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If I were to recommend
three books to a friend in need of some reassurance
that it is — truly — great to be a woman,
and even finer to be a woman pushing fifty or beyond,
this triad would be The Queen of My Self by
Donna Henes, along with The Woman in the Shaman's
Body: Reclaiming the Feminine in Religion and Medicine
and The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets.
Well, I'd have to add The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating
Physical and Emotional Health and Healing During the
I am writing this during the breaking news of the unearthed
mummy of the Queen of Egypt —
a woman who died
in her fifties. The "alpha female" of the
ancient world, the newscaster blares. It is delightful
to hear about a woman ruler (and it is great that she
was fifty and not some maiden queen). But this review
is about a book about women ruling none other than herself.
And that is far more important a discovery than the
The Queen of My Self is unusual and counter
to the culture. There are not many books that contradict
the idea that life is essentially over for a woman of
"a certain age". Partly it is due to lingering
taboos. There are self-help books that "help"
us defy our stage, fend it off or conceal it. These
books are not empowering, because it is a lie and we
know it. It fools no one, so they feed the terror. We
may feel invisible, but why? We are everywhere. And
we are full of power, but we may not know it or recognize
it. Mostly we disappear from imagery and stories in
books and films, though in reality we run society (even
if not compensated for it). Though rising in our eroticism,
we vanish as erotic beings, and we are pressured to
dye our hair and insist we mostly bake cookies —
trapped in the Mother archetype — if we dare to
be actual queens of the land. So much of our creative
energy seems to be wasted on hiding what we are slowly
— irrevocably — becoming. This has got to
be as destructive to one's self esteem as racism.
Donna Henes comes to the rescue! She is a rift healer,
a paradox mender. A soul retriever. It is fitting that
she is also a professional celebrator of celestial seasons
— for we humans also have our seasons, and she
celebrates our long autumnal glory. Life isn't just
Spring, Summer, and Winter, but somehow the Autumn and
its bounty got skipped. Henes bridges this immense gap.
As I passed forty and began to grow out of the Mother
(Summer), I knew the looming Crone archetype (Winter)
did not fit me or define me, and speculated that this
image arose when most women were dead by fifty, or at
least toothless and wasted (as you can see in women
of many poor agricultural countries today). "The
Crone" did not describe my midlife friends; it
didn't describe my mother when she turned a robust,
imperial seventy. It really only described my great
grandmother of 105. The decay aspects of the Crone seemed
to have been dreamed up by men — and probably
women — afraid of their mortality and projecting
death onto the Feminine. Carl Jung didn't help. The
Crone was an outmoded archetype — and I decided
to not take it on. I would create and live my own archetype,
and categories be damned.
That can be a lonely hermit road though. As Henes shows,
part of the dilemma of this stage is we often isolate
ourselves to process the transformation, and this isolation
can make us feel we are going it alone. For women, erstwhile
social creatures, that can be especially strange. Turns
out, I am in good company in my "ruminations and
regenerating". Uncannily (well, she is a shaman)
Henes sent me her book at the time when I most needed
some external sisterly affirmation, and explanation
of, and highly accurate description of the amazing psychic
journey I have been on.
I gladly embrace the Queen archetype: I am Queen of
my Self - if not of the Land! This is not about power
over others — it is about power of oneself and
power over highly destructive confusing imagery and
Henes exactly describes what I have been going through
and mulling over. Here is a favorite "aha"
the rude awakening, the unsettling physical and
emotional chaos of midlife and all its frightful,
presumed ramification, an amazing number of women
find this stage to be the most personally fulfilling
and satisfying one of their lives so far...Just
what are we to make of this apparent feeling among
so many women that we believe ourselves to be
better off once we have lost possession of the
very characteristics and trappings that society
seems to value in us — our sexual allure
and childbearing capabilities?."
Pleasurable, iconoclastic, great writing, great wisdom
(from someone not yet a Crone), bold vitality: This
book will be valued companion for me in the years to
Hail to the Queen!
I looked forward
to my 50th birthday with more joy and anticipation than
any other birthday in my adult life. There was just
one problem: Traditionally, women have identified age
50 and menopause as the time when they segue from Mother
to Crone. But I didn't feel like a Crone! I still loved
to hike in the woods, ride my bicycle, play with paints
and clay and toys.
Then I met Donna Henes and read her book, The Queen
of My Self. It was one of those rare, "Aha"
moments for me. Here, at last, was a woman who understood
the old archetypes were outdated; that menopausal women
in this millennium are still vibrant and full of life.
Smart, yes; wise, well....maybe in another few years.
Henes explains how the idea of the three stages of
a woman's life —Maiden, Mother, Crone —are
not, as often thought, the faces of the triple goddess.
Rather, they are the creation of a man, a man who clearly
feared the strength, power, and bohemian spirit so prevalent
in today's midlife woman.
She offers lots of fun and fanciful ways to celebrate
Queendom, from rebirthing and coronation ceremonies
to personal affirmations and chants. And she doesn't
do this from an impersonal distance. Henes bares her
soul, talking about her own path to Queendom, writing
in such an intimate manner the reader feels like the
book is a personal letter from the author to her, and
Read this book. Give this book to every woman you know
who is a Queen, or is approaching Queendom. Then, pour
yourself a delicious bubble bath, a glass of wine or
cup of soothing tea, put a crown on your head —one
you've made yourself, of course —slip into the
tub, and sing, "Hail to the Queen!"
You deserve it.
