It’s that time of year- Shoutback Fest is coming up! I’m so excited that I made some artwork! These three pieces fall under the title ‘Girl Magic’ and explore the different ways we’ve honoured, and dishonoured, women with ancient and modern ‘magic.’ I even wrote a fancy pants artist’s statement to explain my deeply complex thoughts.
The maiden, an archetype for youthful femininity, is a figure representing virginity, enchantment, enthusiasm, and youthful ideas who has not yet awakened. The ‘mother’ is the archetype of fertility, abundance, growth and acquiring knowledge. It is during the mother period of her life when a woman achieves sexual, social, intellectual and emotional fulfillment, regardless of whether or not she has children. The ‘crone’ personifies wisdom, wholeness, surrender of the ego in favour of the community, a connection to the earth and the spirituality and divinity that is necessary to facilitate the transition of the spirit to the afterlife. The maiden is associated with the waxing moon while the mother and the crone are recognized in the full and waning moon.
While there was a time in the histories of many cultures where women were fully valued in each of these roles, today our society predominantly celebrates the maiden while marginalizing and discarding the importance of the mother and crone. In ancient Celtic society the middle and last phases of womanhood were valued, embodied in the Druidess. The female Druids, or Priestesses, were part of the intellectual elite who possessed knowledge of literature, poetry, history, law, astronomy, healing and spirituality. Part of their function was in their knowledge of tree worship and their ability to use this knowledge in religious rituals to ensure the well being of the community. Mistletoe, used in religious and solstice rituals, was believed to be sacred, and associated with fertility and protection from evil. The Oak tree, also highly sacred, was believed to house the spirits of the dead, and a branch was present in every ritual in part due to its connection to the world of the divine.
The high esteem for the Druidess and the active role she played in facilitating the positive spiritual and physical health of the community stands in contrast with today’s focus only on the value of the passivity and childlike wonder of the youthful maiden. The constant and ruthless denigration of women’s fat, wrinkles, cellulite, and gray hair in favour of youth in our mainstream media speaks to our deep fear and discomfort surrounding the two later stages of life. In place of rituals to ensure that women reach their own potential for fulfillment, today women are expected to put their time, energy and money into rituals to remain young and girl like for the consumption and fulfillment of others. From hair colouring products to age defying skin creams to photoshop and an obsession with caloric input and output, a different kind of magic is now practiced not only by but upon women, with the goal of disguising an honest but unacceptable self. The creation and wearing of this disguise serves the dual purpose of shielding the wearer from the contempt associated with age, and the viewer from an adult woman’s true power. However, with this illusion and denial our society is unable to perceive and benefit from the deep wisdom, strength and creativity of half of its population, and is therefore also unable to reach its own potential for true thriving, integration and wholeness.