Episode 30 ~ Maiden, Mother, Crone (updated)

Every Maiden isn't young. Every Mother doesn't have a child. Every Crone isn't old. what distinguishes them is not age, but energy.

Beginning in 1996 and nearly every summer for the next 20 years, I spent a week with hundreds of women writers from all over the world. The gathering is the annual conference of the International Women’s Writing Guild.  They ranged in age from teens to 90s! It wasn’t uncommon for mothers to bring their daughters. One year, we had four generations from one family, though one generation was still in utero.  

For at least seven years, I designed the closing ritual for the conference. In 2008, I wanted the ritual to honor the many Maidens, Mothers, and Crones who had come to share the stories they had written and the stories they had lived. In fact, for some of the women, reading their work out loud at that conference was the first time they had shared their voices in public.

The ceremony was held in a college auditorium. Picture a raked floor with two aisles, running from the top level down to the stage. Unlike many of the DIY rituals I’ve shared on my podcast, Ritual Recipes, this conference ritual was more of a production. For one thing, I needed music. I chose the song Diety by Wendy Rule. Both the lyrics and the melody are fiercely powerful. The song includes these three lines:  I am the Maiden. I am the Mother. I am the Crone.  

To begin the ritual, I addressed the writers:  “We are not just many women gathered here this night. We are generations of women, from every corner and curve of the world. While we may not all be related by the blood of our veins, we are deeply connected by the blood of our wombs, even if we have yet to experience the flow, even if the flow has long ceased.”

The Maiden embodies the creative force.

I talked about the multiple generations present, about how the Maiden embodies the creative force. Like one of spring’s colorful perfumed flowers, her purpose is to attract. Dancing with wild abandon, she gathers the stuff of life – big dreams, bold ideas, and intense desires. But she’s impatient and doesn’t settle down long enough to bring those dreams, ideas and desires into reality. She isn’t supposed to. Her story is about beginning. We see her in the waxing Crescent Moon, the silver sliver that grows bit by bit. The Maiden is usually young…but not always. Regardless of your age, if some new relationship, or new project, or new idea is calling you, slip on your fancy shoes. Dance with the Maiden.

The Mother embodies the creative act.

Sensual, sexual, fertile and strong, she’s the one who weaves the ideas, dreams, and desires, then gives birth to something tangible. She feeds and protects. The energy of the Mother is often seen in her child. But the child doesn’t have to be human. The Mother’s devotion could be to an idea, a project, a cause, or a story. She is the Lady of the Dance. Her story is about fulfillment. We see her in the Full Moon. The Mother is usually of child-bearing years…but not always. Regardless of your age, if you’ve birthed a creation of any sort, give it time and tender loving care. Find a rocking chair. Feel the rhythm. Nurture with the Mother.

The Crone embodies creative transformation.

She sees far beyond the last note of the dance. What was, is no longer. The Wise Woman, she recognizes that death is only a change and that beyond death is life in a new form. She leads those going on that new path, and comforts those left behind. Her stories are about endings. We see her dark outline, an empty womb, in the waning Crescent Moon, what singer/songwriter Wendy Rule calls “the old moon held by her daughter.” The Crone is usually old…but not always. Regardless of your age, if you know, sense, or feel that it’s time to move on with a project, a job, a relationship, do it. Be bold. Cut the cord. Feel the grief. Walk away. It helps to remember that the Crone herself transforms…into the Maiden.

The Crone transforms into the Maiden.

At this point in the ritual, I cued the song “Diety.” As the music played, a procession of 27 women slowly, solemnly entered from the back of the packed auditorium. 

Each woman carried a white candle (battery operated). On her wrist she wore a white scrunchie fringed with dozens of long, satin ribbons. Nine women wore white and carried candles with white ribbons — for the Maiden. Nine women wore red and carried candles with red ribbons  — for the Mother. And nine women wore black and carried candles with black ribbons — for the Crone.  

Once all 27 women reached the stage, they formed 3 lines, Maidens in the front, the Mothers behind them, and the Crones behind the Mothers. As you picture this, just know that the Maidens weren’t all young and the Crones weren’t all old

One by one, each Maiden spoke about how she embodied the energy of the Goddess she represented. Then the Maidens stepped to the back and the Mothers moved to the front. They spoke, moved to the back, and the Crones stepped forward and spoke.  All 27 women spoke. What they said had all been coordinated in the weeks prior. Here are six examples, along with each writer’s website.

