As I near my 40th birthday, I have been taking stock of my path over the years, and how my relationship with the Goddess has changed.
In many ways, it hasn’t changed, but my embodied experience of her has.
The Goddess’ energies of Maiden, Mother, Enchantress and Crone have danced in my life in many ways at different times in my life. I noticed each aspect holds a unique experience of embodiment for me.
Stages of Life
I feel the energies of Maiden, Mother, Enchantress & Crone can be experienced by anyone at any stage of life. Generally though, there are lessons pertaining to each aspect of the Goddess during specific stages in our lives. We may experience these aspects more physically, emotionally or psychologically.
It is a rough estimate, but generally our ‘Maiden’ years range from our teens to late twenties. This is where we are experimenting, finding ourselves, placing our own self-discovery and independence to the forefront. We may resonate with a Goddess who expresses these qualities of independence and adventurousness at this time of life.
Our ‘Mother’ years may span from the late twenties to early fourties. This is the stage where our focus is on nurturing relationships, creative projects, careers and/or family. We may connect with a Goddess who expresses these nurturing and creative qualities at this time of our life.
Our ‘Enchantress’ years may span anywhere between the late thirties to late fifties. This is about magic, transformation and authenticity, a time where we often need to reasses our life and make changes that reflect who we really are. We may find a Goddess at this stage who helps us to navigate change at this time.
The ‘Crone’ years may begin around 60 and beyond. This time is about embodying wisdom, acceptance, cultivating our spirituality and inner peace. A goddess who helps support this within us may resonate at this time.
I feel it is possible that any type of goddess can show themselves at any time in our lives that we need them and their lessons and gifts. They don’t have to follow the pattern I outlined above. My experience did not follow the pattern, exactly.
This is a little bit about my journey, which centres on the physical, embodied experience I’ve had in relation to these different aspects of the Goddess…
Maiden- Finding Her
In my early 20s, my sense of the Goddess was outside of myself. At first, she was elusive, an energy that I was trying to find within myself but struggled to connect with. At that age, due to social conditioning, I felt my body was not my own. Representations of the feminine who I was supposed to emulate and look to for guidance were either hypersexualized or repressively ‘virginal’. I did not know or feel that I was Goddess-like or even wanted to connect with her.
Then I started to feel a connection to the Goddess through her guise as Earth Mother, which made her more tangible and real to me. I felt her whenever I was in nature. Her imperfections helped me feel at ease with my own. I felt I could rest in her arms if I needed. I felt I could connect my body to hers. I could see her everywhere, and feel the healing balm of her stability, nurturance and beauty wherever I was.
I was practicing and teaching yoga at this time. I found myself subtly weaving my relationship to the Earth Mother into my practice and my classes. Yoga helped me to reclaim my own body and worthiness. This naturally fit with my relationship with the Earth Goddess. In an attempt to be more in tune with nature, I went off the pill and my natural cycles began, but they were extremely painful and debilitating.
The Earth Mother expression of the Goddess served as a calming tonic to my womb troubles, which weren’t so bad, at first. I began to consciously construct a practice around this. I was drawn to pagan books and began to learn more about witchcraft, the goddess, following moon cycles and celebrating the seasons. Doing this helped me reclaim my cyclical nature and see the reflection of the earth and cosmos within my body, even though my cyclical experience was sometimes painful.
I soon found I was also drawn to a darker aspect of the goddess- the ones who help us go through the underworld. Goddesses like Inanna, Kali, and Persephone resonated.
My womb pain began to increase steadily despite the support of the Earth Mother. I did not know at this time that I had endometriosis. I took up bellydancing and followed my instincts to dance and use movement as a pain-transmuting practice. I found a balance between the deep, transformative, Dark Goddess and the grounding, gentle Earth Mother Goddess. I honored these aspects of her nature through movement, dance and natural forms of healing.
Mother- Embodying Her
At age 25 I became pregnant. It felt that this was a new stage in my relationship with Goddess. It was a very embodied experience of her energy, and specifically her power. My pregnancy and birth went well. The strength of a warrior is needed to become a mother, and I felt a new level of embodied feminine strength and fierceness through this new role.
We always think of the Mother in her nurturing aspect as gentle- baking cookies, cuddles and soothing words or lullabies, however she is also the fierce protective mama bear who would kill to protect her child and die for them.
I cherished and honored the ability to carry life and birth my daughter. I was so lucky to be able to conceive and give birth with my condition. I was blessed with an amazing child. But like for any mother, the intense self-sacrifice necessary to raise a child began to wear on my body and soul.
It came time to take back some of my sovereignty and independence in order to balance this intensely giving energy.
Around 30, my womb health began worsening quickly and steadily. I was tired, anemic and in pain much of the time. I was struggling, taking evening classes, studying to be a natural health pracititoner. I was trying to build an avenue of work for myself while also being at home with my daughter. My body, however, was telling me I needed to get more serious about my womb health.
I eventually developed endometriomas (endometriosis-related cysts) on my ovaries and became so debilitated I could no longer walk or go to the bathroom without intense pain. My mental health suffered as I swung between anxiety and depression. After years of trying all forms of natural healing modalities and spending hundreds of dollars on natural health practitioners, I realised I had to take this condition more seriously. In my early 30s my doctor sent me to see a specialist and finally get surgery.
