Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self


MAY

May is the month of the goddess, the Great Creatrix and all other mothers. The mothers of children, mothers of invention, mothers of causes, mothers of endeavors, mothers of one’s Self.


Avid moon watcher that I am, I must confess that I never could recognize the face of the Man in the Moon. How could anyone conceivably mistake that face; that round, profoundly gentle face, jolly and eternally indulgent; that unconditionally comforting countenance, for male?

The dark marks, which define her features, are in reality the bodies of water on her surface, the Sea of Tranquility, the Ocean of Storms and the Sea of Fertility. Sounds like a woman to me. My version of the Ma’am in the Moon will always be Aunt Jemima. The ultimate maternal perfection fantasy figure: purveyor of affection, protection and pancakes.

Moon, O Mother Moon, O Mother Moon,
Mother of living things,
Hear our voice, O Mother Moon!
O Mother Moon, O Mother Moon,
Keep away the spirits of the dead,
Hear our voice, O Mother Moon,
O Mother Moon! O Mother Moon!
– Gabon Pygmy Song

Women are inextricably connected to the moon, to her rhythms and waves. A woman’s blood waxes and wanes with the moon. Her urges and juices ebb and flow. And the moon, as she grows from crescent to full every month, mimics the pregnant swell of a woman’s belly, or a bunny’s, or a dog’s.

The moon as mother is a prevalent, primal mythological theme. The West African Niger believe that The Great Moon Mother sends the Moon Bird to Earth to deliver babies. The Baganda of Central Africa bathe their newborns by the light of the first full moon following birth. In Ashanti tradition, the moon Akua’ba, is a fertility figure.  Women carry effigies of her tucked into their skirts at the small of their backs as an aid to conception and a guarantee of sturdy children.

Women in Europe did the same. During the Renaissance, long after the mass acceptance of Christianity, it was understood that if a woman wanted anything, she should pray not to God, but to the Moon Mother for succor. Saint Augustine denounced women for dancing “impudently and filthily all the day long upon the days of the new moon,” even as their Hebrew sisters were scorned for wearing lunar amulets by the biblical prophets in Isaiah 3:18.

In Italy, even now, engaged in the act of giving birth, women clutch crescent-shaped charms and pray to Mary, Mother of God, for help. The Virgin Mary is frequently displayed standing upon a crescent moon. The Greek, Hera, Demeter, Artemis, Thetis, Phoebe and Selene; the Roman, Luna, Mana and Diana; Gala or Galata of the Gaelic and Gaulish tribes, Goddesses all, were associated with the moon, and, as Her hand maidens, they aided women in labor.

…I standing on your crescent, madonna, moon,
Old woman that never dies, being perpetually
Renewed, made nothing again, made small again,
Waxing again, going through it all over again,
I would lift up my song, bark, howl, bay to you;
I would say to you, remember me, beloved 3-headed nurse,
I have swallowed your milk, you wiped me and wrapped me;
Beautiful motherly monster, watch over me still.”
– Constance Urdang

The Egyptian hieroglyph, mena, means both moon and breast. Hathor, the Sky Goddess, is the Celestial Cow and is depicted as carrying the moon disk between her horns. From Her breasts flow the stars and Milky Way. Britain was originally called Albion after the Milk-white Moon Goddess, until, that is, the monk Gilas succeeded in converting her into a fictitious male Saint Alban. The European Continent is named after the goddess, Europa, who was also known as Hera and Io, the White Moon Cow.

The first woman of Polynesia was the moon, Hina, and each woman thereafter is a wahine, created in her image. The Finnish creatrix was known as Luonnotar, Luna the Moon. It was She who gave forth the great World Egg from which hatched the entire universe. The Peruvian moon was Mama Quilla.  She, too, bore an egg.

Mama Ogllo, the Moon Maiden, along with her brother, the sun, founded the royal Inca dynasty. The Zuni of the American Southwest venerate the Moon Our Mother, who is the younger sister of the sun. To the Apache and the Navaho, she is Changing Woman. The Sioux call Her The Old Woman Who Never Dies. To the Iroquois, She is the Mother Who Created the Earth and the Surface People.

