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Reclaiming the Matriarch
by Evalena Rose, M.A.

Finally we are coming to honor and appreciate the Crone, the font of wisdom a woman becomes after a life well lived and lessons well learned. I believe, though, we are missing an important stage of life in our accepted paradigm: the stage of Matriarch. That gives us four stages: Maiden, Matron, Matriarch, and Crone.

The matriarch is the woman who has raised her children and completed her obligations as an active parent, or, she may be one who has devoted her 30s and 40s to establishing her career and now reaches mid-life ready to step into her power. One therapist calls this the "Dangerous Woman" because she is likely to set aside all that stands in the way of her post-menopausal zest for life, and put herself first. She may leave off caretaking others as she carves out a place to create what she wants.

Women in their 50s and 60s who assert their right to be important, who want their needs to matter and their work to be meaningful may leave the nest they've built with such devotion, or shift from that successful, yet stifling, career, to find themselves. Many take off on travels they always wanted to undertake, others begin entrepreneurial adventures that express their inner nature, still others finally validate their right to become that artist they always wanted to be. Women may change their appearance, shuck societal constraints, and step boldly forward to work on causes they feel compelled to embrace.

I believe the matriarchs of this world are a force to be reckoned with, a power to be unharnessed and respected. They show us what a sovereign self can achieve when one is operating from internal guidance and the beat of oneàs own drummer. When a woman validates her right to gain her sovereignty, she unleashes amazing potential to create what has never existed before -- her unique gift and expression, gleaned from all her life experience to date.

In ancient Egypt, during the matrilineal period when people lived more in concert with natural rhythms, this period was considered the height of one's life. Childhood and adolescence was seen to extend to age 28 during which time one focused on being a student. Young adulthood ran to age 56 and was a time for apprenticing and interning with masters. Only during the 3rd 28 year cycle, from 56 to 84, did one establish oneself in one's true life expression and work. The 28 years from 84 to 112 and beyond were the Crone time, time to be an elder and give back, teaching the young.

We instead try to make young people determine their life's work while still in the hormonal changes of becoming an adult, and manifest their whole career or family by mid-life. Our society then acts as if all that life experience is useless simply because the person is "aging" just as they are entering what could be their most productive and effective years. Go figure.

So we need to add a rite of passage for this shift during the hormonal changes of "middlescence" that menopause represents. The hot flashes are often now fondly called power surges as we recognize they are nature's way of bringing our creative energy up into the higher chakras and the brain. I believe this is Goddessàs design to prepare women for this creative surge of bursting forth as an individual with a world to change, each in our own small, or large, way. We deserve to be recognized for the power we've worked so hard to build. Once this active phase of our life is complete, we'll be satisfied and gratified to enter the true crone years, the late 80s, 90s and beyond. Hopefully our communities will develop meaningful rites of passage for this transition as well.

I would love to see Matriarch added to the pantheon of possibilities for women. When I began hot flashes, my apprentices at the time called me a "Baby Crone" and wanted to honor my passage into cronehood. But I felt too young, too unformed as a proper wisewoman, and it felt too soon. Since meeting Louise Hay in her 60s and witnessing Elizabeth Kubler Ross actively teaching into her 80s, I have long felt that I, too, wil reach my peak and produce my best work during those years. Looks like thatàs where Iàm headed -- and I want to feel that that peaking is valid and accepted as normal. Then I will enjoy the couple of decades that follow, as the Crone who truly has much to give back to the generations to come. Blessed Be.

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Evalena Rose, M.A.