Updated: Dec 11, 2020
The experience of a woman works as a beautiful wheel. The wheel of life, that carries us on our journey from birth through to womanhood and beyond.
As we grow and develop as women, there are different life stages we experience that work alongside the makeup of our body to help us work through the challenges we may face and the love we feel.
The different life stages present different energy and of course, different changes to our body, which of course impacts the things we do and the way we approach our day to day life. This is an exciting journey and one you can dive deeper into once you learn what each stage represents.
What is the Wheel of Life?
When we look at the goddess from ancient times, she is still relevant now (with a slight change).
As part of the goddess, this is broken down into three phases of a woman’s life that can be reflected on from the seasons for the Earth.
Mother (Summer and Autumn)
As we have developed over time and our life expectancy has increased, the goddess now can be extended into the Four-Phase Feminine Way.
The added phrase in the Wheel of Life is known as the Maga, which means to harvest one’s life skills along with confidence, talents, competence, integration, power, abundance, sharing, queen, knowing self.
The Seasons of Life
The seasons of life start at Maiden, and there are two rites of passage. From her birth, where she begins her life and the Menarche, which is the initiation of menstruation.
When the menarche transforms from a girl to a woman, her fertility and sexuality start to become the rhythm of her life, this is the season of Spring.
The next season is Summer when the time of childbirth (or giving birth to something else) comes and she is now a mother. The rite of passage will deepen each time she becomes a mother. We do need to stress if a woman does not give birth to a child in this stage, it doesn't mean she isn't in this phase - she still enters this phase as a mother (it is all about the energy).
The season of Autumn is known as Maga and is a time a woman goes through menopause. This is the time where harvesting her life skills are a key feature. The focus shifts from family to community.
The last phase is retirement, known as the Crone and the Winter in a woman’s life. This is when the busy lifestyle starts to slow down.
Around the rite of passage event, the way one is treated, taught, consciously and unconsciously, introduces and instructs with values and beliefs that their culture holds around their new role. This then gives a deeper level of information around their new role and then defines the mindset or beliefs of how this new phase should be lived.
The initiation into womanhood
The menarche and menstruation phase in a woman’s life is often shaped by the culture, family and community. It is these influences who help a young woman understand what womanhood and the cyclical sexual fertile female human body means to them.
Many traditional cultures respected and honoured women and the menarche of the girl was celebrated with ceremonies - these were of a huge significance. In the Apache Native American culture, they would hold ceremonies for days to celebrate womanhood.
Other cultures and tribes would have parties to honour the menarche phase of a young woman. In modern times, there were some families who would acknowledge the menarche phase with a gift to welcome the young girl into the next stage of her life.
However, some women were ignored or worse, made to feel shame or embarrassment for this new change.
Mostly, the rite of passage of the initiation to womanhood was taught not to be special, but really just a phase of our life that is changing. Women have been told it is something we can’t control unless we take a magic pill (not so magic) and it was an inconvenient part of the month - and usually painful. Of course, we should be celebrated and honour our body for what it can bring to us.
The initiation into Motherhood
Motherhood is the next rite of passage in a woman's life. The values of a mother reflect in the women, even if she doesn’t have children or go through childbirth. It is really about giving birth to something a woman loves and brings a different level and phase of from the Maiden.
It is all about the energy of the “mother”.
Of course, for the women who do have children during this rite of passage, the mother and the baby are both affected. A baby will imprint the events that occur while in the womb, which will impact them from birth and into their life. The baby will learn from its mother by noticing the mother’s behaviours.
Giving birth is what women are designed to do, it is a normal and natural body function. Just like our body needs all the time, health, mindset and a safe environment help to with a beautiful birth.
One thing all women should remember is that birthing something (whether it is a child, a business or the like) can be impacted by fear. The element of fear is the controlling of one's thoughts, we need to learn to trust the process without letting fear get in the way.
Whatever experience a woman has during her pregnancy or childbirth will shape the type of mother she becomes. Of course, every experience can be healed and it is all part of the journey.
Honouring the stage of menopause
Menopause, when menstruation ceases, is the rite of passage between mother and crone.
In the time of the ancient Triple Goddess, women never went through the stage of menopause because they usually died before menopause had time to develop. That is why there are four phases of the feminine way (maiden, mother, maga and crone). Maga is the season of autumn.
Menopause is now often treated as a hormonal imbalance and is treated with prescription drugs, which of course can be dangerous for the health of women. There are two stages of menopause, perimenopausal and post-menopausal. The perimenopause stage is the time the woman finishes bleeding and post-menopausal has finished when the woman has stopped bleeding for 2 years.
The perimenopause phase can last for around 13 years and has been known to be the birth of a new self. The symptoms from this phase can be a good indicator for women to notice the effects of toxins in her body and the lifestyle and relationships that impact her health as well. This is a time where women need support from family and friends so she knows what is happening to her body is normal.
Honouring the stage of cronehood
The last stage, the rite of passage of retirement. This is the time where a woman makes the change from Maga to Crone. The phase of cronehood is not valued in the way it was for traditional cultures. Not long ago, Crones were very well respected.
The wise women are now found in aged care. They are not listened to by the younger generations. Cronehood is a time to be a role model, to be respected and looked up to.
My experience of the Wheel of Life
My Moonsong experience happened while being pregnant with a drumming journey.
In February 2018, I went to a Moonsong Day Retreat where we explored the wisdom of the cycles and our life seasons (Maiden, Mother, Maga, Crone). It is this practice that I dove in a bit deeper through my shamanic healing journey and experience and that I’m sharing now.
Last Full Moon, when I went on a retreat in the Blue Mountains we explored again the impact of the women’s wheel of life.
For instance, in my Goddess Embodiment Sisterhood, you will create Your Own Goddess Medicine Wheel to understand the influence of the lunar cycle and the earth’s seasons, the spiritual practise of menstruation and the transformative power of our rites of passage and understand why you feel the way you do, as well as the time of day and the alignment with constitution types of Ayurveda. To learn more about Ayurveda, read this post. You can put so many layers of information on a wheel - we are cyclic beautiful beings.
As women, the four stages of our life are amazing and should be honoured as they are.
What phase are you at? How can you work with your body to ensure you honour this stage of your life?
For more information on the Four-Phase Feminine Way, please read more from Jane Hardwick Collings.