“Everybody wants to be a Princess, and nobody is an Empress.”
Recently I listened to an interview with Dr. Keesha Ewers in which she stated: “…We want to age. Aging is something that must happen. And with age, usually if you’re conscious enough, comes wisdom… And we younger women must see [other older] women doing this well because otherwise we get into an archetype of arrested development where everybody wants to be a princess, and nobody is an empress.”
This quote stood out to me. It was not the focus of the interview, but it stuck with me and has drifted in and out of my thought processes ever since then. Obviously, the pursuit of eternal youth is most definitely NOT a new or modern concept or goal but is hundreds, if not thousands of years old. And yet, not one person has achieved eternal youth. Why do we waste so much time, effort, and money on trying to prevent the inevitable? When did striving for experience, wisdom, and inner beauty get pushed into seeming oblivion in our culture? When did we succumb to the lies and deceits of cosmetic companies and the media that maidenhood is the most desirable time of life, and that we should all strive to NEVER leave that stage of life?
Women go through three main stages of life: the Maiden, the Mother, and Matriarch. It would seem that we glorify the maiden, criticize the Mother, and scorn the Matriarch. Perhaps this is one reason why our society is so off-kilter? We aspire to youth and, therefore inexperience, and cast aside experience and wisdom. We mourn our ‘mom bods’ forgetting or not caring that they just performed nature’s most prized goal.
Maybe this quote resounds so much within me is because one of my foremost life goals is to “embrace and accept my age in every stage of life.”
I realize this is a bit of an odd life goal and seems a little broad spectrum. But as a woman in an industrialized country with bombardments of advertisements of plastic surgery (because the natural you is not beautiful enough) and social subtext of being discarded and replaced by a “younger faster model” are normal everyday encounters, my goal to accept myself as I am now suddenly becomes more important to me.
The Princess + Maiden
The Maiden observes and absorbs the world around her. She is a Princess that is loved and doted on. She is provided for, by her Mother, as she works to figure out who she is and who she would like to be. She is experimenting and learning about her life path. The Princess is learning about her duties and how to begin her future Queendom. Her Mother and grandmothers teach her life skills like how to work for what she wants and for what she believes in. They teach her how to read and follow a recipe. They teach her forgiveness of self and others. They teach her how to tune into herself, her sexuality, and her spirituality. Finally, the Maiden learns how to transition into motherhood.
Maiden Self-Care: The maiden is enduring a lot of change, and that includes changing, fluctuating hormones and mental processes. Regular showers using a moisturizing and natural soap (stay away from detergents and surfactants – those can exacerbate fluctuating hormones) on the ‘pits and bits’ are refreshing and soothing especially when followed up by a full body oil routine. Self-massage with a nourishing body oil is beneficial to all body systems and especially to the endocrine (hormones) and the integumentary (skin) systems. A light, dry oil such as grape seed, apricot kernel, or fractionated coconut oils are great for radiant teenage skin. Essential oils can be added to the body oil for an aromatherapy benefit. Clary sage is great for hormonal acne as well as promoting a sense of calm and grounding. Lavender is also great from calming the mind and nerves to help promote a restful sleep. Face: wash the face with either a very gentle cleanser or just pure warm water every morning and night to remove dead skin, makeup, dirt, and other chemicals that can dry and age the skin, as well as clog pores. A simple neroli hydrosol toner is a great way to refresh the skin, close pores, even skin tone, and nourish the face’s microbiome with active botanicals. Following the toner, a face serum using jojoba, apricot or avocado, and grape seed oils is nourishing and quick absorbing to help balance oil production to healthy levels.
The Queen + Mother
The Mother stage is the evolution of the maiden. Whether she is married or has children doesn’t necessarily matter. She creates her Queendom through the family she creates and the friends she forges. This is the time of life for a woman to create and accept responsibility for her life, apply the lessons learned from her Mother to her life, while supporting and nourishing those around her. The Mother excels by recognizing and learning from her faults and shortcomings yet refraining from criticizing herself for them. Now it is her time to Learn, Build, Nurture, Provide, and Teach “Life 101.” Just as the Maiden is under the Mother’s tutelage, the Mother is under the Matriarch’s guidance. She is learning patience and wisdom through experience, trial, and error. She begins to listen to her Mother and her grandmother for the wisdom only experience can bring. She looks to them for guidance when she realizes she doesn’t have an answer to what life is asking of her. As a Mother, she works hard, but she is learning, doing, and becoming. The Queen and Mother is an Empress and Matriarch in the making.
