When I was trying to grow up both female and Catholic, the church kept telling me about "the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." And when we uppity women got too '"hysterical" to ignore, they threw us a bone and said, "Oh, yeah, well, the Holy Ghost? That sexless, inhuman dove or flame or whatever the fuck it was? That "thing" that gets so much less attention than the sexed, humanized Father and Son? That's you. That's the "divine feminine," or "wisdom," or "Sophia," at least to the Greek Orthodox, or something; can't you shut up now?"
And, so I was ready-made to be attracted to Wicca, with it's real trinity of Maiden, Mother, Crone. Now that's a trinity that I can understand and one that has nurtured my spiritul development for nigh on a quarter of a century, and it's the spiritual truth that I expect will be on my lips and in my heart when I dance across the river between my garden in Virginia and the orchards in the Summerlands (it's a thin border and a river full of crossing stones. I can see it, once it a while; I think that I'll be good at making that crossing, even as rooted as I am to this particular place.)
And, yet, like so many symbols, that trinity glosses over a lot of subtelties. And, especially as women live longer and fulfill more roles within the world, we're finding that there are a hundred different variations and subcategories between those three markers/archetypes. One of the most discussed, within the feminist Pagan community, is a fourth stage sometimes called: Queen. This is the woman whose family is raised (or who has mothered a creative project, social justice movement, business, work of art, or garden (hell, sometimes all of those) to fruition)and who is, in this day and age of modern medicine and preventive health measures, still sexual, active, vital, alive, able to create and grow quite a lot before she goes off (as I am beginning to long to do) to sit by the fire, dispense wisdom when asked, nap, and reflect. She's what I think that the Empress card was really meant to show and she's a combination of the Queens of Swords, Wands, Cups, and Pentacles. (We all wind up knowing at least something of all of them, by the time we get to be 50/60 something.)
Another, it occured to me today, is the Mature Mother. I was sitting in my garden and thinking about Ruby Sarah's recent post about Beltane being the holiday when the Kore laughs birds and flowers. And realizing that, for many, if not most, women in our society, Beltane sex, the kind that impregnates you (and any child or project born in late February/early March is counted lucky, as "Beltane got"), is often not quite the experience of a Kore, the young maiden just experimenting with sex. She's not Persephone, gathering flowers with her girlfriends and caught, all unawares, by Hades. She's more likely to have already gotten her education, learned to enjoy and use sex, started her career, traveled a bit (if my own acquaintances are any indication), sown some wild oats, had some fun, and then decided -- deliberately -- to have a child (birth a business, found a movement, etc.). Which is the great blessing that birth control allows to those of us living in the late 20th/early 21st Centuries. And, for that woman, that Mature Mother who is no longer a Kore, but not yet a Queen, sex -- and pregnancy and motherhood -- is likely to be quite different from those same experiences when had by a Kore, who can sometimes find herself (Goddess knows, I did) torn a bit unexpectedly and unprepared from her girlhood and into womanhood/motherhood, from nurturing herownself into nurturing a child, project, cause.
And, for me, gardening this year -- just after a once-every-several-centuries Winter and in the midst of both warming spells that have oak pollen falling two weeks before its normal Beltane fall and cooling trends that threaten with frost seedlings put out after our "normal" last frost date -- calls to this Mature Mother, this woman who has learned how to manage the changing weather of lovers (human, weather-got, Herne, or Greenman), my get (children, projects, briefs, art, businesses, etc.), myself. I'm not the Kore, rocked and challenged by pregnancy and parenting. I'm not yet the Queen, ready to rule based on all that I've learned. I'm still in the final stages of the Mature Mother, working now on giving birth to Myself, that person who may have gotten lost a bit, (primordial soup, the stuff of Hecate) but also created, in between Maiden and Mother.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."