascent of Persephone and the reunion with her mother Demeter. [34] At the beginning of the feast, the priests filled two special vessels and poured them out, the one towards the west, and the other towards the east. The people looking both to the sky and the earth shouted in a magical rhyme "rain and conceive". In a ritual, a child was initiated from the hearth (the divine fire). The name pais (child) appears in the Mycenean inscriptions, [35] It was the ritual of the "divine child" who originally was Ploutos. In the Homeric hymn the ritual is connected with the myth of the agricultural god Triptolemus. [36] The goddess of nature survived in the mysteries where the following words were uttered: "Mighty Potnia bore a great son". [3] Potnia (Linear B po-ti-ni-ja : lady or mistress), is a Mycenaean title applied to goddesses. [37] and probably the translation of a similar title of Pre-Greek origin. [38] The high point of the celebration was "an ear of grain cut in silence", which represented the force of the new life. The idea of immortality didn't exist in the mysteries at the beginning, but the initiated believed that they would have a better fate in the underworld. Death remained a reality, but at the same time a new beginning like the plant which grows from the buried seed. [4] A depiction from the old palace of Phaistos is very close to the image of the "anodos" of Persephone. An armless and legless deity grows out of the ground, and her head turns to a large flower. [39]

According to Mylonas, the lesser mysteries were held "as a rule once a year in the early spring in the month of flowers, the Anthesterion," while "the Greater Mysteries were held once a year and every fourth year they were celebrated with special splendor in what was known as the penteteris. [40] Kerenyi concurs with this assessment: "The Lesser Mysteries were held at Agrai in the month of Anthesterion, our February. The initiates were not even admitted to the epopteia [Greater Mysteries] in the same year, but only in September of the following year." [41] This cycle continued for about two millennia. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, King Celeus is said to have been one of the first people to learn the secret rites and mysteries of her cult. He was also one of her original priests, along with Diocles, Eumolpos, Polyxeinus and Triptolemus, Celeus' son, who had supposedly learned agriculture from Demeter. [42]

Under Peisistratos of Athens, the Eleusinian Mysteries became pan-Hellenic, and pilgrims flocked from Greece and beyond to participate. Around 300 BC, the state took over control of the Mysteries they were controlled by two families, the Eumolpidae and the Kerykes. This led to a vast increase in the number of initiates. The only requirements for membership were freedom from "blood guilt" [ citation needed ] , meaning never having committed murder, and not being a "barbarian" (being unable to speak Greek). Men, women and even slaves were allowed initiation. [43]

Participants Edit

To participate in these mysteries one had to swear a vow of secrecy.

Four categories of people participated in the Eleusinian Mysteries:

    , priestesses, and hierophants.
  1. Initiates, undergoing the ceremony for the first time.
  2. Others who had already participated at least once. They were eligible for the fourth category.
  3. Those who had attained épopteia (Greek: ἐποπτεία) (English: "contemplation"), who had learned the secrets of the greatest mysteries of Demeter.

Priesthood Edit

The priesthood officiating at the Eleusinian Mysteries and in the sanctuary was divided in to several offices with different tasks.

Six categories of priests officiated in the Eleusinian Mysteries:

  1. Hierophantes – male high priest, an office inherited within the Phileidae or Eumolpidae families. [44]
  2. High Priestess of Demeter – an office inherited within the Phileidae or Eumolpidae families. [44]
  3. Dadouchos – men serving as torch bearers, the second-highest male role next to Hierophantes. [44]
  4. Dadouchousa Priestess – a female priestess who assisted the Dadouchos, an office inherited within the Phileidae or Eumolpidae families. [44]
  5. Hierophantides – two married priestesses, one serving Demeter, and the other Persephone. [44]
  6. Panageis ('the holy') or melissae ('bees') – a group of priestesses who lived a life secluded from men. [44]

The office of Hierophant, High Priestess, and Dadouchousa priestess were all inherited within the Phileidae or Eumolpidae families, and the Hierophant and the High Priestess were of equal rank. [44] It was the task of the High Priestess to impersonate the roles of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone in the enactement during the Mysteries, and at Eleusis events were dated by the name of the reigning High Priestess. [44]

Secrets Edit

The outline below is only a capsule summary much of the concrete information about the Eleusinian Mysteries was never written down. For example, only initiates knew what the kiste, a sacred chest, and the calathus, a lidded basket, contained.

Hippolytus of Rome, one of the Church Fathers writing in the early 3rd century AD, discloses in Refutation of All Heresies that "the Athenians, while initiating people into the Eleusinian rites, likewise display to those who are being admitted to the highest grade at these mysteries, the mighty, and marvellous, and most perfect secret suitable for one initiated into the highest mystic truths: an ear of grain in silence reaped." [45]

Lesser Mysteries Edit

There were two Eleusinian Mysteries, the Greater and the Lesser. According to Thomas Taylor, "the dramatic shows of the Lesser Mysteries occultly signified the miseries of the soul while in subjection to the body, so those of the Greater obscurely intimated, by mystic and splendid visions, the felicity of the soul both here and hereafter, when purified from the defilements of a material nature and constantly elevated to the realities of intellectual [spiritual] vision." According to Plato, "the ultimate design of the Mysteries . was to lead us back to the principles from which we descended, . a perfect enjoyment of intellectual [spiritual] good." [46]

The Lesser Mysteries took place in the month of Anthesteria – the eight month of the Attic calendar, falling in mid winter around February or March – under the direction of Athens' archon basileus. In order to qualify for initiation, participants would sacrifice a piglet to Demeter and Persephone, and then ritually purify themselves in the river Illisos. Upon completion of the Lesser Mysteries, participants were deemed mystai ("initiates") worthy of witnessing the Greater Mysteries.

Greater Mysteries Edit

The Greater Mysteries took place in Boedromion – the third month of the Attic calendar, falling in late summer around September or October – and lasted ten days.

The first act (on the 14th of Boedromion) was the bringing of the sacred objects from Eleusis to the Eleusinion, a temple at the base of the Acropolis of Athens.

On the 15th of Boedromion, a day called the Gathering (Agyrmos), the priests (hierophantes, those who show the sacred ones) declared the start of the rites (prorrhesis), and carried out the sacrifice (hiereía deúro, hither the victims).

The seawards initiates (halade mystai) started out in Athens on 16th Boedromion with the celebrants washing themselves in the sea at Phaleron.

On the 17th, the participants began the Epidauria, a festival for Asklepios named after his main sanctuary at Epidauros. This "festival within a festival" celebrated the healer's arrival at Athens with his daughter Hygieia, and consisted of a procession leading to the Eleusinion, during which the mystai apparently stayed at home, a great sacrifice, and an all-night feast (pannykhís). [47]

The procession to Eleusis began at Kerameikos (the Athenian cemetery) on the 18th, and from there the people walked to Eleusis, along the Sacred Way (Ἱερὰ Ὁδός, Hierá Hodós), swinging branches called bacchoi. At a certain spot along the way, they shouted obscenities in commemoration of Iambe (or Baubo), an old woman who, by cracking dirty jokes, had made Demeter smile as she mourned the loss of her daughter. The procession also shouted "Íakch', O Íakche!", possibly an epithet for Dionysus, or a separate deity Iacchus, son of Persephone or Demeter. [48]

Upon reaching Eleusis, there was an all-night vigil (pannychis) according to Mylonas [49] and Kerenyi. [50] perhaps commemorating Demeter's search for Persephone. At some point, initiates had a special drink (kykeon), of barley and pennyroyal, which has led to speculation about its chemicals perhaps having psychotropic effects from the Ergot fungi.

Discovery of fragments of ergot (fungi containing LSD like psychedelic alkaloids) in a temple dedicated to the two Eleusinian Goddesses excavated at the Mas Castellar site (Girona, Spain) provided legitimacy for this theory. Ergot fragments were found inside a vase and within the dental calculus of a 25-year-old man, providing evidence of Ergot being consumed (Juan-Stresserras, 2002). This finding seems to support the hypothesis of ergot as an ingredient of the Eleusinian kykeon.

Inside the Telesterion Edit

On the 19th of Boedromion, initiates entered a great hall called Telesterion in the center stood the Palace (Anaktoron), which only the hierophants could enter, where sacred objects were stored. Before mystai could enter the Telesterion, they would recite, "I have fasted, I have drunk the kykeon, I have taken from the kiste (box) and after working it have put it back in the calathus (open basket). [51]

It is widely supposed that the rites inside the Telesterion comprised three elements:

  1. dromena (things done), a dramatic reenactment of the Demeter/Persephone myth
  2. deiknumena (things shown), displayed sacred objects, in which the hierophant played an essential role
  3. legomena (things said), commentaries that accompanied the deiknumena. [52]

Combined, these three elements were known as the aporrheta ("unrepeatables") the penalty for divulging them was death.

Athenagoras of Athens, Cicero, and other ancient writers cite that it was for this crime (among others) that Diagoras was condemned to death in Athens [53] [54] the tragic playwright Aeschylus was allegedly tried for revealing secrets of the Mysteries in some of his plays, but was acquitted. [55] The ban on divulging the core ritual of the Mysteries was thus absolute, which is probably why we know almost nothing about what transpired there.

As to the climax of the Mysteries, there are two modern theories.

Some hold that the priests were the ones to reveal the visions of the holy night, consisting of a fire that represented the possibility of life after death, and various sacred objects. Others hold this explanation to be insufficient to account for the power and longevity of the Mysteries, and that the experiences must have been internal and mediated by a powerful psychoactive ingredient contained in the kykeon drink (see Entheogenic theories below).

Following this section of the Mysteries was an all-night feast (Pannychis) [56] accompanied by dancing and merriment. The dances took place in the Rharian Field, rumored to be the first spot where grain grew. A bull sacrifice also took place late that night or early the next morning. That day (22nd Boedromion), the initiates honored the dead by pouring libations from special vessels.

On the 23rd of Boedromion, the Mysteries ended and everyone returned home. [57]

In 170 AD, the Temple of Demeter was sacked by the Sarmatians but was rebuilt by Marcus Aurelius. Aurelius was then allowed to become the only lay person ever to enter the anaktoron. As Christianity gained in popularity in the 4th and 5th centuries, Eleusis's prestige began to fade. The last pagan emperor of Rome, Julian, reigned from 361 to 363 after about fifty years of Christian rule. Julian attempted to restore the Eleusinian Mysteries and was the last emperor to be initiated into them. [58]

The Roman emperor Theodosius I closed the sanctuaries by decree during the Persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire about 30 years later, in 392 AD. The last remnants of the Mysteries were wiped out in 396 AD, when Arian Christians under Alaric, King of the Goths, destroyed and desecrated the old sacred sites. [59] [60] The closing of the Eleusinian Mysteries in the 4th century is reported by Eunapius, a historian and biographer of the Greek philosophers. Eunapius had been initiated by the last legitimate Hierophant, who had been commissioned by the emperor Julian to restore the Mysteries, which had by then fallen into decay. According to Eunapius, the last Hierophant was a usurper, "the man from Thespiae who held the rank of Father in the mysteries of Mithras".

According to historian Hans Kloft, despite the destruction of the Eleusinian Mysteries, elements of the cult survived in the Greek countryside. There, Demeter's rites and religious duties were partially transferred by peasants and shepherds onto Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki, who gradually became the local patron of agriculture and "heir" to the pagan mother goddess. [60]

There are many paintings and pieces of pottery that depict various aspects of the Mysteries. The Eleusinian Relief, from the late 5th century BC, displayed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens is a representative example. Triptolemus is depicted receiving seeds from Demeter and teaching mankind how to work the fields to grow crops, with Persephone holding her hand over his head to protect him. [61] Vases and other works of relief sculpture, from the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries BC, depict Triptolemus holding an ear of corn, sitting on a winged throne or chariot, surrounded by Persephone and Demeter with pine torches. The monumental Protoattic amphora from the middle of the 7th century BC, with the depiction of Medusa's beheading by Perseus and the blinding of Polyphemos by Odysseus and his companions on its neck, is kept in the Archaeological Museum of Eleusis which is located inside the archaeological site of Eleusis.

