The Maiden, Mother and Crone Within the Mundane
Author: Dharma Chai
There was once a time in your life that everything was filled with wonder and hope. Everything was brand new, colorful and the world immense and full of beauty. We were young and innocent. Life was the priceless pearl we discovered by opening the shell. There were Fairy Tales with happy endings where everyone lived happily ever after, and we believed in this possibility. Dandelions were just as lovely as roses and we gathered them as offerings of love to our mothers. We were imaginative; our creative spark took us anywhere we wished to be. Strangers were exciting and mysterious, but were not to be feared. Instead they were heroes with make believe talents and abilities. Clouds became a never-ending parade of circus animals. Unicorns danced in our dreams. We were open to possibilities. We could be anything we wanted to be. We knew without a doubt that some day we would meet our prince charming. We would live happily ever after.
Over time, we were taught to be strong and capable. We were taught that dreams were okay, but we needed to keep our feet on the ground. Our heads were filled with ideals that weren’t our own. We learned to be afraid. The world wasn’t what we imagined, but a place where danger lurked at each corner.
Childlike and innocent is the Maiden. Her hopes and dreams are as certain as truth. Loving and gentle, her world is very fragile as her trust rules over fears. She dreams of a loving relationship that will outshine any tale. Yet she blushes easily when admired. She has not experienced the ways of the world. She is the eternal optimist. Her spirit cannot be crushed and hope reigns eternal. The world is enchanting and magickal. She resides within each of us as the innocent one. She dances with us in a field of wildflowers and tumbles to ground next to us in ecstasy. She whispers her secret desires to the winds and they tickle our ears as the find their place in our heart. We are the oysters and she is the pearl contained within. She is the beauty emanating from within our being for the world to see. She is pure, untouched by the harsh reality of the mundane world.
I can see her as if standing before me, her long hair flowing about her as she dances with the Fae in a circle beneath the crescent moon. Her graceful, lithe body moves gently in the rhythm of lunar energies. Her spirit glows, the radiant light emanating from her heart. Her long flowing gown cannot hide the young woman’s frame beneath. Her laughter is like chimes in my ears. Her smile lights the universe.
Growing in strength and brightness each night, the Maiden, known as Diana and Artemis in the Mediterranean area, is usually depicted carrying a bow and quiver. She is the first aspect of the triple Goddess. Sometimes called the virgin or huntress, she represents the spring of the year, the dawn, fresh beginnings of all life, the repeating cycle of birth and rebirth, the waxing moon and the crescent moon, enchantment and seduction. She shows the way through the inner labyrinth to the divine center where the greatest of spiritual mysteries lie. She is matter and energy held in suspension until the right time arrives. She is a shape shifting Goddess who drives a chariot pulled by silver stags. She helps women who are threatened or harassed by men.
She rules over animals, singing, enchantment, psychic power, fertility, purification, magic, sports, mental healing, dance, forests, and healing. She carries the seeds of all potential: anything is possible and all possibilities are within her. She does not limit herself by the needs or beliefs of others. She is in love with the mystery of life. The Maiden represents expansion, the female principle, and promise of new beginnings, youth, and excitement. The Maiden is associated with the colors white, light pink and light yellow. She symbolizes youth and anticipation of life. Associated with purity and nature, She is usually seen in the company of animals. In the aspect of the Maiden we see the world with child-like wonder, and also huntress and warrior, as Athena and Artemis are known to be.
There is nothing like being pregnant. When I was pregnant with my daughter I was happier than I had ever been in my life. Knowing that a life was growing inside me was amazing. I felt more alive than ever before. I could not wait to hold this little miracle of love.
Okay, there are times where you are so sick you want to die. When the baby decides to try to use your rib cage to score a touchdown it doesn’t feel great. You have weird cravings for food.
You are swollen and can’t see your toes and feel like a blimp that swallowed a blimp.
