Introduction This chapter addresses the problem of access to sacred knowledge and how it affects ancient understandings of ancient Greek women’s rituals. 1 I propose to consider the problem from several angles: the diffi culty, already in antiquity, of understanding rituals that may have fallen into disuse or changed over time; the diffi culty of understanding rituals marked as mysteries or bounded by ritual prohibitions; and fi nally strategies for dealing with these diffi culties on the part of the ancient writers on whom we depend for our scant knowledge of obscure practices. I will focus on Plutarch and Pausanias, two authors whose relationship to the customs they discuss is made both interesting and problematic by ritual prohibitions and the passage of time (see Preston 2001, 109-10 on Plutarch’s problematic relation to the present), thus putting them in a less dire version of the same predicament in which we modern scholars of ancient religion fi nd ourselves. The example of these two authors shows that, in stark contrast to others about whom I have written elsewhere (Lyons 2007), ritually enforced male ignorance does not necessarily lead to suspicion and contempt but may at times serve to enhance the prestige of the rituals and to foster recognition of and respect for women’s ritual.