I had the opportunity to do a lot of thinking about this cycle last year as I turned 30. My reflections lead me on an interesting journey and to some conclusions I would like to share.
People kept making the same sound when I said I was approaching 30 like a daunting ‘ooooh’ and the usual cliche bollocks. I found this frustrating as firstly, I don’t feel any negativity about my ageing and secondly, I didn’t understand why everyone else did. It can’t be stopped anyway, was it vanity? I have permanent wrinkles now but they match my age. Or, perhaps that thus far, my journey hasn’t included having children of my own (a rant I’m saving for a later date if you’re one of the people who feels it appropriate to comment on such things). Knowing how people operate I came to the conclusion that it was an unidentified awkwardness people share about the ending of one cycle and the beginning of a new due to social conditioning. Daunting to some, I however choose to embrace it. I was/am ready for the next bit. Excited even. The more I spoke of this the more I recognized the same issues stirring in my friends who were coming of age. Be it because their own feelings about how they’d lived or the ‘ooooh’ they heard from others. So I have chosen to give my insights here.
The Maiden, Mother, Chrone cycle refers to the Triple Goddess. Often symbolized as a waxing moon, full moon and waning moon. The underlying Pagan belief we share in the Goddess and her consort the Horned God (Cernunnos, The Green man, The Sun). The relationship, transitions and sacrifices of these two deities is celebrated within the turning of the seasonal wheel (more can be found under ‘the turning of the wheel’ section of this site) and also mirrored in our own Spiritual journey as we grow and age.
We observe the transformation of the Goddess through stages and celebrate them accordingly at annual festivals. Unlike the God, who moves through life, death and rebirth, she remains throughout the year shifting through her own cycles and enabling his in doing so.
Let’s start at Imbolc as it is the point where the Goddess has shifted from her Crone time. Having brought the Sun back to us at Yule (by birthing him) she is now begun again as a young mother, the Maiden, a promise of new life to come, the dawn of life.
At Eostre/Ostara (the Spring Equinox) we feel the sap begin to rise and begin to sow the seeds physically and spiritually for the year ahead. We sow the seeds of planning. Our goddess continues to gently nurture her own and we sit in the balance between the dark and light.
Beltane is a more commonly known festival. It Is here our Maiden Goddess greets the Sun as a young man, Jack-In-The-Green. They couple (saucy!) and fill the land with their joined energy. Sowing the seeds of life into us and our lands and we rejoice in the coming of summer.
As Spring turns to Summer, as does our Goddess Move into her prime at Litha when the God is at his strongest and most Virile, blossoming within as do our lives and land. We celebrate the long joyous days of summer.
As Summer draws on, we begin to harvest the fruits of our efforts both tangible and metaphorical. At Lughnasadh/Lammas, all is in balance and harmony before the tipping point of a full harvest and the time of preparing for the winter to come. we celebrate and take pride in our success. The God and Goddess still joined as Mother and Lover we give thanks for their gifts of abundance knowing we take the sacrificed energy of the Horned God
As Summer comes to a close and we embrace Autumn at Mabon the Autumn Equinox so must we harvest all we have grown and begin preparations for the coming dark of winter. As we harvest the land, we harvest the last life energy of the Horned God and give thanks for his sacrifice. The Goddess now a widow. We sit again in a point of balance between the light and dark.
Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, all that dies shall be reborn. Corn and grain, corn and grain, all that falls will rise again.a chant for mabon
Having reaped the rewards of what was sown in spring, and harvested in summer,we move into the Shadow Time at Samhain and look within. Here the Goddess moves into her own Crone time, a time to develop and share her wisdom, knowing she holds the seed of life ready to be reborn at Yule it will rest in her cauldron. We too should take this time to reflect and contemplate what was lost and what will be reborn. The dusk of life.
At Yule we sit in reflection of all that has passed and look ahead to the coming year. The Sun God is reborn, bringing light and hope again. The Goddess from Crone form, is transformed into the young Maiden once again. New life springing forth from death as was promised. All is still as life peeps in through the dark, the wheel of the year continues to turn.