When a child is born, we always want to count fingers and toes and to know once and for all, girl or boy. We have such great expectations for this tiny bundle of joy. Perhaps he will be president. Perhaps she will be a ballerina. We cannot wait to dress them, to show them off and to take pictures of everything from their first diaper change to the first smile.
Fear sets in once you get home. You call the doctor often. Is this the best formula? Are these the best diapers? She/He spit up, is she sick? Do I need to bring the baby to the hospital! The baby gets colicky and cries all the time. You can’t sleep because you worry excessively. You can’t sleep because the baby is crying. Is she hungry or sick? You have to go check and make sure she is breathing! Our maternal, protective instinct has kicked into high gear.
Now, imagine for a moment, we may have a few children; some families have 13 or more, think how many the Goddess has! We are all children of the Goddess, no matter our age. Our child learns to speak and says Mama so many times we want to pull our heads off! Imagine all of the voices and prayers going out at any given time to our Mother, the Goddess.
Our Goddess Mother has our best interest at heart. She wants for us to be happy and healthy. She never turns away because she is tired and wants some peace and quit. She loves us unconditionally. She understands our hopes and desires and dreams. She lives within our hearts. You can lean on her when you need strength and patience with your little one. You can place your child and yourself within the love and light of the Great Mother and trust that she will always be there for you.
The second Goddess aspect is the Mother, the archetype involved in active creation. She represents the summer, blazing noon, reproduction and fertility, the ripeness of life, the Full Moon, and the high point in all cycles. Her traditional color is red, the color of blood and of life itself. She is the great teacher of the Mysteries. The Romans named her Ceres and the Greeks named her Demeter. A virgin of the oldest sense, independent and unmarried, this Goddess gives birth to a son. Called the Grain Mother, the Eternal Mother, and the Sorrowing Mother, she is the mother of Persephone, who wed the lord of the Underworld. Her power extends over protection of women, crops, initiation, renewal, fertility, civilization, law, motherhood, marriage, and higher magic.
The mother devotes herself to “other”: people and things outside of herself. Though the archetype of the mother often makes one think of a woman giving birth to or devoting herself to her children and family, here we are speaking of all of the possibilities of creation. She is a selfless soul whose devotion and love are unconditional. It is here that responsibility and commitment is established.
Some of the symbols of the goddess in the Mother aspect include the serpent, the poppy, and the symbol of Underworld Goddesses, the torch. The Mother also represents fulfillment, stability, and power. The color associated with the Mother is red, the color of blood and the life force, and green, a fertile color. In ancient societies, the pregnant Mother was a metaphor for the fertile fields that sustained the people of the land. The menstrual blood of the Mother has been associated with magick and ritual since Paleolithic times and was thought to have power for healing and fertility.
The Mother is a pillar of grace under pressure. She is capable, strong, and loving. She smiles as the young child plays, joy flooding her heart as her offspring giggles in delight at some new discovery. She keeps the fear and panic hidden when we are sick, be it in body or in spirit. She continually prays for us. She wipes the tears from our eyes, chases us down to give us medicine, and helps to build a pretend fort with blankets. She watches you while you are sleeping and love fills her heart. She is like a tree in that she is able to bend, but is has a strong foundation supporting her.
Climb into the Mothers arms and be nurtured. Within her embrace we are ever safe and loved. Share your dreams with her. She will do all things possible to help you to achieve them and more.
We have all seen the little old woman, her hair thin and sparse, her skin aged with wrinkles, her smile crooked as her false teeth lay in a glass to the side. Many associate this image with the Crone. Her hands tremble as she brings food to her mouth. She looks like a baby with food dripping down her chin. Time isn’t always kind to us in that our bodies betray us. But if you were to take some time with this woman, you would find a font of wisdom, a history of love, of sorrow, of experience.
Her spirit still shines. Her face is soft and compassion flows from her heart. Though she appears weak, her essence is strong and sure. She understands your dreams and desires. She has shared them and she has experienced them. She knows what is important in life. She no longer rushes about headstrong seeking. She delights in the memories of all she has seen and known. Some think she has endured. The truth is, she has lived. That is what is important, the living and loving.