From Jan Phillips:  I honor the story of the Maiden. I honor the seeds within me and scatter them as I go.  <janphillips.com>

From Judy Adourian:  I honor the story of the Mother. I remember to nourish and nurture myself.  <writeyes.com>

From Susan Tiberghien:  As a Crone, I summon wisdom into our lives. I summon Sophia.  <susantiberghien.com>

From Judith Searle:  I honor the story of the Maiden. I represent unlimited potential.   <judithsearle.com>

From Marsha McGregor:  I honor the story of the Mother. I offer warmth and light to tender shoots. <marshamcgregor.com>

From Paula Chaffee Scardamalia:  I honor the story of the Crone. I know what it means to lose and let go. I have the power to cut the threads of that which is finished. <diviningthemuse.com>

In the auditorium that night were Maidens in their nineties and Crones in their teens. You could be feeling any one of the three energies right now. Remember, age doesn’t matter. What does is that you acknowledge the energy and work with it. 

DIY Rituals

Of course, you can explore your own Maiden, Mother, Crone energies without an elaborate ritual. Set aside time. Create sacred space. Enter that space and reflect. What are you attracting? What are you nurturing? What are you releasing? Then write. Or draw. Or sing. Or drum. Or dance. As you do, say out loud: “I am the Maiden. I am the Mother. I am the Crone.” You’ll discover layers of meaning only your heart can know.

Though props aren’t necessary, I appreciate them and use them when I can. In particular, I like the energy of stones. All around my office I have semiprecious stones in forms both raw and polished. 

If you want to align your energies with the Maiden, white quartz is easy to find and usually economical. 

For the Mother, use red garnets. Bead shops often have strands of garnets for reasonable prices. 

For the Crone, use jet or black obsidian.  With all of these, you don’t need to use big stones. Chips work fine, too. 

Whatever you do, don’t get hung up on the idea that you have to have to spend a lot of money to create this ritual. Use a white-yogurt-covered raisin for the maiden, a dried cherry for the mother, a regular raisin for the crone.

Are you a member of a moon circle? If so, designate someone to represent the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. The Maiden lights a white candle. Each woman in the circle  talks about what maiden energy means to her. The Maiden gives everyone a white yogurt raisin. Repeat with the Mother lighting a red candle and giving out dried cherries, the Crone lighting a black candle and giving out raisins. 

You’ll want to allow at least ten minutes for everyone to write, even if only to jot down a few insights to be explored later.   

What can you expect?  You might find that a young person in your family or circle of friends speaks with the wisdom of a crone. A grown woman might dye her hair pink to express the flirty feminine energy she suddenly feels. And the gray-haired “old lady” might take in a foster child.   

What else can you expect?  Do you remember the click-your-heels scene at the end of “The Wizard of Oz?” That’s when Glenda the Good Witch teaches Dorothy how to use ritual to get back to Kansas. Everyone can learn how to access that power. No, I’m not talking about the Hollywood version. I’m talking about your inner power  to see your world from a different perspective, to discover your own ruby slippers, and ruby boots, and ruby stilettos. 

Posted in Celtic, Cultural Traditions, Goddess, Nature Based, Ritual Recipes Podcast | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Blessing Box Ritual for a New Home / Interfaith Weddings, Chuppahs, Archangels, Astrology, and the Four Royal Stars of Persia – Episode 29

 

A Jewish bride and a Catholic groom.  As their officiant, what could I say in their wedding ceremony that would honor both spiritual paths — not only for the couple, but for their families?  In episode #29 of Ritual Recipes, I talk about interfaith wedding ceremonies, the four Royal Stars of Persia, archangels, and the elements of earth, air, fire and water. I also offer The Blessing Box ritual for a new “home.” 

 The need for ritual is as old as time. They reflect a person’s beliefs which, in turn, helps us find our tribe. So, it’s no surprise that rituals are performed in most, if not all, religions. 

A sudden downpour threatened this chuppa

Over the years, I’ve created wedding ceremonies for couples who come from two different religions or spiritual paths, or have forged their own path, or follow no path. Still, the couple might want spiritual elements to make the ceremony both meaningful and comfortable for their parents. That was the case in a wedding of a Jewish bride and a Catholic groom.

The bride’s family wanted her to be married under a chuppah. The groom had no issue with the chuppah. Neither did his family. But the bride’s mother was a thoughtful woman, sensitive to their feelings of the groom’s family. She asked if I could somehow honor both religions.  

