Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

Contrary to the assumptions of many women, the Triple
Goddess model is not universal, nor is it really historical. In fact, the
so-called ancient paradigm that enjoys so much popularity today is actually not
quite as old as I am!

The age-related Triple Goddess was first articulated in so
many words by Robert Graves, a classical scholar, mythographer and poet who in
his 1948 study, The White
Goddess
,

synthesized the nine most important early
Greeks goddesses into three main types.

“As Goddess of the Underworld,” he writes, “she was
concerned with Birth, Procreation and Death. As Goddess of the Earth she was
concerned with the three seasons of Spring, Summer and Winter: she animated
trees and plants and ruled all living creatures. As Goddess of the Sky she was
the Moon in her three phases.”

Summing up the paradigm, he concludes, “As the New Moon or
Spring, she was girl; as the Full Moon or Summer, she was woman; as the Old
Moon or Winter, she was hag.”

Robert Graves’s Triple Goddess is associated only with the
three elements of earth, air, and water, the three seasons of spring, summer,
and winter, and just three phases of the moon — waxing, full, and dark.

Now wait a minute! Where is autumn? The leaves don’t just
get crumbly and brown and fall off the trees at the end of summer. First they
turn brilliant colors, a fabulous display of gorgeous glory before they
disappear into winter. Does that not describe midlife women, who are more
stunning and sturdy now than ever we were as young maidens?

And what about the waning moon? Where is that, Mr. Graves?
While it might be tempting to think of the waning moon as getting smaller,
weaker, dimmer, I prefer to relate to the waning stage as reducing, refining,
condensing, like fine wine or rich broth. Less water and more juice.

He also compares the Maiden with air, the Mother with Earth
and the Crone with water. Fire, any one? If women in our mid years are not about
fire, we are not about anything. Our bodies are burning up alive. Our passions
are rekindled. And our patience is fried. To a crisp!

During the past half century, Graves’s definition of three
age-identified aspects of a Triple Goddess has worked its way thoroughly into
today’s huge and diverse Goddess and New Age movements where it has been
wholeheartedly embraced. But now there is an alternative — a Four- Fold Goddess
whose four periods of growth and transformation resonate deeply with
contemporary women.

Four, not the trinity, is considered the holy number in most
Earth-honoring cultures. In numerology, four represents the generating virtue,
the source from which all combinations are possible. It has long been a number
of completion, stability and solidity, considered a perfect number, the root of
all things.

My new construct of the four stages of a woman’s life —
Maiden, Mother, Queen and Crone is a much more accurate description of the
current Way of Womanhood. And they seem so natural, somehow. They are in
complete metaphoric alignment with the pervasive way that peoples have always
ordered existence into Four Quarters. The four quarters of the moon, the four
seasons of the year, the four solstices and equinoxes, the four elements, the
four cardinal directions of the Earth, the four periods of the day, the four
suits of the tarot. When all four aspects are joined, the Goddess is complete:
physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And so are we.

Four-Fold Correspondences

 

Maiden                Mother             Queen                Crone

Waxing Moon       Full
Moon         Waning
Moon     Dark
moon        

Spring                   Summer           Autumn              Winter

Water                    Earth                Fire                     Air            

East                      South               West                  North

Dawn                     Noon               Sunset               Midnight

 

***

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

 

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