In the Southern Hemisphere where I live, the wheel has turned and Autumn is upon us. It is also the time of the corresponding element of Metal. If we relate this to the cycle of life for a woman it is the Maga phase.
One of the many gifts of the Amazonian Art Huntress archetype is that She stands for the rights of women and honors the Cycles of the Moon. I believe that this archetype has called me to hold women’s circles for the purpose of honoring the Moon cycles and the women in my life who sit each month witnessing each other. I feel called to create space for connection and to honor the sacred feminine. As I personally have been dancing into the Maga phase of life (with a lot of foot stomping) and have been seeing women around me experiencing these changes, I felt inspired to hold a circle for women in my community to help women explore their beliefs around this phase of life. Also with the intention of better preparing ourselves for this transition.
I first heard of the Maga phase at a workshop facilitated by Jane Hardwicke Collings. You may have heard of the triple goddess - the Maiden, Mother and Crone stages? The Maga now sits between mother and crone. Why the need for this new phase? In ancient times we didn’t live very long, in most instances, not past what we now call midlife! So adding in the Maga stage is the evolution of the triple goddess and a necessity of our longevity. We do not know when the physiological phase will begin (like our Menarche, its arrival is a mystery) but it is indicated when our regular menstruation begins to change. It usually starts between the ages of 45 – 55 and can start many years before the menopause (again, another unknown which is individual for each woman). It is caused by a change in the rise and fall in hormones. Initially the cycles may shorten, then lengthen, until cycles end permanently. Menopause officially occurs when for a full year you have not had your period. Peri-menopause then is the period leading up to the menopause and can include some or all of the following; irregular periods, hot flushes, sleep disturbances, mood changes, vaginal and bladder changes, decreasing fertility, changes in sexual function, loss of bone density and changing cholesterol levels.
The transitional stages in a Woman’s life can be mapped through a cycle of archetypes along with the seasons and elemental correspondences. Beginning with Spring and the element of Wood, which is the time of Birth and Maiden (marked by Menarche) we move around the wheel to Mother and Summer and the element of Fire. This is followed by Maga, Autumn and Metal, before finally ending with Crone, Winter and the element Water. Death then heralds a new birth.
Personally, Autumn is the time I first feel the cold enter my body and it reminds me Winter is near. There is a sadness and a need to let go as the Sun and warming Fire (yang energy) of Summer gently leaves us as the Sun rises later and is setting earlier. I gather up and collect the harvest from my garden. The Earth's energy around me is moving inwards and downwards. A contraction occurs. The Earth is still warm from Summer but the air is cooling down.
Our very own Amazonian Art Vision Mother Akhalita Makoto has another view on the alignment with the seasons that can be viewed in the image below.
She shared that while Jane Hardwicke Collings refers to the correspondences as I discuss them above with the Crone as the Winter stage of our life, Akhalita uses the 5 element system with the Menopause as the Earth element and the season of late Summer. This places the Maga in the centre of the wheel, which symbolically represent the Maga holding with wise-blood within and becoming her power. Then the Crone sits in the last part of Autumn, at the gateway into Winter which is Samhain (aka. Day of the Dead/Halloween/All Saints' Day), representing the initiation of death.
Which version most resonates with you?
So returning to the previous version of correspondences, how is the outer reflected in the inner with Metal/Autumn and this mid- point in our lives? At this stage we can reap the benefits from our learnings and inputs up until now. We can harvest the fruits of our labour and see manifest where we have been focussing our attention. In the Spring of our lives we planted the seeds of our ideas and as we move through the wheel, we see those ideas grow and manifest. In the Maga phase, I see dreams manifesting in my life now that I visioned in my 20s including a wonderful connected community, a fruitful garden and my daughter. Studies I have completed are now being expressed in my daily life and as my profession. Interests I have had early in life, like spirituality, meditation and yoga are weekly practices and while once I found it difficult to do these things they are a daily habit now (I am reaping the rewards of the hard work in planting the habit).
There is less new growth in my physical form (quite the opposite as I really notice aging and feel less vital!) but I am still growing spiritually and expanding out from my heart. My capacity to love is much greater than in my Maiden years. The Mothering phase has gifted me many tools; compassion, kindness, love for all beings, patience and taught me self-sacrifice. This Maga stage in life brings me inwards and into my heart and helps me seek a way to participate and contribute in my community. I am visioning seeing myself vibrating with a frequency of Love with the aim of contributing to the collective unconscious to heal the Earth and Humanity and value this more than any physical project I have managed to help create change in the Maiden time. I am looking for deeper ways to give back. Rather than just nurturing my family life and my inner circle as I was during the Mother archetype, I am looking at my community and the world and wondering how to contribute, which I see as part of the empowering phase of the Maga. I believe this is the benefit of the Autumn phase and Metal element in the transitional phase of a woman’s life.
Our connection to the whole/one means these are also inside us whatever age or stage we are in. For example you don’t have to experience physical mothering to “pass through” that stage or experience the archetypal energy of Mother. A powerful exercise (drum journey, journaling, visualization, or meditation) is to imagine meeting Yourself at each archetypal age and present them with any question you have that you feel is unresolved. Your own wisdom from each archetype will be expressed in the answers from the perspective of that age. I find my Maga and Crone gives the most humorous and simplest of advice! She “Cuts through the Crap” so to say and doesn’t care what others think. I’m astonished at her simplicity and wisdom.
In our Maga circle we shared where we were at on the wheel and what we knew of peri-menopause. A naturopath shared the physiology of the changes that would occur regarding our hormones and the role of the adrenals in picking up production of necessary hormones when our ovaries sign off from managing this duty.
It came to light how important self-nurturing is in the lead up to menopause, so that our adrenals have the opportunity to support our system when this time comes. I was fortunate enough to sit in circle with Elder Hannah Rachel Bell author of “Men's business, Women’s business” when she was still alive. She shared that she lived in a tent in her back yard for a length of time during this phase of her life for this very reason. Having had children later in life (then teenagers) she said she needed to remove herself so that she could stop serving them and care for her own need for space and rest.
At menarche a woman enters her power.
In her menstruating years she practices her power.
At menopause she becomes her power.
(Native American saying)
Susun Weed (The New Menopausal Years), Jane Hardwicke Collings (The School of Shamanic Womancraft), Christiane Northrup (Secret Pleasures of Menopause) and Vicki Noble (Relieving Menopausal Symptoms Through a Healthy Lifestyle) and a little video from the AMA here are wonderful resources for women wanting to learn more about this phase. Some of the gifts of the Maga phase they share include:
After exploring my perception of this phase and readjusting it slightly to see it as a portal to transformation the changes I have noticed and felt have been easier to face. I am more compassionate to myself.
Walking down to the beach this morning as I was fortunate to get some time by the ocean and I thought Maga was a bit like crossing the line from the sand dunes to the sea, the threshold of shore line. As I headed in towards the water from the lush vegetated dunes where wood and spring grow, bloom and fruit, I noticed there is a drying up of the Earth as I crossed the beach where the sand is exposed (to Fire) and warmth. Soon the sand is damp as the yin energy of Water meets the Earth. Here on the shoreline I think the representation of the peri-menopause journey begins. The ebb and flow of the waves represent the hormonal changes as we head out to swim in the vast watery ocean of Crone. There are still treasures to find here in this sometimes turbulent transitional zone. Glistening seashells, pebbles, coral and the bones and carcasses of previous lives (all Metal) wash up here for us to inspect and shed light on. Then I am called to enter deeper into Water to experience her gifts.. and Crone with her buried treasure awaits me.
by Lisa Smith
Huntress Clan Mother