“I wear my wrinkles like battle scars, having earned every last one slaying life’s dragons. They boast of my victories and some defeats while their beauty is a wealth of wisdom gained.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich,
I caught sight of my face, now aging, the fine lines and the not so fine lines criss crossing once smooth surfaces. Some I dislike, others worry me not. Those emerging, vertical puckers above my top lip repel me (can I say they are from a lifetime of kissing and thus portray myself as a passionate woman? I think not). Am I past my used by date? Washed up, damaged, diminished?
According to the pagan stages of womanhood I am on the cusp of Crone; no longer a Maiden and leaving behind the bounty of Mother. You know what? I am not associating with that label any more. Once it did not concern me. I embraced the wisdom of Crone but now, standing in this place, I reject the western connotations of Crone being dried up, past a used by date. Instead I step into the Maga phase and embrace it.
Jane Hardwicke Collings explains that now women live longer and that motherhood begins later an additional phase of womanhood has emerged; that of Maga. This is the extended Mother phase, after Mother and before Crone. Maga is the autumn season of a woman’s life, the harvest, an integrative place. The Crone is the winter season, the season of “retirement”, life review and letting go. The Crone’s life is inwardly focussed, she is in contemplation mode, a distillation of her life lived. She philosophises, tells stories, prays, gardens and gathers with other Crones. The changes to her body and brain necessitate a quieter existence, which enables a ripened access to spirit. She is the wise woman.
I’m not yet Crone and recent upheavals have helped me see I am not ready for this stage. Very recently I have been sent spiralling (when I know how I will write about it). The path before me and the environment around me changed suddenly, through no choice of my own, and while fearful, there is a future I have yet to create and I know am far from the retreat of Crone. I am seeing a strength I had forgotten. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I have and continue to collapse into tears of heartbreak and eddies of despair but I glimpse an inner fortitude that is shining away – ready to light my path.
I reflect on my earlier questions – “Am I past my used by date? Washed up, damaged, diminished?” Oh, for sure, I have been damaged along the way but I am fuller and more sturdy as a result (or soon will be). Diminished – hell no. Life throws many things at us and we can choose how we respond. I am choosing to place delight and mystery, joy and love of self back on the shelf. I will no longer be sucked dry of them. I allow the hidden order and secret meanings of my life to reemerge, into full view, and explore how that feels. I choose to bring my life into better alignment with my values and beliefs.
Am I past my used by date? No way. I sense already, while not fully transitioned from my old life into the new, that I am arriving at myself. I can see a freedom that comes with a developing confidence; a lightness at shrugging off imposed (many self imposed) boundaries, routines and habits that kept me from being my true and authentic self. I kind of like the idea of recreating my life (deep breaths to stave off panic). Like Salvador Dali, I am open to life teaching me, even if that means more of those fine lines and wrinkles but if I never look in a mirror perhaps they don’t exist. Right?
“Let the labyrinth of wrinkles be furrowed in my brow with the red-hot iron of my own life, let my hair whiten and my step become vacillating, on condition that I can save the intelligence of my soul – let my unformed childhood soul, as it ages, assume the rational and esthetic forms of an architecture, let me learn just everything that others cannot teach me, what only life would be capable of marking deeply in my skin!”
― Salvador Dalí