As Maiden we are like a young tree that has sprouted from a single seed. Our roots provide us with what we need to grow. We drink up everything in the fertile ground of our environment made up of friends, parents, schools,  neighborhoods and countries. All the songs, customs, foods and stories of our youth nourish our roots as we grow and sway and dance in the wind.

'All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.'. Anatole France.

As Maiden it is our own growth that we focus on. If the soil and earth of our youth was nutrient poor, if our roots were shallow and weak, many of us spend years healing,  repairing and tending to our own garden and its growth. We repair the damaged parts of ourselves and learn to love ourselves with a new sense of self worth.  Our branches reaching out to discover more, perhaps leaving behind many of the old ways we may have outgrown. With mistakes and sorrows some of our branches may break but our core self, the trunk of the tree, becomes solid as we develop a sense of what we care about and our roots become firm. These are the years of development as we come into our own.  With no one to live for but our selves we continue to evolve into our full potential.

For many women, pregnancy marks the first major transformation experience. Our shape changes. Our habits change. Our sense of self changes. What we need to nourish our roots changes. We ripen with new life. But the death of the Maiden comes swiftly with the birth of the Mother and baby. The transition is immediate, powerful and final. In a matter of hours, perhaps days, a woman is transformed into mother. There is no denying the newborn at her breast and her change of status is public and recognized by the community around her. This is not a private and personal transformation.  No longer the ‘daughter of’ she has become the ‘mother to’ with all the ancestral, historical and cultural expectations and attachments of what it is to be MOTHER . Whether she has finished growing or not she must also now tend to the growth of her baby.

Having created life she is now responsible to nourish and sustain her babies. The fruits of her tree become the life giving sustenance she passes onto her children. Each fruit a lesson, a skill, a value and a dream to give them. Mother creates the fertile ground for her children to grow in. At times the fruits are so plentiful that she is overcome.  No longer seen for her own core self she is literally overshadowed by the fruits she gives to others. She may long for the days of Maiden and mourn her death but she has been rebirthed into the creative vortex of mother. In the words of Rumi:

I died a mineral, and became a plant.
I died a plant, and rose an animal.
I died an animal and I was a woman.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die.
O let me not exist – for non-existence
I gain the Universe
There are a million ways to crate community.

To be mother now is to be everything, the creator, sustainer and protector of life. Moving through the first years of our children, we integrate all aspects of ourselves with renewed purpose and meaning. As a deeply rooted, sustainer of life, our branches yet again reach out to taste and touch the winds. We are grounded yet fly. A beautiFULL  rich period wherein  life is full, we are full.

A balance can be enjoyed between ourselves ‘the trunk’ or core of who we are and the fruits that we bear. Our fruits, these children, begin to ripen. Together with our life partner we mature and create a universe. As Kahlil Gibran spoke of:

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow

If Mother was born out of the death of Maiden what of Crone? Does mother die to be reborn into a wise elder? Not so, because once a mother always a mother and so this transformation into Crone, Elder, Wise Woman is a more gradual transition. Whereas the emergence of mother was rapid and public the rebirth into Crone creeps in slowly, on a personal level , so that only the truly perceptive sense her coming.

Society has confined the emergence of Crone to outward symbols of aging. She is pictured wrinkled, grey haired and bent over like a tree whose fruit has dropped and leaves have fallen. She is barren without the ability to create life. She is withered and represents the opposite of the blooming Maiden or Mother in full bloom.

But, there is another story to tell. A mighty redwood or oak whose trunk is solid and roots run deep. A sanctuary for contemplation and a universe of wisdom to share. Her tree rings, her years lived, rich with medicine, healing, sustenance and wisdom.

The emergence of Crone represents a woman’s recognition that she is a teacher. Aware of her magic, her pockets are full of amulets, potions and herbs. Her hands strong by years of weaving baskets and dreams.  She is now mindFULL and soulFULL of birth wisdom, life wisdom and death wisdom having held space for the entire circle of life.

Maiden and Mother may have faded but the rebirth of Crone is like a tree resin revealing a woman at her purest essence. Like Frankincense, Amber and Myrrh the teachings of Crone are preserved and passed down from generation to generation. Even at the end of her life as she faces her own death, she takes comfort in the lives of her grown children. Her grown children are like fruits on the earthen ground, themselves overripe, but deep within are seeds ready to spill out for new life to be created. These seeds are the Legacy of Crone, of grandmother, of wise elder, of shaman. When Crone dies her seeds sprout forward carrying her wisdom to the next generation.

This is the Cycle of Woman.
This is the Cycle of Life.
This is the Cycle of Death and Rebirth.