Exploring the Four Faces of the Divine Feminine

Colored mandala with images of maiden, mother, amazon and crone

This blog is a slighted updated version of one of the very first articles I wrote when I was introduced to the Divine Feminine in the 1990s… though really, this FemPower information is timeless. I still use it when I teach and speak, but have never published it on my own website!  I hope you enjoy it…

In women’s spirituality, women’s life cycles have been approached by looking at the three “blood mysteries” — menarche, childbirth, and menopause.  And, in cultures all over the world, the Divine Feminine has been presented in the form of the Triple Goddess — Kali in India, Cerridwin in ancient Ireland, Sumerian Astarte and Egyptian Maat.  The face of the Maiden approaching menarche is one of sweet innocence; the Mother (obviously associated with the mystery of childbirth) embodies the nurturing aspect; the Crone (whose rite is menopause) represents wisdom.

Adding an important Face to the Triple Goddess

However, this triple image has become increasingly outdated.  Joan Borysenko points out that the maiden years have gotten progressively shorter with the introduction of electric lights and the subsequent elongation of “daylight” hours which stimulates the release of hormones that bring on puberty several years earlier than a century ago. Furthermore, women’s life spans have increased from 47 years on 1900 to 80 years in 2000. And, of course, the mothering years of the life cycle have undergone tremendous changes as well, as women have won more freedom in their choices regarding whether they will have children at all and if so, when and how many.

Introducing the Amazon Queen

So, what do we do with the gap that has been created, both energetically and chronologically, in the old, three-fold presentation of the feminine life cycle?  Overwhelmingly, feminist scholars and theologians are introducing a new phase, in between the mothering years and old age. It is called alternately — amazon, queen, enchantress, matriarch, priestess, guardian.  Borysenko points out that “ballsy behavior is supported by ballsy hormones” at this time — that a kind of fierce power kicks in which is actually biologically mediated as testosterone levels increase and estrogen levels decrease right before menopause. As she says, “Mention this phenomena to a room full of amazons and they know exactly what you mean!”

We embody the four Fem♀Types at any age

Embracing this rich, new archetype, we conjur up the wisdom of the deep Feminine in four ways, drawing on four different energies or archetypes. And while they describe the stages in a women’s life span, it is also important to remember that we carry each of them within us at all times.  A teenager who is organizing political rallies is calling on her amazon energies.  A crone who loves to roller-blade is embracing the maiden’s thrill of adventure.  There are mothers who never bear children but who create breathtaking works of art and amazons who retreat into silent meditation for months or years at a time.This four-sided construction is not meant to be a box that restricts & confines, but rather a container of possibilities for be-ing andW do-ing in the world.

Summary of the four Fem♀Types

In the act of creation that IS the Divine Feminine, I’ve named these feminine archetypes “Fem♀Types” and offer keywords** to help in understanding the power and wisdom of each one:

MAIDEN:  new beginnings, virgin (meaning “one unto herself”), daughter, menarche, dawn, spring, bud/blossom, waxing moon, dynamic, fresh energy, joy, fun, sociability, sexual awakening, innocence, inspiration, potential, possibility, clear thinking, ambitious, enterprising.

MOTHER:  fullness, midwife, lover, pregnancy, childbirth, noon, summer, flower/fruit, full moon, ovulation, fertile, nurturing, creative, caring, compassion, receptive, protective, radiating, enveloping, supportive, encouraging, giving, counsel, community.

AMAZON: power, queen, priestess, enchantress, blood sister, peri-menopause, dusk, fall, harvest, waning moon, dramatic, passion, assertive, demanding, erotic, intuitive, restless, penetrating, destruction/creation, magic, intensity, authority, focused.

CRONE: wisdom, sorceress, dark mother, grandmother, menopause, midnight, winter, seed, new moon, menstruation, alchemical, transmutation, inward, endings, silence, death, release, unknown, uncompromising, dissolution, introspective, containing, prophecy.

**These associations were compiled by dipping into the vast cauldron of WomanSpirit literature which I’ve shared below.

How do you embrace the divinely feminine magic of the Fem♀Types in your inner and outer worlds??

For a deeper dive into the four Fem♀Types and their connection to the rhythms of the moon, the seasons, and women’s life cycles, definitely consider downloading my e-book — Circle of One: The Art of Becoming a SELF-Centered Woman.  (The image at the top of this article is one of the mandalas you can color in from that book!)

OR, if you want a taste of the kinds of rituals you can create to celebrate each stage, take a look at my article at Your Tango — The 4 Stages Of Life All Women Go Through (& How To Honor Them With Spiritual Rituals)

And if that’s not enough, please do reach out so we can explore the idea of doing some FemPower coaching together!

Can you tell I’m passionate about this powerful work?! I’d love to share more with you if it resonates for you the same way.

Sources (There are certainly more current sources, but these are some of the “classics”):

Bolen, Jean Shinoda, Goddesses in Older Women: Archetypes for Women Over 50, Harper Books, 2004

Borysenko, Joan, Ph.D., A Woman’s Book of Life: The Biology, Psychology and Spirituality of the Feminine Life Cycle, Riverhead Books, 1996.

Davis, Elizabeth and Leonard, Carol, The Women’s Wheel of Life, Penguin/Arkana, 1996.

Gray, Miranda, Red Moon: Understanding and Using the Gifts of the Menstrual Cycle, Element Books, 1994. (check http://www.mirandagray.co.uk/ for wonderful resources)

Henes, Donna, The Queen of My Self: Stepping Into Sovereignty in Midlife, Monarch Press, 2005.

McCoy, Edain, Celtic Women’s Spirituality: Accessing  the Cauldron of Life, Llewellyn Publications, 2015.

Riley, Patricia Lynn, A God Who Looks like Me, Ballantine Books, 1996.

Wilshire, Donna, Virgin, Mother, Crone: Myths and Mysteries of the Triple Goddess, Inner Traditions, 1994.