A while ago, I wrote a blog post about what a healthy man looks like. I guess it’s only fair to do the same for women. Why? Because many women are not really growing into their full femininity. We can be damaged as children and suffer from arrested development. Or we get sucked into our youth obsessed culture and try to remain perpetual teenagers. We also don’t honor our elders anymore, so we don’t look to them to learn how to be wise.
Are you curious now? Let’s take a look at the feminine archetypes to see what healthy women look like.
The divine feminine energy in humans starts with the maiden as a child. Child energy is the part of us that is innocent. We trust life, ourselves, and other people. It’s that childlike belief that miracles happen even when things seem hopeless. It’s the belief in fairy tales and gods despite the evidence that they may not really exist.
This starts in the safety of the womb. If life proceeds in safety and nurturance, the Maiden grows up feeling secure and maintains trust. She maintains her grasp on all that is magical, innocent, and pure.
If the Maiden has too much childlike energy due to being coddled, she may express repression, blaming, conformity, wear rose colored glasses, and engage in risk taking. The shadow Maiden is selfish and only works towards her own goals and needs. The challenge of the Maiden is to meet with disillusion and disappointment while retaining the childlike innocence, trust, and optimism. She also experiences life to learn responsibility and walk with authority.
The Maiden needs her childlike trust and optimism to bring forth and nurture life. She needs to stay in touch with that so that she can relate to her children and the creative energy in life. If she became hard and disillusioned, why would she take on that role? How could she nurture anyone? If she lost her childlike innocence, how could she engage in imagination and create anything new? The work of the Child is also to learn balance between being dependent and independent; to be a part of something without being overwhelmed by it or too detached; to trust despite being let down.
To develop this Maiden energy, play. Stop trying and just be. Create. Be spontaneous. Laugh loudly and often. Sing in public places. Dare to be goofy. Explore.
The Mother is the nurturer of life – both her own life and that of other human beings. One can birth children without ever really being in touch with her Caregiver energy. One can be fully in touch with her Caregiver energy without ever birthing children, so this really has nothing to do with motherhood.
The Mother is a life-giver and the source of nurturing, devotion, patience and unconditional love. She is a provider. She is able to put the good of others before her own selfish desires. She is able to forgive and maintain relationships despite others’ (or her own) imperfections and mistakes. She’s a helper who wants to make a difference though love and sacrifice.
Her energy may also be used to create work or new things in all forms. Her greatest accomplishment is to give without harming anyone or losing herself.
When a woman has an abundance of this energy, the Mother can be devouring, abusive, co-dependent, and manipulative. The shadow Mother can also make her children or loved ones feel guilty about becoming independent and leaving her. This can be cloaked by calling it love or concern, but it comes from fear of abandonment and the need to control. This Mother may also seek love and approval of her children by befriending them. This creates intimacy, but deprives the children of the guidance and boundaries that a growing child needs.
When a woman is lacking in this energy, she may abandon her children or creations, or is so busy that she has no time for nurturing her young. She may adore her children so much that she delights in all that they do, regardless of how dangerous, unhealthy, or demanding. So her children grow up spoiled and without boundaries.
The challenge of the Mother is to balance her own needs with those of others. She needs to learn boundaries so that she’s not rescuing, but empowering. She’s not sacrificing herself to something or someone else. When she stands in her fullness, she’s willingly caring for something greater while coming from a place of strength and love (rather than obligation, duty, guilt, etc).
To develop your Caregiver, nurture something nonjudgmentally. Don’t have agendas for what it will be. Just put your love and care into it and allow it to unfold. Create something for the joy of it. Let others make mistakes without feeling like you have to correct or judge them.
The Sacred Prostitute is not about selling yourself for money, although it could be. It’s about all the ways we sell out for safety rather than living a full life. We can prostitute ourselves for money, love, safety, or approval. We can trade our bodies, minds, spirits, or resources for these things.