Pain causes a momentary tremor in her voice. She will tell you truths. Will you be willing to listen, to hear her words? Can you sit and hold her hand and experience the journey she is willing to share with you? Can you look at her with respect? Can you look beyond the fears of your body aging?
I see my grandmother, gentle and soft spoken, holding me close in her lap. Beside her lays some yarn and knitting needles. She always has time for me and my questions. She receives great joy in watching the young ones at play and reminiscing about her life as the children begin their lives. There is depth to her heart and eyes that show the years of learning the importance of compassion. There is understanding well beyond that of the dreamer’s hopes.
She moves a little slower now and can no longer bare children. In this day and time, people tend to cast the elderly aside. This is heartbreaking. There is so much love and wisdom they have to share. It may be a time of rest, but it isn’t a time to be tossed away. They should not have to live through memories, as they are still able to give so much to this world!
Most cultures cherished their grandmothers and counted them as wise ones once upon a time. They had seen things and done things to survive in new worlds. Once upon a time they were maidens. Once upon a time they were mothers. They know the mysteries of womanhood.
As I entered into the stage of the Crone, I realized that all I have seen and done helped me to become whom I am today. I am a little slower, but I have more patience, more love, and more compassion. I know there are times to sit quietly and say nothing. I know there are times I should offer my wisdom. What others think of me isn’t important, as I know self-love. I know how precious life and time are. I have found that worry does not save me from sorrow or pain. I have found that life isn’t about satisfying the ego. Life is about acknowledging the blessings we have received from joy and from pain, from fear and from faith. I realize that I cannot change the past but that what I have learned from it provides comfort. She is a fount of wisdom, untapped by a modern world. Not because she isn’t willing to share her wisdom, but because we are so self-involved. I cry for the Crone because so many have forgotten her value.
The Crone, also called the Dark Mother, the Old Wise One, or the hag, represents winter, the night, the universal abyss where life rests before rebirth, the gateway to death, reincarnation, the waning moon and the New Moon, and the deepest of Mysteries and prophecies. She is the third aspect of the Triple Goddess. Her traditional color is black and sometimes the deepest of purples or dark blue. She is the initiator into the Mysteries. This aspect symbolizes death and dissolution. Everything in the universe has a life cycle, at the end of which they malfunction, decay, and transform into a different set of materials, elements that are recycled and reformed into something new. The souls of humans are recycled by the Crone and her cauldron, into a new incarnation.
The embodiment of the Crone, Hecate, Queen of the world of spirits, Patron of Priestesses, and the Goddess of Witchcraft, has keys and cauldrons as her symbols. She has power over enchantments, averting evil, dark magic, riches, wisdom, transformation, purification, limits, incantations, and renewal. She is not detached from the world; just not involved in the ways she was before. She can be completely honest because she has nothing to lose. She holds the wisdom, teaches and shares stories with those who will listen.
The crone was once revered as an old woman embodying wisdom and for her knowledge of the truth of cyclic existence. Crones cared for the dying and were spiritual midwives at the end of life, the link in the cycle of death and rebirth. They were known as healers, teachers, way-showers, and bearers of sacred power. They knew the mysteries, were mediators between the world of spirit and the world of form. In pre-patriarchal societies, women’s wisdom held healing power. The crone wisdom was the most potent of all. For nearly thirty thousand years, old women were strong, powerful sources of wisdom. Crones were respected and honored in their communities.
Our appearance may show a lot about our lives. Weathered hands showing our hard work. Our skin weathered like tanned hides show we spent a lot of time outdoors. These outward appearances don’t begin to show the person beneath the surface. They don’t show the entire journey. Look beyond the obvious and you will discover the treasures of life, the joy, the sorrow, all blessings, to the Crone. Don’t sorrow for her because her time draws nigh upon this plane. Rejoice with her. Embrace what will come, accept what has been, and dare to experience all.
From my manuscript – From My Pagan Heart by Lady Kiya