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REVIEWS of The Queen of My Self tm


Village Voice

"Tea," says ritualist Donna Henes, "is on the queen," grandly gesturing toward a plate heaped with cookies at the tour launch for her self-published book The Queen of My Self: Stepping Into Sovereignty at Midlife, released just before Christmas. We're standing around Bluestockings, the Allen Street bookstore, on a recent frigid evening, amid anti-imperialist lit and gray "Power to the People" T-shirts. Henes, a writer and artist who's hosted hundreds of thousands at multicultural ceremonies in honor of the seasons and of human life cycles in over 100 cities in nine countries since 1972, has published three other books and a quarterly journal, Always in Season, and released a CD. Her rousing "Full Snow Moon Drumming Circle," a winter ceremony designed to refuel light-starved New Yorkers, is scheduled for February 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Henes and her Monarch Press partners booked time at Bluestockings, unaware that the severely cash-strapped women's bookstore had been reborn as a radical hangout likely to draw young activists who hate capitalism and love dyke erotica. These young'uns, of course, don't show up for Henes's event, but several mature women and a couple of men bearing bouquets, Henes' devotees hailing from outer boroughs and burbs, arrive to give their beloved "urban shaman" a warm send-off.

At age 59, their queen is a font of cheer, ablaze in color—coppery hair, raspberry scarf, cranberry velvet jacket, sparkling gold tinsel snaking around her forehead. Two small dogs dart about the audience's feet, yapping and sparring while, unperturbed and serene, she reads on. She concludes her remarks by leading us all in a traditional royal wave—fingers flattened, a shallow twist of the wrist. A little lighthearted theater to dance the revolution forward. But unlike the over-50 gals in Sue Ellen Cooper's similarly regal Red Hat Society, Henes' enthusiasts appear less interested in Amtrak discounts and shopping for tchotchkes than in achieving psychological, spiritual, and social change.

Before undertaking her round of special appearances, the perpetually busy monarch—counselor, healer, ceremonialist, drumming circle leader, support group facilitator, peace activist, and "spirit shop" proprietor—graciously agreed to answer a few questions. CLICK HERE to read more



What's In a Name?

Oh, just everything. The name of something is its nature. Think of nearly every fairy tale ever written. Being a namer of anything gives one power.

The first time I saw the title of the book I am about to recommend, I froze. No, I shivered. Shivered deep into my menopausal layers of clothing. You know how it sometimes happens that you recognize something and you don’t know why? Try this.

"The Queen of My Self—Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife"

I had to have the book. Had to. was made for the likes of me. Donna Henes, internationally recognized urban shaman, writer, and artist, is the author. I waited two days. When it arrived, despite the fact that I was working to a strict timeline for a corporate client, I put everything down and sat with the book in my lap on the porch—and shivered. CLICK HERE to read more


Natural Beauty & Health

For those of us who are no longer maidens and past the age of motherhood but can’t quite identify as crones yet, Donna Henes has created a new archetype: The Queen. And what could be a better self-image for the woman whose wisdom is still blossoming (along with her belly), yet who is still vibrant, sexual, and self-assured? This guide to Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife, as the book is subtitled, makes a captivating case for embracing the role of Queen and adorning yourself with all the spiritual and self-realized riches that it entitles you to. Donna Henes, known as Mama Donna to her growing family of acolytes and fans, shares her very best rituals and ceremonies— one on nearly every page in the second half of the book— for indulging your own majesty. Queens, you deserve to read this book.


New Age Journal

In The Queen of My Self, Donna Henes boldly and audaciously— as any Queen worth her salt would do— challenges the popular paradigm of the three phases in a woman’s life, that of Maiden, Mother, Crone. She very sensibly argues that with a modern woman’s life span increasing, perhaps we are too quick to Crone ladies at age 50. This refers to the current trend in the Goddess community to honor women who have hit this milestone birthday— the half century mark— with a ritual/coming-out party which pays homage to the celebrant’s status. Henes is all for celebrating a woman’s midlife achievements. However, she suggests a new archetype be introduced (instead of jumping the gun to “crone”), and that is of “the Queen.”

Henes speaks about her own experience in approaching her 50th birthday and her hesitancy in being croned. “How could I,” she writes “in all honesty and any modesty, claim the mantle of the Crone while a mere middle-ager? That would be like saying that someone who is in their twenties is as smart and as practiced as I am.” The author points out that just as there are four seasons, perhaps there are four phases in a woman’s lifetime, with Queen representing what would be autumn, and winter reflecting the true Crone.

Incredibly generous and honest in her personal saga, Henes shares her own experience during the Mother aspect of her life, where she confronted and lived with much tragedy. She even refers to one period as being “in the hospice zone.” Having come to terms with losses that sapped her very essence in her forties, Henes found herself experiencing a renewed vigor and a respect for the sacredness of life in her early 50s. CLICK HERE to read more



“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. CLICK HERE to read more

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