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The Women's Wheel of Life
by Elizabeth Davis and Carol Leonard
Women’s spirituality has seen a surge in popularity in recent years because women are intuitively seeking a deeper connection than they may have had with traditional spirituality. However, many often soon discover that the Three Fold model of Maiden, Mother and Crone does not fit the vastness of their own life experience. The authors of “The Women’s Wheel of Life” provide a more in-depth look at existing feminine archetypes and have expounded on the “traditional” three-fold model of “Maiden, Mother and Crone” by examining thirteen powerful archetypes which more accurately reflect the life stages of the modern Western Woman.
I turned to earth-based spirituality a number of years ago because the idea of the three fold goddess that infused every aspect of life seemed so empowering to me. How exhilarating it was to finally participate in a spiritual tradition that recognized and supported my feminine essence!
As a woman on the cusp of her midlife, however, I’ve been reflecting on the limitations of the three fold goddess archetypal model. As I journey toward menopause, I feel the Crone archetype may still be a bit premature for my personal experience. Suddenly, Maiden, Mother and Crone seems severely limiting to me and I so appreciated the opportunity to explore a more fully robust take on women’s spirituality.
This book provides an in depth look at thirteen archetypal models that more accurately describe the full experience of a woman’s journey from birth to death. Starting with the blood mysteries as a reference point, the authors lay out a wheel of twelve stages that circles around, with a center “hub” archetype (known as the “Transformer”) that flows from the middle of the wheel and through the gaps found between each stage of life.
The twelve stages around the wheel are Daughter, Maiden, Blood Sister, Lover, Mother, Midwife, Amazon, Matriarch, Priestess, Sorceress, Crone, and Dark Mother. The final thirteenth archetype, The Transformer, resides as the nebulous glue that contains these patterns within the circle.
The authors’ goal was to animate the archetypes, so they interviewed hundreds of women who share personal accounts of how the patterns have manifest in their individual lives. Many women discovered that they resonate more strongly with one particular archetype over another, but that they do tend to “visit” or “live in” the other patterns from time to time.
For instance, this compelling passage from “an accomplished woman in her seventies; ‘On the Wheel, I can go as far as the Crone — I’m approaching Dark Mother intellectually, but I’m not there physically. Where do I really live? If I were to define myself with one word, it would be curiosity. Now where does curiosity fit into the Wheel? In the Transformer, I’d guess. Being a musician, I think that’s where I live, though I step into the world every now and then to other points on the Wheel…’”
What I particularly enjoyed about this book is both the expansiveness and fluidity these new paradigms offer. No longer do I feel confined to the limitations of the Three Fold Goddess. This book validates the notion that “what is Personal is Universal,” as the reader is encouraged to keep an open mind while exploring the accounts as inspiration along her own path and recreating these models in her own life.
I was surprised, too, by the ways in which the authors hold space for the masculine while outlining this feminine “structure.” Throughout the book, reference is made to the importance of this women’s work for all of humanity — how a “whole woman” can elevate a man, and how this helps men, in turn, to elevate women.
For instance, in Chapter 8 “The Lover and the Sorceress”, about harmonizing our duality (the feminine and masculine selves,) the authors share an interview with a 26-year old man, “I have a lot of faith in my generation. As much as people make fun of the older generation of men looking for the ‘inner wild man’ and stuff, I see the result in me and my friends, who are a lot more respectful of women and sexuality. I also think it’s because women — smart, strong women, including our mothers— were role models. The greatest lessons of Pan come to me by listening to women speak; even in quiet ways, they’ve taught me a lot…”
I appreciate that the authors include a section on creating your own women’s circle. In my experience, I find that facilitating a woman’s circle has been one of the most important components to allowing Divine Feminine archetypes a chance to play out in my life. It is through circling with other women that we can truly dive in and discover our depths. It is a place where you can safely illuminate your inner darkness so that you may shine brightly once again. It is an equal-opportunity space for women to discover their strengths and are encouraged to acknowledge their weaknesses. Participating in a Sister Circle is how I imagine the central hub of Transformation works to pull from our Center of Being that which can further us along on our path and also connect us to each other.
“Women who regularly participate in circle are best at articulating its benefits. [One woman] said that what she loved most about her circle was how everyone went deep, and that this had changed her life because she now brought that depth into her relationships…”
If you have ever struggled with limiting feminine archetypes, you will definitely appreciate this book. Some of the interviews are quite radical, but I truly appreciate the authors inclusion of these wild stories. The more women are encouraged to share their personal accounts of the sacred feminine, the easier we are able to manifest the Divine Feminine in our own lives.
FTC Disclaimer: I am an Amazon affiliate and purchases made through the links above may result in a commission. Regardless of any commission I may receive, I always give my 100% honest opinion in all of my reviews.
The Holy Book of Women's Mysteries by Z. Budapest
My name is Dawn Champine and I am the Creatrix of The Goddess Diaries. I am very passionate about helping women remember their REAL GODDESS selves.