Savage, C: Lay your burden down: Baubo jests to ease Demeter's despair


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By studying the mythic character of Baubo and her relationship with Demeter, contemporary women may find the freedom to travel into new psychic terrain, plumb the depths of the soul and embrace their own changing bodies and generative energies. C.G. Jung said “The process of coming to terms with the unconscious is a true labour, a work which involves both action and suffering.”

This presentation looks at three ways in which the relationship between the ailing Demeter and the old lady Baubo work together to facilitate a deeper relationship with the unconscious: 1) through the archetypal realm of their mythical characterizations; 2) through the power of female sexual energy in its fierce expression of life, and 3) through the divine pleasure of full-belly laughter, grounded in the libidinal flow of eros and the regenerative power of the earth.

Demeter’s grief is profound, and Baubo meets her where she is, not through words of condolement, but through aischrologia and anasyrma, Latin words for ribald humor and for lifting the skirt to display the vulva––acts which are at once fierce and comedic. Baubo resembles the dual nature of the Sheela na gig, ancient Celtic goddess figures who embodied frightening, powerful, highly sexed images, and womanly loveliness.

According to archeomythologist Marija Gimbutas, Baubo is the goddess who displays her vulva in a ritual that dates back to the Neolithic, “The earliest representations of the female divinity were vulvas.” Personification of the vulva was not pornographic, but rather meant to awaken desire and a celebration and affirmation of the spirit of procreation, regeneration and connection with the forces of the unconscious. Baubo offers herself in the service of life so that Demeter may feel her own heart, lay her burden down for just that moment, and make way for the mystery of life to shine through.

Presenter Bio:

Claire Tiampo Savage, MA, is a doctoral student in Jungian and Archetypal Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She has a master’s degree in educational psychology, is a credentialed teacher and has taught regular and special education in Milwaukee and the San Francisco Bay Area. Claire will have an article published in Psychological Perspectives issue 62(2).

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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