Mother Self-Care: The Mother not only cares for others, but also needs to care for herself! Try to find, or arrange, at least one hour a week when you don’t have children or partner around to distract or ask things of you. The housework, errands, and meal-planning can and should wait. This hour is just for you. Now is the time to take that long hot shower, read a book, watch your favorite show, light some candles and toss a couple bath bombs into the tub and soak your stress away. Do whatever makes you happy and feel like an individual again. Try to sip an herbal tea every day. Nourishing herbs like Raspberry Leaf, Nettles, Dandelion, Shatavari, or Chamomile will help hydrate and replenish your body’s store of energy giving nutrients. Continue to use a body oil after showering to strengthen your skin’s lipid barrier that keeps your skin healthy, strong, and resilient. More moisturizing and fatty oils like sesame seed, avocado, olive, or sunflower are better for the Mother’s skin. Essential oils such as ylang ylang, lavender, patchouli, and mandarin are soothing as well as boosting to the libido should the opportunity or desire arise. And just because you are dead tired from the day, doesn’t mean you should skip washing your face. DO IT ANYWAY! When you look in the mirror the next morning your face will look 10x better than if you hadn’t. After washing, a rejuvenating layer of pure aloe vera and a moisturizing face serum or lotion will feed your skin as you sleep. Also look into quality makeup that doesn’t use harmful ingredients. One last thing… if you need a nap at 2pm… TAKE A NAP! It’s ok! A 30 min nap is energizing without making you feel groggy for the rest of the day.
The Empress + Matriarch
The Matriarch is a wise woman. She is the Empress of the Empire she has forged throughout her life as Maiden and Mother. Her influence is great and far reaching. She rules her progeny with wisdom and she has the life experience to intimately know and empathize with those in her circle of influence. She has the knowledge to answer many questions and dispense helpful and accurate advice. She has the good judgement to know when to speak and when to stay silent. The Matriarch is approachable with a soft shoulder to lean on and a warm beverage to soothe a sorrowful soul. She rejoices in the exuberance of the youth and reminisces about her life. She is joyful and full of service to the Maidens and Mothers in her life. The Matriarchal time should be spent in Relaxation, Joyful Service, and in Spoiling the grandchildren while Supporting the Mothers… and then sending them all home so the Matriarch can rest.
Matriarchal Self-Care: Now is the time for a woman to focus on herself again. Just as Maidens experience radical changes within her body, so does the Matriarch. Sleep is essential, even if it comes during daylight hours rather than at night. Exercise is critical to keep bones and muscles from becoming brittle, so a brisk walk in nature is highly recommended. This is also a time of reflection, so journaling is a wonderful way to record your thoughts and memories to pass along to younger generations. And make sure you make time for positive social interactions with friends and/or family. The m\Matriarch deserves this and now that her children are grown, she finally has time for these things. Nourishing herbal infusions that are warming and moisturizing are key. Mineral rich herbs such as wild yam, vitex, dong quai, dandelion, licorice, sassafras root, peppermint, ginger, and cinnamon are all recommended by Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar for toning the endocrine system. Herbs such as nettles, horsetail, comfrey, chamomile, and oatstraw are nourishing and are also high in calcium to help strengthen the body. Body Oiling with herb-infused Sesame or Olive oil can strengthen aging skin as well as aid in wound healing, increasing circulation, and moving stagnant lymph. Herbs such as calendula, comfrey, rose, and lavender are all wonderful skin-loving herbs. Essential oils such as rose, lavender, chamomile (Roman or German), are wonderful as well as ginger and black pepper (warming and circulation), tea tree, peppermint, and sweet marjoram (painful joints and respiration), or frankincense and carrot seed (skin conditions).
Princesses are lovely, energetic, and full of potential but if we all stay princesses, our lives will never amount to anything of substance. A Queen, the Empress takes the momentum of the princess years and molds it into an empire. She is well-rounded and sure of her path. She may not know what is around the bend, but she will lean into it, embrace it, and fearlessly announce her commencement as she proceeds from one phase of life to the next. May we all strive toward that goal.