If you’re familiar with Goddess energies and mythologies, you’ll know that there are generally considered to be four (or sometimes three) archetypes of divine femininity; the maiden, the mother, the wild woman and the crone.
The maiden is the young girl in the first flushes of womanhood; she’s fun, energetic and excitable, albeit sometimes more than a little naïve.
The wild woman is the one who frankly doesn’t give a damn – she’s the perimenopausal lady who is as likely to double over with laughter and dance on tables as she is to lose her temper and scream blue murder when the need arises, and she recognises that the only thing holding her back from being exactly who and what she was meant to be before society told her otherwise is herself.
And the crone? She is the older woman… the one who’s learned so many lessons, gathered so much experience and is now ready to share all of those things with the next generation while winding down her own energies and finding peace with the quiet and the dark.
But today’s post is about the second of the four archetypes, the Mother; and about her role in each of our lives.
After all, the Mother is a pretty obvious one right? She is the woman at the peak of her fertile years who is the caregiver, the creator, the nurturer and the defender. The Mother is the one who grows life within her and births it out into the world and who then does everything in her power to keep that life safe and grow it into everything it is capable of being.
Except there’s a problem with that. And the problem comes with where those of us who aren’t physically mothers fit into this model of the phases of femininity.
Not that long ago I used to get incredibly upset and angry with the idea of that term of “mother”. Not because I don’t respect and honour those amazing women who give and sustain life – I absolutely do, and have possibly the best role model on the planet to in the form of my own mum, who deserves to be celebrated and honoured not just one Sunday a year but every single day.
No, my issue was with the way that the regular “motherhood challenges”, “you know you’re a mum if…” memes, and other mother-centric trends on social media seemed to exclude those women who were not physical mothers.
You know the ones I mean – those that tell us we don’t know love until we have children; can’t possibly feel tired until we’ve had kids and have no idea about the purpose of our lives until we become mothers.
Because while I completely understand and respect that the love you have for your child is strong and special and that parenting is bloody tiring (hell, I get tired enough with a dog who literally never sleeps through the night!), to say that as women we can’t be fulfilled until we have our own children is at best old fashioned and at worst incredibly offensive.
It got worse still when I first delved into the world of goddess worship, and found multiple people telling me that, in my 30s I was still a "maiden" and knew very little about myself or the world because I was yet to have children.
Every single time this happened I would have to bite my lip- trying desperately not to offend anyone by shouting out that the idea of "Mother" wasn't exclusive to a woman who had had a child.
Because what about those who can’t have children? What about those who just don’t want to? Are you telling me they can never know love, tiredness, wisdom or fulfilment? And even for the likes of me who very much want to have children and just haven’t made that happen yet, does that mean I’m somehow lacking as a woman?
In short. No.
Of course we should be celebrating mothers, motherhood and everything that role entails, but we also must stop using a “lack” of children as yet another stick for women to beat themselves with. And instead let’s start to acknowledge and celebrate that carrying and birthing a child isn’t the only thing which brings us home to that Mother part of ourselves.
The beauty of working with the Divine Feminine comes with not only recognising the power and magic in each stage of womanhood, but also in recognising that as adult women we have each of those archetypes within us no matter what is going on in our lives.
That means using the moon and our own feminine cycles to tap into the times when each of those archetypes are most dominant (the maiden energy at pre-ovulation and/or the waxing moon; the mother energy at ovulation and/or the full moon; the wild woman at pre-menstruation and/or the waning moon; and the crone as we bleed and/or the moon goes dark) and it means recognising that the strengths and challenges of each of those archetypes can be a part of our lives too no matter where we are personally.
Maybe you’re not able or called to have children in this life – right now or ever – but that doesn’t mean you don’t create in a different way; or that you don’t nurture or fiercely protect the souls you call your own.
That also doesn’t mean that you don’t experience the challenges of the Mother – the weariness that comes with never stopping to put yourself first; or the pain and exhaustion that comes with trying to bring something new – be it a novel, a plant or a business.
And similarly, it doesn't mean that those women who do have children are limited to those people being all they can ever create, or indeed all they should ever care about again. Because the power and love of a mother has the capacity to stretch even further afield than her own family.
The Mother lies within all of us, so rather than beating ourselves up – and allowing society to do the same – for the reasons we don’t fit into her classic mold, why don’t we take some time in this week heading up to Mother’s Day to reconnect with her.
Of course that’s not always easy… it means referring back to the relationships we’ve had – or at times haven’t had – with the women before us, and it means learning how to nurture, care for and protect ourselves. But it’s the kind of important work that makes a massive difference too.
Because the more you embrace the Mother within yourself, the more you come to remember that whether your path in this life is to grow and birth a baby or not, you are entirely capable of creating, nurturing and growing life… including the one that you want for yourself.