The 4 Stages Of Life All Women Go Through (& How To Honor Them With Spiritual Rituals)

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How To Celebrate The Spiritual Stages Of Life For Women That Coincide With The Menstrual Cycle

It isn’t often that the scientific community and the spiritual community agree on the same criteria to define a concept. But that’s what happens when it comes to describing the female stages of life!

Medical establishments relate the stages to a women’s reproductive cycle, beginning with menstruation and ending with menopause.

Likewise, if you’ve explored the tenets of women’s spirituality, you’ve heard the terms Maiden, Mother, and Wise Woman or "Crone," which are all connected with your menstrual cycle, too.

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The face of the maiden approaching menarche is one of childlike innocence; the Mother (associated with the child-birthing years) embodies the nurturing aspect; the Crone (whose rite is menopause) represents wisdom.

However, the Maiden/Mother/Crone model of the divine feminine has become outdated in modern times.

Overwhelmingly, feminist scholars and theologians are introducing a new phase, in between the mothering years and old age: The Amazon or Queen.

So now that you have an idea of the four stages of life that all women go through biologically, how can you reclaim that powerful goddess energy with spiritual rituals?

Here are 4 ways you can mark the passages of each phase of your femininity in a beautiful spiritual ritual both for yourself and the women you love:

1. Celebrate the "Maiden" with a coming of age ritual

Introducing a young girl to the idea that her first period — her “first blood” — is something sacred, is a radical notion given the less-than-positive messages she may get.

Therefore, it's one of the most powerful women’s rites you can enact, not only for your daughter, but for yourself as well.

Often it works better to have someone facilitate who’s not directly related to the “maiden,” like a grandmother or aunt.

You can make it a family affair and invite the female members of your family, or several friends who've recently gotten their first periods. You can turn it into a magical PJ party!

If you want to go full-out with the coming of age ritual, the first step is to create sacred space with the help of the Maiden — a beautiful altar on the dining room table or in the backyard — with her favorite colors, music, and objects.

With the women who love her most gathered around, encourage her to express something she wants to leave behind from her childhood. It might be sadness or fear.

Then she can write it down and burn it! It’s helpful to invite everyone to talk about fear or a challenge first so she can see she’s not alone, that even grownups have fears.

You can also have them mention something positive about being a woman and pass around a pendant as they share this wisdom and gift it to the "new" young woman.

You can then send her off to her own room or even a tent in the backyard (her “initiation hut” as they call it in coming to age rituals around the world) to contemplate some big questions: Who am I? What dreams, hopes and fears do I have for my teenage years? How will I handle them?

Or just encourage her to reflect and write about these thoughts after the ritual.

And if all this just seems like too much, you can plan a thirteenth birthday party for your Maiden … kind of a non-secular Bat Mitzvah as celebrated in the Jewish tradition.

Whatever you decide to do, it will be an unforgettable experience for everyone … there’s something incredibly powerful about women sharing their experiences in a supportive, non-judgmental environment, no matter how old they are.

2. Honor the "Mother" with a blessing ritual

Like a bridal shower, a baby shower is a wonderful way for a circle of friends and family to celebrate one of the biggest life passages you’ll ever go through as a woman.

In a traditional baby shower, the emphasis is on supplying the expectant mother with everything she’ll need to furnish her nursery and to dress, feed, soothe, and care for her new baby.

Certainly that practical aspect of preparing for the baby is a big one, but what’s missing in a typical baby shower is an equal emphasis on the “care and feeding” of the new mother.

The final weeks of pregnancy, the birth itself, and certainly those first exhausting months with a newborn are perhaps some of the most important times in a woman’s life to be practicing self-care — and when she’s least likely to have the time or energy to do so.

In the Native American culture, the “Blessingway” was a ritual enacted to lovingly prepare the expectant mother for this powerful life transition. Here are some ways that you can create a modern-day rendition of this ceremony.

Assuming your “blessing” will be done during a baby shower, you can sit the mother-to-be on a chair in the center of the room and invite the guests to place nurturing gifts around her — nursing pads, special “belly balm,” and foot and back massage lotion for labor.

Another mother-nurturing gift that can be co-created in a divinely feminine circle is a nursing shawl. It can be a simple cotton wrap or if it’s a winter baby, a soft, knitted shawl.

In the circle, her friends can inscribe their hopes and dreams, or they can take turns sewing on little charms or beads representing their wishes for the mother-to-be.

Then, in small groups, invite the women to approach the mother and whisper prayers and blessings along with a little supportive touch.

