In my system, the feminine archetypes are the Queen, Mother, Wisewoman and Beloved. These images of our basic instincts serve our “feminine” drive for species-preservation and relationship. The ways we see and use their energies are transformed over time as our egos mature through three “feminine” phases: the innocent Maiden, the life-giving Mother, and the wise Crone.
In the first phase we unconsciously serve the drive to preserve our species; in the second the cycles of life force us us to become more aware of our individual needs; in the third, honoring our inner, spiritual selves becomes as important as meeting the needs of others.
Our Queen is a culture mother and the feminine sovereign of the psyche. Like the goddess Hera, a Queen in the Maiden phase automatically honors her duty to society without reflection. Her growth is usually instigated by some sort of crisis —rape or love, parenthood, illness, divorce, or loss of a loved one—which destroys the Maiden’s virgin innocence and instigates the Mother’s suffering. If she develops a conscience and learns moral responsibility she becomes a caring Crone/Queen of personal sovereignty, moral virtue, and social leadership.
The Mother archetype represents our instinct for physically serving the birth/death/rebirth life cycle. In our unreflective Maiden phase our Mother is, like the warrior goddess Artemis and Mother Nature herself, as capable of destroying life as mothering it. In our Mother phase our Mother archetype struggles to understand and serve the needs of individuals as much as the activity of the impersonal Great Mother who gives and takes all life. As our egos mature, the Crone Mother helps us value the life in our bodies and souls as much as life outside ourselves.
The Wisewoman is diffusely aware of, and deeply sensitive to, the maternal depths of the unconscious. In our unreflective phase she is like Greece’s Persephone, Stephen King’s Carrie, and Walt Disnery’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Because we lack the experience and logical thought to handle the vast unknown, our Maiden can get us into trouble with archetypal powers we don’t understand and can’t control. Our transformation into the Mother phase begins when our mistakes force us to distinguish between objective facts and subjective symbols in the inner and outer worlds. Our Crone Wisewoman integrates logos with mythos to see the big picture, understand how the parts connect, and create personal meaning.
The Beloved is the magnetic principle in relationships. Our Maiden Beloved is like Aphrodite: an innocent, unconscious seductress driven to attract sexual, emotional, and spiritual fulfillment by attracting and pleasing others. Our Mother phase begins when we suffer the conflict between wanting to please our lovers and wanting to discard them when they no longer please us. Our Crone Beloved is like a hospitable, emotionally authentic hostess who lives in beauty, inspires others, and gives what we could only hint at in our youthful phase: full sensory and emotional intimacy with fully respected and loved otherness.
Whereas shadow masculinity destroys otherness, shadow femininity is self-destructive. A compulsive Queen can burn us out if we give too much of ourselves. Our Mother can sabotage our relationships by being too receptive/or smothering. An obsessive Wisewoman can cause us to be depressed and overwhelmed by the unconscious. And if our egos obsess over the outer appearance of beauty, our Beloved can compel us to sacrifice the true beauty of our souls. But as we accept our feminine sides and partner them with our masculine sides, their union can give birth to a Spirit Warrior of perfected selfhood and completed relationships.
What does your attitude toward the feminine archetypes say about your ego’s maturity? How are your relationships and service to our species evolving in ways that benefit all?
Ego and God-Image: Part VI
[T]he most important relationship of childhood, the relation to the mother, will be compensated by the mother archetype as soon as detachment from the childhood
Hmm, much to reflect upon here, as always. I struggle with my feminine aspects greatly.
So do I, Viv. I grew up believing the attributes of the masculine archetypes were generally more desirable than the feminine ones, as do many, if not most young people. I now believe this is a natural progression in the evolution of the human ego and its growth into full conscousness: i.e. we start out immersed in the feminine matrix; then we struggle to become more conscious and individuated by siding with masculine values and fearing that we’ll lose everything we’ve gained if we “fall back” into the feminine unconsious; then finally, if we keep growing, we realize we’re still incomplete so we struggle to bring our disowned feminine sides into consciousness and integrate them with our more well-developed masculine sides. This is a major theme of my new book! Jeanie
Kali Ma (mother) has been a strong presence in my life…as is clear viewing my nom de plume! I did a short post on that once…she’s guided me for a long long time!
Nice post, thanks.
Yes, I believe I read your post on Kali Ma, the Great Mother who gives and takes away, a few years ago. I find it beautiful and wise that some Hindus devote themselves to honoring her destructive aspect in the knowledge that death is as holy as birth — both being part of the Miraculous Cycle of Life — and that to honor only the light side while repressing the dark can lead to dysfunction. Facing our mortality is a good leveler and the best way I know to stay grateful for life and present in the Now! Is that one of the things she does for you?
As a quick aside — I thought I was going to be Granna to my grandchildren, but when my oldest granddaughter began to call me Ma, it stuck! Now they all call me Ma. At first I wasn’t sure I liked it, but then I remembered Kali Ma and realized it’s a term of great honor: a designation of an aspect of the Sacred Feminine. That it came spontaneously and naturally to my granddaughter as a toddler just feels so right!
Thanks for your comment, Jeanie
Jean, such magnificent timing for me! The last few weeks I’ve been struggling to write my articles for our MorningStar newsletter, like i’ve never struggled before. I had enormous resistance! I had a sense there was a deeper transitional work going on in me as I was feeling a lot of vulnerabilty and inner wrestling with having a voice, as struggled for clarity to name what seemed to defy naming. Yesterday I finally managed to finish, with the help of my community member with whom I kept struggling to name what was going on inside of me, to give birth, not only to these writings, but with your reflection this morning on the feminine archetypes, more fully to the Crone in me! My writing was pointing to this deeper shift in myself, moving from the Mother to the integration of logos with mythos in the crone. Reflecting on your paradigm for the feminine unfoldment, I can identify with each of the stages in both their light and dark aspects! What a gift! Thank you for being on the journey with me! Love, Julie
Oh, Julie. Thank you for writing. I’m so glad this spoke to you and met your needs at this point in your life. I probably struggled with this piece as much as you’ve struggled with your recent articles. Giving voice and birth to new understandings is always so difficult; especially when it comes to the feminine principle because it’s been so deeply unconscious for so long. Knowing that you strongly identify with what I’ve written here gives me hope that I’m getting closer to understanding, identifying and naming a core truth!
The Crone is emerging…i so welcome her!
Congratulations! I’ve never felt better than I do now that she’s become a conscious part of my life!! Jeanie
Thanks for nominating me for the Sunshine Award Jodi! Very kind!
Nominated you for the Sunshine Award http://healnowandforever.net/2012/04/26/shiny-happy-bloggers-holding-hands/ Come on over to take a look!
This is so interesting…I suppose I can relate to each one. Thank you!
You’re welcome! I think most women and many men can. What I’ve described in this and the last post is an actual, physical reality. We all have the same instinctual energies represented by the archetypes and there are many ways of using them: some associated with masculinity and some with femininity. The more we can consciously integrate them in our thoughts and behavior, the more empowered and balanced we become! Thanks for the comment.