Here’s a modified version of what I wrote for their ceremony:

Continue reading
Posted in Ceremony Ideas, Cultural Traditions | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Game of Thrones and the Wedding Ritual of Circling – Episode 27

Full Moon / Photo by Andy Watkins of Unsplash

He calls her  “Moon of my Life.” She calls him her “Sun and Stars.”

He is Khal Drogo, the testosterone heavy, alpha male leader of the Dothraki warrior tribe. Very Mars. He’s proud, fearless, and ruthless, at least in the beginning. 

She is Daenerys Targaryen, his estrogen aplenty wife given to him in exchange for an army.  She’s beautiful. Very Venus. She’s also innocent, compassionate, and submissive, at least in the beginning.  

These characters are from Game of Thrones, a television series on HBO based on the medieval fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin. I watched Season 1 and  was struck by the symbolism in the names Drogo and Daenerys had for each other… and in what I saw as a connection to the wedding ritual of “circling.”

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Messages from the Trees – a ritual for the Winter Solstice – Episode 28

Don't make a New Year's resolution. Listen to what the trees have to tell you. And follow their advice!

It’s January. Like the two-headed Roman God Janus, for whom the month is named, this is the time when we look back to the year just passed and forward to the year just begun.  

Two weeks ago, I led a Winter Solstice ritual at Meg’s Inspirations, a gift shop and spiritual boutique in Manchester, CT, where I live. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year. Festivities celebrate the promise that the Sun is on his way back to us. Though the ground here is frozen, and the season of snow, sleet and ice is picking up speed, this is a time of hope. The sun, whether you spell is Sun or Son, has been “reborn.” 

Let me set the scene for the ritual. There were 14 women, seated in a semi-circle in front of two, long banquet tables placed end to end. The tables were draped in red and white cloth. Thanks to Meg and her husband, Ed, we had at least 30 Yule logs, some cut to lay horizontally, some cut as pillars, some with white tea lights, some with red, green, or white tapers. The logs stretched across both tables, along with garlands of artificial winter greens and an abundant, aromatic layer of pine, cedar, and holly that Meg had cut just that morning. Along with the Yule logs, I had an assortment of tabletop trees, and hundreds of white fairy lights and crystal snow. …We dimmed the overhead lights and imagined we had entered a magical forest. 

Continue reading
Posted in Nature Based, Seasonal, Trees | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Episode 26 – Be Generous with Your Jellybeans

Small gestures can convey abundance.

Sometimes, the smallest gesture can convey a feeling of abundance. That’s a lesson I learned from my daughter when she was a teenager working at a candy counter. … Abundance. That’s what this episode, #26, is all about.

When my daughter, Laurie Neronha, was in high school, she worked part-time at the candy counter in a fancy department store in Hartford. She didn’t drive yet so I had provided transportation. I arrived early one day. So I watched as she helped several customers, thinking maybe I could give her a few customer service pointers later.  

Each customer one ordered a pound of gourmet jelly beans. Laurie was not the only employee on the candy counter.  An older woman worked there as well. She seemed pleasant enough and, from what I overheard, had been with the store quite a few years.  I watched her scoop jelly beans, too.

It didn’t take long to see that Laurie and the other woman had each developed a different technique.  The difference explained why some customers would politely decline the other woman’s offer of help and wait in line for Laurie.

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Episode 25 – Why Carry a Bouquet?

The bouquet is not just about the flowers.

A pregnant bride in her early thirties didn’t want to carry a bouquet and asked me if she had to. I assured her there was no requirement that she carry flowers. I also explained why she might want to reconsider her decision.  I wrote about that wedding several years ago and drew on the story for part of Episode 25 of the Ritual Recipes podcast. 

To carry a wedding bouquet isn’t just about the fashion or the flowers or the photo op.  

In this wedding, both the bride and the groom had big jobs in the financial world and would be traveling overseas on business the following week. Any kind of travel can be hazardous to a woman who’s pregnant. International travel while pregnant can be even more of a challenge. Just in case a problem arose while they were out of the country, they wanted to be married. 

Continue reading
Posted in Ceremony Ideas, Uncategorized, Wedding Vows, Weddings | Leave a comment

Episode 24 – Funeral and Memorial Rituals

In the previous episode, #23, I talked about my late-friend Mechi Garza, a Choctaw-Cherokee Medicine woman.  One of the things Mechi taught me was that there is a difference between being cured and being healed. Being cured is about the body. Being healed is about the spirit.  