It was around this time that I was called into relationship with the Egyptian goddess Isis. Goddess of magick, motherhood and healing. She is also a Queen, her name meaning ‘She of the throne’. She was with me to help me reclaim my sovereignty, and to heal my womb.
Isis was always quickly at my side to bring me relief when I needed it. I remember one night I was in severe pain. (My endo pain was often worse than my labour pains.) This was one of those times I wasn’t sure if I could make it through. I called on Isis to please heal the pain. I felt/saw her merge with me. My body began to shake vigorously until the pain subsided completely. I went to sleep peacefully.
I developed a faith in Isis that was strong, tangible and powerful. She reminded me that I could heal. She also helped me reclaim my inner sovereignty as mother and wife- she told me that I could hold love and boundaries in my heart at the same time. This was a new concept for me, but essential to learning to take care of myself.
At age 33, I finally had my surgery for stage 4 endometriosis. I felt so much relief, but still had some pain and bleeding issues, which were likely related to adenomyosis, a cousin to my condition. I had to take medication to keep the severe pain and bleeding from returning.
Enchantress- Deepening Into Her
In my mid-thirties, my relationship with Isis went into the background and I found myself in situations that tested this newfound embodied ease and integrity that came with no longer being in chronic pain.
My medication kept me much more mentally stable and I was able to see with more clarity and calm what I wanted and needed. My daughter was older and more independent. I had a lot more energy at my disposal. I had newfound confidence in taking charge of my life. I saw clearly what needed to change.
Irish battle goddess the Morrighan came to me in these years, passing me her sword to cut unhealthy ties and habits from my life. She was a force to be reckoned with. Working with her changed me deeply. She showed up whenever I felt intense fear, vulnerability or needed to stand up for myself.
The Morrighan is a goddess I would classify as having strong transformational ‘enchantress’ energy, and she showed up when I started to feel a deeper need for authenticity and authority in my life. My marriage went through a deep restructuring at this time, and thankfully it survived. My relationship with family and friends also met with this sword. The Morrighan helped me set boundaries and value self-protection. I learned how to honor myself and create what I wanted instead of being a victim.
Without the limits of pain on my mobility, I began to run, lift weights and build muscle, coinciding with the internal strength I was developing. The Morrighan helped me embody a new level of fitness, fierceness and inner sovereignty. This felt a necessary experience in order to navigate the Enchantress years- which are all about transformation. This is the stage of life I feel I have been slowly entering.
Crone- Becoming Her
I am not in my Crone phase of life yet, but Cerridwen, most often depicted as a Crone goddess, has made herself a strong guide for me in the last couple years.
Cerridwen first made herself tangible to me when we went on a trip to southern Wales in 2019. On that trip our daily plans kept shifting due to weather, unforeseen closures and other nudges from the universe. We ended up wandering into the most beautiful, unexpected and quiet places.
It was these quiet moments at wells, caves, and in Yew groves where I felt an aspect of the Goddess that was deeply needed. A deep, ancient, wise grandmotherly energy. A mystical, all-encompassing , dark feminine energy that I still can’t fully describe. It feels like coming home to my soul.
My meditations at that time kept bringing me to sea caves and the shores of a beautiful lake, where a wise, older woman was always stirring her cauldron. She was simply there, waiting for me to visit. She would let me release what I needed into the cauldron, or she would share a bowlful of something from it to nourish me. Sometimes she wanted me to peer into it and simply ‘see’, or scry.
It wasn’t until some months later that I realised this was Cerridwen calling me, which coincided with the pandemic.
Cerridwen has an energy that helps me to surrender and embrace necessary endings in life. This has been helpful through all the chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic.
My relationship with Cerridwen has been like the calm eye in the middle of the storm. It helps to centre me, as well as let go of my attachment to how I want things to be. She dissolves these things in her cauldron, asking me to open to her deep, wise presence within me.
For the last few years, my medication has caused several symptoms mimicking peri-menopause and menopause. These complaints are minor compared to the intensity of the pain I used to have, so I am very grateful and accepting of this. But it hasn’t always been easy, as I am not quite peri-menopausal yet.
The combination of this somewhat menopausal experience in my body, understanding chronic pain, raising a teenager and being married to an older man, means I sometimes feel I have more in common with women older than me than women my own age.
While later than previous generations, many folks my age are just settling down and starting a family now, or maybe just starting to feel the body’s limitations creeping in. Caring for their aging partner may not have crossed their mind yet.
Aging is something I hope to do gracefully and well. Something I will accept more and more with time. There are lovely older women in my life that I admire. I hope to carry Cerridwen’s Crone wisdom with me into the future, navigating my Enchantress years with her .
For now, I honour all the ways in which the Goddess has danced with me and continues to teach me.
How do you feel you embody Goddess energy? Is it something that has changed over time? How has your relationship with Goddess and your body changed as you grow older?
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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices, addressing cultural appropriation in pagan communities and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.