Daughter, maiden, mother, crone, elder is how I correlate the moon’s cycle to the stages of a woman’s life. i see the maiden phase as beginning at menarch (a stage that, coincidentally, some wise and wonderful women have published books on recently: see here and here) and lasting until motherhood begins – be that the birthing of children or a strong career or other life work.
I have many “maidenhood” memories centered around Bristol’s St Nicholas Market, (many of them somehow in autumn!). I would come here in my early uni days, on those trips into town to blow my “university book allowance” in Waterstones on the books that helped my discover my spirituality. I’d drool over the beautiful clothes in the gothy clothing shop, stock up on essential oils and incense materials from the fair trade shop and sip hot spiced apple juice from the smoothie bar. A few years later, I would make frequent trips to that juice bar with clients from the addictions unit that I worked on. I also worked in a couple of the market’s shops for a while, which may be a reason for my going there less often now. I was dumped in that market and spent a lot of evenings in an alternative-scene pub next door, often (no, usually!) drowning romance-related sorrows. I had my beautiful wedding tiara made in the market by Lunartique and nervously tried to eat lunch there with Rob just before the legal bit of our wedding at the registry office on the same street.
Yesterday, as I sat in the market cafe with Dylan, sharing one of the sugar-free vegan apricot flapjacks that I always used to buy from there, I reflected on this period my life. A little part of me longs for the freedom, the social life, the financial income and the – shall we say – indulgences of those mostly-single, pre-motherhood days. But most of me knows that those things just wouldn’t be right now; that I actually i would feel a bit old and out of place in that pub (and ready for bed at about the time I used to head out!), that those lovely gothy clothes with long pointed Stevie Nicks sleeves just wouldn’t be practical for making candles and planting vegetables, that I don’t truly have any desire for those silly quantities of cheap vodka or other things.
No, I am no longer Maiden Mo and I do sometimes grieve a little for her. But actually she is still here in who I am today – all that reading, meditating, navel-gazing, experimenting and “formative experiences” have created this Mama Mo. Like the moon, as we change and shift and journey and dance, different parts of us are revealed. I know that there are some things from that time that probably won’t ever return to my life (gut-rot vodka!) but some will – I can see this in my mum and the social life and freedom that she has. So even though I sit here wearing around my hips the scarf I always wore around my hips years ago, I open my heart wide to this Mama phase, to where I am right now. It’s a full, rich and beautiful place. ♥