I was looking for something else when I came upon Baubo’s story again.
Baubo’s an ancient goddess, but mostly known as the old woman, in the Greek myth, who helped bring Demeter out of her depression when her daughter Persephone was lost in the underworld. Baubo did this with her bawdy sense of humor. She lifted her skirt up and showed her vulva to Demeter and the other women in the room. Demeter laughed so hard she started to come out of her depression.
Jean Shinoda Bolen writes about Baubo in her book Goddess in Older Women. She says sharing laughter with other women our age, about our vulnerabilities, is healing. It’s the kind of humor that’s always compassionate and wise, never cruel or at someone else’s expense.
I have to admit, I often find myself cackling like a witch when I’m with other women. It’s not a regular laugh. It feels old, like I’m pulling it up from a muddy well deep inside me. It’s suggestive and knowing.
I was never one to talk about sex when I was younger, but the older I get, and the more comfortable I become with my own body, the more I’m willing to talk and laugh about sex. I think being loved by Jon and having and enjoying good sex, after years of not having it, has opened me up too.
The more I read about Baubo, the more I wanted to be like her.
Shinoda Bolen says Baubo doesn’t let her aging body stop her from being herself. “She is a sensual sexy woman who laughs and dances. Good humor and experience become enhancements to earthly sex.”
Then she writes “it would be in the tradition of Baubo to take up Belly dancing after fifty.”
In my last bellydancing class Julz was showing us one of the dance moves (I wish I could remember which is was) then she said, “Okay, now do it dirty”. I let out a cackle worthy of Baubo. When I noticed I was the only one laughing that loud, I thought about feeling self-conscious, but then I noticed I didn’t really care. Part of it was that I was in the company of other women like myself and part of it was that cackling just felt so good.
Maybe it’s happening. Maybe I am getting to be more like Baubo all the time.