As women, we all go through at least several transitions in life, some are brought on by biological and emotional changes, some may be due to new circumstances. In fact, they are all invitations to a transformation at different stages, in which I call that your Hero or Heroine Journey. Each journey leads us to encounter an unknown part within us or external to us.
I first started to share what I have learned from different teachers and personal experiences regarding our transitions in my book Goddess with Many Faces. I am about to complete my next book and I wanted to add on or update regarding this specific topic on women cycle of life and transitions.
One of the two key messages I need to add is about the importance of knowing your gifts and opportunities that may come with each of the stages in life. And secondly, how we must find pleasure and joy at every age.
Let me quickly take you through what I called the Women Circle of Life, or the Four Seasons of Women instead of a more traditional label of the “Triple Goddess” which many refer to as Maiden, Mother and Crone. I believe these days not only women have a longer life expectancy, but we also have more opportunities to explore our potentials and develop what our heart calls us to do as well. The Four Seasons of Women refer to the four stages: Maiden, Mother, Matriarch and Wise Woman. Changing of seasons symbolizes the transition we all go through and as we pass our wisdom and knowledge to the next generations through our family and friends, our thoughts and love live on. That’s why for me, it is like a cycle and continuation of life.
Spring: From Maiden to Woman
Each woman’s menstrual cycle begins when her body is ready to become a woman. This is the stage of the maiden which, like the season of spring, is full of youthful energy and a feeling of all things being possible. Although it may take a woman a lot longer than she would like for her mind to mature in the same way, she is being initiated into womanhood in a rather straightforward manner. Women’s rites of passage are built-in, as compared with men, whose journeys from boys to men are not as defined by nature, only by mental maturity. In fact, in many ancient traditions, boys were taken to a dark forest or cave to undertake a ritual in order to earn the rite of passage. Personally, I find the key of passage is about transforming anything we fear into love and courage. Therefore, when a girl or boy experience something that shakes their world, confronts them to face their fear and ask them for an act of courage or kindness, that in essence is leading them to a transformation. It marks the departure of a maiden and arrival of a woman.
Summer: Woman to Mother/Birther of Creative Pursuits
The next stage is summer when a woman becomes fully grown and becomes a mother. This journey is more complex as she is bringing a new life into the world. She doesn’t know how she is going to be as a mother, there is a sense of uncertainty in her psyche. Some women may feel very excited and ready for their impending motherhood, but some may be worried as life is changing and they have little control or experience to prepare them for it. They may also feel they need to put a pause on their career or they may be unsure how to balance the two. That is why these days many women choose to delay motherhood until they feel they are more established in life. I always suggest to listen to your inner calling and don’t deny an urge if it is what you want or rushes it if you don’t feel ready.
Personally I also had no idea how motherhood would affect my career or if I would be any good at it. All those concerns fell away as soon as my daughter was born. The birthing experience felt nothing short of miraculous, and all the labour pains were literally a rite of passage for me. Many of us, myself included, may overthink and try to control all kind of situation, even about falling in love. I would see love, at first sight, is real, when it comes to meeting my daughter.
It is really important to point out that this stage also applies to women who never have biological or adopted children but women who have reached a certain level of maturity and want to bring forth a brainchild or a meaningful project into fruition. The mother stage is when we are in full bloom, where growth is visible and vivid. We want to create and bring something meaningful and beautiful to live. We have harnessed some skills and experiences in the world and are the forerunners with endless energy. We are just like a long summer day.
Autumn: Mother to Matriarch
Now in the next stage, we depart from some traditional classifications of women’s life stages. I believe we need to expand this with a new era for those in middle age and still very active in life. In fact, a woman at this stage may now be the leader of her clan, someone who is very involved in work or personal pursuits. She may hold a senior management position in business or in political life. She may be the leader in a social group. This is the golden age for women, the autumn, and it is time for harvest. We have gained valuable life experience and earned patience and grace.
Some schools of thought use menopause as an indicator of which stage a woman have reached, but for me, biological changes are not the only indicator. I believe a woman who has experienced a lot of challenging events in life, or someone who has a keen reflective nature, will enter their golden age earlier than others. I think both physical and mental maturity need to be taken into account. A woman who is in touch with her inner centre or spiritual centre will certainly know which season she is in.
Winter: Matriarch to Wise Women
Moving to the winter stage of a woman’s life, instead of calling older women “crones”, I much prefer to call them “wise women”. They have entered the age of wisdom, and are no longer at the front of the stage but rather backstage, advising and mentoring younger women in life. Winter signifies a slower pace and a calmer presence. I love winter mornings when the air is crisp and fresh. There is a sense of clarity that no other season can match. As we move through the four seasons, we know after winter comes spring. Just like watching a grandmother playing with a young granddaughter, the wisdom and love of the aged pass onto youth. We see life continually renew itself if we see ourselves as a spirit living a human experience.
Each season or stage in life has something different for a woman to offer internally and externally.
Gifts and Opportunities at Every Stage in Life
For Spring, it is when we are probably most hopeful, innocent and fearless in away. We may be more daring to try new things or to dream, and for many maidens, perhaps have fewer things to hold us back such as financial or parental responsibility, etc. Pleasure and joy seeking is probably a given nature during this time. In Summer, we are growing and maturing, we are in a position to give birth or contribute. That in itself is a very rewarding experience. Then, in our autumn golden years, a matriarch knows what she wants and what she doesn’t want. That’s earned wisdom in many ways. By this time, we want to know how to really sink deep into who we are, what matters to our heart and harvest the fruit of our labour of love. So that when winter comes, we are going to “chill” literally, sit back and watch how other inspired and empowered women continue to move forward, step up and shine.
What is your legacy?
I remember in a podcast where Oprah recalled her conversation with the late poet Maya Angelou about legacy. Oprah said to Maya that she believed the school she built in Africa for young girls would be her legacy. Maya replied and said, “You have no idea what your legacy is.” She has a quote that said “What I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel” and she went on to say that is it how you treat people in the supermarket, at work, on the street, in everyday life that becomes your legacy. Now that is a conversation between a Matriarch and a Wise Woman to me.
Finding Pleasure and Joy at Every Age
When we experience pleasure and joy at every part of our journey, we naturally become empowered. Why? It is because, in order to do that, we have to embrace a certain level of uncertainty, let go of absolute control, listen to our inner guidance and act with at least a little bit of courage.
Coming from me is not strictly “sage wisdom” as I still relatively young, but what I have observed from wise women is that it is not about the big leaps but small moments in life, that you keep going for more, pushing the envelope further, to become of who you are and what you love. When we are happy and at peace, we radiate, we carry out more positive action and good vibes for others. We become a better influence and a more powerful voice for others. I don’t see life as a battle but a fun ride. Instead of soak in bitterness, I would rather try to sieve through the silver lining when the going is tough. It becomes a mindset, an attitude, a personality and eventually a powerful force. That’s why find pleasure is not a selfish pursuit but a golden ticket for doing good for ourselves and others.
If you feel inspired and want to discover more about your own Four Seasons of Life, you may like to work me 1-1 through coaching. I can work with you on your goddess archetypes and map out the Hero Journey that you are currently facing. There are different formats and ways to connect, you can find out more about that on my Work with Me page here.