The Ninnion Tablet, found in the same museum, depicts Demeter, followed by Persephone and Iacchus, and then the procession of initiates. Then, Demeter is sitting on the kiste inside the Telesterion, with Persephone holding a torch and introducing the initiates. The initiates each hold a bacchoi. The second row of initiates were led by Iakchos, a priest who held torches for the ceremonies. He is standing near the omphalos while an unknown female (probably a priestess of Demeter) sat nearby on the kiste, holding a scepter and a vessel filled with kykeon. Pannychis is also represented.

In Shakespeare's The Tempest, the masque that Prospero conjures to celebrate the troth-pledging of Miranda and Ferdinand echoes the Eleusinian Mysteries, although it uses the Roman names for the deities involved – Ceres, Iris, Dis and others – instead of the Greek. It is interesting that a play which is so steeped in esoteric imagery from alchemy and hermeticism should draw on the Mysteries for its central masque sequence. [ citation needed ]

Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) borrowed terms and interpretations from the late 19th and early-20th century classical scholarship in German and French as a source of metaphors for his reframing of psychoanalytic treatment into a spiritualistic ritual of initiation and rebirth. The Eleusinian mysteries, particularly the qualities of the Kore, figured prominently in his writings. [62]

Dimitris Lyacos in the second book of the Poena Damni trilogy With the People from the Bridge, a contemporary, avant-garde play focusing on the return of the dead and the myth of the revenant combines elements from the Eleusinian mysteries as well as early Christian tradition in order to convey a view of collective salvation. The text uses the pomegranate symbol in order to hint at the residence of the dead in the underworld and their periodical return to the world of the living. [63]

Octavio Vazquez's symphonic poem Eleusis draws on the Eleusinian Mysteries and on other Western esoteric traditions. [64] Commissioned by the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores and the RTVE Symphony Orchestra, it was premiered in 2015 by the RTVE Orchestra and conductor Adrian Leaper at the Teatro Monumental in Madrid.

Numerous scholars have proposed that the power of the Eleusinian Mysteries came from the kykeon's functioning as an entheogen, or psychedelic agent. [7] The use of potions or philtres for magical or religious purposes was relatively common in Greece and the ancient world. [65] The initiates, sensitized by their fast and prepared by preceding ceremonies (see set and setting), may have been propelled by the effects of a powerful psychoactive potion into revelatory mind states with profound spiritual and intellectual ramifications. [66] In opposition to this idea, other pointedly skeptical scholars note the lack of any solid evidence and stress the collective rather than individual character of initiation into the Mysteries. [67] Indirect evidence in support of the entheogenic theory is that in 415 BC Athenian aristocrat Alcibiades was condemned partly because he took part in an "Eleusinian mystery" in a private house. [68]

Many psychoactive agents have been proposed as the significant element of kykeon, though without consensus or conclusive evidence. These include the ergot, a fungal parasite of the barley or rye grain, which contains the alkaloids ergotamine, a precursor to LSD, and ergonovine. [66] [69] However, modern attempts to prepare a kykeon using ergot-parasitized barley have yielded inconclusive results, though Alexander Shulgin and Ann Shulgin describe both ergonovine and LSA to be known to produce LSD-like effects. [70] [71]

Discovery of fragments of Ergot (fungi containing LSD-like psychedelic alkaloids) in a temple dedicated to the two Eleusinian Goddesses excavated at the Mas Castellar site (Girona, Spain) provided legitimacy for this theory. Ergot fragments were found inside a vase and within the dental calculus of a 25-year-old man, providing evidence of Ergot being consumed. This finding seems to support the hypothesis of ergot as an ingredient of the Eleusinian kykeon. [72]

Psychoactive mushrooms are another candidate. Terence McKenna speculated that the mysteries were focused around a variety of Psilocybe. Other entheogenic fungi, such as Amanita muscaria, have also been suggested. [73] A recent hypothesis suggests that the ancient Egyptians cultivated Psilocybe cubensis on barley and associated it with the deity Osiris. [74]

Another candidate for the psychoactive drug is an opioid derived from the poppy. The cult of the goddess Demeter may have brought the poppy from Crete to Eleusis it is certain that opium was produced in Crete. [75]

Another theory is that the psychoactive agent in kykeon is DMT, which occurs in many wild plants of the Mediterranean, including Phalaris and/or Acacia. [76] To be active orally (like in ayahuasca) it must be combined with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor such as Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala), which grows throughout the Mediterranean.

Alternatively, J. Nigro Sansonese (1994), using the mythography supplied by Mylonas, hypothesizes that the Mysteries of Eleusis were a series of practical initiations into trance involving proprioception of the human nervous system induced by breath control (similar to samyama in yoga). [77] Sansonese speculates that the kisté, a box holding sacred objects opened by the hierophant, is actually an esoteric reference to the initiate's skull, within which is seen a sacred light and are heard sacred sounds, but only after instruction in trance practice. Similarly, the seed-filled chambers of a pomegranate, a fruit associated with the founding of the cult, esoterically describe proprioception of the initiate's heart during trance.

Since 1985, Aquarian Tabernacle Church has performed a modern continuation of the Eleusinian Mysteries, as the Spring Mysteries Festival. These mysteries, held every year in honour of Demeter and Persephone, explore universal concepts and truths from the perspective of the seeker of hidden knowledge.

It occurs on the weekend of Easter every year. The first year back in the modern age was 1985. [78]

Baubo, Great Goddess and Demeter’s Female Fool in the Eleusinian Mysteries - History

And when your heralds carried the proclamation of the sacred truce of the Mysteries, the
Phocians alone in all Hellas refused to recognize the truce.
(Aeschines On the Embassy 133)

[The flame,] come to its youthful strength, consumed the lofty labor of the carpenters.
Fragment 195

FRAGMENT 214 Scholiast on Sophocles, Oedipus Coloneus 1047. “With bright flashes,
the torches’ might.”
Fragment 279: Pfeiffer).

. . . anointed with unguents . . . not more than Hera . . . more arrogant . . . mighty . . .
from afar. May There abide . . . life . . . the gods . . . among friendly . . . But may all the
envious be absent, And all unseemly rumour. We pray that Semele’s good fortune may
ever steer a straight course. For . . . this other . . . Semele . . . Cadmus . . . the all-
powerful Zeus . . . marriage.

Nymphs that speak the truth, honoured goddesses are they for whom I collect offerings,
the life-giving children of Inachus the river of Argos. They are present at all the actions
of men, at feasts And banquets And the sweet songs of marriage, And they initiate
maidens lately wedded And new to love. . . . kindly . . . eyes . . . of the eye . . . For
unsullied modesty . . . is by far the best or adorners for a bride. And fruitful in children
are the families of those to whom the nymphs shall come in kindness, with sweet
disposition, . . . coming . . . both . . . harsh And hateful . . . when they come near. Many . .
. husband . . . girdles . . .
"The chaste heaven loves to violate the earth, And love lays hold on earth to join in
wedlock. The rain from the streaming heaven falls down And impregnates the earth And
she brings forth her mortals the pasturage of sheep And Demeter's sustenance And the
ripe season for the trees is perfected by the watery union. Of all this I am the cause."
(Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists XIII, 600b)
Aeschylus, too, besides inventing that comeliness And dignity of dress which
Hierophants And Dadouchoi emulate, when they put on their vestments
(Athenaeus 21e)

The Assembly had met to give audience to Nicias, Lamachus, And Alcibiades, the
generals about to leave with the Sicilian expedition - in fact, Lamachus' flag-ship was
already lying off-shore - when suddenly Pythonicus rose before the people And cried:
'Countrymen, you are sending forth this mighty host in all its array upon a perilous
enterprise. Yet your commander, Alcibiades, has been holding celebrations of the
mysteries in a private house, And others with him I will prove it, Grant immunity to him
whom I indicate, And a non-initiate, a slave belonging to someone here present, shall
describe the Mysteries to you. You can punish me as you will, if that is not the truth.'
(Andocides On the Mysteries 11-12)

Calliades opposed his admission but the Ceryces voted in favor of the law which they
have, whereby a father can introduce his son, if he swears that it is his own son whom
he is introducing.
(Andocides, On the Mysteries 127)

“The Mystai are not intended to learn anything, but to suffer something And thus be made
worthy.” Preserved in Synesius Dion , c. 7.
A tragedy, the, is the imitation of an action that is serious And also, as having
magnitude, complete in itself, in language with pleasurable accessories, each kind
brought in separately in the parts of the work in a dramatic, not in a narrative form, with
incidents arousing pity And fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such
emotions. (Poetics, VI 2 (1449b).

Next the hierophant performs the initiation And he takes the things from the chamber
And distributes them to all the ones who will carry the kernos around…Then, raising his
kernos aloft like the person who carries the liknon or winnowing basket, he tastes those
things. (Polemon, quoted in Athenaeus 11, 478d.)

When Hercules was about to depart to fetch him, he went to Eumolpus at Eleusis,
wishing to be initiated. However it was not then lawful for foreigners to be initiated:
since he proposed to be initiated as the adoptive son of Pylius. But not being able to see
the mysteries because he had not been cleansed of the slaughter of the centaurs, he was
cleansed by Eumolpus And then initiated.
(Apollodorus, The Library II, v, 12)

When Erichthonius died And was buried in the same precinct of Athens, Pandion became
king, in whose time Demeter And Dionysus came to Attica. But Demeter was welcomed
by Celeus at Eleusis, And Dionysus by Icarius, who received from him a branch of a vine
And learned the process of making wine.
(Apollodorus III, xiv, 7)

The Hierophant is in the habit of sounding the so-called gong when Kore is being invoked
by name.
(Apollodorus, Fragment 36)

Psyche cast herself before the goddess, wetting the holy feet with tears And sweeping
the ground with her tresses. Amid a thicket of supplications she asked for the favor of
'By your right hand of Plenty, I implore you. By your joyous Ceremonies of Harvest by
your Mystery enclosed in Osier-baskets by the winged Gig of your familiar Dragons by
the Furrows of the Sicilian Glebe, the Rape of the Chariot, the Earth that yields not up its
own, the Descent into the Night of the Nuptials of Proserpine, And the Ascent into the
light of the Maiden's Restoration by all the other Symbols which the Sanctuary of
Eleusis in Attica preserves in Silences - stand by your suppliant Psyche in the hour of her
deep need. Permit me, at least for a few days, to shelter myself among the layers of
wheat until the passage of time mitigates the raging rancor of the mighty goddess, or
until an interval of rest refreshes the body that daily stress has now exhausted.'
(Apuleius Metamorphoses VI, 2)

Eleusis is a shrine common to the whole earth And of all the divine things that exist
among men, it is both the most terrible And the most luminous. At what place in the
world have more miraculous tidings been sung, where have the Dromena called forth
greater emotion, where has There been a greeter rivalry between seeing And hearing?
“ineffable visions” “many generations of fortunate men And women”

