I got to go to my very first Pagan Spirit Gathering earlier this year; between it and my second-ever Heartland Pagan Festival, I was strongly reminded of why I love Midwestern festivals. Both events had an appreciable roster of rituals throughout their time, but I was particularly impressed by the number of rites of passage at PSG. This isn’t surprising; after 36 years, the Circle Sanctuary organizers have had plenty of time to create a crucible for people to step from one stage of life to the next. There were rites for young people just entering their teens, and others for elders. Most of the rites of passage weregendered towards women or men (based on identity, not genes), though the Wild Hunt was an ordeal open to people of all ages and sexes (by necessity participants were chosen from a hat full of names since there wasn’t enough room for everyone who’d want to participate.)
While I was pretty busy with guest of honor activities, I did look into what would have been available to me if I’d had the time. I’m a woman in my mid-thirties, and my choices were:
–Motherhood Blessingway: a blessing for all women who were pregnant or had become mothers (to include through marriage or adoption) in the past two years. Nope, no kids here and no intention to have them, so that doesn’t fit.
–Daughters of the Dark Moon: “a group of women past the Motherhood stage of life but who do not yet identify with the Crone stage of life”. Well, that’s only open to members of a particular online group that have been putting a lot of preparation into this ritual for the past year. No gate-crashing this time!
–A Circle for She Who is More than a Maiden but Not Yet a Mother: for women who have “left childhood far behind, but don’t yet have the responsibility of motherhood (literal or metaphoric)”, with some non-reproductive alternatives to Mother offered up for consideration. I really, really wanted to see what this one was all about, because I spoke briefly with people involved in it and it actually sounded awesome, but I had a workshop I had to teach at the same time.
MMCYWS as Limiting Factor
I am in no way faulting PSG for making some use of MMC imagery. Again, their attempt to have something for just about everyone was really impressive, and I know a lot of people who participated in the rites got a lot out of them. In fact, I think they should be a good model to other groups and events wanting to offer similar rites of passage.
But a LOT of pagans are still using what I consider to be a very limited and outdated model of human development: Maiden/Mother/Crone and Youth/Warrior/Sage* (which I will from here on out abbreviate as MMCYWS.) MMCYWS started out in Wicca as a way of viewing the Wiccan Goddess and her Consort in their various phases, but worked its way into the greater pagan community as a way to answer the lack of rites of passage for human beings in the United States and elsewhere. We celebrate things like getting your driver’s license or reaching legal drinking age, but it’s not usually a big community affair where you’re formally brought into a new stage of life by others who have already been there, done that, and who explain the responsibility not just as an individual but as part of the community. (Usually the meaning of these two rites is limited to “Wheee, now you can give your car-less friends rides!” and “CHUG CHUG CHUG!!!!!”)
The problem is that people are a lot more complicated than three phases and their rites of passage can account for. As you can tell from my personal experience, it’s not always easy to pigeonhole someone into one particular archetype. And we all have major shifts in our lives that have nothing to do with our age–for example, the ordination of new Circle Sanctuary ministers that is held at PSG each year. But MMCYWS is convenient for a general audience, isn’t it?
Well, convenient, yes, but accurate? Not necessarily. Maiden/Mother/Crone is the older of the two triads; Youth/Warrior/Sage was added on later to have an analogue for men. These go back to the idea of the Goddess as the keeper of the Earth and plants and being receptively feminine, while the God is the lord of wild animals and hunting and virile masculinity. And MMC is dreadfully uterus-based, not surprising when you consider Wicca is a fertility religion, but still unacceptable when dealing with diverse, flesh and blood women who may not even have uteruses. Moreover, look at Youth/Warrior/Sage: those aren’t based on whether the guy had sex and made babies or not. They’re about roles within the community. MMC, on the other hand, is all about reproductive powers. “Maiden” either refers to a woman who has not has sex yet, or one who is unmarried. “Mother”, of course, is a woman who has children. A “Crone” is a woman who can no longer bear children because she’s hit menopause.
My development as a person has had only tangential relationship to my physical body, particularly after my late teens/early twenties when my brain and body finished growing and developing. I remember my menarche, and I honestly felt it had less to do with my development as a person at the time than my confirmation as a Catholic a couple of years later. Everyone in eighth grade at my Catholic school was confirmed and brought more fully into the community of the church. It wasn’t about whether I could make babies or not, but how much I’d learned about the faith I was raised in. Sure, you could argue that because no one made a big deal out of my menarche of course I wasn’t going to see it as a rite of passage. But even back then when I was told “Well, now you can get pregnant”, I didn’t particularly care because motherhood just wasn’t something I ever wanted. And menarche celebrations are still just ways to say “You’re an adult now because of your reproductive powers.” They’re specifically tied to that one change in the physical body, no matter how else you dress it up.
