Tips and Hints from Grannie Burton

Model of Ggantija Temple Complex in Gozo

The great Mysteries at Eleusis are one of the most astonishing stories in human history, because they are still mysterious in so many ways.  It seems that over two thousand years of initiation for both men and women, young and old, rich and poor, no-one ever talked about what happened in the Rites.

This is almost impossible to believe, especially in an age of information and blogging. Most of the evidence for what actually occurred comes from archaeological digs and votive offerings.  This in itself is very limited and the central rites are still a complete mystery.  It seems that a person's chance to achieve life after death was dependent on keeping everything that happened a secret, so I suppose that could be a great incentive to keep it to yourself.

We do know that barley cakes were part of the ceremonies and that the actual Mysteries themselves took place at the end of summer, and were, of course, based around the Great Myth of Demeter and Persephone.

Interestingly on Gozo, near Malta, a bird's eye view of the Ggantija temples can clearly be seen to be a large woman and a small woman, and anyone familiar with the Mother/Daughter myth is immediately reminded of Demeter, Persephone and Eleusis.

I like the way you get into each temple through the vagina, suitable indeed for a Mother Goddess.

So, for anyone interested in some autumn mother/daughter falling, healing and rising again rituals, here is a lovely barley cake recipe that is tried and tested!  This makes 50 cookies for a big ceremony so just halve it if necessary.  I took it to a summer gathering and it went down well.  I especially like the raisins as they remind me of the pomegranate seeds in the myth.

Barley and Raisin Cakes


8 oz margarine or butter
3 oz brown sugar
5 oz granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
half tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
5 oz barley flour
11 oz oats
4 handfuls of raisins
5 tbsp water

  • Cream together everything from the ingredient list, down to the eggs.
  • Add the eggs and beat very well.
  • Stir in the raisins, barley, oats and water
  • Grease lots of baking sheets
  • Put a heaped teaspoonful on the sheets about 2 inches apart – they spread!
  • Cook for 10 minutes on 180 degrees Celsius (approx 355 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Leave on the tray to cool and firm then cool on wire tray.  Store in tin until needed.