Chorus: O Iacchus! O Iacchus! O Iacchus!
Xanthias: I have it, master: 'tis those blessed Mystics.
Chorus: O Iacchus! Power excelling, here in stately temples dwelling.
O Iacchus! O Iacchus!
Come to tread this verdant level,
Come to dance in mystic revel,
Come whilst round thy forehead hurtles
Many a wreath of fruitful myrtles,
Come with wild And saucy paces
Mingling in our joyous dance,
Pure And holy, which embraces all the charms of all the Graces,
When the mystic choirs advance.
Xanthias: Holy And sacred queen, Demeter' s daughter,
O, what a jolly whiff of pork breathed o'er me!
Dionysus: Hist! And perchance you'll get some tripe yourself.
Chorus: Come, arise, from sleep waking, come the fiery torches shaking,
O Iacchus! 0 Iacchus!
Morning Star that shinest nightly.
Lo, the mead is blazing brightly,
Age forgets its years And sadness,
Aged knees curvet for gladness,
Lift thy flashing torches o'er us,
Marshall all thy blameless train,
Lead, O lead the way before us lead the lovely youthful Chorus
To thy marshy flowery plain.
All evil thoughts And profane be still: far hence, far hence from our choirs depart,
Who knows not well what the Mystics tell, or is not holy And pure of heart
Who ne'er has the noble revelry learned, or danced the dance of the Muses high
Or shared in the Bacchic rites which old bull-eating Cratinus's words supply
Who vulgar coarse buffoonery loves, though all untimely the jests they make
Or lives not easy And kind with all, or kindling faction forbears to slake,
But fan the fire, from a base desire some pitiful gain for himself to reap
Or takes, in office, his gifts And bribes, while the city is tossed on the stormy deep
Who foe or fleet to the foe betrays or, a vile Thorycion, ships away
Forbidden stores from Aegina's shores, to Epidaurus across the Bay
Transmitting oar-pads And sails And tar, that curst collector of five per cents
The knave who tries to procure supplies for the enemy's armaments
The cyclian singer who dares befoul the Lady Hecate's wayside shrine
The public speaker who once lampooned in our Bacchic feasts would, with heart malign,
Keep nibbling away the Comedian's pay - to these I utter my warning cry,
I charge them once, I charge them twice, I charge them thrice, that they draw not nigh
To the sacred dance of the Mystic choir. But you, my comrades, awake the song,
The night-long revels of joy And mirth which ever of right to our feast belong.
Advance, true hearts, advance!
On to the gladsome powers,
On to the sward, with flowers
Embosomed bright!
March on with jest, And jeer, And dance,
Full well ye've supped tonight.
March, chanting loud your lays,
Your hearts And voices raising,
The Savior goddess praising
Who vows she'll still
Our city save to endless days,
Whate'er Thorycion's will.
Break off the measure, And change the time And now with chanting And hymns adorn
Demeter, goddess mighty And high, the harvest-queen, the giver of corn.
O Lady, over our rites presiding,
Preserve And succor thy coral throng,
And grant us all, in thy help confiding,
To dance And revel the whole day long
And much in earnest, And much in jest,
Worthy thy feast, may we speak therein.
And when we have bantered And laughed our best,
The victor's wreath be it ours to win.
Call we now the youthful god, call him hither without delay,
Him who travels amongst his chorus, dancing along on the Sacred Way.
O, come with the joy of thy festival song,
O, come to the goddess, O, mix with our throng
Untired, though the journey be never so long.
O Lord of the frolic And dance, :
Iacchus, beside me advance!
For fun, And for cheapness, our dress thou hast rent,
Through thee we may dance to the top of our bent,
Reviling, And jeering, And none will resent.
O Lord of the frolic And dance,
Iacchus, beside me advance!
A sweet pretty girl I observed in the show,
Her robe had been torn in the scuffle, And lo,
There peeped through the tatters a bosom of snow.
O Lord of the frolic And dance,
Iacchus, beside me advance.
Chorus: Now wheel your sacred dance through the glade with flowers bedight,
All ye who are partakers of the holy festal rite
And I will with the women And the holy maidens go
Where they keep the nightly vigil, an auspicious light to show.
Now haste we to the roses,
And the meadows full of posies,
Now haste we to the meadow
In our own old way,
In choral dances blending,
In dances never ending,
Which only for the holy
The Destinies array.
O, happy mystic chorus,
The blessed sunshine o'er us
On us alone is smiling,
In its soft sweet light:
On us who strove forever
With holy, pure endeavor
Alike by friend And stranger
To guide our steps aright.
(Aristophanes The Frogs 317-318, 323-413, 440-459)
Trygaeus: And is it so? And must I die indeed?
Hermes: You must indeed.
Trygaeus: O then, I prithee, lend me half a crown. I'll buy a pig, And get initiated first.
(Aristophanes' The Peace 372-374)

The Greater Mysteries were Demeter's And the Lesser Persephone's.
(The Scholiast of Aristophanes :Mylonas Eleusis p. 240)

It was the common belief in Athens that whoever had been taught the Mysteries would,
when he died, be deemed worthy of divine glory. Hence all were eager for initiation.
(Scholiast on Aristophanes The Frogs 158)

The temple at Eleusis . should be under the superintendence of the Ceryces And the
Eumolpidae, according to primitive custom.
(Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution 39:2)

He (Archon) also superintends sacred processions, both that in honor of Asclepius, when
the initiated keep house, And that of the great Dionysia.
(Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution 56:4)

The King in the first place superintends the Mysteries, in conjunction with the
Superintendents of Mysteries. The latter are elected in the assembly by open vote, two
from the general body of Athenians, one from the Eumolpidae, And one from the Ceryces.
(Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution, 57:1)

But of what he is doing a man might be ignorant, as for instance people say, 'It slipped
out of their mouths as they were speaking,' or 'They did not know it was a secret,' as
Aeschylus said of the mysteries.
(Aristotle, Nicomachaean Ethics III, I, 17)

Asterios (c. 390 CE), the bishop of Amaseia in Asia Minor in his Engomion to the Saintly
The Eleusinian Mysteries, are they not the main part of your religion And the demos of
Athens, yea the whole of Greece gathers to celebrate that vanity? I not There (in the
sanctuary of Demeter at Eleusis) the katabasion And the solemn meeting of the
Hierophant And the priestess, each with the other alone are not the torches then
extinguished And the vast crowd believes that its salvation depends on what those two
act in the darkness? (311-312)

For the highest And dearest of the gods are come to our city. Hither, indeed, the time has
brought together Demeter And Demetrius. She comes to celebrate the solemn mysteries
of the Daughter.
(Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists VI, 253d)

Moreover Polemon, in the treatise On the Sacred Fleece, says: "After these preliminaries
(the priest) proceeds to the celebration of the mystic rites he takes out the contents of
the shrine And distributes them to all who have brought round their tray (kernos ). The
latter is an earthenware vessel, holding within it a large number of small cups cemented
together, And in them are sage, white poppy-seeds, grains of wheat And barley, peas,
vetches, okra-seeds, lentils, beans, rice-wheat, oats, compressed fruit, honey, oil, wine,
milk, And sheep's wool unwashed The man who carries it, resembling the bearer of the
sacred winnowing-fan, tastes these articles."
(Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists XI, 478d)

Plemochoe is an earthen dish shaped like a top, but tolerably firm on its base some call
it a kotyliskos, according to Pamphilus. They use it at Eleusis on the last day of the
Mysteries, a day which they call from it Plemochoai on that day they fill two plemochoai,
And they invert them (standing up And facing the east in the one case, the west in the
other), reciting a mystical formula over them.
(Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists XI, 496a)

At the great assembly of the Eleusinia And at the festival of Poseidon, in full sight of the
whole Greek world, she removed only her cloak And let down her long hair before
stepping into the water. (Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists XIII, 591a)

Nor did the son of Mene, Musaeus, master of the Graces, cause Antiope to go without her
meed of honor. And she, beside Eleusis's strand, expounded to the initiates the loud,
sacred voice of mystic oracles, as she duly escorted the priest through the Rarian plain
to honor Demeter. And she is known even in Hades.
(Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists, 597d)

According to Himerios, a sophist who lived in Athens when Julian was Emperor of Rome

an old law ordered the initiates to take with them handfuls of agricultural produce which
were the badges of a civilized life.
Now Semus of Delos in his work On Paeans says: "The handfuls of barley, taken
separately, they called amalai but when these are gathered together And many are made
into a single bundle people called them ouloi or iouloi hence also they called Demeter
sometimes Chloe, sometimes Ioulo. Hence from Demeter's gifts they call not only the
fruit, but also the hymns sung in honor of the goddess, ouloi or iouloi. There are also
Demetrouloi And kalliouloi And the refrain: 'Send forth a sheaf, a plenteous sheaf, a
sheaf send forth.'"
(Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists XIV, 618d)

Heracleides of Syracuse in his work On Institutions says that in Syracuse, on the Day of
Consummation at the Thesmophoria, cakes of sesame And honey were molded in the
shape of the female pudenda, And called throughout the whole of Sicily mylloi And
carried about in honor of the goddesses.
(Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists XIV, 646f)

Aeschylus, too, besides inventing that comeliness And dignity of dress which
Hierophants And Dadouchoi emulate, when they put on their vestments
(Athenaeus 21e)

fasting on the sacred days of the Rarian Demeter.
(Callimachus, Aetia 10)

It is a great blessing for you that you have not seen the rites of the dread goddess, or
else you would have spewed up their story too.
(Callimachus, Aetia 75)

As the basket comes, greet it, you women, saying "Demeter, greatly hail! Lady of much
bounty, of many measures of corn." As the basket comes, from the ground you shall see
it, you uninitiated, And gaze not from the roof or from aloft - child nor wife nor maid that
has shed her hair - neither then nor when we spit from parched mouths fasting. Hesperus
from the clouds marks the time of its coming: Hesperus, who alone persuaded Demeter
to drink, that time she pursued the unknown tracks of her stolen daughter.
Lady, how were your feet able to carry you to the West, to the black men And where the
golden apples are? You did not drink nor did you eat during that time nor did you wash.
Thrice did you cross Achelous with his silver eddies And as often did you pass over each
of the ever-flowing rivers, And thrice did you seat yourself on the ground beside the
fountain Callichorus, parched And without drinking, And did not eat nor wash.
Nay, nay, let us not speak of that which brought the tear to Deo! Better to tell how she
gave to cities pleasing ordinances better to tell how she was the first to cut straw And
holy sheaves of corn-ears And put in oxen to tread them, that time Triptolemus was
taught the good craft.
(Callimachus To Demeter 1-24)

You sat at the well Callichoron, without news of your child.
(Callimachus: Fragment 611)

I say nothing of the holy And awe-inspiring sanctuary of Eleusis, "where tribes from
earth's remotest confines seek Initiation," And I pass over Samothrace And those "occult
mysteries which throngs of worshippers at dead of night in forest covert deep do
celebrate" Lemnos, since such mysteries when interpreted And rationalized prove to
have more to do with natural science than with theology.
(Cicero De Natura Deorum I, 52)

M: Then what will become of our Iacchus And Eumolpidae And their impressive
mysteries, if we abolish nocturnal rites? For we are composing laws not for the Roman
people in particular, but for all virtuous And stable nations.
A: I take it for granted that you make an exception of those rites into which we ourselves
have been initiated.
M: I will do so indeed. For among the many excellent And indeed divine institutions
which your Athens has brought forth And contributed to human life, none, in my opinion,
is better than those mysteries. For by their means we have been brought out of our
barbarous And savage mode of life And educated And refined to a state of civilization
And as the rites are called "initiations," so in very truth we have learned from them the
beginnings of life, And have gained the power not only to live happily, but also to die
with a better hope.
(Cicero Laws II, xiv, 36)

And the formula of the Eleusinian mysteries is as follows: "I fasted, I drank the draught
(kykeon ) I took from the chest having done my task, I placed in the basket, And from
the basket into the chest.
(Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks II, 18)