And that’s my biggest gripe with MMC in particular: it still follows the dominant societal script for women of “You grow up, you get married, you have babies.” We’re surrounded by that message from a young age. I never had role models in my life who deliberately chose not to have children (but still had relationships), and there were no female characters in stories and shows who didn’t have children because that was what they wanted. (But there were plenty of male characters running around who didn’t have the “burden” of a wife and kids, and a few who had off-stage families who didn’t interfere in their adventures.) Most female characters were mothers or grandmothers, or were too young but were some guy’s love interest, or in a few cases were heartless shrews that no one would want to reproduce with in the first place. The few times childlessness was ever addressed it was through infertility, not choice.
And so as a childfree woman who has no intentions of changing that lifestyle, the Mother part of MMC is particularly frustrating, as even my spiritual community isn’t free of the ideal of women-as-baby-makers. I know that most women do end up having children, and I have no problem with them having blessingways and other rites–being a parent is a BIG change in one’s life, and it should be treated as a big deal. But why should the men have their middle phase be “Warrior” instead of “Father”, while women are universally stuck with “Mother”?
There have been attempts to try to shoehorn every woman into the MMC model, particularly that persnickety Mother stage. “Oh, Motherhood isn’t just giving physical birth! It can mean nurturing other people’s children! Or nurturing creative projects, or careers!” Nurture, nurture, nurture! That’s what women do! But men aren’t said to be “nurturing” anything–they’re warriors. The message is clear: women nurture, men protect, even if they’re working on the same damned things. And that’s the issue: you’re still trying to work with a model that is based on outdated gender dichotomies that place women in gentle, passive, nurturing roles, and men in active, assertive, protective roles. That’s not to say that there haven’t been attempts to make rites of passage for women that include our more active, protective qualities, or rites for men that remind them that they, too, can be nurturing and gentle. But as long as we keep trying to uphold MMCYWS as the gold standard for pagan rites of passage, we’re going to keep running into the stark limitations that this model has.
That means I also don’t support the idea of turning the men’s triad into Youth/Father/Sage. Making BOTH triads dependent on one’s parenthood status doesn’t fix the problem. Instead, I want to see more community-based rites of passage that do away with MMCYWS entirely. I don’t mean get rid of gender-specific rites entirely (though they need to be open to everyone who identifies as that particular gender, not just women’s rituals for women with fully functioning uteruses as one example.) There’s something to be said for being able to explore how you feel as a person of your sex/gender and where your place is in the greater community, especially because we are gaining more freedom from the strict gender dichotomies of the dominant culture. But we need to stop trying to shove women into Maiden/Mother/Crone. And we need to stop trying to create a similar limiting analogue for men.
So what do we do instead? Well, you can have rites of passage based on gender and/or age, but don’t limit them to MMCYWS. In fact, drop the archetypes entirely, and let the participants themselves inform what they feel they are growing into. Why does everything have to be shoved into labels anyway? I’ve seen people try to come up with alternative roles for the middle stage of MMC–Queen or Warrioress instead of Mother–but there’s still the uterus-based movement of Maiden into Middle Stage, and then Middle Stage into Crone.
And question what you feel you can teach boys and men that you can’t teach girls and women, especially for the boys and girls. Puberty is really when the different treatment of girls and boys gets into full swing, and girls often get the short stick when it comes to things like practical skills. My Girl Scout troop honestly sucked pondwater, because our meetings were mostly sitting in a basement singing songs and making woven potholders, while Boy Scouts my age were getting to go camping and learning how to build fires. (I even had a subscription to Boy’s Life magazine for a number of years because I just wasn’t getting to learn enough in my scouting “adventures”.) And while I’ve met a few women whose Girl Scout experiences were more active and adventurous, a lot of women had experiences similar to mine, because girls were supposed to do domestic things and not get dirty or do anything dangerous.
