The Companion Called Experience
A few months ago I started to write an article on the archetypical ‘wise woman’… the grandmother, the crone or the elder woman. I searched online for some information about the attributes of this archetype in different cultures, and found that quite a number of people have been giving thought to this. The subject is not new to me, but getting more deeply into it has always been unappealing due to a few factors.
One is, of course, the ugliness woven through the western archetypes… I mean… who wants to line themselves up with a crone or a hag or a witch? Another is my own resistance to the ‘I’m a goddess’ thinking: of course you are but then again we all have the divine spark… so no ego elevation there. I’m imagining that the divine feminine includes all archetypes in some proportion – the youthful, maternal and elder feminine energies – and perhaps we all contain some of each, so I’ll go with that.
I realize that it’s likely due to yang dominance and religious conditioning that some cultures were unable to see what the appeal might be in the woman who is past childbearing age. Older, nature-oriented cultures seemed to take the opposite track; granting reverence to the grandmothers and giving them the final word in all major decisions. So the cultural archetypes are something to look at. What did nature-oriented peoples know that the yang mind couldn’t see?
I have asked myself some questions about what today’s grandmother would be up to, and what her natural maternal and warrior attributes would look like when they reach beyond youth and the immediate family and community.
Well… from my own experience I can say that one thing grandmothers do is they watch. They watch how things begin and how they grow, what influences the direction of the growth, what emerges from the ‘differences’ mix, what gets in the way of the flow, which inner shadows breed conflict, how women resolve conflict and how men do, and what can erode the dignity of our journey.
To my mind, our calling is sacred in a sense, in that we look to love that is non-judgmental and for all, including ourselves… and the grace that is pure information. Home can be felt in the heart/mind… ‘direct me there’ is our prayer to self and the universe.
A lot can be learned by listening and observing over time, and it’s not necessarily an ‘only women do it’ thing… both men and women enjoy the feminine polarity.
So here I am back to thinking about the subject again, not to look at what’s missing in the archetypes or to offer any upgrades to them, but just to build a structure around the concept of spiritual growth reaching a level of focused maturity. Grandmother would encourage maturity, because within that comes staying power, integrity, respect, and appreciation for the light in every individual.
A friend and male elder recently reflected on this subject, saying, “Perhaps the greatest battle the spiritual warrior fights is the one within; coming to terms with the duality and dichotomy of existence itself.” Yes that is the inner work, which, over time, tends to become the companion called ‘experience’.
Experience does lead to wisdom within an individual who has paid attention over time, and sought to know themselves by exploring inner and outer. Like you, my battle has been to grow up while I’m here… growing past ignorance, compliance, control, egoism, opinion, reaction, i.e. what I am conditioned to be… and into ‘I Am’. Add to that ever-present work the enjoyment of friendships, love, laughter, good food, beautiful sunsets… and we have a life!