Demeter And Persephone have come to be the subject of a mystic drama, And Eleusis
celebrates with torches the rape of the daughter And the sorrowful wandering of the
mother. Now it seems to me that the terms "orgy" And "mystery" must be derived, the
former from the wrath (orge) of Demeter against Zeus, And the latter from the pollution
(mysos) that took place in connection with Dionysus.
(Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks II, 12)

It tells how Demeter, wandering through Eleusis, which is a part of Attica, in search of
her daughter the Maiden, becomes exhausted And sits down at a well in deep distress.
This display of grief is forbidden, up to the present day, to those who are initiated, lest
the worshippers should seem to imitate the goddess in her sorrow. At that time Eleusis
was inhabited by aborigines, whose names were Baubo, Dysaules, Triptolemus, And also
Eumolpus And Eubouleus. Triptolemus was a herdsman, Eumolpus a shepherd, And
Eubouleus a swineherd. These were progenitors of the Eumolpidae And of the Heralds,
who form the priestly clan at Athens. But to continue for I will not forbear to tell the
rest of the story. Baubo, having received Demeter as a guest, offers her a draught of
wine And meal. She declines to take it, being unwilling to drink on account of her
mourning. Baubo is deeply hurt, thinking she has been slighted, And thereupon uncovers
her secret parts And exhibits them to the goddess. Demeter is pleased at the sight, And
now at last receives the draught, - delighted with the spectacle! These are the secret
mysteries of the Athenians! These are also the subjects of Orpheus' poems. I will quote
you the very lines of Orpheus, in order that you may have the originator of the mysteries
as witness of their shamelessness:
This said, she drew aside her robes And showed
A sight of shame child Iacchus was There,
And laughing, plunged his hand below her breasts.
Then smiled the goddess, in her heart she smiled,
And drank the draught from out the glancing cup.
(Clement of Alexandria, II, 16-18)
The mysteries, then, are mere custom And vain opinion, And it is a deceit of the serpent
that men worship when, with spurious piety, they turn towards these sacred initiations
that are really profanities, And solemn rites that are without sanctity. Consider, too, the
contents of the mystic chests for I must strip bare their holy things And utter the
unspeakable. Are they not sesame cakes, pyramid And spherical cakes, cakes with many
navels, also balls of salt And a serpent, the mystic sign of Dionysus Basareus? Are they
not also pomegranates, fig branches, fennel stalks, ivy leaves, round cakes And poppies?
These are their holy things! In addition, There are the unutterable symbols of Ge Themis,
marjoram, a lamp, a sword, And a woman's comb, which is euphemistic expression used
in the mysteries for a woman's secret parts.
(Clement of Alexandria, II, 19)


…Go…to Attica to see those nights of the great Mysteries of Demeter from them you
shall get a heart free of care while you live And lighter to bear when you join the realm of
the majority.

It is worth your while, men of Athens, to consider this also - that you punished Archias,
who had been hierophant, when he was convicted in court of impiety And of offering
sacrifice contrary to the rites handed down by our fathers. Among the charges brought
against him was, that at the feast of the harvest he sacrificed on the altar in the court at
Eleusis a victim brought by the courtesan Sinope, although it was not lawful to offer
victims on that day, And the sacrifice was not his to perform, but the priestess'! It is,
then, a monstrous thing that a man who was of the race of the Eumolpidae, born of
honorable ancestors And a citizen of Athens, should be punished for having transgressed
one of your established customs And the pleadings of his relatives And friends did not
save him, nor the public services which he And his ancestors had rendered to the city
no, nor yet his office of hierophant but you punished him, because he was judged to be
(Demosthenes Against Neaera 116-117)

In Thebes, for example, a certain Alcaeus has a statue which they say is a Heracles And
was formerly so called And among the Athenians There is an image of a boy who was an
initiate in the mysteries at Eleusis And it bears no inscription he, too, they say, is a
(Dio Chrysostom XXXI, 92)

The earth, again, they looked upon as a kind of vessel which holds all growing things And
so gave it the name "mother" And in like manner the Greeks also call it Demeter, the
word having been slightly changed in the course of time for in olden time they called her
Ge Meter (Earth Mother), to which Orpheus bears witness when he speaks of "Earth the
Mother of all, Demeter giver of wealth."
(Diodorus, I, 12)

Furthermore, the early men have given Dionysus the name of "Dimetor" ("twice-born"),
reckoning it as a single And first birth when the plant is set in the ground And begins to
grow, And as a second birth when it becomes laden with fruit And ripens its clusters, the
god, therefore, being considered as having been born once from the earth And again from
the vine. And though the writers of myths have handed down the account of a third birth
as well, at which as they say the sons of Gaia tore to pieces the god, who was a son of
Zeus And Demeter, And boiled him, but his members were brought together again by
Demeter And he experienced a new birth as if for the first time, such accounts as this
they trace back to certain causes found in nature. For he is considered to be the son of
Zeus And Demeter, they hold, by reason of the fact that the vine gets its growth both
from the earth And from rain And so bears as its fruit the wine which is pressed out from
the clusters of grapes And the statement that he was torn to pieces, while yet a youth,
by the "earth-born" signifies the harvesting of the fruit by the laborers, And the boiling of
his members has been worked into a myth by reason of the fact that most men boil the
wine And then mix it, thereby improving its natural aroma And quality. Again, the
account of his members, which the "earth-born" treated with despite, being brought
together again And restored to their former natural state, shows forth that the vine,
which has been stripped of its fruit And pruned at the yearly seasons, is restored by the
earth to the high level of fruitfulness which it had before. For, in general, the ancient
poets And writers of myths spoke of Demeter as Ge Meter (Earth Mother). And with these
stories the teachings agree which are set forth in the Orphic poems And are introduced
into their rites, but it is not lawful to recount them in detail to the uninitiated.
(Diodorus III, 62:5-8)

The second Dionysus, the writers of myth relate, was born to Zeus by Persephone,
though some say it was Demeter. He is represented by them as the first man to have
yoked oxen to the plough, human beings before that time having prepared the ground by
hand. Many other things also, which are useful for agriculture, were skillfully devised by
him, whereby the masses were relieved of their great distress And in return for this
those whom he had benefited accorded to him honors And sacrifices like those offered to
the gods, since all men were eager, because of the magnitude of his service to them, to
accord to him immortality. And as a special symbol And token the painters And sculptors
represented him with horns, at the same time making manifest thereby the other nature
of Dionysus And also showing forth the magnitude of the service which he had devised
for the farmers by his invention of the plough.
(Diodorus Library of History. III, 64)

And in general, the myths relate that the gods who receive the greatest approval at the
hands of human beings are those who excelled in their benefactions by reason of their
discovery of good things, namely, Dionysus And Demeter, the former because he was the
discoverer of the most pleasing drink, the latter because she gave to the race of men the
most excellent of the dry foods.

Some writers of myths, however, relate that There was a second Dionysus who was much
earlier in time than the one we have just mentioned. For according to them There was
born of Zeus And Persephone a Dionysus who is called by some Sabazius And whose birth
And sacrifices And honors are celebrated at night And in secret, because of the disgrace
resulting from the intercourse of the sexes. They state also that he excelled in sagacity
And was the first to attempt the yoking of oxen And by their aid to effect the sowing of
the seed, this being the reason why they also represent him as wearing a horn.
(Diodorus, Library of History IV, 3-4)

Demeter instituted the Lesser Mysteries in honor of Heracles, that she might purify him
of the guilt he had incurred in the slaughter of the Centaurs.
(Diodorus Siculus, IV, 14)

And assuming that it would be to his advantage for the accomplishment of this labor, he
went to Athens And took part in the Eleusinian Mysteries, Musaeus, the son of Orpheus,
being at that time in charge of the initiatory rite.
(Diodorus Siculus IV, 25)

Again, the fact that the Rape of Kore took place in Sicily is, men say, proof most evident
that the goddesses made this island their favorite retreat because it was cherished by
them before all others. And the Rape of Kore, the myth relates, took place in the
meadows in the territory of Enna. The spot is near the city, a place of striking beauty for
its violets And every other kind of flower And worthy of the goddess. And the story is told
that, because of the sweet odor of the flowers growing There, trained hunting dogs are
unable to hold the trail, because their natural sense of smell is balked. And the meadow
we have mentioned is level in the center And well watered throughout, but on its
periphery it rises high And falls off with precipitous cliffs on every side. And it is
conceived of as lying in the very center of the island, which is the reason why certain
writers call it the navel in Sicily. Near to it also are sacred groves, surrounded by marshy
flats, to the north, And through it, the myth relates, Pluton, coming out with his chariot,
effected the rape of Kore. And the violets, we are told, And the rest of the flowers which
supply the sweet odor continue to bloom, to one's amazement, throughout the entire
year, And so the whole aspect of the place is one of flowers And delight.
(Diodorus Siculus V, 3)

After the Rape of Kore, the myth goes on to recount, Demeter, being unable to find her
daughter, kindled torches in the craters of Mt. Aetna And visited many parts of the
inhabited world, And upon the men who received her with the greatest favor she
conferred benefactions, rewarding them with the gift of the fruit of the wheat. And since
a more kindly welcome was extended the goddess by the Athenians than by any other
people, they were the first after the Siceliotae to be given the fruit of the wheat And in
return for this gift the citizens of that city in assembly honored the goddess above all
others with the establishment both of most notable sacrifices And of the mysteries of
Eleusis, which, by reason of their very great antiquity And sanctity, have come to be
famous among all mankind. From the Athenians many peoples received a portion of the
gracious gift of the corn, And they in turn, sharing the gift of the seed with their
neighbors, in this way caused all the inhabited world to abound with it. And the
inhabitants of Sicily, since by reason of the intimate relationship of Demeter And Kore
with them they were the first to share in the corn after its discovery, instituted to each
one of the goddesses sacrifices And festive gatherings, which they name after them, And
by the time chosen for these made acknowledgment of the gifts which had been
conferred upon them. In the case of Kore, for instance, they established the celebration
of her return at about the time when the fruit of the corn was found to come to maturity,
And they celebrate this sacrifice And festive gathering with such strictness of
observance And such zeal as we should reasonably expect those men to show who are
returning thanks for having been selected before all mankind for the greatest possible
gift but in the case of Demeter they preferred that time for the sacrifice when the
sowing of the corn is first begun, And for a period of ten days they hold a festive
gathering which bears the name of this goddess And is most magnificent by reason of the
brilliance of their preparation for it, while in the observance of it they imitate the ancient
manner of life. And it is their custom during these days to indulge in coarse language as
they associate one with another, the reason being that by such coarseness the goddess,
grieved though she was of the Rape of Kore, burst into laughter.
(Diodorus Siculus V, 4)

That the rape of Kore took place in the manner we have described is attested by many
ancient historians And poets. Carcinus the tragic poet, for instance, who often visited in
Syracuse And witnessed the zeal which the inhabitants displayed in the sacrifices And
festive gatherings for both Demeter And Kore, has the following verses in his writings:
Demeter's daughter, her whom none may name,
By secret schemings Pluton, men say, stole,
And then he dropped into earth's depths, whose light
Is darkness. Longing for the vanished girl
Her mother searched And visited all lands
In turn. And Sicily's land by Aetna's crags
Was filled with streams of fire which no man could
Approach, And groaned throughout its length in grief
Over the maiden now the folk, beloved
Of Zeus, was perishing without the corn.
Hence honor they these goddesses e'en now.
But we should not omit to mention the very great benefaction which Demeter conferred
upon mankind for beside the fact that she was the discoverer of corn, she also taught
mankind how to prepare it for food And introduced laws by obedience to which men
became accustomed to the practice of justice, this being the reason, we are told, why
she has been given the epithet Thesmophoros or Lawgiver. Surely a benefaction greater
than these discoveries of hers one could not find for they embrace both living And living
(Diodorus Siculus V, 5)

