The roots of my religion run way back before the birth of Christianity and one of our most ancient symbols is: Maiden, Mother (Warrior), Crone. You can see Her in the phases of the Moon, as She waxes from crescent, to full, to dark. You can see Her in the lives of most women as we age from a Maiden, full of youthful energy and promise — Persephone, Flora, Artemis — to Mother, whether of actual children or of some project, — Hera, Demeter, Danu — (or to a Warrior — Athena, Durga, the Morrigan), to Crone, exercising judgment, making jokes like Uzume, exacting payment like Ereshkegial — Hecate, Baba Yaga, Mother Holle. You can see Her in the agricultural wheel of the year — bright green sprouts, mature fruits that have persevered against the weeds, the harvested seed, stored away for the winter and full — which is why we call it a Wheel — of the promise of the Maiden. You can see Her in everything you do: the brainstorming phase of a project, the plan and execution, the completion and evaluation. (You can see Her copied several times in Christianity. First, there’s Mary, the Maiden, telling the Angel of God, as all good women in Patriarchy must, “Do with me according to thy will.” Then, there’s Mary, the mother, watching her son discussing religion with the rabbis. And, then, there’s Mary, the Crone, upheld by spiritual daughters, watching the crucifixion. And, of course, there’s what Derrick Jensen would call the toxic mimic of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.)
One of the prayers I say in my morning meditation is: It’s all real. It’s all metaphor. It’s always more.
You can’t just go around praying things every morning — cold dark winter mornings, with hot coffee in a pottery mug, all the way through sun-lit summer mornings with iced mint coffee in a crystal glass — morning after morning, day after day, in the same chair, with the same incense burning, and not expect it to erupt into your life, Charles Williams-like. And the Maiden-Mother-Crone archetype erupted into mine the other night.
I stayed up late to watch Hillary Clinton’s speech when she became the first woman to become the nominee of a major American political party. I started crying during the introductory video when Shirley Chisholm once again disabused anyone who thought the women’s liberation movement was a joke. And, well, then, I pretty much cried all the rest of the way through. I’ll likely have more to say later, but: wow. Clinton went full-frontal feminist. How different from 2008 when she was constrained to try to pretend (as too many of us in business, politics, education, the arts, etc. must do) that she was neutered, just as good as a man, so-not-a-feminist. We’ve come a long way, baby. Seriously.
But the moment that shocked me to my core came at the end of the speech. I haven’t been able to find a picture of it, but, after the speech, Chelsea Clinton, whom I will always remember as a maiden ready to grow into her own bone structure, already the mother of a toddler and hugely gravid with her second child, came on stage and hugged her mother. And at that moment I (of course, wherever I go, there it is) saw Maiden, Mother, Crone writ large across the entire world. There is was, before me: a powerful Crone, hugging her own daughter, the Mother of a Maiden and pregnant with another child.
What struck me, physically, was that — for America’s entire history — there has never, ever, not once, been a president who understood, on a physical level, what it means to have cramps, to menstruate, to feel your body swell with the presence of another being, to grapple with preventing an unwanted pregnancy, to keep producing prose through morning sickness, to give birth, to lose a wanted child, to sigh with relief when an unwanted child miscarried, to walk out into the clear morning after an abortion, to experience the moment when part of your own body becomes separate and is placed in your arms, to suckle a child, to go through menopause and have hot flashes, to sit firmly in the feminist wisdom of age . . . to have that experience after almost 300 years. . . . well, I think you take my meaning. And, yes, I want to acknowledge that many women, by choice or otherwise, don’t have exactly these experiences, and I still see them reflected in the Maiden, Mother, Crone symbol. But we’re 50+% of America’s population and there has never been a single president who’s lived in our bodies, dealt with the essential issue of whether to reproduce or not to reproduce, month after month, day after day.
But suddenly, the prospect of having a president who has hugged her own pregnant daughter just lit up all my neurons. If you don’t think that this, like the roads diverging in the wood, can make all the difference, well, then your eyes are shut.
After this, things will never be the same.
Picture found here