If your rites for boys and girls are different–WHY? What can you possibly teach boys that you can’t teach girls, other than how to approach the societal expectations that our dominant culture tries to shove on each group? And if your rites for grown men and women are different–WHY? If the men get to go off into the woods to have solitary vision quests, but the women are expected to stay in a circle and talk, why? Is it just a matter of different organizers with different ideas for rites in general, or is there gender-based bias going on? Even crones and sages–are the crones just talking about how much hot flashes suck, or is there a reason that all these elders aren’t celebrating their coming into elderhood together? I’m not saying don’t have gender division in these rites–but I AM saying to question the reasons why. Furthermore, question whether they’re necessary, and whether you’re bringing assumptions about the supposed differences between men and women into play. Having a group of crones-to-be talking about how society views older women and how to change that is one thing; treating the crones as geriatrics who might break a hip while letting the sages have one more adventure before settling down is another.
Beyond that, consider rites of passage that have nothing to do with one’s gender or sex. A few years ago I wrote about Bill Plotkin’s Wheel of Life as an ecopsychological alternative to MMCYWS. You’ll need to read his book Nature and the Human Soul to get the whole effect, but the short version is that it’s a gender-neutral eight-stage cycle of growth that is based less on physical changes, and more on psychological growth, and one’s relationship to both community and environment. There’s a lot of potential fodder for rite of passage inspiration.
And for pity’s sake, there are LOTS of pagan ritualists out there who have created some really amazing celebrations and transformations. Surely that wellspring of creativity can come up with something that doesn’t use MMCYWS. We’ve created incredible handfasting/wedding rites, funerary rites, baptisms, and other celebrations. I bet we can come up with other ways to mark important thresholds that don’t involve trying to pigeonhole human beings into limited gender roles.
To that end, I’d love to hear any experiences people have had with working beyond MMCYWS in rites of passage, particularly gender-based ones. I know you all are out there–I invite you to share in the comments!
* To be clear, PSG didn’t use the Youth and Warrior terms for the men’s rite of passage, nor the Maiden term for the young women’s rite. But Youth/Warrior/Sage still has a pretty strong influence on the pagan community, with Warrior/Father/Sage being a less common interpretation.
38 thoughts on “Maiden/Mother/Crone, Youth/Warrior/Sage, and Strict/Gender/Roles”
I love the MMC imagery. At this point in my life I’m in the in-between category after mother but not yet crone. But for me it isn’t limited only to representations of the physical body at certain phases. It also represents the period of time *before* a creative idea is conceived, the time *during* the gestation of that idea, and the wisdom phase of passing on the knowledge gained *after*. This is a gender neutral process that all creatives traverse and experience the MMC trinity.
I mention in the post why I don’t like being shoehorned into the “Mother” stage as a childfree woman. It’s still placing the dominant script of “babies!!!!” onto me, and forcing me into the “nurturer” role. I liken it to referring to all humans as “Mankind” even though we know not all humans are men. It erases part of the population through the very name itself.
Yes! I was just thinking on this last night… All over the Bible it’s Men, Man, Son’s, etc. Even referring to God as a “He” I believe Our Creator should be termed as “Thee” As “Thee Who causes to Become” This is more gender neutral or non binary if you will., And also, why not the “Mariarch” role being added or supplanted for the “Mother” role,, After “Maiden” and prior to “Chrone”
Personally I think the ROP is too short at least for PSG. The ROP at PSG should be a the end of a year and a day learning experience with the ROP rite a celebration of a successful fulfilment of specific tests after making known ones intention to achieve a specific purpose to move from one point of maturity into another. The entire ROP gender and sexual orientation is an ongoing learning experience for those who are the mentors/teachers/elders/trainers for those who are publicly/privately experiencing the ROP. Some ROP’s for the three aspects of the goddess/god is changing as in the four aspects of the goddess being, maiden, mother, matriarch and crone. Adapting is what we as earth-based peoples are good at for the good of the community and Tribe.
Year and a day ROP are great if you can manage them, but that’s a LOT of work to ask of the people who are organizing the ROP at PSG, especially as they often take on multiple roles at the event. Not to mention people aren’t always able to plan from one year to the next whether they’ll be able to make it. I do think ROP that are a year and a day are great for local groups that can meet in person on a regular basis, or online groups that are very well organized.
Sorry, I didn’t address your topics directly. But I meant to add that perhaps there are ways to incorporate more than just gender based body-life phases into to the rites of passage – ceremonies that incorporate the experience of life in general instead. Because we all start out young and inexperienced, move into curiosity and development, and hopefully reach the point of teaching or passing on the knowledge and wisdom we’ve gained along the way.
Oh, definitely! Developmental psychology offers a LOT of fodder for ROP, as one example. That’s why I love Plotkin’s Wheel of Life, because it draws on a whole host of areas of our lives to grow through, not just physical shifts. We share a lot of commonalities as a species, and while personal experience is always very important, so is that common ground.
