In working on the story for Y’keta, I unwittingly included a triad of powerful women who shape my hero in different ways. One of my beta readers pointed out to me that I was following a classic maiden-mother-crone progression. I think knowing that my female characters held such archetypical power, made them stronger and gave me a more rounded story. Knowing that strong feminine (not necessarily traditionally female) characters built themselves into my world made me smile.
Some scholars think that the triple goddess myths-the divine feminine appearing as maiden, mother and crone-come out of pre-Christian Europe, while others date them as far back as Paleolithic times. The exact dating really doesn’t matter so much, unless you are the scholar who is trying to publish a paper on dating them.
What is much more significant, is the sheer number of myths, stories, and legends that have built the maiden-mother-crone progression into our histories and collective psyche. Their symbol, the triple moon, has been found in ancient and modern texts worldwide.
The new moon is the maiden.
She is the symbol of hope, purity, curiosity, and discovery, the the image of femininity at it’s first blush, learning about the passions within herself and exploring the world around her. This is a very powerful image. The maiden can be a young warrior (Ruby Rose, Joan of Arc), a priestess (Diana, Siann), or a young lover (Anna from Frozen, Juliet) meeting her handsome prince. So if I say warrior-maiden, virgin-priestess or ‘young girl in love’ you will automatically know the type of story you have fallen into. In Y’keta the virgin-priestess is Siann, a sixteen year old girl studying to be a shaman. Just when she decides that she no longer believes the legends of her people, she is thrust past her cynical view of the world and into a the reality that myths walk among us.
As powerful as this symbol is, the maiden’s dark side is equally strong. She is out to discover a new world and find a place in it, and can, if not careful, walk across a few mangled corpses to find it. Fanaticism and obsession, whether with a person, place, or ideology can fester if the maiden builds her identity around what she loves rather than forming a solid sense of herself apart from her cause.
May we find something to love with astonishing passion
– yet not become consumed by it.
The mother- full and fertile.
In Greek mythology, the mother goddess is Demeter, she represents ripeness, fertility, fulfillment, stability, and power. As in every culture the Mother is the life giver, nurturing and compassionate she is also the fierce protector of her children. A mother grizzly is ferocious, a mother human is deadly! The Mother in my book is called Matra, a powerful shaman and the leader of her village. She occupies the central space in the village power structure and-well it’s too much of a spoiler to go further.
As a caregiver the Mother figure is universally recognized, but so is it’s shadow clone – the Martyr. A martyr pushes her own needs away to meet the needs of others, not for their benefit, but to create a dependency that makes her ‘necessary and worthwhile.’ This kind of caregiver becomes so wrapped up in their charge that they don’t have an identity of their own and will even enable unhealthy behaviour just to have someone to ‘care for’
May we always care for those we love
– but add our own name to that list.
The waning crone
The crone has spent her life accumulating wisdom to pass on to the maiden. This wisdom and experience makes her the teacher of the young ones, the keeper of lore, and the upholder of tradition.
Looking at her life, soon passing, the crone faces two options. Repose or rebel. She can either release her wisdom and compassion to the young and accept the setting of her moon as part of the cycle of life, or become shadowed. A shadowed crone is one who has taken the learning and experience life gives and has used it only for her own benefit. She has armoured herself with rules and laws that leave her feeling above everyone else, superior, yet cut off and isolated. She becomes the bitter fruit that falls from a tree of her own planting.
May we learn to let go
– accepting the changing of seasons with peace and wisdom
and seeing each stage as the blessing it can be.