But Zeus desired that the other of his two sons might also attain to honor, And so he
instructed him in the initiatory rite of the mysteries, which had existed on the island
since ancient times but was at that time, so to speak, put in his hands it is not lawful,
however, or any but the initiated to hear about the mysteries. And Iasion is reputed to
have been the first to initiate strangers into them And by this means to bring the
initiatory rite to high esteem. And Demeter, becoming enamored of Iasion, presented
him with the fruit of the corn. To Iasion And Demeter, according to the story the myths
relate, was born Plutus or Wealth, but the reference is, as a matter of fact, to the wealth
of the corn, which was presented to Iasion because of Demeter's association with him at
the time of the wedding of Harmonia. Now the details of the initiatory rite are guarded
among the matters not to be divulged And are communicated to the initiates alone but
the fame has traveled wide of how these gods appear to mankind And bring unexpected
aid to those initiates of theirs who call upon them in the midst of perils. The claim is
also made that men who have taken part in the mysteries become both more pious And
more just And better in every respect than they were before. And this is the reason, we
are told, why the most famous both of the ancient heroes And of the demi-gods were
eagerly desirous of taking part in the initiatory rite And in fact Jason And the Dioscuri,
And Heracles And Orpheus as well, after their initiation attained success in all the
campaigns they undertook, because these gods appeared to them.
(Diodorus Siculus V, 48, 49)

And Demeter since the corn still grew wild together with the other plants And was still
unknown to men, was the first to gather it in, to devise how to prepare And preserve it,
And to instruct mankind how to sow it. Now she had discovered the corn before she gave
birth to her daughter Persephone, but after the birth of her daughter And the rape of her
by Pluton, she burned all the fruit of the corn, both because of her anger at Zeus And
because of her grief over her daughter. After she had found Persephone, however, she
became reconciled with Zeus And gave Triptolemus the corn to sow, instructing him both
to share the gift with men everywhere And to teach them everything concerned with the
labor of sowing. And some men say that it was she also who introduced laws, by
obedience to which men have become accustomed to deal justly one with another, And
that mankind has called this goddess Thesmophoros after the laws which she gave them.
And since Demeter has been responsible for the greatest blessing to mankind, she has
been accorded the most notable honors And sacrifices, And magnificent feasts And
festivals as well, not only by the Greeks, but also by almost all barbarians who have
partaken of this kind of food.

There is dispute about the discovery of the fruit of the corn on the part of many peoples,
who claim that they were the first among whom the goddess was seen And to whom she
made known both the nature And use of the corn. The Egyptians, for example, say that
Demeter And Isis are the same, And that she was first to bring the seed to Egypt, since
the river Nile waters the fields at the proper time And that land enjoys the most
temperate seasons. Also the Athenians, though they assert that the discovery of this
fruit took place in their country, are nevertheless witnesses to its having been brought
to Attica from some other region for the place which originally received this gift they
call Eleusis, from the fact that the seed of the corn came from others And was conveyed
to them. But the inhabitants of Sicily, dwelling as they do on an island which is sacred to
Demeter And Kore, say that it is reasonable to believe that the gift of which we are
speaking was made to them first, since the land they cultivate is the one the goddess
holds most dear for it would be strange indeed, they maintain, for the goddess to take
for her on, so to speak, a land which is the most fertile known And yet to give it, the last
of all, a share in her benefaction, as though it were nothing to her, especially since she
has her dwelling There, all men agreeing that the Rape of Kore took place on this island.
Moreover, this land is the best adapted for these fruit, even as the poet also says:
This, then, is what the myths have to say about Demeter.
(Diodorus Siculus V, 68-69)

This god (Dionysus) was born in Crete, men say, of Zeus And Persephone, And Orpheus
has handed down the tradition in the initiatory rites that he was torn in pieces by the
(Diodorus Siculus, V, 75)

Such, then are the myths which the Cretans recount of the gods who they claim were
born in their land. They also assert that the honors accorded to the gods And their
sacrifices And the initiatory rites observed in connection with the mysteries were
handed down from Crete to the rest of men, And to support this they advance the
following most weighty argument, as they conceive it: the initiatory rite which is
celebrated by the Athenians in Eleusis, the most famous, one may venture, of them all,
And that of Samothrace, And the one practiced in Thrace among the Cicones, whence
Orpheus came who introduced them---these are all handed down in the form of a mystery,
whereas at Knossos in Crete it has been the custom from ancient times that these
initiatory rites should be handed down to all openly, And what is handed down among
other people as not to be divulged, this the Cretans conceal from no one who may wish
to inform himself upon such matters. Indeed, the majority of the gods, the Cretans say,
had their beginning in Crete And set out from There to visit many regions of the inhabited
world, conferring benefactions upon the races of men And distributing among each of
them the advantage which resulted from the discoveries they had made. Demeter, for
example, crossed over into Attica And then removed from There to Sicily And afterwards
to Egypt And in these lands her choicest gift was that of the corn And instructions in the
sowing of it, whereupon she received great honors at the hands of these whom she had
(Diodorus Siculus V, 77)

Plutus, we are told, was born in Cretan Tripolus to Demeter And Iasion, And There is a
double account of his origin. For some men say that the earth, when it was sowed once
by Iasion And given proper cultivation, brought forth such an abundance of fruits that
those who saw this bestowed a special name upon the abundance of fruits when they
appear And called it plutus (wealth) consequently it has become traditional among later
generations to say that men who have acquired more than they actually need have
Plutus. But There are some who recount the myth that a son was born to Demeter And
Iasion whom they named Plutus, And that he was the first to introduce diligence into the
life of man And the acquisition And safeguarding of property, all men up to that time
having been neglectful of amassing And guarding diligently any store of property.
(Diodorus Siculus V, 77)


What I say is supported by the testimony of Sophocles, the tragic poet, in his drama
entitled Triptolemus for he There represents Demeter as informing Triptolemus how
large a tract of land he would have to travel over while sowing it with the seeds he had
given him.
(Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities I, 12)

The goddess Demeter is coming to celebrate her daughter's Mysteries.
(A fragment of Douris the Samian Mylonas Eleusis p. 239-240)

But no man sails from a port without having sacrificed to the Gods And invoked their
help nor do men sow without having called on Demeter And shall a man who has
undertaken so great a work undertake it safely without the Gods? And shall they who
undertake this work come to it with success? What else are you doing, man, than
divulging the mysteries? You say, "There is a temple at Eleusis, And one here also. There
is an Hierophant at Eleusis, And I also will make an Hierophant: There is a herald, And I
will establish a herald There is a torch-bearer at Eleusis, And I also will establish a
torch-bearer There are torches at Eleusis, And I will have torches here. The words are
the same how do the things done here differ from those done There?" Most impious man,
is There no difference? These things are done both in due place And in due time And
when accompanied with sacrifice And prayers, when a man is first purified, And when he
is disposed in his mind to the thought that he is going to approach sacred rites And
ancient rites. In this way the mysteries are useful, in this way we come to the notion
that all these things were established by the ancients for the instruction And correction
of life. But you publish And divulge them out of time, out of place, without sacrifices,
without purity you have not the garments which the hierophant ought to have, nor the
hair, nor the head-dress, nor the voice nor the age nor have you purified yourself as he
has: but you have committed to memory the words only, And you say: "Sacred are the
words by themselves."

You ought to approach these matters in another way the thing is great, it is mystical,
not common thing, nor is it given to every man.
(Epictetus Discourses III, 21)

In Alexandria There is the so-called Korion, And it is a very large temple, that is the
temenos of Kore. (The worshippers) having passed the night in vigilance with songs And
flute playing, singing to the idol. After the call of the roosters they descend with
torches in hand to an underground chamber And from it they bring up on a litter a
wooden xoanon, seated, nude, bearing on its forehead some seal of a cross, covered with
gold . And they carry this xoanon around seven times, making a circle around the most
central temple with flutes And drums And hymns, And having sang And danced they take
it down again to the underground place . And they say that at this hour, today the Kore,
that is the Virgin, gave birth to the Aion.

Teiresias: . Two things There are, young prince, that
hold first rank among men, the goddess Demeter, that is, the earth, call her which name
you please she it is that feeds men with solid food.
(Euripides The Bacchantes 274)

Through wooded glen, o'er torrent's flood, And ocean's booming waves rushed the
mountain goddess, mother of the gods, in frantic hate, once long ago, yearning for her
daughter lost, whose name men dare not utter loudly rattled the Bacchic castanets in
shrill accord, what time those maidens, swift as whirlwinds, sped forth with the goddess
on her chariot yoked to wild creatures in quest of her that was ravished from the circling
choir of virgins here was Artemis with her bow, And There the grim-eyed goddess,
sheathed in mail, And spear in hand. But Zeus looked down from his throne in heaven,
And turned the issue overwhither. Soon as the mother ceased from her wild wandering
toil, in seeking her daughter stolen so subtly as to baffle all pursuit, she crossed the
snow-capped heights of Ida's nymphs And in anguish cast her down amongst the rock
And brushwood deep in snow And, denying to man all increase to his tillage from those
barren fields, she wasted the human race nor would she let the leafy tendrils yield
luxuriant fodder for the cattle wherefore many a beast lay dying no sacrifice was offered
to the gods And on the altars were no cake to burn yea, And she made the dew-fed
founts of crystal water to cease their flow, in her insatiate sorrow for her child. But
when for god And tribes of men alike she made an end to festal cheer, Zeus spoke out,
seeking to smooth the mother's moody soul, "Ye stately Graces, go banish from
Demeter's angry heart the grief her wanderings bring upon her for her child, And go, ye
Muses too, with tuneful choir." Thereon did Cypris, fairest of the blessed gods, first
catch up the crashing cymbals, native to that land, And the drum with tight-stretched
skin And then Demeter smiled, And in her hand did take the deep-toned flute, well
pleased with its loud note.
(Euripides, Helen 1303-1361)

Heracles: . After my return at length from the soulless den of Hades And the maiden
queen of hell, I will not neglect to greet first of all the gods beneath my roof.
Amphitryon: Why, did you in very deed go to the house of Hades, my son?
Heracles: Aye, And brought to the light that three-headed monster.
Amphitryon: Did you worst him fight, or receive him from the goddess?
Heracles: In fair fight for I had been lucky enough to witness the rites of the initiated.
Amphitryon: Is the monster really lodged in the house of Eurystheus?
Heracles: The grove of Demeter And the city of Hermione are his prison.
(Euripides, Herakles Mad, 602-614)

Chorus: Daughter of Demeter, goddess of highways, queen as thou art of haunting powers
of darkness. I blush for that god of song, if this stranger is to witness the torch-dance,
that heralds in the twentieth dawn, around Callichorus' fair springs, a sleepless rotary in
midnight revels, what time the star-lit firmament of Zeus, the moon, And Nereus' fifty
daughters, that trip it lightly o'er the sea And the eternal rivers' tides, join the dance in
honor of the maiden with the crown of gold And her majestic mother
(Euripides, Ion, 1048-1049, 1079-1086)

Iphigenia: My purpose is to cleanse them first by purification.
Thoas: In fresh spring water or salt sea-spray?
Iphigenia: The sea washes away from man all that is ill.
Thoas: True, they would then be holier victims for the goddess.
(Euripides, Iphigenia Among the Tauri 1191-1194)

O Demeter, guardian of this Eleusinian land, And you servants of the goddess who attend
her sanctuary, grant happiness to me And my son Theseus, to the city of Athens And the
country of Pittheus. Now it chanced, that I had left my house And come to offer
sacrifice on behalf of the earth's crop at this shrine, where first the fruitful corn showed
its bristling shocks above the soil. And here at the holy altar of the twain goddesses,
Demeter And her daughter, I wait, holding these sprays of foliage, a bond that binds not,
in compassion for these childless mothers, hoary with age, And from reverence for the
sacred fillets.
(Euripides, The Suppliants 1-4, 30-35)

This Vagina Goddess Is The Best Ancient Symbol You've Never Heard Of

Ancient vagina goddess Baubo is the perfect symbol of feminine power for our troubled times.

