Cancan Girls: Baubo and Demeter

Terra Cotta
18” H x 13” W x 5" D

About the Piece

Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes with saucy eloquence about Demeter and Baubo in Women Who Run With the Wolves (p. 362-374). I encourage all of you to read her chapter in its entirety because her words convey the full breadth of the Baubo archetype. I will tease you with a short passage:

“There is an aspect of women’s sexuality that in ancient times was called the sacred obscene, not in the way we use the word obscene today, but meaning sexually wise in a witty sort of way. There were once Goddess cults that were in some part devoted to irreverent female sexuality. The rites were not derogatory, but were concerned with portraying parts of the unconscious that remain, yet today, mysterious and largely uncharted. The very idea of sexuality as sacred, and more specifically, obscenity as an aspect of sacred sexuality, is vital to the wildish nature. There were Goddesses of obscenity in the ancient woman’s cultures—so-called for their innocent yet wily lewdness…the importance of these old Goddesses of obscenity was demonstrated by their ability to loosen what was too tight, to lift gloom, to bring the body into a kind o humor that belongs not to the intellect but to the body itself…The mischief and humor of the obscene Goddesses can cause a vital form of medicine to spread throughout the endocrine and neurological systems of the body.”

Instead of narrating Baubo and Demeter, in a traditional way, I have expressed their mood and the emotions they stir up in me when I hear their story. Traditionally, Boubo is rendered with out a head, and her face superimposed upon her torso, giving voice to the body and circumnavigating the intellect. In Greek mythology Baubo is the trickster who shakes Demeter from her deep mourning with sacred obscene jokes. In addition to a high kicking boisterous dance, the title cancan refers to a woman’s ability: Yes, We Can!

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