Mid-Winter Madness

For almost four weeks, we’ve been struggling with our non-functional l.p. gas stove here at Meadowgreen Cottage. This has involved representatives of four businesses, two generally rational adult residents, and a colony of displaced mice.

I won’t trouble you with a blow-by-blow description of the oversights, incompetence and nasty surprises that have left us stove-less. This isn’t actually a disaster. After all, I have a microwave, a coffee maker, a slow cooker, and a new toaster. But I find that I have a nagging sense that something is very wrong.

Being more Mary than Martha, I don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen these days. But when I take my mind out of gear – when falling asleep or while brushing my teeth – I feel as though a close friend has fallen out of my life.

It would seem that something is trying to get my attention.

In Maureen Murdock’s 1990 work, The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness, she describes the psycho-spiritual journey of the contemporary woman as a circular path leading from a separation from the traditionally feminine, through a series of trials in the masculine, outer world, to “winning the boon of success.” But with our worldly success comes a sense of aridity, a drying up of our sources of creativity. The question arises: Is this all there is?

Diagram of the Heroine's Journey
By Maureen Murdock
Published in the Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion edited by David A. Leeming, 2016

It may take years to cross this desert, to descend into the darkness of disillusionment. But, says Murdock, it’s in this descent that we find our discarded feminine natures. We feel the need to own the very qualities we repressed years ago.

Now the task is to ransom the negative aspects of our masculine personas, to own those inner voices which urged us to work longer and harder, to suck it up, to break those glass ceilings. We learn to balance these messages which drove us to success with our own body wisdom, our innate sense of psychic rhythm. With patience, we arrive at Murdock’s final stage, a Sacred Marriage of Masculine and Feminine. Finally we are whole, individuated. “[T]he Unconscious again changes its dominant character and appears in a new symbolic form representing the Self….”

We emerge from the darkness as the Wise Old Woman, the Crone, the earth mother.

Tasha Tudor
Courtesy wisecronecottage.com

In her essay, “European Household Magic,” Carolyn Emerick reminds her readers that the hearth – locus of warmth and nourishment, that is, life itself – has traditionally been the responsibility of the family matriarch, overseen by the Hearth Goddess – Frigge, Holle, Hestia, Brigid. Here we see the Crone in mythic form – the wise mother using her feminine instincts and masculine determination to provide for those around her. It’s no wonder that images of the Crone regularly feature fire or cooking utensils.

And now I can hear what my inner Crone is saying: “There’s no fire in the hearth. The soul of your home is in danger. Get a move on and do something about this!”

The non-functioning stove won’t be working any sooner, but now I understand my sense of urgency. With understanding comes balance, and with balance comes peace.

Let’s go make a cup of tea in the microwave.


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