Goddesses in the Dirt: Baubo - Goddess of Belly Laughs.....and Starbucks?

Unearthing the Divine Feminine, one archetype at a time....

Goddesses in the Dirt - Issue #23: Baubo - Goddess of Belly Laughs.....and Starbucks?

Have you ever laughed so hard it seemed to come from the very bottom of your being? Then meet Baubo, who figures largely in the myth of Persephone. When Persephone's mother Demeter was mourning the loss of her precious daughter to the king of the Underworld, she wandered the world letting all vegetation die until her daughter would be returned to her. When she arrived at the site of Eleusis she was the guest of King Celeus whose daughter - Iambe - tried to cheer her up. Together with an old woman named Baubo they sang obscene songs in Iambic meter and told lewd jokes. At the pivotal moment in the joke-telling Baubo lifted her skirts and exposed her belly and vulva at which point the goddess laughed, relieving the tension of her loss momentarily. In this act Baubo is seen as cunctipotent, an ancient word describing the demonstration of female generative power. Baubo's significance in the myth is to encourage Demeter to return to her own center of being and remind her who she is.

Old women in the myth cycle of Persephone personify the crone goddess of the triad with Persephone as maiden and Demeter as mother, illustrating the significant points in the life cycle of women. As the archetypal goddess of life, death and fertility, Baubo's irreverent joy and liberated manner towards sexuality reminds us to appreciate sex, love and laughter.

Sirens are mythological sea creatures who lured sailors off course with their enchanting songs only to wreck their ships on rocky coasts - the most of them famous being those in Homer's Odyssey. Below is a baubo siren, which is a cross between a mermaid and a sheila-na-gig. 

Sheila-na-gigs are carvings of women with exposed genitalia, found on churches throughout Ireland, parts of Great Britain, France and other countries throughout Europe, but many are focused around the English Welsh border. Multiple theories exist as to why they appear on religious structures - some believe they were leftover fertility symbols from preexisting pagan cultures, others believe they were an early Christian way of demonizing the lustful female. This is an example of a carving 

from Kilpeck Church, a 12th century structure in Oxfordshire, England. 

However you perceive them, these fascinating symbols persist to modern day. Many may not realize the logo on their morning cup of joe has roots in what some consider an obscene image. Since Starbucks chose the split-tailed siren as its logo, the company has changed it twice because some customers found it too lurid. A more schematic image was developed, hiding the siren's breasts under its hair, and ultimately cropping it so the suggestive split tail would no longer be visible.

So the next time you make a stop at Starbucks, make a toast to the Siren on your cup..... and have a good old belly laugh in honor of Baubo.

Photos courtesy of Google images


  1. How interesting. I had never heard of Baubo although I've read the myth of Persephone many times.

  2. You know, I've never even noticed that on the Starbuck's logo!

  3. Fascinating... I'm guessing you may already know about a site in Nevada from which there are some photos on this page :


    There is an essay about it in Tom Robbins' book "Wild Ducks Flying Backwards"

    I hadn't realized either about the Starbucks logo... amazing.

  4. This is new to me, and fun to read too!

  5. how incredibly interesting. thank you for teaching !

    please have a good tuesday.

  6. I have read a bit about the controversy surrounding the Starbuck's symbol before. However, never in such detail. Great post.

  7. Amazing! now I have to go and look up the old logo

  8. I did not know that part of the myth! Interesting!

  9. Wonderful post..and wow..such Gorgeous photos..I especially love the church door..super- magnificent!
    Wishing you a sparkling week ahead!

  10. From antiquity to Starbucks – I love this post! You are making me crave pomegranates and a tall decaf. Let’s drink to women and to fertility.

  11. loree - baubo is a minor player in the story just like hecate, but both refer to the wise women end of things in the maiden/mother/crone myth cycle.

    julie - take a look next time you grab a cup of coffee!

    owen - i don't know about the site you mention or the tom robbins book but will head over to take a look!

  12. suze - i don't go to starbucks often (too expensive) but we have a cup at home with the logo on it.

    rosaria - glad you enjoyed it ;-)

    robert - i'm trying to remember - has starbucks invaded greece yet?

  13. farmchick - glad you enjoyed - this kind of stuff fascinates me too.

    mim - i think the logo has gone through at least 3 different makeovers...

    ola - if you are interested in learning more about the persephone myth cycle the best source is the hymn of demeter by homer - great reading! ;-)

  14. victoria - thanks so much - the fotos, however, are not mine...but i would love to visit that church some day - the idea of these images in such buildings is beyond fascinating to me..

    sarah - here here - i'll drink to that for sure!

  15. Crikey, I learn something new every time I visit your blog!

  16. Dear Amanda, what an entertaining post about a very appealing goddess.;) Never ever noticed the siren on the Starbucks logo! This was truly amusing.;)
    Thank you as always for your very kind comments and visits - I have finally finished moving.;))

  17. utterly fascinating again. cunctipotent - really? are we allowed to say that? just shows how goddess power has been maligned and misused over the centuries;
    and the sheila-na-gigs - ha! church symbolism is so intruiging. I heard tht Dugongs were the original sirens that lured sailors onto reefs in the tropics; but i dont think they can sing - it must be just because they have forward mamaries otherwise not a very flattering suggestion hehe;

  18. She is wonderful indeed!
    do you know the super imprint of Persephone books.
    They dig up old forgotten women writers.

  19. Belonging to the Old Crone Faculty myself (well, one day), I am very fond of the belly laughing part! Your stories are always so well told, Amanda, and so true (why should female sexuality be hidden?) that I love coming here. Thank you also for your kind comments! You are such an inspiration.

  20. This was a great piece of research Sister! I've always wondered about the choice of the Starbucks logo. It never made sense, still doesn't I guess. The split siren is new to me. How fascinating.

  21. We don't have Starbucks in South Africa ---yet, but I have been following the logo changes via the internet reports.
    Fascinating - I love those belly laughs - they just don't happen often enough in the world

  22. dd - i guess goddesses in the dirt is where i channel my inner teacher ;-)

    zuzana - thank you dear ~ and so happy to hear you are finally settled!

  23. val - i have never heard of the dugongs so now i must go look them up......but forward mammaries?! now that is one way to lure sailors off course! ;-)

    yea - isn't cunctipotent a marvelous sounding word?

    elizabeth - i have heard of the persephone imprint - and yes, digging up old writers - quite a funny metaphor! i also understand their covers are very distinctive in design...

  24. geli - thank you so much♡

    but you — a crone??? hardly.....although perhaps the day when we reach this stage we can all embrace it as a state of mind and ultimately, redefine it?!

    sister - the founder of starbucks is a very creative person and the story of the business is fascinating - i once saw a documentary of his life - and i believe it mentions the distinctive company symbol

    janet - no starbucks in south africa? but i bet dunkin donuts has made it there, eh? ;-)

    yes, the world could use lots more belly laugh....


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