Put on your crown
Donna Henes states
that she has thirty years experience as an "urban
shaman and contemporary ceremonialist." She says
that she was a "proud member of the pioneering
Sixties Generation." When she found herself lacking
in role models to mentor her through middle age, Henes
chose to use her own leadership abilities. She developed
"The Queen" image for herself and her cohorts.
In doing so, she created not only a royal attitude,
but also a lifestyle guide. Henes has established an
enriching experiential "how-to" for stepping
into middle age with aplomb.
Henes uses the classic "Queen" as a continuous
theme throughout the book. Each of the eight chapters
has a heading befitting the regal premise, plus a sub-heading
of real world methods toward fulfillment. For example,
Chapter 5 is titled "The Queen and I" with
a sub-title of "Embracing Her Majesty." The
readers are encouraged to "design our own roles
and ideals, compose the scripts, and author the sagas
of our own futures." The author presents personal
experience and case studies of women who have successfully
reinvented themselves in middle age; readers can easily
relate to these examples.
Each chapter offers multiple suggestions to help readers
identify their own wishes and wants. The author has
a way-with-words in taking a topic to the top with lists,
affirmations, alliteration, quotes, clues, metaphors,
similes and analogies. If one style of story telling
is not suitable for a specific reader, another style
for the same subject is sure to meet the reader's needs.
Henes even uses her own poetry to get the point of self-improvement
across to the reader. The result is a book that is well-crafted,
engaging, and entertaining.
Henes also gives the readers practical applications
within the context of The Queen. With all that the author
offers, Queen of My Self is a gift that keeps
on giving. Ladies, put on your gem-studded tiaras! You
are in for a great read from a thoughtful and thought-provoking
author who is for and about a well-lived middle-aged
The New Cool Queen is Me
Baby boomers take
note: there is an alternative to middle age meltdown!
Donna Henes' wonderful book, The
Queen of My Self describes a new approach to
the middle passage, in which women are encouraged to
reject negative cultural stereotypes associated with
aging and claim our personal (and collective) power.
Henes' beautifully written book is not a self-help volume.
Rather, through personal narrative, anecdote, myth,
and history she explains why "stepping into sovereignty"—becoming
a queen of one self—is worth all the hard work.
An inspiring person and writer, her reformulation of
what it means to be a woman of a certain age will appeal
to everyone searching for a better way.
A Landmark Book for Women
The passage into
midlife can be a harrowing one, but thanks to Donna
Henes' brilliant new book, I am ready to dive right
in! This book is instructive, inspirational, and wise.
Henes is a very gentle and funny teacher. She lets us
know that if we follow our purpose, our power, and our
passion, we are primed to live life to the fullest with
the very best years ahead of us. She gives us confidence
that we can create the life that we desire for ourselves
and that we can be the woman who we have always wanted
to be. I am the Queen of my own destiny thanks to the
encouragement I found in the pages of The
Queen of My Self. Brava to Queen Donna!!!
A Must-Read Guide to Midlife
This book made me
excited about turning 50! Great inspirational advice,
interesting historical perspective, and a lot of practical
suggestions for stepping into your full power in the
prime of your life. Henes writes in a down-to-earth
voice, with a sense of humor. Nothing stuffy or "head
in the clouds" about this book. If you take it
to heart, and do some of the activities on the "Queen
Pages," you will feel like you are well on your
way to becoming your best self!
The Queen and Me
Donna Henes's extraordinary
new book addresses an important chapter of our lives,
one that most of us have simply avoided thinking about:
entering middle age. The
Queen of My Self articulates a new model for
the middle passage, one in which women are urged to
cast aside negative cultural stereotypes so that we
may claim our personal (and collective) power. Henes,
a talented writer, interweaves anecdotes, myths, and
personal stories to explain why “stepping into
sovereignty” (becoming a queen of one self) doesn't
happen automatically. She encourages her readers to
dig deep. After all, reformulating one's idea of what
it means to be a woman of a certain age is not easy.
But, if my experience is any indication, reading this
book will inspire you to change your life.
||A Book That Will Change
There are chapters
in our lives for which we're simply unprepared. Entering
middle age is one of them. Donna Henes' wonderful new
book, The Queen of My Self—the
terrific title is an appetizer of what's to come—articulates
a new model for the middle passage, one in which we're
urged to cast aside cultural stereotypes and claim our
personal (and collective) power. This is no easy feat
and, make no mistake. Henes' is not a self-help volume.
She explains why "stepping into sovereignty"—becoming
a queen of one self—doesn't happen automatically.
Reformulating our own ideas of what it means to be a
woman of a certain age is an integral part of this challenging
process. If my experience is any indication, reading
this book will profoundly change your life.
Urge to Purge
Are you around 50
or so and feeling the urge to purge? Do you have a burning
desire to make changes in your life—becoming more
creative while you focus on yourself for a change? Donna
Henes' book The Queen of Myself blows the triple goddess
out of the water and creates a new paradigm of selfhood.
Like the four seasons and the four phases of the moon,
Donna introduces the four stages of womanhood—Maiden,
Mother, Queen and Crone. The Queen of Myself incorporates
the personal with the mythological to create a new concept
for women and aid women in midlife. Pick up the book
and explore what it means to be "Queen."
||Just in Time
Mama Donna celebrates
a unique season of the psyche and invites us to dance.
An exercise in graceful playing and blossom watering.
A leap into your own loving arms.
|To read more, please
Henes is an acclaimed urban shaman,
contemporary ceremonialist, artist
and writer who specializes creating rituals in celebration of
the cosmic cycles of the seasons and the universal seasons of
our personal lives. She has designed and produced countless
public and private ceremonial events in more than 100 cities
in ten countries since 1972.
More information .