Even to modern eyes, the terracotta statuettes are bizarre. Found in 1896 in the remains of a 5th-century BCE temple at the ancient Greek city of Priene, each figurine is different, but all feature a woman’s face, bedecked with an elaborate hairdo, situated directly atop a pair of chubby, childlike legs. In place of a chin, there is the well-defined cleft of a hairless vulva. But for one of the German archeologists working on the dig, the figures looked familiar. He quickly concluded that they were images of Baubo, a mythological character—some say goddess—whose main claim to fame was flashing her genitals to cheer up the agricultural goddess Demeter. “Surely we are dealing with a creation from the context of the grotesque-obscene aspects of the Demeter cult,” he declared.

Today, we turn to resources like The Vagina Bible or to answer questions about “down there” that we are otherwise too shy to ask. Meanwhile, powerful men brag that when it comes to subjugating women, all you need to do is “Grab ‘em by the pussy.” Obviously, we need a vagina goddess now more than ever. So why isn’t Baubo more well known?

One reason may be that scholars differ widely in their interpretations of Baubo-related texts and artifacts. Did her name mean “belly,” “cave,” or “vulva”? Was she a goddess of fertility, sexuality, or mirth? Or was she even a goddess at all? And when it comes to those weird statuettes from Priene, there’s no agreement about who they are or what they represent, even though they were found in the remains of a temple dedicated to Demeter, the ancient goddess of grain and agriculture, with whom Baubo is so closely associated.

Adding to the confusion, there are many versions of Baubo’s story, which basically goes like this. According to Greek mythology, one day, Demeter’s daughter, Persephone (also known as Kore), was out picking flowers when she was raped and abducted by Hades, god of the underworld. The furious Demeter gave chase, forgetting her responsibilities in the world above ground. As a result, grain didn’t grow—the land laid fallow—and many died of starvation due to famine. Disguised as an old woman dressed in black, Demeter came to the city of Eleusis, where she rested by a well, mourning the loss of her daughter. There, she was found by Baubo, a nurse or servant in the Eleusinian ruler’s household. Baubo offered the goddess a cup of wine but Demeter refused it. Baubo offered sympathy but was rebuffed again. Then Baubo did a thing that even today would get you noticed—she lifted up her skirt and showed off her private parts. The gesture made Demeter laugh, and then the goddess ate and drank. In some retellings, Baubo is accompanied by another servant, Iambe, who tells dirty jokes in an effort to make Demeter laugh, but it’s almost always Baubo’s flashing that gets the job done. (Sometimes, Baubo and Iambe are the same person. Sometimes she goes by the name of Hecate or Isis. As I said, it’s confusing.)

Like an actor whose tiny role on stage or screen makes such a deep connection with the audience that she is catapulted to fame, Baubo’s cameo in the story of Demeter and Persephone is small but transformative. In an agrarian culture like ancient Greece, a ruined harvest could lead to starvation, disease, and death. By making Demeter laugh, and giving her renewed strength to find Persephone, Baubo essentially helped end a famine in the human world, saving countless lives. Art historian Winifred Milius Lubell, whose The Metamorphosis of Baubo: Myths of Women’s Sexual Energy is the definitive work on the subject, traced the iconography of the vulva across vistas of time, geography, and culture. She thinks Baubo was another aspect of “extremely ancient…agricultural rituals of fecundity,” in which chosen women “squatted over the newly plowed fields” and allowed their menstrual blood to drip into the earth to increase its fertility. You might say that Baubo spoke truth to power, the servant’s pussy flash reminding the grain goddess of her responsibility over the harvest and thus as a life-giving force to humanity. Without Baubo’s timely reminder of the vulva’s regenerative power, human civilization would have ended.

Votive offerings from the sanctuary of Demeter in Priene, c. 5th century BCE. Photo: Evelyn Aschenbrenner

Demeter is eventually reunited with her daughter after Zeus intervenes with Hades to set Persephone free. But before Hades does so, he tricks Persephone into eating some pomegranate seeds. Eating food in the underworld means she has to return below ground for at least part of the year. Demeter’s grief during Persephone’s annual travels below the earth thus became an allegory for the changing seasons and cycle of human life, from spring/birth to winter/death, and back again.

Baubo’s singular act was powerful enough that it was reenacted by initiates and pilgrims at a pair of important religious festivals that honored the journey of Demeter and Persephone during the autumn planting season. Thousands of men and women participated in the Eleusinian Mysteries, an annual event that lasted for eight days in late September, the last three of which were open to initiates only. These rituals were held in strictest secrecy, so much so that scholars still argue about what actually went on. However, they mostly agree that initiates “imitated what Demeter had done while searching for her daughter,” and that included Baubo’s skirt lifting gesture.

Only married women were allowed to attend the fall festival known as Thesmorphoria, which took place in October. At night, they slept in tents. During the day, attendees portrayed events from the story of Demeter and Persephone in rituals thought to increase both human and agricultural fertility. They ate pomegranates and perhaps let the red juice drip into the earth, just as the proto Baubo offered up her menstrual blood. As part of one rite, they “manipulated bread-dough models of male and female genitals.” No written explanation exists as to why they did this, but scholars think it may have been to awaken desire and stimulate fecundity. Piglets, alive or dead, were thrown into ritual caverns or pits, and their decomposed remains were later retrieved and spread on altars, mixed with seed corn for the coming year. This mimicked the moment when the Earth opened as Hades nabbed Persephone, and some hogs were pulled beneath the ground along with the girl. According to a 2013 article by Sarah Iles Johnston in the journal History of Religions, on the second day of Thesmorphoria, women broke a day of fasting with “ritual obscenity,” recalling the jokes Baubo/Iambe told to Demeter. And at least one historian—Ewa Osek, writing in the 2018 essay collection The Many Faces of Mimesis—believes they also reenacted Baubo’s pussy flashing. As A.C. Smythe of the site Goddess Gift summarizes it, this was a festival “where women were taught the profound lessons of living joyfully, dying without fear, and being an integral part of the great cycles of nature.”

The story of Demeter and Persephone resonated deeply with the women of ancient Greece, because it reflected traditions in their strongly patriarchal society. Women were kept sequestered inside their father or husband’s house. Marriages could be arranged by fathers without input from their wives or daughters, who might not even be aware that such life-altering discussions were taking place. Thus, in classicist Mary E. Naples’ words, a girl of 16 or so, “was often torn from her natal home and forced to marry an unknown man who was—on average—twice or three times her senior.” Depending on distance and circumstance, a young woman might see her parents and siblings only rarely after marriage, if at all. Persephone’s abduction and Demeter’s sorrow must have felt very familiar.

Baubo riding a sow, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. Photo: EdenPictures / Flickr

On the other hand, according to Naples, Demeter’s success in having her daughter returned to her for at least part of the year was a rare instance in which a goddess defied the rapacious Zeus without punishment—a power play that would have been impossible without Baubo’s skirt toss to bring the goddess out of her grief. The annual gathering at Thesmophoria likewise provided an uncommon taste of power for mortal women, a time when they could throw off the shackles of patriarchy as they gathered in a wholly female society, sleeping outside and performing secret rituals.

"What happened to this fun-loving, bawdy, jesting, sexually liberated—yet very wise—goddess?"

Despite Baubo’s role in the Eleusinian Mysteries and Thesmophoria, few, if any, images of her exist from ancient Greece (the statuettes from Priene may have been a rare exception). This is due at least in part to the ephemeral nature of the art created for women’s rituals. Lubell noted that men created images in marble, precious metals, and clay fired in a kiln—media made to last for centuries. Meanwhile women of the time used what was at hand in a household—bread dough, for example, which quickly disintegrated.

While Baubo was clearly revered in ancient Greece, her origins may reach back even further. Many Baubo-like entities have names that begin with a similar root syllable, a “bau” or “ba” sound. Over a thousand years before the ancient Greeks, the goddess Bau ruled over “the dark waters of the deep or the void” in religion practiced at Sumer in what is now modern-day Iraq. Bau was also worshipped in ancient Phoenicia, where one of her guises was Baev, the “guardian of the source,” an entrance to a cave or hole.

Baubo may also be related to a little-known Egyptian goddess named Bebt. The ancient historian Herodotus (c. 484 – c. 425 BC), described rites for the Egyptian cat goddess Bast at her main temple at Bubastis. During these ceremonies, men and women rode a barge down the river, yelling “mocking jokes and jests” at women on the riverbanks. Women on the barge performed dances, “then, standing up, they hitch up their skirts.” (According to Herodotus, more wine was drunk during this festival than at any other time of the year.)

The image of a vulva-flashing goddess was so popular in Egypt that artwork of her in one or another of her guises, but always unashamedly displaying her bits, appears to have been mass produced. In the late 19th century, antiquities hunters in the markets of Cairo or Alexandria in Egypt could buy bronze or terracotta figurines of this sort that had been dug up in farmers’ fields, writes Lubell. These showed women in flowing gowns and headdresses, lifting their skirts above their naked pudenda. Is it possible these figures were actually of the much older Egyptian goddess Isis? Again, scholars disagree.

So, what happened to this “fun-loving, bawdy, jesting, sexually liberated—yet very wise—goddess,” as Smythe describers her, with such far-reaching and ancient roots? One clue comes to us via the writings of Clement of Alexandria, a Christian writer who penned an essay called the “Exhortation to the Greeks” (aka “Exhortation Against the Pagans” and “Exhortation Against the Heathens”) around 200 AD. The purpose of this essay was to mock and demonize the Greek’s pagan belief systems, in order to convert people to Christianity. In his rants he describes a number of Greek rituals in detail, and, as a result, his writing has also been relied on as a source of information about ancient pagan cults and Greek mythology. While his telling of the story of Baubo is invaluable, Clement is clearly disgusted by it, and he believes his readers should be, too. “Baubo, having received Demeter as a guest, offers her a draught of wine and meal. She declines to take it, being unwilling to drink on account of her mourning. Baubo is deeply hurt, thinking she has been slighted, and thereupon uncovers her secret parts and exhibits them to the goddess,” he explains. And how is Baubo received by the goddess? “Demeter is pleased at the sight, and now at least receives the draught—delighted by the spectacle! These are the secret mysteries of the Athenians!” Clement writes with great disdain. Later, he asks how anyone can respect the Athenians, when they, “and the rest of Greece—I blush even to speak of it—possess that shameful tale about Demeter?” You can almost hear Clement’s pearl-clutching from across the centuries.

Saint Clement of Alexandria. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Could the rise of patriarchal religions, such as Christianity, be at the root of Baubo’s downfall? Were men appalled, and maybe even threatened, by Baubo’s raunchiness? It’s quite possible. And the main weapon they could use to kill her off was to bury her under layers of shame. Michael Psellus, for example, was an 11th-century Christian historian who described what he thought took place during the Eleusinian Mysteries, including Baubo’s big moment. “She pulled up her gown revealing her thighs and pudenda,” he wrote. “Thus they gave her a name which covered her with shame. In this disgraceful manner the initiation ceremonies [at Eleusis] came to an end.”

