Death Mother/Creation Mother

"The Creation Mother is always also the Death Mother and vice versa. Because of this dual nature or double-tasking, the great work before us is to learn to understand what is around and about us and what within us must live, and what must die. Our work is to apprehend the timing of both; to allow what must die to die, and what must live to live." - Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves

This is what I love about studying the goddesses. I love seeing all that primal stuff just laid out there for us. For every young, beautiful maiden and light goddess there is an ugly, old one, a dark goddess, saying, "Don't get too caught up in all that loveliness, Sister, there's more to the story. Life ain't no bed of roses all the time. You better smell the flowers while you can, cuz there's some decay a comin'."

And at the same time, just when you think life is a big, steaming pile of shit, the goddess of love and life comes waltzin' in saying, "Hey, that ain't all there is, Sister. Get your head out of your ass and start living cuz there's beauty all around you. Life's too short. And what is it you want to be doing anyway? Get to it! You better be loving yourself. Look in the mirror, Sister. You got it going on!

For every Persephone, there's a Hecate. For every Bast, there's a Sekhmet. For every Athena, there's a Medusa. For every Kali, a Lakshmi; for Rhiannon, there's Cerridwyn; Cinderella/wicked stepmother; Snow White/Dark Queen, Vasilisa/Baba Yaga. You get it: Birth and Death. The endless cycle. Two sides of the same coin.

But, wait! The wisdom of the divine feminine is that it's not just black and white, either/or, crazy-ass, patriarchal dualistic thinking. There's a triple goddess to be found here. She is life, itself. She is the in-between. She is the one who travels the bridge to both worlds: the conscious and the unconscious, the upper and the lower, the internal and external, masculine and feminine, and understands that it's not one or the other, it's both/and. She knows the third way that moves betwixt the worlds and doesn't get stuck in the extremes. She is the wisdom that comes from living and knowing that birth follows death and death follows birth, but in between there is a life to be lived.

So don't be fooled by those old hags, or that stone cold evil eye of the Medusa. She contains the beautiful, wise goddess Athena. And don't be thinking that little girl don't know nothing. She's hiding the wise old hag within her very bones. Remember to live, Sisters, live it all. Remember to cherish the dark days as much as the glory days for they portend something else is coming. Nothing stays the same. And we can either wallow in the shit, complaining about the stink, or we can stand up and walk through it until we get to the other side, smelling like roses again.

And in case you forget, just walk outside and look up into the night sky. And there she is. Shining a little or a lot, for all to see. The Death Mother becomes the Creation Mother becomes the Death Mother becomes the Creation Mother and everything in between.

The Goddess Temple e-course on the Alchemical Goddesses starts in one month. We will be exploring the Death Mother when we meet Kali and the Creation Mother when we meet Yemaya and Aphrodite, that Great Mother Goddess of Love and Beauty, will be leading the way. What are you waiting for, Sister? Don't miss the boat. Life's too short.

Maiden, Mother, Crone

...three aspects of the triple goddess, which every female knows on a deep, soul level no matter what her age or stage of life. Sure, the maiden--or Kore--could be said to be the personification of innocence and couldn't possibly know what it means to be a mother and an old woman, but yet, every maiden shows glimpses of these future stages. She's the mother when she cuddles kittens and babysits and learns to nurture her bff through every drama and crisis they come to share. She's the crone, or wise woman within when she offers sage advise or surprises her own mother by offering words of wisdom that you think she couldn't possibly know. I remember when I was holding my baby girl, Chloe, and crying because I had just learned I had thyroid cancer and she put her hand on my face and looked into my eyes and said, "It's gonna be okay, Mommy." I remember blinking and looking at her and thinking, "Oh, my God, a wise woman just spoke to me," and I knew I was face to face with a deep soul who would have as much to teach me as I would her. Her words definitely brought me around and I felt like God had spoken through her and I relaxed, knowing she was right. It was going to be okay. I just had to trust. The maiden is not far from us even when we become mothers and crones. We can still recall the dreaminess, the giddiness, the je-ne-sais-quoi of that time of life, and we can even channel the maiden when dancing, dreaming, and playing. As mothers, we move into the active, nurturing stage of life, juggling schedules and kids, husbands, work, and projects; a time when our energy is truly at its peak and we can stand in the middle and look back at the maidens we once were and sigh (both sad and glad to be through it) and look ahead to the future of empty nests and the crowning of the crone--time to ourselves, time to Be More, Do Less. The crone years, usually sometime after 50, has the true gift of overview and begins to care less and less about outer world concerns and what people will think and how they will be perceived. She will often speak her mind because she knows and because she doesn't give a damn. She's been there, done that. She doesn't suffer fools gladly but at the same time she has all the patience in the world because she can leave grandbabies with their mothers after spoiling them rotten, turn inward and find solace in her own company, and she can go home (to herself and perhaps to the old man or woman she's shared her life with). She truly has the vision of past, present and future and standing at the crossroads like Hecate, can point the way if you just turn to her and ask for guidance. She knows the way.

I have to admit, I'm in a funny in-between place, like many of my friends who had babies late in life--half mother/half crone. One foot in the active Doing stage and one foot in the contemplative Being stage. It's kind of an interesting place to be, a little like a balancing act, a little schizophrenic at times, occasionally dizzying as you dig deep into the underworld of the unconscious where Hecate reigns and navigate the world above, sowing seeds and reaping harvests like Demeter, a personification of Mother Earth, herself. But wait, what of Persephone, Demeter's daughter, who was abducted from her mother and taken into the underworld where she became queen? With Hecate's help (she with the gift of overview), Demeter found Persephone and her daughter was returned to her for half the year and would spend the other half in the underworld with Hades, the dark god who presides there (with Hecate as her guardian). In that way, Persephone became the mediator between the upper and the lower, the darkness and the light. It is her mediation that brings an end to the dualistic way of seeing the world. The triple goddess reminds us of that oneness--that multi-facted jewel that we are.

I have been exploring the triple goddess and playing with the three aspects in my writing and art for some time now, and in March I will be leading two workshops at the wonderfully exciting 3-day spring retreat, Persephone Rising, at Buzzard's Bay on Cape Cod. The retreat will be held at a wonderful, old farmhouse near the water and a nature preserve, where we will celebrate the muses of art, nature and the goddess in each of us. In one of my workshops I will be taking participants on three guided journeys to meet their inner maiden, mother and crone and to receive gifts from them. This will conclude with a nature treasure hunt. Then, in the second workshop, we will be honoring one of the three goddesses by creating a shrine or altar and a goddess effigy or doll with found objects from nature, paint, and collage. There will be other workshops to choose from that will include writing and art and singing and dancing our wild selves--a true experience of mind, body and soul. Take a look at the wonderful classes planned and join us, as like Persephone, we celebrate the rites of spring in true goddess fashion--diving deep within and carrying our found wisdom out into the world in sacred ritual, celebration, and play!

13 and proud

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My beautiful daughter, Chloe, celebrated her 13th birthday on Friday. Because she skipped kindergarten she's a grade ahead of where she should be, meaning she'll be entering high school next year. AAAGHH! How did that happen? She may be ready to start high school, but I'm not! I'm trying to get used to the idea as there's no turning back now. I'm happy to say I like the person she has become. I like her style. I like how she thinks. I like that she's caring and compassionate. I like that she laughs at herself and enjoys others who make her laugh. I like her ability to figure things out and try new things. I like that she's courageous and independent. I like that she's thoughtful. I like that she's a caring friend. I'm writing this to remind me that whatever is in store during the teenage years ahead, I really like many things about this young woman who, in the prime of her maidenhood, makes me proud to be her mama.