One other magical ritual (of course, if the mother is willing) is for all of her friends to decorate her belly with wishes and words of encouragement. You can use colorful body paint that is safe and fades slowly, or henna, a natural dye.

After everyone's had a chance to nourish the mother, you can all share a ritual “communion” of eggs and any other foods symbolizing fertility. Then, you can proceed with the traditional opening of baby presents.

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3. Reclaim the Amazon/Queen and step into your power

In terms of planning rituals to celebrate the female stages of life, the timing of the first two rites (Maiden and Mother) is pretty straightforward.

However, honoring the onset of your Amazon-Queen phase is a little fuzzier for a few reasons: First, the peri-menopausal years can span as much as a decade.

Second, if you’ve delayed having children until your mid or late 30s, then right about the time you’re beginning to move past the most labor-intensive mothering years, you’re entering menopause.

So, regardless of what’s going on with your body, you can celebrate your “queen-dom” on your 40th or 50th birthday.

Whenever you decide to do it, the idea is to reconnect with your sense of personal power and embrace the freedom and feistiness that comes with owning your Amazon Queen self … while encouraging everyone else who’s celebrating with you to do the same.

You can also express and release any old memories, habits, regrets from the past decade and then to declare all of your dreams and goals for the next decade.

In her wonderful book, The Queen of My Self: Stepping Into Sovereignty in Midlife, Donna Henes offers some other fun ideas for Amazon-Queen parties.

And of course, whatever you decide to do, be sure to create sacred space with lots of candles, beautiful music, and an altar filled with all kinds of meaningful symbols representing your special gifts and talents as well as the ways you want to embrace your power over the next decade or so.

Opening yourself up to be celebrated in such a magical way can feel a little daunting, but your Amazon-Queen ritual is all about embracing your power, authority, and self-confidence.

4. Embrace the Wise-woman/Crone & claim your wisdom

If you’ve been “properly” indoctrinated by patriarchal culture, you’re probably now picturing the Crone as a stooped, wrinkled, haggard, crazy old woman. But stop for a moment and take a look at some of the words themselves.

“Crone” comes from the Greek root khronos which means “time,” so a crone is simply someone who has lived a long time — steeped in wisdom and years of accumulated experience. She is “haggard” in the original meaning of the word … holy (really – look it up!).

Mary Daly, the brilliant feminist theologian reminds us that hagiology is the “...description of sacred writing or sacred persons,” and that an obsolete meaning of hag is “intractable or willful” and when applied to a hawk, means “untamed.”

May we all grow up to be haggard Crones!

Fortunately, more and more women are reclaiming their “crone-dom” and recognizing the need to embrace that seasoned wisdom in themselves. However, just as defining the perfect time for an Amazon Queen celebration is a little fuzzy, so it is with the Crone as well.

You could tie it to the astrological milestone of your second Saturn return sometime between the ages of 56 and 60. Saturn is the archetype for the teacher and the responsible adult.

Another possibility is to wait a year after your last menstrual period, when you’re “officially” through menopause, or you could go with the “traditional” retirement age of 65.

Whenever you choose, the intention is to honor the breadth of your life experience and step into the deep wisdom of your Crone-self.

To create sacred space, you can place four candles representing each stage of your life: white for Maiden innocence, red for the Mother’s life-giving, fertile blood, purple for Amazon Queen power, and black for Crone wisdom and embracing the unknown.

Then invite each woman to name herself and her female lineage, a powerful way to acknowledge our own ancestors, foremothers, and grandmothers: “I am daughter of____, who was daughter of ____, who was daughter of____," etc.

You can also ask four friends to dress and roleplay each of the four life stages. One at a time, the Maiden, Mother and Amazon-Queen present themselves to you and invite you to share memories and wisdom gained from each of those stages of your life.

By presenting the Crone as a strong, saucy leader and wise-woman, you’re sending a powerful message to the girls and young women present that it’s time to toss out the negative patriarchal stereotypes. No shriveled, mousy, ineffectual, invisible Crones in your world! Pretty liberating and empowering to envision that for yourself, isn’t it?

Have fun playing with these phases as you and the beloved women in your life move through each of these four stages of life in meaningful, spiritual ways!

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Life and relationship coach Deborah Roth, M.A., is also a counseling astrologer and interfaith minister. She leads women’s new moon circles and full moon tele-meditations every month and loves supporting individuals and couples to re-energize mind, body, and spirit, and enhance their relationships. You can visit her website or email her to schedule an introductory coaching session.