During these times of transition, many will seek role models of aging that are strong, positive, wise and vital; hence, the need to study the "Wise Old Woman" archetype. These universal patterns and models of behavior can be found from ancient times up to today: within our stories, myths and legends; our sacred texts; arts, artifacts and culture. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes describes in her unpublished manuscript on the Dangerous Old Woman, "Invited, uninvited...Summoned, unsummoned...the old woman shows up." Whether she appears to us mysteriously when we are lost and frightened; or we seek her assistance in fighting our battles, it doesn't matter. The important point is that she is always there to determine our worth and lead us safely forward.
As for me, I am lucky to live in a family of nonagenarians and populated with "bigger than life" matriarchs. These women were active and gifted with wisdom, compassion and creativity throughout their lives. They are my inspiration as I begin to study the "Wise Old Woman" archetype within the context of myth, legends and folktales (and not forgetting the fantasy films and literature of today).
Together may we uncover the mystery, magic and Truth found within these stories!
[Illustration of "Sleeping Beauty," by Edmund Dulac (1910).]