Thanks to the International Women’s Writing Guild, Mechi and I had hundreds of mutual friends. Liz Aleshire was one of them. … I want to tell you about a life-changing event that happened in the months before she died.  

In August of 2008, I gathered with five other mutual friends — all women, all writers. One of us, Judy, had a home on Cape Cod big enough to accommodate all of us for the weekend. We were there, laptops in tow, to work on Liz’s manuscript.  The book was to be a tribute to her son, Nathan. He had died thirteen years earlier of bone cancer. He was sixteen.

Image result for liz aleshire 101 ways you can help

The book’s title?  101 Ways You Can Help: How To Offer Comfort And Support To Those Who Are Grieving

Liz was a journalist and multi-published writer of nonfiction and children’s books, some under the name Liz Greenbacker. She knew what it took to write a book, especially under a tight deadline.  Reluctantly, she had called Sourcebooks in mid-June to ask for a one-month extension since the June 30 deadline wasn’t realistic. Her editor, Shana Drehs, extended the contract. ….. But Liz didn’t tell Shana how bad things really were. 

Continue reading
Posted in Friendship, Funerals, Life in General | Leave a comment

Episode 23 – The Making of a Medicine Woman – Attending My First Public Ritual

Years ago, I wrote about this experience.  I've drawn on that blog post to create this episode of the podcast. The event remains key to my understanding of the power of ritual.  ~ Rest in peace, Grandmother Mechi.

Mechi Garza's installation as a Choctaw-Cherokee Medicine Woman

Little Elk, schooled in the healing ways of the Pueblo, she was his destiny.  He knew from a childhood vision that before he died he was to anoint a Medicine Woman, but she wouldn't be Pueblo.  She'd be Cherokee.

To Lothar, she was the woman he had loved centuries ago, the woman he sought again in this life.  Night after night, he woke her from her sleep, instructing her to transcribe the knowledge of his world, a place dismissed by many as the stuff of myth and imagination.  It took five years of such nightly sessions. She filled countless notebooks he called “The Manuals.” He said the knowledge could save this world from the same fate as his, Atlantis.  Lothar taught her Kolaemni, a method of healing using therapeutic touch. The word itself means “connecting with the light.”

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Episode 22 – Origin Story

Flowered arbor at entrance to ritual spaceOne summer evening back in 2005, I had driven to New Hampshire to meet with a small group of friends to study astrology and Goddess spirituality. As we did twice a month, on or near the New and then the Full Moon, we would spend several hours at the kitchen table, notebooks open, pens in hand, learning about the stars and planets and signs of the zodiac. 

Then we would leave everything on the table and head outside. We were in the woods, well off the beaten track. The couple at whose home we gathered had built a sizable circle behind the house. To enter the circle, we walked down a path lined with lanterns on shepherd’s hooks. At the end of the path, we crossed under an arch covered in a profusion of white flowers or a tangle of bare branches, depending on the season.

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Samhain – Enter the Dark with a Map, a Community Fire, and Animal Guides

The Wheel of the Year turns, plunging us deeper into the dark half of the year. It’s Halloween. Samhain. The ground is fertile for growing fears.  Between the worlds of the living and the dead, the border blurs. Connecting with the spirit world is easier than at other times of the year. Anyone traveling those worlds needs a guide to cross the threshold. Animal totems are always helpful.  

Last night, I lead a Samhain ritual at Meg’s Inspirations, a local gift shop and spiritual boutique here in Manchester, CT.  I’ve been leading seasonal rituals at Meg’s for many years. One year, we created an ancestor altar. Another year, we explored various means of divination. 

Last year, I created a ritual around animals as spirit guides. My original plan was to draw an animal oracle card and explore connections between the animal’s message and what we knew, or wanted to know, about an ancestor.  But three days earlier, 11 people were massacred at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.  So I invited those at the ritual to create a blessing for the dead based on the animal that had chosen them.  Here are a few of those blessings: 

May the bear guide them through the darkest nights.

May the dog protect all they hold sacred.

May the eagle bring them courage to see through adversity.

Continue reading
Posted in Celtic, Cultural Traditions, Goddess, Life in General, Nature Based, Ritual Recipes Podcast, Seasonal | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment