The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

The Queen Suggests A Mirror Meditation

posted by Donna Henes

Certainly the most crucial step toward sovereignty is to know our Selves. After all our years as mothers and others, we need to reestablish who we are as individuals, separate and distinct from our relationships with those around us. Who am I if I am not a mother, a daughter, a lover, a wife, a friend, a partner, a teacher, a student, a boss or an employee?

Who am I if I am not associated with some undertaking, enterprise, creation, project, product or service? Who am I, in fact, if I just am? As I live and breathe? And how do I feel about it?

For these answers and the answers to all of life’s questions, we must look into our own heart and allow ourselves to feel our feelings, to own and embrace them for the wisdom they convey. We can only discover our own truth by paying close attention to the promptings of our inner Selves and to our honest reactions to the external energies that surround us. Marion Woodman, the Jungian analyst, writer and specialist in feminine development research, calls this process, “coming home to ourselves.”

An excellent way to start to know your Self is by taking a good long look at yourself in the mirror. This seemingly simple device is not so easy, as most of us are mirror-shy, accustomed as we are to using mirrors as weapons of Self-destruction. 

  • Sit comfortably and look into a mirror. Resist the urge to check your hair for neatness or your teeth for spinach. Under no circumstance allow your mind to travel toward judgment or critique. And be nice. Spare yourself those nasty little mind-jabs of disappointment and disapproval.

  • Look at yourself as you would a stranger, with an open mind and an open heart. Do not avert your eyes, but employ them in a straightforward, fearless manner. Introduce yourself to the woman you see there. Let your eyes reassure her that you are friendly.

  • Gaze into her eyes to try to grasp the sense of who she might be. Relax into that gaze and stay engaged for as long as you can. Peer into the depths of your being. What do you see there? What memories? What motives? What myths? What messages?

If the eyes are, indeed, the mirrors of our soul, we have much to learn by looking deeply into them. Like sending a bucket into a deep well and drawing up the clear, revitalizing waters of wisdom from the source.

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

 

How to Become The Queen of Your Self

posted by Donna Henes

The idea that we might be Queens is intoxicating. Ever since I first started introducing The Queen as a helpful archetype for midlife women in my workshops and articles some eight years ago, I have received thousands of requests for detailed instructions on how to become a Queen. “Dear Mama Donna,” women would write, “I want to be a Queen, too. How do I access my power? How can I feel good about myself? How do I change my life? How do I find magic and spiritual wisdom? How do I know what to do? How do I learn how to rule?”

Indeed. How are women supposed to know how to own our own sovereignty? We certainly haven’t been taught. World mythology abounds with inspiring examples of beautiful and adventurous Maidens, compassionate and nurturing Mothers (as well as some devouring ones) and wise and wily Crones. But shining examples of powerful midlife Queens are in short supply.

There are no rules, no recipes, no prescriptions, no instruction manuals, no precise formulas to follow when it comes to pursuing the daunting process of Stepping into Sovereignty. This does not, however, mean that anything goes. Just as in life itself, everything counts. Every single solitary thing that we do or don’t do, think or don’t think, matters. This is the bottom line of our responsibility — to ourselves and to others.

Our intentions have to be perfectly pure and our attention to the details of our process has to be focused and disciplined, and in exact alignment with our intentions. The quality of our engagement needs to be really right, not according to the standards of anyone else, but only according to our own inner truth.

Although the Queen is an excellent role model and source of inspiration, we don’t need a teacher or a guru to tell us what we should do for our Self-development, or how we need to change and grow. Each of us knows perfectly well what is right for us. Informed by the four parts of our being — physical, mental, emotional and spiritual — we know in our heart, our mind, our gut, and our soul when something is right, because it feels right. And when something feels wrong, we certainly know that, too. The answers to our confusion and questions, our yearnings and longings, are right here inside of us where we keep them safe and warm.

Our lessons, and our understanding of them, are often not immediately available or obvious to us. They often come encoded in signs and symbols that seem like a foreign language. But, no matter how difficult, it is up to us to access them, if we dare. If we care to earn our sovereignty, we must excavate the buried treasure of our own value and infinite worth. Our coming into power depends upon it.

The caveat is that this thrilling post-menopausal period of vitality, renewed energy, enhanced self-esteem, optimism and enthusiasm only comes to us in direct proportion to the intensity of our own conscious and conscientious engagement in the process and consequences of our transformation.

If we do take up the challenge to explore and mine the depths of our Selves, we will discover the unexpected caverns of courage, phosphorescent pools of passion and glittering, crystal-rich veins of gem-like wisdom running through their passages and crevices. All we need are the right tools to get at them, extract them, and polish them. And I don’t know about you, but nobody ever told me that it was going to be easy.
 