It was around this same time that Baubo-like figures, called Sheela na gigs, began appearing all over Europe. They showed up as architectural carvings, posed over doors and entryways. They were meant to be ugly—as ugly as the gargoyles and other so-called grotesques that hung alongside them on churches, castles, and other places—and indeed they were. A round-headed creature holding her vulva wide open, with her hands clutching her labia, the Sheela na gig’s true meaning is a mystery. But one of the most popular theories is that put forth by researchers Anthony Weir and James Jerman. They argue, in their 1986 book Images of Lust: Sexual Carvings on Medieval Churches, that the Sheela na gigs’ location on churches, and their grotesque features, by medieval standards, suggest that they represent female lust as hideous and sinfully corrupting.

“With the rise of the patriarchy, the vulva went from being a place of reverence to a puritanical, unmentionable, and ‘dirty’ part of a woman,” writes Jean Shinoda Bolen in her book, Goddesses In Older Women: Archetypes in Women Over Fifty. “It went from a symbol of the goddess to one of the most demeaning and hostile words (‘cunt’) a women can be called.” This negative view of female genitalia and sexuality, and by extension, Baubo, pretty much held steady in Christianity and European cultures for the next 800 years or so. Even Jane Ellen Harrison, a pioneering classics scholar and suffragist, relegated almost all discussion of Baubo to a footnote in her 1908 masterwork, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion. Baubo’s gesture, she wrote, was a “stumbling block” and “not in harmony with modern conventions.”

A Sheela na gig carving on one of the 85 corbels around the Kilpeck Church in England, built circa 1140

She is a goddess who speaks directly from her genitals, and your approval is neither sought nor required.ˮ

Nevertheless, Baubo does make some appearances in a few modern works. In Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s early 19th-century play Faust, she shows up as an occult figure. “Old Baubo comes alone,” a chorus of witches chants, “she rides upon a farrow [a sow]. Then honor to whom honor is due. Mother Baubo to the front, and lead the way!” In his 1882 work, The Gay Science, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche muses that, “Perhaps truth is a woman who has reasons for not letting us see her reasons? Perhaps her name is—to speak Greek—Baubo?” And Sigmund Freud, who was likely familiar with the findings at Priene, referred to Baubo in his 1916 article, “A Mythological Parallel to a Visual Obsession.”

For those men, Baubo was a historical myth, not a figure worthy of contemporary worship. And to some women, that is to our detriment. “Baubo has been degraded into over-sexualized images of women and girls,” writes Dr. Kaalii Cargill, a scholar of women’s traditions in ancient Greece, on the site LivingNow. “The obscenities that were once shouted in sacred play are now directed at women as aggression, hostility, and violence. We have lost Baubo and so many of the myths and rituals that can connect us to ourselves, each other, and the world.”

But not everyone has relinquished their connection to Baubo. And some believe that her story has relevance for women today. Referring to her as the “Greek Goddess of Humor,” A.C. Smythe of Goddess Gift explains that Baubo should be “celebrated as a positive force of female sexuality and the healing power of laughter. [She] teaches us a lesson in how to turn enmity into friendship. Perhaps her bawdy behavior was a reminder that we should remember that all things will pass and change. To not take things too seriously, for nothing lasts forever.”

Similarly, Jen Miller, on her blog Quill of the Goddess, describes Baubo as “The queen of deep belly laughs, dirty jokes, and unbridled sexuality. I would compare her to Mae West or Amy Schumer. She is a goddess who speaks directly from her genitals, and your approval is neither sought nor required.” Maria Wulf, on her blog Full Moon Fiber Art, even makes Baubo relatable by explaining that she “is the part of us that’s ‘too loud’ and cackles at dirty jokes. The one who is having ‘too much fun.’”

The public display of the female body—at least as dictated by women—still has the power to shock in the 21st century. A society that can lose a good portion of its collective mind at the sight of a mother breast-feeding her baby at a restaurant is probably not ready for Baubo. Yet, as Lubbell points out, Baubo’s power stemmed not from “gleaming armor or beauty bestowed on her” by male gods, but from her own body. She was irreverent and sacred, a symbol of women’s “nurturing and transformative energies” combined with their “resourcefulness and laughter.” In an era when women’s rights and bodily autonomy are under siege on what seems like a daily basis, maybe we ought to reclaim Baubo as a life-affirming reminder of female power.

By Lynn Peril
Top photo credit: BPK Bildagentur / Staatliche Museen / Johannes Laurentius / Art Resource, NY
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2020 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

Thesmophoria, The “Bitching Festival” for Demeter Thesmophoros and Baubo

In late October, bridging the time between Mabon and Samhain, we come upon a beautiful multi-day holiday from the Greeks called Thesmophoria. Greek femmes held this rite after all the pomp and ritual of the Eleusinian Mysteries. They dedicated this festiva to Demeter Thesmophoros, a variant of Demeter who was the Law-Giver. Observed after the crops had been entirely pulled in, but before the seeds for next year’s planting were committed to the Earth. Women from all walks of life would leave their homes and jobs and head out to nature for their own recharge festival.

The Goddess of Thesmophoria: Demeter Thesmophoros

The Greeks loved to add all sorts of unusual adjectives to the Gods’ names. These adjectives were poetic descriptions representing the diverse works of the Gods or even their connection to localities. They often arose from ecstatic experiences people had with the deities. The names clarify the specific role the God played or the particular need of the person calling on the deity.

The epithet Thesmophoros derives from Demeter’s function in revealing and disseminating two ancient secrets the cultivation of grain and initiation to the mysteries.

Few references mention it. Most of her epithets refer to her capacity as a provider of food and grains, and the teacher of the knowledge to grow them. Food production is, of course, a key element in helping humanity set itself apart from other animals on Earth. Demeter and her daughter Kore/Persephone often shared the term Thesmophoros, and the two were often referred to as “The Two Goddesses,” (To-Thesmophoro) or the “double-named Goddess,” with Thesmophoros, being a plural word, often standing for both of them. “By the Two Goddesses” was a common oath that women favored.

Thesmos means “laws,” but also, “that which is set down or laid down,” as from the late past or Source. In other words, a Universal Law, something from the beginning of time. Homer uses the word to refer to the “law of the marriage bed” of Odysseus and Penelope. It is a divine law, fate, ritual law, or natural law. Thesmos can also refer to ritual customs and rites. So we may interpret this name for Demeter as Source of the laws/rituals of the natural world, a “law” or order of conduct going back into the reaches of time and memory. The ritual of Thesmophoria then hearkens to an older, more natural order, from before the laws of man.

“By the Two Goddesses”
was a common oath
especially favored by women.

Thesmophoria: The History

Greeks Celebrated Thesmophoria in locations from North Africa to Asia Minor to Southern Italy to Greece and Sicily making it one of THE most widespread dedicated to Demeter. Archeologists believe it may be one of the oldest festivals as well, with traces appearing from eleventh century BCE. Men were absolutely not allowed to attend, witness or even hear about the festival, ON PENALTY OF DEATH. So, y’know, if you identify as male, you’re taking your chances if you read further.

The most well-documented purpose of Thesmophoria was to restore the health and fertility of the Earth before next year’s crops. At a previous rite in Spring, Priestesses drop offerings into snake-filled rooms under a temple dedicated to Demeter called the Thesmophorion. Specifically, the offerings were the bodies of new-born piglets, grains, pine shoots and bread dough shaped like phalluses. At some point during the Thesmophoria, Priestesses would descend to those snake-filled rooms, clapping rhythmically to scare away the snakes, and retrieve the decomposing offerings. They would leave them at the front of the temple for farmers to take and use as a sacred compost to mix with the seeds they would soon plant before the next rainy season arrived. This sacred organic compost was a reflection of the type of “natural law” that Demeter Thesmophoros represented.

‛η τε Αγαπη και ‛η αδελφη ηλθον εις την ‛εορτην. εθεραπευον δη την Δημητερα. επειτα δε ελουσαν και ηλθον εις την χωραν την εγγυς της πυκνος. τη˛ μεν δευτερα˛ ‛ημερα˛ ουκ ησθιον, τη˛ δε τριτη˛ ‛ημερα˛ εθυον τε και ησθιον τους χοιρους.

εθεραπευον – honoured
ελουσαν – washed
‛η χωρα – place, space
εγγυς της πυκνος – near the Pnyx
τη˛ μεν δευτερα˛ ‛ημερα˛ – on the second day
ησθιον – ate
τη˛ δε τριτη˛ ‛ημερα˛ – but on the third day
εθυον – sacrificed
‛ο χοιρος – piglet

Thesmophoria: The Rites

So, what exactly happened during Thesmophoria? Well, as best as we can tell, on day one women from all over the area would head out to the local hill dedicated to Demeter. They hauled out food, drink, incense, lamps, tents, and blankets. Leaving their beds filled with agus castus , the chaste tree, they conveyed a loud “ nah ” to their partners at home.

They took the first day to set up a “city of women,” away from town and prying eyes, building structures out of plant material. On day two, women would fast and purify themselves. On day three, they held the “bitching ritual.” These festivities were dedicated specifically to a Goddess named Kalligeneia, the nymph nursemaid to Persephone, who may or may not be another iteration of Demeter. The women would eat and drink their fill. They avoided pomegranate, but enjoyed wheat-based loaves of bread in the shapes of phalluses and vaginas – this might even be the precursor the long French loaf! Burping, farting, cussing up a storm, wrestling with each other, and even arguing were welcome behaviors. “Get it out,” seems to be the spirit here. After harsh feelings had been shared, femmes always made time to make up and come to peace.

Perhaps this was a festival where women
took care of themselves and each other,
sleeping in couples and groups,
healing each other after the labor of the harvest…
as well as healing each other while they watched
patriarchy slowly spread across their world.

But even this is a reasonably sterile interpretation.

Many (male) authors over the years have insisted that celibacy was a key element of Thesmophoria. Looking at the other festival cycles happening at this time, we know that Demeter-as-Earth has just produced a massive harvest. Well, as any person who has had a baby can attest, often the last thing you want to think about is sex. So we may be seeing a natural receding of that Femme/Yin/Venusian energy so it can heal and restore itself.

However, the Eleusis Mysteries happens now. This is where Persephone is kidnapped and violated by Hades as the initiation to Her becoming Queen of the Dead. We also know that Demeter is raped by Poseidon at some point in her life as well as by the Titan Iasion. This portion of myth from the Eleusinian cycle is often overlooked. While Persephone is missing, Demeter is inconsolable and weeps day and night. At some point, the Goddess Baubo, moved by Demeter’s pain, attempts to cheer her up.


Baubo, also known as Iambe, is an intriguing deity. She begins to tell Demeter jokes, each dirtier than the last, but she can’t even get a smirk out of the Great Mother. Finally, she lifts her dress and shows Demeter her hairy vagina. This cracks through the Great Goddess’ pain, and she gives out a hearty belly laugh.


This Goddess may be the personification of the iambic meter or rhythm used in some rude forms of poetry and music, often depicted with instruments. Baubo means “entrails,” and she is sometimes depicted with a spiral on her belly. However, baubon in Greek means “dildo.” Baubo is always depicted as basically a head sitting on two legs. Her two legs press together forming a solid pillar. Her face is where her belly would be with her vagina on her chin. And her head is the shape of the head of a penis.

We look back on Demeter Thesmophoros as
a Goddess that Perhaps knew a keen secret
from way back in the days of yore
about how a femme
could make herself whole again.

I humbly suggest Baubo may have been a type of sexy Goddess concerned with the happiness and healing one can receive from good, rhythmic, masturbation or sex/sensual experiences that shake us to our core.

