The Full Spirited Four-Fold Goddess: The Maiden, the Mother, The Queen and the Crone by Mama Donna Henes
The Queen paradigm promotes a new understanding of what it might mean to be a middle-aged woman today who accepts complete responsibility for and to her self, and it celebrates the physical, emotional, and spiritual rewards of doing so.
Although I have been passionately devoted to the Many Splendored Goddess in Her complex multiplicity for more than thirty years now, I am not a believer in the Triple Goddess paradigm. It has never resonated with me because it belies what I believe to be the true nature of nature. The Triple Goddess in Her tripartite phases is widely understood to represent the complete cyclical wholeness of life. She who is Three is likened to the moon, the tides and the seasons, whose mutability She mirrors. And therein, lies the rub.
I am sorry, but forty years of researching, teaching, and writing about Celestially Auspicious Occasions — the cycles of the cosmos and the earthly seasons, and the multi-cultural ritual expressions that they inspire — I can state unequivocally that the moon has four quarters, not three, and that there are, as well, four seasons in the year.
While certainly there is still much to learn from the Tripartite Goddess model, the old triple-header construct is no longer all-inclusive. It no longer resonates with an entire generation of women who are in our middle years. We are no longer Maidens, nor Mothers, and not yet wise aged Crones. For us — more than 60 million climacteric women in the United States alone — the tri-level ideal is flawed.
It doesn’t include a description of my life or the lives of other contemporary women in their middle years living in modern developed countries. It does not address our issues and needs, nor does it embrace our unique and unprecedented position in society. It does not even recognize our existence. The old stereotypes simply do not apply to us.
Where is the authentic archetype for us?
Clearly it is time for a change of paradigm. Which is as it should be. Change, is, after all, the greatest teaching of the cyclical Goddess. In the absence of a traditional mythic example to inspire and sustain me through my midlife changes, I felt the need to invent one. So I formulated a fourth stage of development that would place me after the Mother and before the Crone in a newly defined continuum of Womanhood, thus providing me and other women of my generation with a recognizable role model for our mature, masterful and majestic middle years: The Queen.
The mythic model that I envision is recognizably like me, like us. Not yet old, yet no longer young, she is still active and sexy, vital with the enthusiasm and energy of youth, She is tempered with the hard earned experience and leavening attitudes of age. The Queen paradigm promotes a new understanding of what it might mean to be a middle-aged woman today who accepts complete responsibility for and to her self, and it celebrates the physical, emotional, and spiritual rewards of doing so.
Is this hubris? Who am I to challenge so powerful an archetype? Well, I am in fact, a proud member of the pioneering Sixties Generation, and consequently, I have certain modest experience in rebelling against out-lived archetypes. Our generation has long created our own characters, composed our own scripts, and authored the sagas of our own lives. Bereft of affirming depictions of our midlife, we are more than ready, willing, and perfectly capable of creating our own. We are our own role models, which is only fitting for Queens.
Donna Henes, Urban Shaman, has been a contemporary ceremonialist for 40 years. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately known, is the award-winning author of The Queen of My Self, The Moon Watcher’s Companion, Celestially Auspicious Occasions: Seasons, Cycles, and Celebrations, Dressing Our Wounds In Warm Clothes and Moon Watcher’s Companion, as well as the CD, Reverence To Her: Mythology, the Matriarchy, & Me. She is also a columnist for UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum. In addition to teaching and lecturing worldwide, she maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, New York, Mama Donna’s Tea Garden And Healing Haven, where she offers intuitive tarot readings and spiritual counseling, and works with individuals and groups to create personally relevant rituals for all of life’s transitions.