This was a particularly interesting read for me and relevant because, over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to track down a “girl scouts” organization for adult women and coming up short.
When I had my first period, I had a pagan ceremony, and it was more because my family’s tradition was that you did not receive your first deck of tarot cards until then. Now that I’m older, I appreciate this ceremony more than I did as a middle schooler who couldn’t believe that her mom inadvertently let everyone know I had my period. I’m glad she did–it made the experience more ‘normal’ VS revolting and the treatment of it as a new part of life gave me a better understanding and appreciation of my body.
As a young adult, I’m often disappointed that high school graduations receive such a celebration when the graduation of college is barely acknowledged. I’d love to celebrate “moving into my first new place” or “landing my first ‘real’ job” but family members instead keep asking me when I plan on getting married or if s/o and I are thinking about children. I appreciate and respect their interest in my life, but I wish it was focused more on the stages of life that are important to me VS the ones tied to my reproductive abilities.
Funny, I’ve tried looking for the same thing! I mean, there’s things like Outward Bound, but they aren’t weekly/monthly and they’re COSTLY.
Normalizing is a REALLY IMPORTANT part of ROP. I mean, I’m going to be 40 in a few years, and I’ve never been 40 so I don’t know whether my experiences o getting older are normal or not, but being able to talk to other people older than I am about these changes in my body and mind is so valuable to me. I like that menstruation was normalized for you through ritual; it’s a weeeeeeeird experience if no one warned you about it (no one warned me about it beforehand!)
Sometimes we have to create our own ROP. Families can always do with new traditions 🙂
Thank you for writing about a topic I’ve struggled with for years now. I’m also in my mid-thirties, married, and although I always thought I’d have a child it’s not possible. There has been a lot of grief from my womb and a lot of struggle with identity and value. I don’t want to just identify as gender free even though I do connect to both genders. I want to feel like I can be as fiercely feminine as the whore or the mother, without either of those. I want my feminine magic to have expression and be valued in this phase of my life. Somewhere though, I have the feeling of forgotten archtypes, something ELSE, maybe to be remembered or maybe to be created anew. Gradually I move towards, skirt around, being the witch, the mediatrix, the enchantress. The one who consumes her own fertile energies and channels them into whatever she chooses. The one who knows death, and transmutation. There is magic wilder, ancient, to co-exist alongside the mothers and the maidens, that is in the arc of midlife not crone. That’s what I’m remembering, calling through me, hoping for. But when I get a glimpse of the potency of it, I get afraid. I want to be given a society script, a story, an instruction book. I would dearly love to talk with and support other women and people in this strange and unknown space. Thank you again for speaking up about this.
And that’s really the thing–it’s hard to fit into just one archetype. We need more fluidity than that, IMO. Like water in a container, but that can be poured from one to the next.
agreed, but I feel that I have all this water to pour into a container and only 2 options to choose from
Which is why we break the gender binary and allow for more options!
As someone who doesn’t fit nicely into the usual gender binary, these rites have ALWAYS frustrated me. The attempts to loosen the MMC guidelines to properly include someone like me have always felt forced and more of a stop-gap measure than an actual effort to think outside the box. It’s so nice to see a conversation like this finally being had! I would love to see more creativity and variety brought into such important rites. It has always been my feeling that a celebration of growing and changing identity should be broadening instead of restricting.
Yes! I agree with you on the forced, stop-gap part of it. One suggestion made to me was Lasara Firefox Allen’s new book, “Jailbreaking the Goddess”. I haven’t yet read it but I’ve seen some of the info about it that she shares on the website, and it looks like the five alternate archetypes she offers are a LOT more flexible and fitting. Makes me even more excited about reading it.
I will second the suggestion for you about Lasara’s book, and the five archetypes are so much more inclusive! I highly recommend it!!
Yeah, I’m super excited for it!
Another problem I have with the MMC archetypes is while they may work for me, as someone whose gender identity matches the gender I was assigned at birth, I think it leaves out trans* pagans.
Absolutely! That’s at least one other blog post in and of itself. I tried to touch on it with the complaints about how uterus-centric the MMC triad is, but there’s a lot more to be said.