The moon, as Queen of Heaven, reigned in the Near East: Babylonia, Persia, Syria, Sumeria, Arkadia and Canaan. She From Whom All Life Issues, was known as Anath, Asherath, Anahita, Qadesh, Lilith, Ishtar, Inanna and Astarte, which means womb. As Ishtar, She sings, “I the mother have begotten my people and like the young of the fishes they fill the seas.” In pre-Islamic Arabia, the moon was feminine and her cult prevailed. She was Manat, the Moon Mother of Mecca and her shrines are still holy, although women are constrained from entering them. Another of her names, Al-Lat, was altered at the advent of the patriarchy to become, Allah. By Mohammed’s order, all religious amulets must be made with silver, her special metal.

The glow and beauty of the stars
are nothing near the splendid moon
when in her roundness she burns silver
about the world.
– Sappho of Lesbos

 

***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 


MAY

May is the month of the goddess, the Great Creatrix and all other mothers. The mothers of children, mothers of invention, mothers of causes, mothers of endeavors, mothers of one’s Self.


The Queen Heals Her Wounds and Draws Strength From Her Scars

I loved the mothering years of my thirties. I did not bear children, but we don’t need to have given birth to be a mother. The archetypal Mother is not only a biological parent, She is a Mother of Invention, as well. She produces and reproduces — be it children, enterprises, careers or political causes. She then labors endlessly to nourish and sustain the fruits of Her passion: Her family, Her business, Her home, Her job, Her projects, Her clients, Her students, Her community.

That was me. After my Maiden years of youthful exploration and adventure — both geographical and psychological — I felt pulled by the Mother’s instinctual need to nest, and settled into a more sedentary, domestic life. Daughter of Mother Earth Herself, I created a ceremonial center from which I lavished love and nurturing spiritual support on everyone around me.

I extended my affection and protection to a number of young people whose presence enlivened my heart and home. My dear foster son moved in with me when he was ten, and I mentored student interns and assistants at what I came to call the Mama Donna Auntie Mame School of Life. Through these nourishing connections, I claimed my Mother power.

But by the time I was forty, my golden days of Motherhood had turned tragic. Death invaded my life, and family members, friends, students and pets all fell ill around me. Mama Donna to my extended clan, I held the hands and rubbed the feet of the sick and the scared. I read, talked and chanted to the dying and sat with them in long silence. I laid out the bodies of the dead and counseled the grief stricken. I wrote obituaries and officiated at funerals. Hard circumstances forced me to become Mother Courage.

I spent a fifteen-year eternity in the hospice zone, losing nearly everyone and everything that I had loved —family, friends, animals, home, community, income, monthly blood, hormones, equilibrium, confidence, and what ever control I thought I had over my life.

My own needs relinquished, all of my energy was lavished on others. Sometime during that interminable period, somewhere between making Jell-O, changing invalid diapers and scattering ashes, I lost my center. I was off kilter and shaky, preoccupied with the process of disease, decline, death and decay. Menopause with its interminable insomnia, mood swings and hormonal surprise attacks definitely did not help. I was a walking wreck.

To top it off, I was all but celibate for long patches of time, totally disinclined to engage sexually. Surely sex could have been a salve in such hard times, but I refused the comforts that were offered and retreated like a turtle into the shell of my sad self. And the people in my most intimate life, friends and lover alike — those who were still standing — fled from me, frightened by my hands-on association with so much pain and suffering as if death were a contagious disease. All I managed to attract was trouble.

Caught in the quicksand of despair, I gradually became completely paralyzed, unable to help myself, too heartbroken even to lick my own wounds. Resentment and bitterness began to singe the edges of my anguish. In the end, I was no Mother Teresa. And it was not pretty. I made myself sick in every sense of the word.

Then, one day, I’d had enough. “Get a grip.” I scolded myself. “Enough is enough, already.” I was finally and completely disgusted with my sorry ass martyr self. “Yes, some terrible things have happened. OK, lots of terrible things happened. Life happened. Why should I be exempt? Get over it and move on already.”

Resolute, I began my struggle to repossess all of the body-mind-heart-spirit support skills that I had so recklessly tossed aside during my tortured deathwatch. I craved quiet time and serious sustenance to help me process all that I had seen, done and felt. I call this discipline Sitting in the Shadows.

Grieving is an active practice, a conscious engagement that comes from a place of tenderness, compassion and love, and not the same thing as wallowing in formless self-pity, bitterness and anger. As I mourned, I began to open to my pain and started to understand that to acknowledge grief and suffering, fears and foibles, vulnerability and weakness, is ultimately the best hope for maturation, expansion and wisdom.

