Updated: Jan 16, 2021
The Essence of the Triple Goddess, Society and Ageing for Femmes.
I am 38 and the journey to 40 has been eventful. The most interesting age for me was 26; I remember my 26th birthday and for the first time ever in my life I cared about my age. This birthday was symbolic to me, I think, because it was the first time I felt like I was getting old. A lot of that can be squarely be laid at the feet of society and the representation women get. By 26 in films and TV you are supposed to be on your way, if not already in your dream job and relationship. You should also be at least planning to have children for your 30th so you are the perfect distance between not too old and not too young when you are a mother.
I had children, but I had them too young and I was doing a degree part time at the Open University but I was too old for that and ultimately realised I was 26 and that meant I was no longer in my mid-twenties. It was a hop, skip and a jump until 30 and then? Well 40 was next and that was half my life over and I may as well be dead. I think if someone had come to me and said "Embrace your waxing maidenhood!" it might have all felt a little less daunting.
The triple goddess is, in essence, the idea that women have 3 distinct parts to their life and all of these parts are filled with beauty: the maiden, the mother and the crone. These 3 aspects have often been given deities to associate with. Some of my favourites are Hecate and the Morrigan, who both represent the crone.
The Maiden is for self-confidence, for moving forward in life, for planning and new beginnings and for planting the seeds. It is for education both about the world and about yourself. It is about testing your wings and being independent. Being a maiden is the spring of your life knowing the excitement of summer is coming.
The Mother is for the fullness of creation for the ripening of your life, for giving birth to your own abundance. It is for nurturing the seeds you planted in maidenhood, for embracing the changes in your life and loving the full bloom of what is the summer of your life.
TheCrone brings in the winter of our lives. We move in our wisdom both learnt and lived, we carry the weight of our lives lived and it shows on our bodies. The crone is the culmination of work on self; the crone is powerful in their understanding and, much like in winter, everything is beautiful even as it withers and because when we know that nothing lasts forever, it is all the more beautiful.
Those are quite distinctive and what is missing there is the in-betweens. I became a mother very young and that forced me to take on mother qualities ahead of my time. I did not suffer perhaps some of the issues people can as they start to get older because I was used to pretty big body changes in my maidenhood. My 20s, even with children, was when I travelled, studied, started businesses and generally revelled in the opportunities that life seemed to give away freely at that age. I didn’t realise that it stopped…
So 26 was my first inkling that things were changing for me. My maidenhood was waning and my mother was waxing. I could sense these changes and instead of being excited for them I was fearful. These changes mean that I am entering the phase of life were woman are seen as less and less wanted - if they are it is because of the things they can offer like nurturing. They are no longer seen as fun and vibrant individuals; they are either seen as useful tools or, if they are not fulfilling their seen obligations as being useful, they are considered outside of society and wrong. I felt like my enjoyment of my mother phase has, and continues to be, hampered by society telling me all the things I am not because I am not considered to be in a woman’s golden age of 20-25. In actual fact my experiences in my teens and 20s are paying off hugely in my life. All those fantastical business Ideas and goals have coalesced into something that suits my skills. The work I have been doing on myself - which never stops but in my motherhood phase has helped me feel a sureness about myself and my needs - making it much easier to not accept less than I need.
I am rounding on 40 and it does actually feel pretty fabulous. Here is the rub: at each of these junctures you go through these in-between years not fully one and not yet the next. My crone years are coming, I can feel them in my bones and I can see them in my body. Part of me is excited; I want to be that insightful, wise woman that literally gives no shits what society expects of her. I want to try to give my wisdom to those in their maiden and mother years even though it is pointless because people only realise that the crone is right when they enter their crone years. I want to fully appreciate that caring for others does not heal yourself and live by it. I want the freedom of not being considered suitable for the male gaze any longer and enjoy whatever that means, because right now I can’t quite fathom it. I am still stuck in my motherhood and the crone brings fears - fears of death, of losing the power that comes with being seen as suitable for the male gaze, becoming an irrelevance in our society and cast aside. A new grey hair is currently cause for excitement because ever since I was young I wanted a Cruella de Vil or Rogue from X-Men grey streak in my hair. I have never dyed my hair and even though I adore my colour it was never permanent and only loaned to me. My plan is to not dye my hair at all, go totally grey and then maybe, at 70, dye it a mad colour. How wonderful and enlightened of me right, right?
Not cause for celebration yet is the changes in my body. I am used to my body being different after children, and weight gain and loss but this is different. I know these changes are inevitable and that they won’t go back. Right now the two main things are my breasts and my forehead. I have had 4 children so my breasts being bigger and smaller and sagging is not new but… something has happened in the last year that I know is purely age related and, like with my furrowed line in-between my eyebrows that now is there even when I am not making that expression, I am struggling to break the narrative I have been fed about my body. I am wanting to go out and get botox and a breast lift so I can hold on to my youth and keep the crone at bay. These idle thoughts from my 20s now hold firm and as much as I want to worship the crone and what she represents I am clinging to my summer life. I fear what the crone means for me and I know the only way to not hold on to my fear is to embrace the coming of the crone. I need to break the narrative in my head that old is bad, that femme ageing is ugly and that women are not allowed to like themselves, ever. I do not want to look in the mirror and see every new line as a failure. I do not want to feel like I have somehow failed in my duty as a woman to fight the signs of ageing. I want to welcome these changes like old friends I have been waiting a long time to see.
The irony in all of this is that I love autumn and, ultimately, that is the time in my life that is coming. The heady days of summer are coming to an end and I am heading in to autumn with a bit of a tan that looks out of place and searching for the perfect boots for winter. I have always adored autumn, watching the dance of death and rebirth. I love the beauty as the leaves change and drop. I love the smell, that carries the bite of winter in the air and that somehow feels like a promise. I love the comfort as the dark draws in and makes you seek out the warm soft places that felt like my grandmother's skin: crinkled and soft and glowed with life.
Winter is so beautiful and, with the right pair of boots, it can feel so comforting and safe. So I have decided that preparation is key to enjoying the winter of my life and embracing the crone. I am spending my last days of summer and my autumn preparing for my crone years. I want to love and respect the crone in others right now, which means changing my ideas about ageing and about what old people mean in our society. I want to be able to see them in myself. I want to keep breaking down what society says about ageing and the feminine and I am going to look at each change as my physical destiny and do everything I can to enjoy arguably the most powerful time in a woman’s life. I want my crone years to be bathed in the light of embers in a fire, casting long shadows over the world complete in the knowledge of my power.