My mother, her sisters, my grandmother and her sisters were and are pagan priestesses, but they’re not entirely aware of their role in life.
Specifically, they’re priestesses of Baubo — a crone Goddess dealing with life, death, fertility, and most importantly, female obscenity of the most joyful sort.
From early childhood, I knew the invocation of Baubo, though I did not know the significance of what I heard as I snuck around the corner to eavesdrop on the ritual.
A proper ceremony honoring the little Goddess involves chocolate and cookies and cake and snacks of the salty sort and wine and coffee and tea and sodas and candy. These goodies must be hand made and passed around and exclaimed over.
First, you would hear the high priestess’s voice, normally deep and roughened from years of smoking unfiltered cigarettes rise in pitch as she cried, “oooOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH MY GAWWWWWD!” as she bent forward slapping her hands on her thighs. The other priestesses would answer in a cackling laugh and the ritual would begin. Any men, upon hearing the Call to Baubo, would flee to the garage, or a workshop or to discuss a new car.
A Baubo ritual would always involve a discussion of men and children — always in the most humorous way possible. It was the responsibility of every priestess to make the others laugh, right down from the belly, until the tears flowed and the sides ached. Obscenity was important, as this was a fertility ritual at its core.
When a daughter of the family reached menarche, she was admitted as an acolyte priestess. It was her responsibility to fetch drinks, sample ALL the snacks and pronounce judgment over which were the best. It was also important that she learn to blush deeply as the ritual grew louder, the cackles rose higher and the humor more shocking. (For all priestesses of Baubo in my family pretended not to HAVE a sexuality until this time. Otherwise, it would spoil the initiation of the new acolytes).
In the cult of Baubo where I was initiated, priestesshood was given when one married and was allowed to join in the obscenity. But, there was one more step in this initiation. One more honor to bestow.
To be a full priestess, one had to have a child. Then, and only then, could one truly make the Call to Baubo and invoke the sacred ceremony.
For many years, we used to have a gathering, called “Sister’s Day”. We would meet once a month to invoke the Goddess, and drink our wine, eat our chocolate and lambaste our men.
I wonder if any of them ever realized that Sister’s Day was a Goddess invocation and how sacred it really was.