We are forgetting that the archetypes really belong in a general phase of life and that there are many different stages to each archetype. I prefer to use the terms Child, Youth, Nurturer, Queen/King, and or Sage/Crone without any real requirement for physical “sex” to determine which one you fall into. The belief and strong outcry for those that do not want to have children to remove the “mother/father” term, forget that to “mother or father” something means to nurturer it though be it in different ways. It is a stage in development, when someone goes outside of themselves and begins to care for others. Be those others, children, students, friends, and/or community. I think our drive to get away from any concept of a “box” leaves people drifting on a path with no anchors.
I addressed that when I said:
“There have been attempts to try to shoehorn every woman into the MMC model, particularly that persnickety Mother stage. “Oh, Motherhood isn’t just giving physical birth! It can mean nurturing other people’s children! Or nurturing creative projects, or careers!” Nurture, nurture, nurture! That’s what women do! But men aren’t said to be “nurturing” anything–they’re warriors. The message is clear: women nurture, men protect, even if they’re working on the same damned things. And that’s the issue: you’re still trying to work with a model that is based on outdated gender dichotomies that place women in gentle, passive, nurturing roles, and men in active, assertive, protective roles.”
I am not just a nurturer in this stage of my life. I am also working hard–for myself. And I am a destroyer of outdated stereotypes and bigotry. I am an adventurer and explorer, within and without. I am a warrior protecting the land I care for, and gaining more skills to fiercely protect myself. I am a student and a learner and a teacher. I am all sorts of things, and “mother” or “nurturer” doesn’t fit.
This strikes me as a problem derived as much from our lack of functioning social structures (especially a diversity of them) as from our Victorian gender roles and mainstream Protestantism’s general avoidance of ritual and mysticism.
It’s not like all Colonial-period women sat cloistered at their looms any more than their indigenous counterparts. Many women of the time (and pretty much any time period) did work far outside of our supposed gender norms- as did plenty of men. Human societies typically have loads of rites of passage- from small to large, appropriate to many different subcultures and professions. But we stopped simply being communities and started having to make or find communities. That has positives, but this is one of the negatives.
I think this is the crux of the issue. Most of us in the U.S. are operating in environments where mainstream Protestantism is considered “normal” and Wicca is considered the “acceptable alternative”. There are a few other options available to most people, but they are often flavors of those two choices- Catholicism, for instance. Most other alternatives are hard to join, or at least hard to discover.
Yet I think they must exist. How differently might a life-stages progression look in the cultus of Sekhmet? Quite different, I imagine! I doubt “mother” would be part of the progression and perhaps there would be seven stages or something. I can’t imagine an Athena cult holding an adherent to the “maiden” life stage simply because she chooses virginity despite her years of service in in the Marines or as a doctor.
Anyway, good blog post!
Given our numbers, I’m not sure what the solution is, but I suspect that it will require us to create the space for these rites of passage ourselves. As long as “unity” and “getting along” are more important than actual diversity, we’re kinda on our own.
You are absolutely right when you bring up the intersectionality of this whole issue. Wicca and neopaganism in general are still trying to find their footing in a lot of ways, particularly in the multi-generational community aspect. Hopefully over time we will respect diversity of all sorts, rather than just giving it lip service.
The group that I am with does MMC and Rove, Father, Sage. I do agree with much of what you said and Ifor people are pigeonholed it is very frustrating.
For me, the Mother and Father (or Warrior), is not necessarily about actually having a child, but being in a position to take those roles. To me a person can take on the “parental” roles through nut urine or protecting others.
I also never had children and have no plans to. I am also transgender (female to male) and I struggle with the idea of a binary system to describe me. I see myself and project as male, but I can’t be a father if I wanted to. The high priest of the group I am with has talked about ROP for transgender individuals. It is something I would like to see and not just locally.
The trouble is the trying to shoehorn people into a “parental” role. Women are told again and again and again to be “nurturing, caring, gentle” and that’s not all that I am. I’m really sick of it.
Again, as I’ve said to others, it’s like calling all of humanity “mankind” even though not everyone is a man. Sure, you can make arguments that men, women and everyone else are all human, just like men, but that doesn’t make us all men. A less loaded term is needed, just as a less parent-centric term for the middle stage is needed.
Thank you for this – these archetypes have been driving me nuts for years. As a woman who happens to have squeezed out a whole other person, I have never really identified with ‘Mother’ as archetype. The first three years or so it took up much of my attention, but it was something I was doing, not who I was.
Yes! That’s a big thing I’ve noticed that mothers in particular are subjected to–other people forgetting that mothers are people outside of just being mothers. Kids are a hell of a lot of work, but they aren’t your entire life.
