Nicole Urdang MS., NCC. DHM. LMHC. Buffalo, New York.
You don’t have to be a neopaganist to appreciate the beauty of the ancient archetypes of Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Each life phase has its role and responsibilities and each one is equally valued.
The young, innocent, and energetic maiden sees the world through her young eyes. It’s a time of firsts: first period, love interest, dreams, and passions. This age is marked with curiosity about almost everything. It’s a time of discovery, early exploration of the self, and choosing initial life paths.
The mother archetype doesn’t just include women who have given birth or chose to adopt. This age is marked in a deeper awareness and appreciation of the nurturing, loving, giving, and feminine energy. This nurturing can manifest in creative endeavors as well as parenting, social connections, and education. It is full of energy and vibrancy. The latter part of this phase is when you’ll experience your first menopause. The tasks here include mentoring, sharing knowledge, greater or less community involvement, and reflecting back on the past and present.
The crone archetype stands out for its ability to incorporate what has come before it. It is marked by menopause. While physical energy may be declining, there is still a wealth of life experience. You have more time to reflect, more self-confidence, stillness and meditation, which opens up new opportunities.
It can also be a time of grieving — not just of the aging process, itself, but of other losses as well. This allows you to let go past roles and patterns, as well as dreams, that may no longer be possible. The greatest gift of the crone, however, is being freer and more comfortable being oneself.
Engaging with these Archetypes
You can embrace each stage of your life and prepare for the next.
Although any life transition is not easy, women entering the third decade of their lives are often faced with difficult decisions. This is because they are constantly being told to keep young. This is exactly the opposite advice that would allow us to move forward.
There are no easy answers to how to live each phase of life, as there is no one-size fits all approach. One woman’s choices might be completely wrong for another. To continue to evolve into your true self, it is important to listen to your inner guidance. Of course, they sometimes pepper you with conflicting messages, but if you’re patient and willing to wait, the path becomes clear.
Do you need help with difficult decisions or peace in your life? Look for a therapist that can help.
Reflections on Cronehood
Yesterday I was sitting on a bench in the park, the model of an elderly lady, and felt an incredible sense freedom. I felt completely myself, without any pressure to please anyone or to be attractive to anybody. It was a great experience. Embracing my cronehood. Who knew?
Everything I had ever been told about being an old lady vanished in that instant. I felt seen. People smiled at my face, and one young man sat down with me to talk for a while.
I like to remind myself that Yoda and ET weren’t beautiful, yet they were wise, loving, and fully present — not to mention respected and loved.
In my younger years, I was fascinated by many aspects of the mother and maiden roles. Now, it’s time to take off those mantles and allow this stage to unfold. I don’t want to chase a youth that is now 68. And what is “young at heart” anyway? I want to be kind, compassionate, generous, and wise. I couldn’t give a rat’s meow about being or looking young. I want to be the old woman I am.
It’s hard, though. The media show me pictures of women my age who — through all sorts of machinations — look a lot younger. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be vibrant and healthy, but I can be those things at 68 and look my age. I don’t want to be young again. Have been there, done it. What’s interesting is discovering this third age. I love sharing my 45+ years of experience as a holistic psychotherapist.
Life Wisdom for the Conne
A wise man once told me that if you are happy with your choices, there is a good chance that others will be too. Not only has that been true for me, but I also believe it is because I give people permission to live their authentic lives.
We all need examples of what’s possible. I’ve seen older women doing their own thing, and it’s inspiring. I can only hope that my methods will inspire others to feel confident about their choices, even if they don’t conform to the prevailing social norms.
This third age can be full of discovery and growth. This could be as a result of trying new things externally, digging your own deeps, or a combination thereof.
It may require long periods of rest, which can be a problem for many women. Even though that can feel “unproductive,” it may prove to be just the peaceful, healing break your body-mind-spirit needs.
Aging with Self-Compassion and Awareness
Some things naturally diminish, much like an old injury you can still see in a tiny scar on your body. Other issues, such childhood trauma, can continue to pay emotional dividends. It’s never too late to get good therapy. You can change until your body falls apart.
One of the biggest challenges in life is fully accepting whatever stage you’re in and allowing the present to unfold with new possibilities. This can be achieved through therapy or natural growth.
To enter the crone era and swim against the tide of youth-oriented culture, it may require a conscious, concerted effort. This is not an easy task. It’s even more challenging when you’re aging in an age-denying society where media bombards you 24 hours a day. But it is possible. The reward for authenticity is well worth the effort. You can also be a beacon to younger generations by showing them how it feels to age with grace and acceptance.
Of course, it’s also important to be honest about the challenges of aging, just as it is to be present with the tasks of maidenhood and motherhood. It is not easy to navigate any stage, but if we are open-minded and don’t hide behind the facade that everything is perfect all the time, it can be a way for us to support one another in a new, compassionate way.
Finding a therapist who can help you navigate the challenges of life’s bumps, twists, and turns can be incredibly helpful to embracing the stage you’re in. You can search for therapists in your local area and then narrow your search by using the filters to the left. If you’re looking for help with accepting your cronehood, you might use the Common Specialties filter, selecting All other issues > Aging and Geriatric Issues to see your options.
© Copyright 2021 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Nicole Urdang MS, NCC DHM, LMHC in Buffalo NY, Permission to publish
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