How healing those connections are. And how that kind of sensual energy exchange can even shake us out of something as deep as the grief of losing a child, or experiencing some kind of betrayal or violation. To trust a lover enough to open up to wherever it is you need sensation to go in your body. For some folks this helps them come back to their body after the disassociation that comes with traumatic experiences.
Perhaps Thesmophoria is about that.

It’s through this sense that we can now look at the festival of Thesmophoria with a new set of eyes. Perhaps this was a festival where women just took care of themselves and each other, sleeping in couples and groups, healing each other after the labor of the great harvest, the work of the Eleusinian Mysteries, as well as healing each other while they watched patriarchy slowly spread across their world.

And through that translation, we look back on Demeter Thesmophoros as a Goddess that perhaps knew a keen secret from way back in the days of yore, about how a femme could make herself whole again.

Thesmophoria Today: Ritual Ideas

How we can tap into this holiday and Goddess today (for mens and femmes):

Folks who identify as butch/dude/masculine, I realize these Goddesses may seem really abstract for you (although you may identify with Baubo.) If you don’t connect but you want to observe, do some journaling work around your feelings on female sexual power. What does that phrase mean for you? What does it feel like when that energy is in your life, and when it is missing? Who in your life represents that for you?

If you identify with these Goddesses or these types of experiences, get out of town if at all possible. Hold a sleepover. Host an all femme orgy. Hold a self-care/peer-care salon. Definitely gather with the femmes in your life and celebrate the work you have done so far this year. Eat some good food, drink some drink, smoke some smoke or do what you do to get loose. If you got some sh*t to say, say it. Certainly deal with the funky business, but make peace and find common ground at the end. Love yourself with some deep, sensual attention. Love each other. And by a new dildo (or prostate massager.)

Baubo, Great Goddess and Demeter’s Female Fool in the Eleusinian Mysteries - History

The goddess Baubo: Who is this mystery woman? She is Baubo, a fun-loving, bawdy, jesting, sexually liberated—yet very wise—goddess who plays a crucial, healing role in the Eleusian mysteries of ancient Greece.

She remains a much-honored figure today among many women—celebrated as a positive force of female sexuality and the healing power of laughter. Her power and energy have survived in the spirits of women down through the centuries.

Because of the scarcity of written references—and the contradictory nature of the writings that we do have—she is a mysterious figure in many ways.

Much of the mystery surrounding the goddess Baubo arises from literary connections between her name and the names of other goddesses. Baubo is sometimes referred to as the goddess Iambe, the daughter of Pan and Echo described in the legends of Homer.

Her identity also eventually became blended with those of earlier goddesses, such mother/vegetation goddesses as Atargatis, a goddess originating in northern Syria, and Kybele (or Cybele), a goddess from Asia Minor. To avoid confusion, we shall refer to her simply as Baubo in the rest of this article.

Scholars have traced the origin of Baubo to very ancient times in the Mediterranean region, particularly western Syria. Goddess of vegetation, her later appearance as a servant in the myths of Demeter mark the transition to an agrarian culture where the power has now shifted to Demeter, the Greek goddess of grain and the harvest.

This brings us to the wonderful story in which Baubo and Demeter meet up, as told in the Eleusian mysteries. Baubo is best known from this story, where she appears as a middle-aged servant to King Celeus of Eleusis.

According to the myths, Demeter was wandering the Earth in deep mourning over the loss of her beloved daughter, Persephone, who had been violently abducted by Hades, the god of the underworld. Abandoning her goddess duties of bringing fertility to the land, she took refuge in the city of Eleusis. The disheartened goddess, disguised as an old woman, was welcomed into the home of the king.

Everyone in the king's household tried to console and lift the spirits of the severely depressed woman, but to no avail—until Baubo showed up. The two women started chatting, with Baubo making a number of humorous, risqué remarks. Demeter began to smile. Then, Baubo suddenly lifted her skirt in front of Demeter.

Different versions of this tale provide very different images of what Demeter saw under Baubo's skirt, but whatever she saw, it finally lifted her out of her depression. She responded with a long and hearty belly laugh!

Ultimately, with her spirits and confidence restored, Demeter persuaded Zeus to command Hades to release Persephone. So, thanks to the lewd antics of Baubo, all was once again right in the world.

This inspiring story from the Eleusian mysteries suggests the meaning of Baubo's name. Her name, according to many interpretations, means "belly," indicating the belly laughter that she provoked in Demeter. According to other interpretations, however, Baubo's name means "old crone." Although "crone" has rather negative connotations to us today, the word was originally used to refer to a wise, mature woman.

The "belly" interpretation of Baubo's name is revealed in some ancient figurines of the goddess that have been found in Asia Minor and elsewhere. These sacred objects depict Baubo's face in her belly, with her vulva forming her chin. Other unearthed figurines of Baubo depict her playfully exposing an exaggerated vulva between her legs.

Baubo appeared as Demeter's "sacred fool" in ancient Greece's annual festival of women. At this festival, initiates were taught the profound lessons of living joyfully, dying without fear, and being an integral part of the great cycles of nature—lessons that are at the heart of the Eleusian mysteries.

As the initiates carried sacrificial piglets across a bridge, a gallus (castrated priest) portraying Baubo encouraged them to join him in making lewd comments and gestures (including lifting his skirt) to the assembled crowd. The precise meaning of this lesson to the initiates has been lost in the mists of time, though it undoubtedly had great significance at this festival celebrating the power and sacredness of women. Unfortunately, its meaning is all too easy to misinterpret as simple vulgarity in our modern puritanical, patriarchal society.

Some of what we know about Baubo comes from the pen of Clement of Alexandria. Clement was a Greek Christian writer of anti-pagan rants in the second century of the Common Era. However, his diatribes often contained revealing information about pagan beliefs—mainly in his misinterpretations of the pagan Orphic mysteries of ancient Greece.

The Orphic mysteries reveal that Baubo was married to a swine-herder. That doesn't sound like much today, but it was probably considered quite a lucrative occupation in ancient times. Baubo also had a son named Eumolpos, who is described as a "sweet singer." The high order of priests officiating at the festival of the Eleusian mysteries claimed descent from Eumolpos. High priestesses participating in this festival did as well.

From the ambiguous nature of the surviving information about Baubo, some scholars have concluded that this goddess was perhaps a hermaphrodite—or transgendered in some other way. According to some interpretations of Clement's writings, Baubo, when she lifted her skirt to Demeter, revealed body parts "inappropriate to a woman."

The possibility that Baubo may have had male or male-like genitalia has been suggested as the main reason that Demeter suddenly became happy upon seeing this sight. In ancient times, hermaphroditism had profound religious significance. It represented the unification of seemingly opposite and irreconcilable things—whether those things were male and female or life and death. For Demeter, a woman who was worried that her daughter might be dead, this realization would have been extremely comforting.

The story of Baubo and Demeter can still serve as a great comfort for us. Some women who belong to pagan groups today, for example, join together to appeal to Baubo for the gift of laughter, fun, friendship, and spiritual healing. In addition, certain Wiccan rituals celebrating the diversity of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community invoke the name and spirit of Baubo.

Of course, you don't have to be a follower of pagan beliefs to discover the joyful mirth of Baubo.

The goddess Baubo is always there to remind us to let our hair down and have fun. She tells us to be proud of, to occasionally flaunt, and to be empowered by our femininity and sexuality. And Baubo reminds us to be sure to let out a good belly laugh every now and then! After all, laughter is one of our greatest gifts from the Goddess!

Egyptian Influence?

The unearthing of Egyptian figurines and small artifacts at some Mycenaean sites and some statements by classical authors such as Herodotus suggest a link between the cult of Demeter in Greece and Egypt. Plutarch in Isis and Osiris , describing the myth of Isis, relates features astonishingly like those of the cult of Demeter recounted in the Hymn to Demeter. Both have infant princes whom the goddess is about to make immortal.

Who did the travelling, Isis or Demeter? No Egyptian artifacts have been found from the time when it seems the Eleusinian mysteries started, but Greek colonists were in Lower Egypt before 700 BC. Isis was, of course, a very ancient Egyptian Goddess, but she might have taken features of the similar fertility goddess brought by the Greeks into seventh century Egypt.

The Eleusinian mysteries attracted many initiates in Athens from about the seventh century BC, and the epics of Homer prove that, even that early, Greeks believed that the Eleusinian rites granted the initiates happiness after death. The citizens of Athens adopted the Mysteries of Eleusis as a feature of the state cult, then, at the time of Pericles, other Greek cities were admitted and later everyone who could speak Greek and had shed no blood or had subsequently been purified.

Other mystery religions followed a similar pattern, each with its own exotic god or goddess offering votaries personal favours, guaranteeing to watch over them after death and even offering them a form of divinity&mdashimmortality. Yearly festivals in honour of a goddess of grain and the annual renewal of life were also held at Samothrace, Cyprus, Crete and many other places. Each of the eastern religions had a god who suffered, died and finally triumphed. In each the initiate was invited to partake of the body of the god and thereby gain spiritual immortality. Christianity was one of these Eastern Mysteries&mdashthe last one and the only survivor. Only by the ultimate destruction of paganism in the sixth century AD did the Christians kill these beliefs.

On the west coast of Asia Minor, Greek city states celebrated the cult of the Phrygian goddess Cybele from the seventh century BC. Known among the Greeks primarily as the Great Mother, or simply as Meter , this originally foreign goddess of nature and fertility was early associated with Rhea or Demeter herself. Some say Demeter and Cybele were merely variations of the Great Mother worshipped under diverse names all over Greece. In Pylos, an ancient tablet mentions annual rites in honour of a pair of goddesses draped in a veil, who were led in a formal procession with great pomp and solemnity down to the sea for washing and purification.

The &rdquoThesmophoria,&rdquo celebrating the goddess as &rdquolaw-bearer,&rdquo were celebrated by women only throughout all Greece in late October, and were most like the Eleusinian Mysteries. They involved a pig sacrifice, the usual sacrifice to gods and goddesses of the earth&mdashthe Greeks associating pigs with fertility. Mingling their flesh with the seeds of grain was believed to improve harvests. The ceremonies comprised fasting and purification, a ritualized descent into the underworld and bringing life out of death. The Eleusinian Mysteries involved the mystai washing and sacrificing piglets sacred to Demeter. The Eleusinian Mysteries and the Thesmophoria probably had the same origins.

Baubo has a role in the Eleusinian Mysteries, not the Samothracean mysteries of the Cabeiri, but I defend my logic in placing her in my novel’s Cabeiri cult because of Hecate’s involvement in the Cabeiri rituals and the theorized position that Baubo is the crone form of Hecate.

The Hecaterides link to both, Hecate and Baubo. Obviously, you can see by the names that Hecate and the Hecaterides have links. The Hecaterides are mothers to the groups associated with the Cabeiri, the Dactyls and the Curetes are considered the same as the Cabeiri.

The He Hecaterides link to the Dionysian mysteries, as well, because they also mothered the Satyrs. Since the Orphic mysteries are a reformed version of the Dionysian mysteries, so the other mysteries twist into the Orphic mysteries. The Eudemian Theogony also considers the Orphic cult a synthesis of Bacchic–Kouretic cults.

I’m certain that the Cabeiri have links to Egypt’s Ptah which gives the cult links to the cult of Serapis (a deity created from Ptah and Osiris).

I consider the Cabeiri a collective of different groups consisting of dancers, acrobats, and clowns. The mystery cults used performers to create wonderment. I see the performers as ancient Carny folk and I consider the Cabeiri, in my novel, a Carny cult and consider Baubo as on of the performers.

Watch the video: Eleusinian Mysteries. Ancient Greek Civilization: Religion and Cult.