Recognizing the cycle within ourselves
As the solar year and seasons in which we live are represented in this process; So too is our spiritual journey. If we section a human life cycle into these three categories of Maiden, Mother/Lover and Crone. It becomes apparent (at least to me) very quickly.
As children we are the seeds, the results of the journey of others Maiden and Crone Time. As we come into our own as adults we develop our plans, what we want to achieve in life, a career perhaps? We shape our spiritual path. Many of us explore relationships, including sexual ones. We are on the path of discovery with a maidens wide eyed wonderment to the world.
As we transition into the Mother/Lover we build and reflect on the experiences we had in youth. The prime or summer of our lives, still learning and growing as ever, but (hopefully) with a certainty and assuredness we can share with others, perhaps children, perhaps not.
In the crone time of a human life, an elders’s wisdom and sage advice should be treasured and heeded for they have the knowledge of experience and the gift of passing on the knowledge from all they have learnt from their journey.
My own experience
So, getting to the point (finally), without really stopping to consider it in a formal way; I found myself at 29 hearing all the same comments from strangers and peers alike. I took the time to really reflect on my journey. Lets say we will live to 90 years old, the natural division into the three (always with the three’s) means we approach the second stage at 30. Obviously its different for everyone but I felt it so strongly as a period of change.
I looked back on what had felt like my tumultuous journey. The painful, dramatic lessons (oh the drama!) I had to learn in my youth and I saw the outcomes of those lessons and what they had shaped me into. I saw the purpose for them. Whereas at the time, I had shouted about fairness and not understanding why such hardships had befallen me; I now saw the ripples, the outcomes and all the positive traits I now have: Empathy, courage, strength, self-love, confidence, boundaries (that was a hard lesson), mental health.
I looked back and saw all of this and said to myself “I am ready for the next stage, I have done all of the things expected and needed of a 20-something-year old”. I then had a moment that completely blew me away…this first section, my first 30 years, my entire lifetime thus far (!); in another 30 years, give or take, another lifetime (!); I will be looking back again and looking forward to my crone time!
Rather than fear, I felt peace and acceptance. I decided to write a letter to 59 year old me. knowing I will be reflecting then, a message from my younger self will be interesting. I reflected and built on it over a few weeks. I also included a section should I not see my 59th year. I don’t remember word for word what I put, that is for future me to read.I put across my feelings of achievement, I left questions about what was important to me now and how I imagined things would turn out. I tried to paint a picture of who I am in my skin, should I need reminding.
In doing this I was given a beautiful opportunity, to share this process with others, to party like a pagan. We do it at sabbaths and festivals, we often have birthday parties but how many of us actively reflect at this time?
This opportunity was first brought to me by my GFF (Goth Friend Forever) The very talented and remarkable Matteo Llewelyn. Artist, Tattooist, Geek, Chaos Merchant, Drag Queen and loyal friend. (links to their work at the bottom should you want to check it out, I recommend you do)
I saw them feeling the same need to reflect and was able to provide that opportunity. Not guided but, a sort of mirrored experience for them, we went to my favourite tree and talked and celebrated and reflected on it all. Knowing each other as well as we do, we share a lot of history and love for each other and we came to these conclusions, both alone and together. I hope if you are reading this you will come to see the same:
Everything happens for a reason, we cannot buy more time or linger longer. If you have not achieved something in the time passed, it was not meant to be done then. Look ahead to the summer of your life knowing all that passed before, no matter how painful at the time, has shaped you into this self-assured being. Celebrate the turning of the wheel, you can’t fight it anyway so embrace it and yourself, all that you are and will be. Throw the big party! Use this as a beacon for others to see and follow so they might feel better about their transitions too. Ageing is not the loss of youth it is the gaining of wisdom and summer days. Do not mourn the passing of one cycle but look ahead to the new adventure.
as always I’d love to hear your feedback. How have you found this journey? What advice would you share to others or even your past/future self?
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Be Awesome. Peace out witches!!