“I’m not old enough to
be a crone.” “I may be past menopause, but I
am so not ready for old age.” Common enough protestations,
when AARP Magazine a couple years ago declared
that “sixty is the new thirty” and a million
baby boomer girls are getting close to retirement. They’re
not about to slow down.
We seem to think that because we
worship a “traditional” or “ancient”
Triple Goddess, we need to mirror her with three stages
of womanhood. Well, here’s the news: the “ancient”
Triple Goddess was invented in 1948 by Robert Graves for
his book, The White Goddess, which is neither history
nor herstory, neither theology nor thealogy. It is a close
reading of Celtic poetry and myth by an eccentric 20th-century
poet-scholar. Authentic triple goddesses were either sisters
(the Furies, the Graces, the Fates, the Matronae) or three
faces of one goddess (Brigit, Hecate).
Urban shaman Donna Henes has studied
the Great Goddess in Her many aspects and, thank Goddess,
written a book of humor, wisdom, and eloquence that explains
the situation of aging women who aren’t old. Now that
women are living several decades beyond menopause, three
stages of womanhood just aren’t enough. When you’ve
finished bleeding, but you’re not wrinkled and fossilized
and all-wise, when you’re still learning and doing
and active in the world, when you know what you want and
aren’t afraid to go for it... now you are a Queen.
Mama Donna begins the story of how
women can become queens of themselves with the story of
her own life— hot flashes and midlife challenges and
“the relentless bombardment of losses” every
woman experiences as she moves into middle age. She investigates
archetypes and goddesses around the world, she includes
histories of and quotations from authors, poets, and real
queens, and she talks about women she knows and how they’ve
taken charge of their own lives. She also tells us the many
differences between threes and fours and presents a Four-Fold
Table of Correspondences (p. 59):
How do we
move into midlife sovereignty? There are, Henes warns, no
ten easy steps, “no rules, no recipes, no prescriptions,
no instruction manuals, no precise formulas to follow when
it comes to pursuing the daunting process of Stepping into
Sovereignty” (p. 97). But she makes lots of suggestions.
Modify your intention. Articulate your intention. Sanctify
your intention (p. 104). Take care of yourself. Feed yourself.
Clean house from the inside out. “Note the process
of noting your process” (i.e., keep a journal, keep
family records, keep notes from divinatory readings you
get). Meditate. Spend a day in bed. Light your own fire.
“Create your own majestic makeover” to project
your new image. Approximately every other page of the second
half of the book gives ideas, some fanciful, most of them
practical and grounded. The last suggestion—Do something.
We can all become queens of our selves.
The world is likely to become a better place when we step
into our sovereignty, tell it like it really is, and do
something about it. This is a book that women who think
they’re “too old” should read, that women
who are of queenly age but don’t know what to do with
their lives should read, that all of our daughters and granddaughters
should read so they know what lies ahead. In an age of overwhelming
information and the daily possibility of terror, we can
at least take charge of our own lives.