Determined to process my experiences and emotions, I drew in on myself. Out came my neglected journal, which I embraced as a long-lost friend. I sought council between its covers and lost myself in its pages, seeking to find the way back to my misaligned center, my sanity and my true Self.

Yes, it is true, I realized, I had been called to an appalling task. Yes, I did rise to meet it. Yes, I had succeeded in being of some considerable help. I also acknowledged my feelings of helplessness. I had been to hell and back — alone with no one to support me, which, in retrospect, was precisely the lesson that I had been meant to learn: to be able to rely on myself alone.

In looking back with honesty, I realized that this excruciating transition was a proficiency test in the academy of life. Unless we are challenged, how could we ever expand our capabilities beyond our assumed capacities? Gradually over time, I grew to embrace the difficult circumstances that had been forced upon me, as well as the hard changes wrought from within, for the invaluable opportunities for growth and spiritual development that they offered.

By day I continued to do what I must, and at night I tried to write. Like Penelope, I spent my evenings alone in the dark, spinning yarns, weaving a comforting sense of order, pattern, and systematic interconnectivity around myself like a shawl, a silk cocoon. I sat in its embrace quietly quilting my own experience into the intricate complexity, the enduring continuity of That Which Is, looking for meaning, direction, and perception.

Like Madame Lafarge, I was knitting a running commentary on my duel with death, as a way to interpret the rules of engagement and the lessons of the fray. By handling the threads and passing the shuttle, I was attempting to re-weave what had been broken, and to repair the damage that I had both endured and inflicted as a result of my pain.

My era of selfless mothering of others was coming to an end and I began to direct my ministering attentions toward my own bruised and battered Self. Now that I was motherless, it was time to claim the responsibility for my own care and feeding, my own growth and comfort, my own self-healing. To be my own caring best friend, sister, daughter, mother and devoted advocate.

Slowly I learned — and am still learning — how to mother myself, to lavish upon myself that same unconditional loving kindness, encouragement, support and solace that I have always given so freely to others. To nurture my own well being. To hold my deepest needs in tender trust. To care for my personal concerns and inspire and encourage the development of my best potential. To honor my purpose. To celebrate my passion. And to embrace my power.

Eventually I realized that though not unscathed, I had endured the onslaught of trials by fire and survived my middle passage of the soul, and I began to feel good about what I had achieved. I felt that I could do anything, because, in fact, I already had.

Finally my circumstances were calming down and my prospects were, for the first time in a very long time, looking up. Through my own intentions and concerted efforts, by constantly questioning and reconfiguring, by struggling to mourn and then release what was irrevocably lost, I was recovering my own misplaced vitality, interest and energy — and then some.

I was beginning to feel the tiniest inkling of the exhilarating force that I had been reading about, PMZ or Post Menopausal Zest (a cheery phrase coined by the anthropologist Margaret Mead) and to believe the promise of renewed vim and vigor displayed by my women friends who are in their sixth, seventh, eighth, and even ninth decades. And suddenly, miraculously, after all that anguish, I began to find my easy stride again and was soon trotting along with new authority, enjoyment and aplomb.

By the time I reached my mid-fifties, I was finally ready and able, and for the first time in my life, actually, consciously, conscientiously willing to accept the responsibility for my own life and living and the truth and complete consequences of my own dreams, decisions and actions.

I was a maturing monarch prepared to regulate all of the inner and outer realms of my own domain. At long last, I knew myself to be the uncontested mistress of my own fate. I had succeeded against all odds in turning my midlife crisis into my crowning achievement. And now here I am, standing in my full sovereignty, Queen Mama Donna, Queen of My Self.

 

***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.


MAY

May is the month of the goddess, the Great Creatrix and all other mothers. The mothers of children, mothers of invention, mothers of causes, mothers of endeavors, mothers of one’s Self.


May is Mothering Month.

What an extraordinarily exciting and gorgeous time of the year this is. Life is bursting out all over. Buds, blossoms, and babies everywhere! Is it any wonder that May is the month of the Mother?

In this season of teeming birth and growth, we honor the Mother Goddesses, Mother Earth, and our own mothers, as well as our own mothering, nurturing, loving Selves.