The energy of the Prostitute is to engage with life on your her terms. She wants to have things, do things, and be things as a result of her own ideas, her own money, and her own desires. As she gains confidence in this energy, she’s able to commit without selling out or selling herself short. This reinforces her own strength and value so that she can emerge knowing who she is and fall in love with herself.
When this energy is denied or is deficient, she may compromise her ethics, or make choices that keep her financially safe. So she gains comfort and safety in exchange for stagnation and loss of self esteem. She might go along to get along, play small, and keep quiet. She may put up with abuse or violations of her values. Maybe she uses sex as a weapon or as a way to exchange resources.
When the energy is in excess, it can show up as dominating other people, throwing her weight around, or manipulating through resources or by using her body.
To develop your Sacred Prostitute, live life mindfully. Speak your truth. Become responsible for your feelings, actions, and for providing for yourself. Learn how to stand in your own power without stomping on others.
Now we get to my favorite, the Crone. The Crone has gotten a bad rap these days. We live in a youth obsessed culture (probably because we don’t grow into our full adult selves anymore) that doesn’t value old age. What a shame! The Crone is the ultimate bad ass! While all people have access to all energy, you don’t see a male compliment to the Crone.
A Crone is a post menopausal woman who, because she’s not breeding or rearing children, is free to indulge in her own growth. What does it take for growth to happen? Destruction of the old. That is the Crone’s other function and strength. She is the Destroyer. She makes change possible. Perhaps this is why she’s a bit scary.
In her fullness, she is wise, powerful, and holy. She is a teacher who lights the way for the maidens, mothers, and temptresses. She often is engaging and deepening her spirituality as she gets closer to Death.
As a woman enters into the Crone phase, she may experience it by getting sick or seeing peers sicken or die. As she deals with suffering, grief and loss, she moves to a place of acceptance. Through that acceptance, she experiences freedom. She’s in full possession of her childlike innocence. She can create and experience pleasure. She’s responsible only to and for herself. And now she has the freedom to do whatever she wants with her life.
When there is an excess of Crone energy, the woman may appear bitter about not achieving or doing what she wanted or about growing older. She may be isolated, fearful of death, rigidity, holding on to things that no longer serve her, and have no involvement in life. This Crone may also indulge in destruction of others.
When there is a deficit of Crone energy, this may manifest as self-destruction.
There is a beautiful Crone’s manifesto on Pilgrim’s Moon
that I will paste below. I believe women of all ages benefit from adopting these ideas. Use these ideas to develop your Crone nature.
- I will banish the word ‘should’ from my life
- I will laugh a lot, including gently at myself sometimes
- I will gather my community of loved ones close about me
- I will speak up bravely when I need to
- I will demonstrate that a little eccentricity gives spice to life
- I will live more simply, leaving space for what’s really important to me
- I will treat my body to movement and to delicious, nourishing food
- I will compromise as little as possible
- I will find all kinds of occasions and people to celebrate
- I will live in a profoundly creative way, understanding that the word creative does not always refer to the arts but to a deeper current running through life
- I will, being human, feel fear and regret sometimes; I will not allow those feelings to define me
- I will ask for help when I need it
- I will mark the significant moments of life, large and small
- I will mourn my losses fiercely, in my own way
- I will fall in love when I feel like it
- I will work to heal our beautiful planet home
- I will do and learn things I’ve always wanted to do and learn
- I will forget to worry what people think of me
- I will discover my gifts and offer them freely
- It is entirely likely I will wear purple
- I will live a spiritual life, although not necessarily a religious one
- I will keep an open mind and an open heart
- I will learn to cackle
I hope you have a better understanding of what a healthy man and woman look like. Perhaps you feel better about where you stand as you look at this. Or maybe you feel you have some work to do.
As I’ve said before, we’re all works in progress. And if you adopt a growth mindset, that’s a great thing because you’ll just keep getting better and better. But don’t use to this judge yourself or others. Use it to be better. Stand tall. Be whole.