Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Should We Rethink the Triple Goddess?

Should We Rethink the Triple Goddess?

I've said it a thousand times here that I don't believe in any of the deities, but I will admit I like the idea of them. I find them fascinating and believe they can exist within our own minds, but not outside of it. That being said, the Triple Goddess is a beautiful representation of the phases of a woman's life, the changing seasons, and the moon phases, but is it perhaps time to redefine her?

After reading Hedge Witchcraft by Harmonia Saille, my feelings regarding the use of the Triple Goddess changed. The Triple Goddess is supposed to represent the changing seasons, the phases of the moon, and the stages of a woman's life, but Harmonia suggests using four because in reality we have four seasons, four moon phases, and women have four stages in their life.

Should We Rethink the Triple Goddess?

Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter are all very distinct seasons with certain sabbats falling within each to represent those seasons. We don't really see too much of spring or fall here in Georgia, but the traditional associations are still there. Using only three goddesses to represent these four seasons seems a bit odd. Which do we lump together into one? Furthermore, fall really doesn't match the crone phase, but it doesn't match the mother phase either. The same goes for the moon phases. We have Waxing, Full, Wanning, and Dark. The crone doesn't really fit in the waning moon phase in the three-phase system, but she fits quite well in the dark or new moon phase. So viewing the seasons and moon phases as a set of four means we are missing a Goddess form.

Should We Rethink the Triple Goddess?
Photo Credit: Catherine Noble Beyer
Today, people are living longer, meaning women transition into their Crone stage much later than before. However, many women move on from their Mother phase well before becoming a Crone. My mother is one of these women. She has left her Mother phase but isn't quite in her Crone years either. So what is she? This phase is the autumn of life. In the three-phase system, postmenopausal women are left out, but by switching to a four-phase system we create an archetype to fill this gap. Harmonia calls her the Harvest Queen. After doing a bit of research, several others have also used the word queen to describe this portion of a woman's life as well. I think this name is suiting because queens are wise, independent, and strong, yet still nurturing and young at heart. When I think of the word queen I see Queen Elizabeth I, a woman who was known for having fun but being strong and independent as well. Queen suits postmenopausal women in the autumn of their lives quite well in my opinion.

So by creating this new archetype and therefore Quadruple Goddess, we have a Goddess for each season and moon phase as well as for each element and direction. So, with this system:

Should We Rethink the Triple Goddess?

Maiden-Spring-Waxing Moon-Air-East
Mother-Summer-Full Moon-Fire-South
Queen-Fall-Wanning Moon-West-Water
Crone-Winter-Dark/New Moon-Earth-North

This system works beautifully and includes women who have otherwise felt left out. If you would like to read more on this subject, Donna Henes wrote a great piece on the topic of the Queen while Wind Hughes posted an article from Sowell Magazine (2000) about the four phases of a woman's life, their meanings, and their "light and dark" sides.


  1. I also like the idea of the 4 phases because there are those of us who are not mothers but past the maiden stage. I'm in my 30's, not intending to be a mother but I am far from maiden and not near crone...

    1. Well the Mother phase is far more than having children. My husband and I are not having children either, but that does not mean I won't pass through the Mother phase. This phase is about actualizing your ego. During this phase women tend to focus on others. It doesn't have to be your own children. It can be your significant other, your community, or society as a whole. I feel myself transitioning into this phase rather quickly. I've always been involved and cared about helping others, but I have found the urge to focus on others has increased the older I have gotten. This is also a time when women bring forth creation, and this doesn't have to be children. This is creating art, getting an education, building a career, transforming a house into a home, growing a garden, whatever. This is the time when we take the dreams of the Maiden and manifest them into reality. You're very likely in this phase and have no idea. Mother means so much more than popping out a couple of screaming kids and raising them for 20 years.

    2. Thank you for this comment as well. Very very helpful


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