C.G. Jung describes archetypes as concepts or ideas we all share and that we can all recognise. These concepts or ideas are inherited and shared among all human beings. The meaning held by archetypes is often unconscious and can be hard to put into words.
An example of an archetype is Mother. We all know what a Mother is – even if we don’t remember our own, and even if our own mother wasn’t very motherly. We all understand the idea of Mother and what a mother is supposed to be. We can recognise the concept of Mother in art and literature, all around the world. One of the most famous examples of Mother is the Holy Virgin, her face kind and mild as she tends to her son.
There is another level to archetypes too: not only can we all recognise the concept of Mother – we all have a little corner of ourselves that is Mother. This is irrespective of sex, gender, cultural norms and other variables. For every archetype we can recognise in the world, there is an aspect of ourselves that is that archetype too. I am particularly interested in this, more to follow.
Much of the language we have for discussing archetypes comes from mythology, including religion. These are often old stories about strange god-like creatures. Family relations, interpersonal relationships and making sense of the world and the cosmos are what many of our mythological stories are about. The people in these myths are – or embody – archetypes.
Through the ages we have recognised archetypes of women. In today’s world we may sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed with male archetypes or masculine values. I have looked at some women archetypes we have celebrated in earlier times, and chosen the Maiden-Mother-Crone as the primary archetype to work with throughout the year.
This is a truly ancient archetype, also known as the Triple Goddess. For example, the Triple Goddess was worshipped in Sumeria and ancient Greece, her archetype can be found in Celtic and Hindu mythologies and her myth has now been revived and expanded with Neopaganism. Within early communities of humans it would have made sense to celebrate the three stages of womanhood as they would have represented the viability of the community.
The Maiden represents rebirth, youth and also spring. The Mother represents fruition, maturity and summer. The Crone represents age, rest, death and autumn/winter. Together, the three stages of womanhood make up the whole cycle of the year. The three stages of womanhood also make up the cycle of the moon: the traditional sign of the Maiden-Mother-Crone, or Triple Goddess, is three moons.
In Moon Journal 2019 I am relating the Maiden-Mother-Crone archetype to the cycle of the year. You can bring the aspects into your life through meditation, observing the seasonal changes around you and tuning into the rhythm of the earth and the wheel of the year. By finding the aspects within yourself you may feel empowered to develop a more harmonious balance between them. It may also be helpful in ageing and understanding your individual changes. The Wheel of the Year meditations have the power to go very deep if you let them. You may wish to think on them for a long time, and really feel into your soul what the seasonal changes mean to you. You may want to take walks in nature and explore how all that happens in the world, also happens within.
We live in a time where one aspect of the Maiden-Mother-Crone archetype is revered above the others – namely the Maiden. What does it to to us humans when other aspects are rejected? What does it do to us women when our natural cycles are attempted suppressed or ignored? Working with all the three stages of womanhood may be immensely liberating. We are reclaiming Mother and Crone and recognising the value of the attributes that come with these aspects of ourselves.
I wish you luck on your pilgrimage of meditation and self development.
- Robert Ellwood: Myth – key concepts in religion
- CG Jung: Four archetypes
- Jean Shinoda Bolen: Goddesses in older women – archetypes in women over fifty. Se also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXlK0Y4Drk8&frags=pl%2Cwn
- Joseph Campbell: The hero with a thousand faces
- Clarissa Pinkola Estes: Women who run with the wolves, and Untie the strong woman
- Anna Fedele: Looking for Mary Magdalene
- Sharon Blackie: If women rose rooted. See also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5-b2__qRM8&frags=pl%2Cwn