It always comes down to the same necessity: go deep enough and there is a bedrock of truth, however hard.
- May Sarton

 

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

 

What Exactly is the Self?

posted by Donna Henes

The Self, according to Carl Jung, is the center, the midpoint of the personality, the crossroads where our personal and collective, conscious and unconscious processes intersect. The Self encompasses the totality of who we are. It is, he writes, “A kind of central point within the psyche to which everything is related, by which everything is arranged, and which itself is a source of energy. The energy of the central point is manifested in the almost irresistible compulsion and urge to become what one is, just as every organism is driven to assume the form that is characteristic of its nature, no matter what the circumstances.”

The Self is the sum of all of our parts, and holistically, it is greater than the sum of all of our parts. The fluid Self transcends time and space, expanding and shape-shifting, changing and adapting to accommodate the possibility of all possibility.

In the art and philosophy of many cultures, the nature of the Self is represented by a four-part symbol such as a mandala, a labyrinth, an equilateral cross, a swastika, or a four-leaf clover. These symbols mirror the four-partite systems that organize the totality of the cosmos into the four seasons of the year, four phases of the moon, four cardinal directions.

The Four-Fold Goddess is representative of not only the stages and ages of a woman’s life, She also stands for the four parts that comprise our united Self. The Self, the Soul, the Center of a person is commonly thought to include our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual sides. These aspects are the ways in which we perceive and relate to the world around us and to our inner Selves, as well. Jung calls these aspects “functions,” and identifies them as sensing (physical), thinking (mental), feeling (emotional) and intuiting (spiritual). These four parts combine to compose our outlook and our insight. Together, they constitute our unique ways and means of being.

Our Queenly assignment, should we choose to accept it, is to identify, understand and connect — or reconnect — all of the component parts of ourselves, to attempt to develop and balance them equally, and to maintain them all in good working order.

The Self is like a jigsaw puzzle or a quilt that promises to become a beautiful whole if we spend the necessary time and concentration to assemble it. It is at once the puzzle, the parts of the puzzle, and also, most importantly, the process of piecing them together.

The ideal of the Queen inspires us to design the artful patchwork of our own lives designed from the wild and wonderful patterns of our own personality and experiences, and crafted from our individual inner authority. Once we do, we are able to shift into a new stage of life, a new state of being, a renaissance rebirth, ready, willing and able to rule.

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

I Want to Be a Crone — Someday

posted by Donna Henes

My maternal Grandmother died at 80. This was pretty old in her day. My mother died just short of her 80th birthday, which pains me still. She was not old. She did not look or act old. But she felt old. She lost interest in what had always pleased and sustained her, and thought that she was too old to pursue other interests. Really, she just gave up. I shouldn’t say, “just.” She did have cancer. But she gave up caring.

The Great Depression had robbed her of the college education that she craved. Once she became a mother and then a divorced woman with two kids to raise and no child support, she was too busy to think about developing her own passions. And by the time my brother and I were off on our own, she had gotten out of the habit of aspiring for inner growth. She did take a painting class once and when she had finished decorating her apartment, she quit.

And that is how she died. She quit. She simply quit in her spirit. She was tired and she gave in. On her deathbed, she felt her regrets. How incredibly sad to hear a really smart, successful, independent, dynamic woman bemoan the fact that she had not done this, that or the other thing that she had wanted to do.

My mother was an amazing role model for me in a great many ways, both positive and negative. Her midlife reinvention for herself was an inspiration to me that contributed to the formation of the Queen archetype for mature women. She was an extraordinary Queen in her middle age. Exemplary.

But I think that she thought that she had to give up her crown in old age. She saw nothing appealing about being a Crone. She hated her aging body and considered it a traitor. Nothing seemed to peak her enthusiasm. She worried about being debilitated and dependent. She did not seek, recognize or value the gifts, the huge benefits, of enhanced self-awareness and esteem presented to us during the aging process.

This is one debilitating attitude that I do not wish to emulate. My resistance to identifying myself as a Crone, while still in my middle years is not born of a fear of aging — especially considering the alternative. I am not afraid of aging. I am afraid of not aging! As Woody Allen put it, “I don’t want to be immortal through my work. I want to be immortal through not dying.”

I have absolutely every intention of being a very, very old woman, hopefully, the oldest woman who ever lived! My goal is to reach 100 years of wise age — with the caveat that I want to know that I am 100! I absolutely want to be a Crone. Just not yet.

Actually, I look forward to my tenure as a delightfully outrageous, brazenly courageous Crone, living her golden years to the hilt. And believe me, I practice daily to achieve that romantic and ambitious end.

When I grow up to be a Crone, I want to be a Grandma Moses, a Louise Nevelson, a Georgia O’Keefe, a Martha Graham, a Mother Teresa, a Maria Sabina or a Delaney sister — a truly stellar elder whose visionary influence extends far into the future. A wise and wooly sage who is wholly engaged.

But for now and the foreseeable future, I glory in my Queendom. I do plan to move on someday, probably in my mid 70s, to the august domain of the Empress Crone. And you better believe that I will be taking my crown with me.

“I have found it to be true that the older I’ve become the better my life has become.”
- Doris Lessing

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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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