Aging and changing might be inevitable, but it ain't easy. It precipitates in us a great uncertainty. The myriad dramatic disturbances of modern middle life -- menopause, health concerns, career shifts, the empty nest, divorce and death -- create an overwhelming crisis of identity and purpose for each of us.
Who are we supposed to be at this stage of our life when we are less likely to be bound and identified by our kinship connection to someone else -- as a daughter, a wife, a mother, a lover? What exactly is our role as older than young and younger than old women who are still active, attractive and more effective than ever?
Ever since I first started introducing The Queen as a helpful archetype for midlife women in my workshops and articles some eight years ago, I have received thousands of requests for detailed instructions on how to become a Queen. "Dear Mama Donna," women would write, "I want to be a Queen, too. How do I access my power? How can I feel good about myself? How do I change my life? How do I find magic and spiritual wisdom? How do I know what to do? How do I learn how to rule?"
Indeed. How are women supposed to know how to own our own sovereignty? We certainly haven't been taught. World mythology abounds with inspiring examples of beautiful and adventurous Maidens, compassionate and nurturing Mothers (as well as some devouring ones) and wise and wily Crones. But these archetypes don't include me or other women in our middle years. They do not address our issues and needs. They do not even recognize our existence. The old stereotypes simply do not apply to us. We haven't been Maidens in decades, we are no longer Mother material, and we are definitely not old Crones. Where are the archetypal role models for us?
We midlife women today desperately need a new body of role models, ideals, examples and teachers to encourage us to create new and joyful ways of being in charge of our own destiny. In the absence of a traditional mythic example to spur me on and sustain me through my own midlife changes, I perceived the need to invent one. And so I did, thus providing me and other women of my generation with a recognizable role model for our middle years: The Queen.
Was this hubris? Who am I to conceive an archetype? Well, I am in fact, a proud member of the pioneering 60s Generation, and consequently, I have a certain modest amount of experience in rebelling against the status quo of old systems and beliefs and striving to replace them with new, more inclusive and relevant ones. Bereft of affirming depictions of our lives, today's women-of-a-certain-age are more than ready, willing and perfectly capable of creating our own.
The Queen paradigm promotes a new understanding of what it means to be a middle-aged woman today who accepts full responsibility for and to herself. And it celebrates the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual rewards of doing so.
Becoming a Queen is not automatic. The Queen bursts forth from adversity and previous constraints, actual or imagined, to become a proficient player in the game plan of Her choice. The Queen does not invite hard times and trouble, but She chooses to use them well. Actualized, organized, efficient, self-sufficient, competent, ethical and fair, the Queen has struggled for and earned Her authority and respect. Determined and firmly centered on Her own two feet, She dares to climb, step after step, with nascent surety into the heady realm of Her own highest sovereignty.
This mythic model that I envision is recognizably like me, like us. Not yet old, yet no longer young, still active and sexy, vital with the enthusiasm and energy of youth, She is tempered with the hard earned experience and leavening attitudes of age. She has been forced to face and overcome obstacles and hard lessons including Her own shadow, and in so doing, has outgrown the boundaries of Her old self. Agitated with the inessential and restless for authenticity, She sheds all attachment to the opinions of others and accepts complete responsibility and control for Her own care, feeding and fulfillment. She is the Queen of Her Self, the mature monarch, the sole sovereign of Her own life and destiny. Here, finally, is an archetype that fits.
As long as I live, I will have control over
my being -- you find the spirit of Caesar in me.
- Artemisia Gentileschi
CALLING ALL QUEENS!
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