Friday, October 29, 2010

A Fresh Look at Female Archetypes

Any woman who has picked up a book about the Goddess or taken a 101 class has been taught that the three female archetypes are the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.  This idea, the Triple Goddess, is delicately pounded into our heads from the beginning of our training.  Even thought times have changed and we are living longer than our ancestors, modern traditions cling tight to this model for explaining the stages of a woman’s life.

I politely disagree on just the three and offer up an additional two phases…


The Maiden archetype is generally depicted in white with long, flowing blond hair.  She is running through a meadow, communing with the animals, and basking in the glow of nature.  She is innocent, not aware of the ways of the world.  She is just coming into her own and at peace with herself.

How many teenagers these days are like that?

In my mind, a Maiden falls in the birth to preteen age group.  She exhibits the youthful innocence that has come to be expected of the archetype and has not yet become worn down or jaded against the expectations of society.


I was introduced to the concept of the Warrior phase while working on my degree studies through the Family Wiccan Traditions International (which has since disbanded).  Since I always felt that there was a huge gap between the Maiden and Mother, I quickly folded the Warrior into my own life and belief system.

The Warrior represents women from their teens until somewhere in their mid-twenties.  She is on a quest to discover who she is and what she wants out of her life.  She is learning when to take a stand, fighting fiercely for something she believes in.  She is also learning when to compromise.  She may or may not be in a relationship, but understands that her needs and happiness come first.


The standard image of the Mother is a woman who is with child or one who is holding a small child in her arms.  She has long dark hair and wears red, for the blood that she has shed.  She is the nurturer, guide, and protector for those to come.

To me, the Mother does not have to actually have children.  She not only nurtures her children (and pets), but herself, her significant other (if she has one), family, friends, and her career.  She is fiercely protective of the ones she loves and guides the younger generations with a gentle, but firm hand.  She is represented by women in their late twenties until early forties.


I always felt that there was another gap between the Mother and Crone, but never knew what to call that particular phase.  In the SageWoman Magazine issue 74, entitled Visions of the Goddess: Queen, I found what I had been seeking in an article called “Why We Need the Queen.”

The Queen presides over the woman in their late forties until their late fifties to early sixties.  If she has children, they are grown and beginning their own lives.  They are wiser, still have “it,” and pretty much have life figured out.  They are living out their dreams, taking risks, and doing what they want to do when they want to.


Cloaked in a veil of darkness, the Crone breathes wisdom into the younger generations.  She has lived a long, full life and retains her blood each month.  She has done her duties and now is her time of rest.  Her light still shines, but is dimmed by experience.

With women living longer than ever and more active in their older years (my grandmother is still feisty at 87), the entire image of the crone has changed.  She still clings to her youth (especially if there are grandchildren) and serves as a Matron and respected elder of the family.  She pursues her hobbies, may still work, and keeps busy doing things she loves.  She has learned from experience and applies the wisdom she has acquired, not making the same mistakes anymore.  She is loved and celebrated by all, sought out for council, and living on her terms.

So there they are - my five female archetypes.


The Blue Faerie said...

Very interesting new take on it. In addition to your comment about people living longer, I'd like to add that people don't have as much respect for the Crone as they used to. I think that part of life is also a struggle to be understood & heard. And unfortunately, in some cases, it can be completely living on someone else's terms. But I think that your description is something that we all want to aspire to, & hope for, later in life. :)

Hoi Sum said...

Awesome article Sparrow! I don't only practice with the warrior archetype because I was trained under you and FWTI, but because it makes more sense to me. Many of the women in my coven are past the Maiden phase, but are not in the Mother phase yet. Morrigan is the Goddess our coven is named after and we picked her because she is a warrior Goddess. I am definitely in my Warrior phase right now :-) Really great article thank you for posting it!


Gordon said...

This is great. There's certainly substantial room for an archetype update.

The Queen is sorely missing. My favourite ever boss was certainly living that. (She was also tall, glamorous and Egyptian so the whole thing screamed you-know-who)

JJ Beazley said...

Interesting. I knew a young woman once who was 22, had a degree in Education, and was looking for a job as a teacher. She was completely locked ito a view of the world that allowed no questioning. Any attempt to rationalise the darker sides of life or examine its more complex aspects was met with a vitriolic (hysterical sometimes) refusal to allow any discussion. So I suppose she was missing the Warrior phase, and that lends weight to the need to acknowledge such a phase.

luna petunia said...

This is great Warrior Sparrow & I embrace this new reality. As it makes me a Queen for now, rather than a Crone-a view of myself that I couldn't see yet. Your description of the Queen archetype so fits most of my friends & me. The kids are out of the nest, I have been married 29 years, the young-family-money-struggles are in the past & I am so happy. I can do what I please, when I please & don't care anymore whether I have my makeup on or what people think. It is an amazingly liberated phase of life!
I thank you for expanding my concepts and views. I also love the way you say that the MMC archetype has been drummed into our heads. It is interesting that wiccan beliefs have been mainstream long enough as to being outdated at times! Isn't that something?
Love, Queen luna petunia

luna petunia said...

PS-The other thing I want to mention is that out of the comments to this post, 1/3 are from men. They seem to like the role expansion as well as the women which makes me wonder what the men feel are their archetypes and do the old ones still fit or do they, too, need reworking. Gentlemen?
Do we have a guest blogger volunteer?

Aine O'Brien said...

I like it!! I think we need a few more simply because people live longer and women tend to have different lifestyles than they did years ago - for instance, marrying later, which allows for a warrior time. And yes the queen time - that's a very interesting time indeed!!

JJ Beazley said...

I suppose it would be reasonable to see the male equivalents similarly: youth, warrior, father, king. sage.

I went through my phases early and now I'm in rewind. It's difficult sometimes, but interesting.

Manda said...

Very interesting post for us all to think about. What The Blue Faerie says is true, as well. Much too often now, younger kids are not understanding or showing respect for the Crone, or their elders in general.

Thanks for posting this article, I loved reading it.

Wendy said...

Great post about "Archetypes" and a woman's path, Sparrow. Have you read the book "Goddesses in Every Woman" by Jean Shinoda Bolen? I like how you didn't just lump women into Maiden, Mother and Crone. These fit much more into how I see my path. Thank you.

Rhiannon said...

I really enjoyed this post, feeling I'm passing from Mother to Queen. Having these two archetypes seems to 'feel right'. Good read, blessings to you, this Samhain. ~R~

Moon Daughter said...

Wonderful post! I like the added archetypes... I'm an older mother, but firmly planted in the mother archetype. I think I will very much enjoy being a queen until I'm ready to embrace crone!

Wendy said...

Interesting post, although I do not think an age depicts an archetype I love the idea of Queen. I am a whisper away from 50 and do/did have a Crones view - at 48 though and with my nest empty of my own children (27 & 28), I unexpectedly became an 'active' mother again to 2 children aged then 10 and 13, I became confused to were I fitted into it all - I think Queen would fit the bill nicely.

Anonymous said...

It works for me and each phase fits the points of the pentacle/pentagram perfectly, I am in the Queen phase now, specifically the Queen of pentacles.I am 54 and do not consider myself a crone yet.

Jami Gyrl said...

I never considered myself a Crone although my children are adults with families of their own. I am a grandparent but very young at heart and in age. Im 51 tha is too young to be a crone. Queen....yes its perfect.. said...

I am also Queen of pentacles... I am 51 no where near Crone yet


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