We don’t need to have given birth to a baby to be a mother, and in fact, nearly one quarter of the Baby Boom generation chose not to bear children.

The archetypal Mother is biological parent as well as the Mother of Invention. She produces and reproduces – be they children, books, businesses, careers, or political causes. Then She labors endlessly to nourish and sustain the fruits of Her passion: Her family, Her business, Her home, Her job, Her projects, Her clients, Her students, Her community.

Full with nutriment, She is the ultimate cosmic creator, nursemaid, caretaker, and provider. She is committed to the well-being of those around Her, and the daily domestic and productive concerns of the material world are Hers. Endlessly reliable, dependable, solid, and sure, She is the woman whose work is never done.

The Mother is the progenitor of life and the provider of sustenance for the living. Including Her own! It is so important that we extend our mothering instincts to include our Selves. To be our own Mother. To be the ideal mother we might not have had.

To nurture our own well-being. To hold our deepest needs in tender trust. To care for our personal concerns and inspire and encourage the development of our best potential. To honor our purpose. To celebrate our passion. And to embrace our power.

 
***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.


MAY

May is the month of the goddess, the Great Creatrix and all other mothers. The mothers of children, mothers of invention, mothers of causes, mothers of endeavors, mothers of one’s Self.


Reprinted from “The Queen’s Court” section of The Queen’s Chronicles
Dear Mama Donna,

I am a woman in my Queen years with a thirteen-year-old daughter who is into “Emo” and cutting herself. She is in therapy, but I feel so alone and isolated in this situation. Are there any Queen readers of your letter who have or are experiencing this in their families? And how do you help your child and keep your sanity in the process? I am hoping someone your letter reaches has had some experience with this and from what I’ve read there are one in fifty people (usually teen girls) who have a problem with “cutting.” My other hope is that this may help others who are going through this! Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you,

-Morgan, OH

Dear Morgan,

Please know that you’re not alone, although I know the feeling of helplessness and confusion. My daughter was also cutting at the same age. She has just turned sixteen. I don’t know for sure that she has completely stopped cutting. But lately she wears a spiked collar around her neck. I don’t understand the violence and darkness. I cannot explain it to you. I believe there is intense emotional pain, which is somehow met in the physical pain. In my daughter’s case, the cuts are superficial, although they leave scars, which she hides. But I do not think she will ultimately destroy herself. I am trusting that she is on her path with her own Divine Guidance. I can’t protect her from pain. She went to therapy for a year and I don’t know how much it helped. I certainly felt better that we were getting some help, but she doesn’t think it had any effect on her. She’s very strong and determined. I have chosen to believe in her, whatever it looks like. My main goal is to communicate, to stay open for whenever she will talk to me. I want her to know she is not alone. I try to reflect her worth to her, to listen, and to let her know I love her. If I have advice it’s to trust that she will come through this and to be very compassionate to yourself. All your feelings around this are allowed, and you cannot control her path. You can model self-respect, self-love, self-honor, faith in your Divine Guidance, valuing life, honoring your own body, expressing feelings openly. Thank you for reaching out! Sending comfort and understanding,

-Andrea, ME

Regarding the self-destruction of the reader’s daughter, I believe flower essence therapy would be very helpful and is of course, totally natural, without side effects. I would be happy to discuss the options with the mother or she can find a local practitioner at www.bachcentre.com.

-Cheri, NY

Re: Self-destructive daughters, I recommend a book by Brad Sachs, When No One Understands: Letters to a Teenager on Life, Loss, and the Hard Road to Adulthood.

Karen, NJ

A dear British friend, Dr. Judith Reece, a feminist, a mental health nurse and nursing professor, a magistrate, and an authority on females self-harming wrote her doctoral thesis on self-harm.

Judy also co-ordinated the first and second international conferences (in England) on self-harm.

-Marjorie, Dundas, Ontario.

In the January 2008 issue Queen Morgan from Ohio wrote for help with dealing with her self-destructive daughter. I printed several responses in the last issue. Here is one more.

Dear Mama Donna, thank you for the kind replies and information from your readers. Just wanted to let you know my daughter is doing much better and seems to be coming out of her “dark night of the soul” a stronger, more mature person. I know there’s a reason for everything but when you’re right in the middle of a crisis it seems it will never end. It certainly helped to know there are kind, caring people out there keeping you in their thoughts.  Bright Blessings, Morgan
***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.