I have always loved The Maiden Goddess, in her many forms. When I first started learning other mythologies from around the world as a child, it was the image of Artemis that struck me the most – a glorious, strong young woman with her bow, surrounded by animals under a waxing crescent moon. Someone who knows what they want and yet keeps it to themselves, guarding their bodies and sense of self and opening only to those they choose to love – the Maiden’s love was not unconditional. She ran through the forest with muddy feet and wild hair, in skins and with fetishes dangling in the breeze. She still does.
As I near 40, the sensible part of me tells me that I should at least be looking into the Mother Goddesses, before I turn to face the Crone. The Maiden in me tells her to bog off.
It’s in the waxing time that I long to dance and sing, that the energy is rising, when my blood stirs with passion. I love that crescent that hangs in the sky, a silver arc of glory and strength, bending but not breaking, supple and strong. The full moon does, of course, sing to me as well, as does the waning and new moon – I honour all the tides and times as they flow through this life and through me, connecting me with everything. Autumn is my favourite season – not a time of the Maiden, you might say – but the Maiden would say otherwise, for this is hunting season for us humans, where she and the Lord of the Wildwood watch over both predator and prey.
I suppose that being childless by choice has much to do with my perspective on the Maiden. She is free, unburdened, yet still carrying great responsibility. She is not naïve, she is not immature – for me she is strong-willed and determined. She is not innocence and unknowing – she IS a goddess after all, remember. She likes children but sees no need to have her own, for it does not fit in with her plans.
I don’t seek a Mother Goddess, perhaps because I have never felt the need for one. My own physical mother provides me with that love that only a mother can. I personally don’t believe in an all-loving Mother Goddess anyway – the Goddess as nature for me could never be so. Nature doesn’t give two hoots about humanity.
Even my Lady Nemetona, the goddess of sanctuary, is not a Mother-type figure. She provides us with that space where we can be, where our soul truth can sing, however she is not motherly in the way that she provides it. She allows for that space to be – like a priest, she facilitates the power within and without to allow that time for growth, or reflection, or whatever it is that you seek. It is up to you to use it correctly. She watches over sacred sites, stone circles and deep lakes, mountaintops and dark caves where people have come for millennia, or for a season, to make ritual and connect with that which the Druids call awen. She holds a space, indeed she may hold us for a time, but it is so that we can better understand ourselves and the world, rather than out of any love. She is a Maiden goddess to me, true to herself, aware of her boundaries and setting them clearly.
The Crone awaits me in the dark depths of winter, and perhaps one day I will seek her out. However, I have a feeling that the Maiden will still be at my side, forever and always running with me through forest and field under the bright sunshine, shooting our bows deep into the heart of consciousness and forever singing under the light of the waxing moon.
Being also childfree by choice, I find the fetishisation of fertility and motherhood in paganism jarring. I like the idea of the Maiden as someone who takes responsibility for her life choices and knows what she wants. I wonder what the equivalent for men is?
Hmm – something to think about, most definitely!
Similarly I decided I would never have children in my early twenties and am perhaps too fond of the idea of being an eternally young woman- do poets ever grow up? Autumn – wild hunt- as someone who has been involved with and / or worked with horses for most of my life – ditto!
Aging is inevitable, maturing is optional 🙂