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Rites of passage

Painting by Tamara Adams {link to}

Many well-known stories chronicle the hero’s journey, however there is also the equally significant heroines’ journey, that outlines a women’s passage of self-discovery and character development. This progression is often marked by the archetypes of the maiden, the mother, and the crone.

In short, the maiden is often wide eyed and naive, exploring the world for the first time. The mother (which is not necessarily defined by someone who gives birth or has a child) has often faced obstacles that have supported her to come fully into herself, and the crone has integrated all the parts of herself and her life experiences, passing on her knowledge to others.

I was first introduced to the word crone by my former supervisor, Zelda Madden. I had just graduated and was learning to navigate life across the country on my own for the first time when Zelda, an amazing Art Therapist, came into my life. Zelda shared with me that she viewed herself as a crone. She certainly was that to me at the time as I was a young maiden in search of guidance, not only in my professional career, but also as I moved towards greater independence.

As I continue on my own journey of evolution, I find myself reflecting on what our modern society dictates as markers of development. We may be considered an “adult” when we turn 18, but what about our psychological maturation? In Mesoamerican culture life stages are marked by rites of passage that continue throughout the lifetime. In modern society they seem to be measured by things such as a predetermined age, becoming a parent, or owing property.

In the book, Maiden to Mother, author Sarah Durham Wilson asks, what does it look like navigating these modern “rites” alongside our psychological development if we do not have to have the guidance of a loving crone or mother? What does this look like in a society that chases the eternal youthfulness of the maiden?

One resource could be finding a community of mentors, elders, or other people to support us as we navigate the complexities of modern adult life. I also believe, ultimately, we can become our own mother/heroine/hero/healer, etc. as we learn to trust ourselves, find safety in our bodies, and integrate all the parts of ourselves with love and compassion.


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