This story about the sacred fool hails from ancient Greece. There is very little historical text written about Baubo, so this tale is a compilation of what research I could find and my own imagination. I first told this story during a ritual in September of 2017. I hope you enjoy this retelling of the Baubo myth!
It had been three months since Demeter’s daughter, Persephone, had disappeared into the underworld. Demeter wandered the Earth, distraught and mourning, endlessly looking for her lost daughter. Wherever she travelled, fruits withered on the vine, the stalks of grain grew limp and brittle, and green leaves lost their luster and fell from the trees. Nothing could console the great goddess of abundance, and she abandoned the Earth in her sorrow.
The despondent goddess took refuge in the city of Eleusis, where, disguised as an old woman, she was welcomed into the home of the king. She was offered the food and drink traditionally given in hospitality to guests, but she refused all of it. All she wanted was a place to sit and hang her head. The servants of the household tried desperately to cheer her up, but none succeeded. That is, until Baubo.
As Demeter sat, head in her hands, thinking of where to search next, an old nurse appeared beside her. Demeter exerted just enough effort to look up at the woman. Seeing that her company was a crone such as herself, Demeter let her guard down, and began chatting with the nurse. The woman introduced herself as Baubo.
“It looks like what you need is some distraction!” exclaimed the old nurse. “And what better distraction is there than men,” she added under her breath as one of the manservants walked by. Baubo sighed. “But believe me, I’ve tried with him, but he’ll have nothing to do with me! I can’t imagine why. He says I’m too old! Bah! Too old! Old enough to show him a rollicking good time,” Baubo said with a suggestive shimmy.
“Too old! We old ladies have still got it! In fact, we’ve got more of it! Right here,” she gestured to her ample breasts, “and here,” she said cupping the cheeks of her ass and giving them a hearty shake, “and maybe a little more right here…” she said, rubbing her round belly. The hint of a grin played on Demeter’s lips.
“But who cares?!” continued Baubo. “In fact, my last lover had this wonderful name for it… what was it he called them… love… love handles! Gives you more to grab on to, that’s what he said. Shame he was such a terrible lay…” Demeter covered her mouth to stifle a snicker.
Another handsome manservant crossed in front of them, on some errand or another.
“What about that one, eh? The first day I laid eyes on him, I wanted to take him to bed, if ya know what I mean…” Baubo said, prodding Demeter with her elbow and giving her a sideways glance. Demeter had composed herself, and busied her eyes with staring at the floor.
“Oh, you know, to bed! To do the deed? Some call it dirty, but I call it divine! What about you? Handsome, isn’t he?” Demeter flicked her eyes upward at the young man, and her gaze landed on his strong jawline. She found herself staring for a little too long and looked away.
“I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!” exclaimed Baubo delightfully. “You want to jump his bones! He get you all wet? Bet he’d be lucky to get a taste of that nectar, eh? Nectar of the gods, that’s what it is!”
Demeter looked over with amused surprise at just how close the old crone was. Baubo, overlooking the surprise, simply saw the smile and ran with it. “Oh, I’d love for him to shake my tree!” Demeter began to giggle, and Baubo flashed a toothy grin. “Speaking of foliage, I think I’ve got the biggest bush in all the land. What do you think?” And with that, Baubo lifted up her skirt (which had nothing underneath), to show off her untamed bush in all its glory.
At this, Demeter let out a hearty laugh, not only at the ridiculousness of this strange woman lifting up her skirt, but also because Baubo had a very valid point, and just might have the biggest bush in all creation.
Demeter’s laughter only encouraged Baubo more, who began to sing and prance around with her skirt still lifted, and her luscious labia flapping freely in the wind. She twirled and danced and dipped, her lady parts jiggling all the while. Once Demeter started laughing, she couldn’t stop. The laughter came over her in waves – big belly laughs that shook her whole body. And the more Demeter laughed, the more ridiculous Baubo danced, until eventually Demeter implored her to stop, gasping for breath.
“Stop? Oh, my dear, I’ve only just begun,” Baubo said coquettishly. And with that, Baubo threw her skirt even higher in the air, and pranced off after the handsome manservant.
The story of Baubo teaches us to truly embrace ourselves, our bodies, and our sexuality. She teaches us to laugh – that nothing is too serious – and that sometimes all one needs is to forgo the underpants and dance.
A toast of mirth and reverence to Baubo – Evviva!