In a time before time existed, there was the great goddess. She was formed from the great swirling darkness and chaos, and gave birth to the heavens, to the planets & stars, to the earth & the seas, the jungles & grasslands, to the animals & the people.
She held within her all aspects of femininity. She was as light as she was dark. She was as great as she was terrible. She gave life and took it away. She was compassionate and angry, fertile and sterile, young and old. She was all of these contradictions and more.
And because of these contradictions, she did not fit into humankind’s framework of knowledge. She was simply incomprehensible, always evading the grasp of enquiring minds. So, to help us in understanding her better, we disassembled her and tried to understand the fragments instead: the individual goddesses as they are described in various cultural pantheons across the globe… Ishtar, Freya, Athena, Isis, Kali, Hecate, Diana, Brigid, Kwan Yin, Demeter, Bast, Frigg, Ceridwin, Venus.
For a long time, these fragments were under threat as they began to disappear under the influence of a patriarchal culture. However, there has been a resurgence in those who seek to trace the edges of these fragments, to feel into their shapes and, perhaps, at some point in the future, to reassemble the goddess in all her glorious contradictory nature.
As one of these seekers of the sacred feminine, I have been exploring the concept of the feminine archetypes most associated with lifestages as represented through the world’s goddess narratives. Primarily these are the stories of maiden, the lover, the mother and the crone, and we can see their presence in the life journeys of women as they progress from innocent girls to wise women.
However, the wisdom of these goddesses is not limited to those who are most obviously experiencing any particular lifestage, rather it is applicable at any point on our journeys through womanhood. A teenager caring for her younger siblings may call on the wisdom of the mother, while the 60year old who has begun dating again may be more attracted to the wisdom of the lover than the crone, and the 40year old career woman will have more in common with the maiden than she may expect.
In order to understand these goddess narratives better, we can use the wheel of the year as we move from spring through to winter. The natural cycle of the seasons provides the perfect structure to explore our own feminine cycles of energy, relationships, realizations…. of wisdom.
As we find ourselves in full Spring, the maiden goddess is the first we encounter on our journey through the year. She is youth and innocence and everything that is shiny and new. She is that clean sweep that we promise ourselves as we set aside another winter and open our arms to embrace the lengthening of the days.
But perhaps the greatest wisdom that the maiden goddess brings us is the wisdom that this too shall pass. She brings the wisdom of hope as we transition from the winter months back into the spring. We can draw on this wisdom at any point through our lives when we’ve experienced the darker side of life. The maiden promises renewal, rebirth and revival. She is the light that bathes us when we have all but given ourselves up to the dark.
When we see this wisdom embodied in the bright green shoots that are pushing their way up through the dark earth, or in the sound of baby birds that tweet sweetly from their precarious nests, or in the warming rays gently kissing our pale sun-starved skin, it becomes easier to access. It becomes easier to own the maiden aspect as a part of our truth.
So this Spring I invite you to throw open your front door and step out into the cool fresh air and breathe in deep. I ask that you open your eyes, your mind, your heart, your soul to the signs of infinite hope that the cycle of life continues.
What do you see? Swelling buds on the dark branches of the trees. The long waxy white petals of an early flowering magnolia. Earthworms slowly making their way through the softening soil. A host of daffodils nodding their golden heads to the arrival of warmer days.
What do you touch? The new soft blades of grass that tickle your ankles. Fluffy catkins just waiting to shed their skin and thrust their leaves forth. A fine mist of rain that gently dresses your hair in a web of crystalline droplets. Warmth that seeps into your skin till it warms your very bones.
What do you smell? The thick yellow perfume of pollen dancing on the breeze. Mineral tang from lake water now melted. The warm earthy smell of thick mud that fights to hold the impression of a footprint. A green scent of new growth everywhere.
What do you hear? The plaintive bleat of newborn lambs calling for their mothers. A rustling breeze as a rush of air brushes past new lime green leaves. A dawn chorus of birdsong heralding the morning light. Incessant babbling from water released from its icy prison.
What do you know? The supple strength of those that bend and sway. The speed of fleet-footed active creation. The independent selfishness of personal growth. Tender potential encased in a thin egg-shell layer of protective separation.
The wisdom of the goddess is all around us – we need only awaken to its presence. How are you experiencing this beautiful maiden energy of Spring newly sprung?
Want to go on a journey of self-discovery with the Virgin & Lover goddesses? Check out my beautiful collection of stories, visualisations, journal prompts and creativity exercises here!