Lavatio (27 March) is the last of a series of celebrations held in Roman times related to Cybele and Attis, representing a cycle of death and rebirth.
A long and magnificent procession took
place along the Appian Way, during which the Phrygian priests and priestesses carried her image in procession through the city, begging
alms in her name...striking their timbrels, while their followers play tunes upon their flutes in honour of the Mother of the Gods.
Then the idol would be dipped into the Almo river, rubbed with ash and then washed, and showered with flowers. Other religious artefacts were also washed. The Goddess was asked if she would return to Rome, and then taken back the way She came (so we assume the answer was YES).
There's a mix of symbols and allegories here, and reasons for the ritual. Firstly, it exposed the image of Cybele to public adoration. Secondly, it allowed for a form of "spring cleaning" representing a final part of the cycle of renewal. Also, the asking of, and return of the idol echoes the story of how Cybele came to Rome - a delegation was sent Pergamun to invite the Goddess to Rome, after which the statue and black meteorite that represented Her was transported across the Mediterranean to Rome. So what's it all about?
In the previous days of the the cycle, we have initiated a period of reflection and contemplation (Canna Intrat); we have grieved and mourned what we discarded and left behind (Arbor intrat); we have sacrificed what is necessary obtain our goals, and committed to them (Dies Sanguinis); we have reached or changed our goals, and in the process changed ourselves (Hilaria); and we have rested from all of that (Requietio).
But within all of this, live goes on - life is a cycle of cycles.
Before enlightenment, we chop wood and carry water. And after enlightenment we still chop wood and carry water (though indeed we may well appreciate these more). The small things we do that sustain life are as important as our larger goals and dreams. So, we might well perceive the meaning of the universe, achieve that dream or reach that lofty goal, but we still need to put out the garbage, still polish up the silver and spring clean our homes.