Fascinating. Maybe connecting to moon cycles? New/Waxing/Full/Waning? I find the seasons so powerful to work with. I suppose in my 30’s I am in my mid-Summer life, which I do connect with deeply (wherein Winter is the final life stage). Great conversation.
*nods* Lunar and solar cycles are definitely an option, particularly if you don’t “gender” the sun and moon.
In our own practice here we use four archetypes for each gender, MMC and Guardian, Youth Hunter Sage Warrior for the other. When associated with directions and elements, you get Air, north Warrior and Guardian, East Water, Maiden, Youth, South Earth Mother Hunter, West Fire, Sage and Crone. It makes for a more balanced and whole human cycle. And we always look at the participants and see if they will be comfortable with that set of associations, and if we think they won’t be, we drop the gendered associations all together and just go with the directional and elemental associations.
*nods* That sounds like a really good compromise!
“… is there a reason that all these elders aren’t celebrating their coming into elderhood together?” That is a good question. One that the sages actually talked about. Many of us have spent lifetimes intertwined with women, and it seems unnatural that there seems to be the tacit exclusivity. As one of the youngest sages, I think that the idea of elderhood is misunderstood to an extent, and balled up into being “old”. Certainly we are hurtling toward that at a blinding pace. But in the mean time, to me, being a Sage, and being an Elder are two different and mostly overlapping but different things. We continue to ponder it, but don’t be surprised to see something emerge from that.
Something I said to a popular festival singer yesterday reminded me of a summer camp I went to as a 14yo. Each day there at 4, we had what we called a “Bull Session” on the porch. We talked about anything, and it was very inclusive (gotta love those liberal yankee church camps) Being a nerdy intellectual type, that was about as close as I got to my first RoP. Maybe PSG and the others have things like that for young people that I’m unaware of. But something genderless like that for older people would be good too.
At PSG, A Fatherhood RoP has been discussed, and that might happen. The men’s ritual certainly reflected a lot of the broader aspects you mention, at least from a man’s perspective trying to understand community. Also, there was mention of the idea of “elder” RoP which sounded interesting to me. That would certainly need to be genderless for it to be meaningful.
Of course any changes like this rely on people willing to move it. I like your ideas and I think they will lead to productive conversations. Perhaps through them, volunteers to make it happen will be found – I’m trying to get over my timidity in that area, so maybe me. These kinds of things are evolving, and just when you think you have crowned the system, something new comes along to make you think it is incomplete yet again. I kind of like that actually.
I too struggle with how child-rearing-centric it all is. I’m child-free, and so is my wife of 24 years and several friends. When the conversation goes to “who will change the diaper?” it is a sure key for me to start day-dreaming about woodworking or some code snippet. In a way, that is a default privilege thing. I don’t have to concern myself, even if I want to.
Another thing, is more integration, recognition, and appreciation of lgbtqai contributions. There still seems to be a dividing line that needs to be smudged a little. In the Sage group, the conversations are quite honest, dynamic and progressive, and that is one that needs to happen IMO.
*nods* This is all really good fodder for ongoing conversations. I’m glad that some of them have already been coming up at PSG (and likely elsewhere), because there I saw action taken to fill gaps left in between the MMCYWS. And I’m also happy to hear the Sage RoP includes being willing to look at these issues honestly and try to find solutions; it’s not the first RoP at PSG I’ve heard doing that.
YES!!! Thanks Lupa for writing this! I have thought every single one of these thoughts. It’s why I’m a hard polytheist, and why I look to the myths for inspiration in developing rites of passage, rather than biological functions and reductive, out-dated gender roles.
I agree with a lot of the points you brought up. I have my gripes with the MMCYWS model. (I’ll probably never identify with the Mother stage unless fur babies count…) But I don’t see the Maiden stage simply as a representation of virginity or unmarried status – I’ve always thought of it as the youth stage; childhood and the time of life without the responsibility and worry of adult matters. That’s how I identified with the Maiden stage of my life (short-lived as it was by the latter terms).
i like MMC but i find it interesting how the “woman” archetypes are gender-specific and distinctly feminine while the “man” archetypes are universal. i think maybe the YWS should be considered usable for anyone regardless of gender and people can apply MMC where they feel it relates to them. like, women should be allowed to reclaim the word and imagery of the “crone” but still act and be treated as a sage. if that makes sense.
“the “woman” archetypes are gender-specific and distinctly feminine while the “man” archetypes are universal”
Yay! This is a fabulous article. Thank you.