The Companion Called Experience

Flickr-grandmother-VinothChandarIda Lawrence, Contributor
Waking Times

A few months ago I started to write an article on the archetypical ‘wise woman’… the grandmother, the crone or the elder woman. I searched online for some information about the attributes of this archetype in different cultures and found that quite a number of people have been giving thought to this. The subject is not new to me, but getting more deeply into it has always been unappealing due to a few factors.

One is, of course, the ugliness woven through the western archetypes… I mean… who wants to line themselves up with a crone or a hag or a witch? Another is my own resistance to the ‘I’m a goddess’ thinking: of course you are, but then again we all have the divine spark… so no ego elevation there. I’m imagining that the divine feminine includes all archetypes in some proportion – the youthful, maternal and elder feminine energies – and perhaps we all contain some of each, so I’ll go with that.

I realize that it’s likely due to yang dominance and religious conditioning that some cultures were unable to see what the appeal might be in the woman who is past childbearing age. Older, nature-oriented cultures seemed to take the opposite track, granting reverence to the grandmothers and giving them the final word in all major decisions. So the cultural archetypes are something to look at. What did nature-oriented peoples know that the yang mind couldn’t see?

  • I have asked myself some questions about what today’s grandmother would be up to, and what her natural maternal and warrior attributes would look like when they reach beyond youth and the immediate family and community.

    Well… from my own experience I can say that one thing grandmothers do is they watch. They watch how things begin and how they grow, what influences the direction of the growth, what emerges from the ‘differences’ mix, what gets in the way of the flow, which inner shadows breed conflict, how women resolve conflict and how men do, and what can erode the dignity of our journey.

    To my mind, our calling is sacred in a sense, in that we look to love that is non-judgmental and for all, including ourselves… and the grace that is pure information. Home can be felt in the heart/mind… ‘direct me there’ is our prayer to self and the universe.

    A lot can be learned by listening and observing over time, and it’s not necessarily an ‘only women do it’ thing… both men and women enjoy the feminine polarity.

    So here I am back to thinking about the subject again, not to look at what’s missing in the archetypes or to offer any upgrades to them, but just to build a structure around the concept of spiritual growth reaching a level of focused maturity. Grandmother would encourage maturity, because within that comes staying power, integrity, respect, and appreciation for the light in every individual.

    A friend and male elder recently reflected on this subject, saying, “Perhaps the greatest battle the spiritual warrior fights is the one within; coming to terms with the duality and dichotomy of existence itself.” Yes that is the inner work, which, over time, tends to become the companion called ‘experience’.

    Experience does lead to wisdom within an individual who has paid attention over time and sought to know themselves by exploring inner and outer. Like you, my battle has been to grow up while I’m here… growing past ignorance, compliance, control, egoism, opinion, reaction, i.e. what I am conditioned to be… and into ‘I Am’. Add to that ever-present work the enjoyment of friendships, love, laughter, good food, beautiful sunsets… and we have a life!

    Getting back to it… what’s really on the minds of women of my age? I’m thinking of an image that relates to a great liberation. That image, to me, reveals our current condition, and the way forward. It is a feeling that can be evoked by the song, Follow the Drinking Gourd. Some say that song mapped the path for escaping slaves as they entered the trek from the Southern US to Canada. Whatever its origin, it pointed to the unmoving north star –follow that star, it said, and look for this landmark or that. And, trust that help is waiting along the journey.

    There are a lot of grandmothers with me in this awakening and renewal. As I watch us, I see continuity – on our minds is the movement of the greater human family toward liberation. We have already raised our own children, and learned a great deal in doing so. Now we are concerned about all… all who are cherishing us, all who are evolving with us, all who will be continuing the flow after we are gone. How can we be an inspiration and a help to the warriors in their journey.

    We wish to be the constant friend, pointing toward that fixed star. It may not be visible on a cloudy night, or during a raging storm, but it is there, always, we can trust it and visualize it, knowing it will reappear when the clouds disappear.

    The raging storm: we all have noticed the cries that ‘the world has gone horribly wrong’. They are deafening right now. And yet, we know that this is not a world gone wrong… it is a world experiencing a massive evolution/devolution. This insanity was anticipated and is to be expected. We were born into it with some pre-knowledge, and we have within us the intention to grow and serve through this time. Of course the dogs have been let loose and the slave-catchers are angry. So the fear that comes up now and then is normal… but it’s not helpful.

    At risk of being called a crone or a hag… could Grandmother get a word in?

    We are so different, but we journey as brothers and sisters playing a role in the greatest of dramas… evolve and resolve to escape… or… stay where you are for a while longer – no judgment. And it’s okay to talk to the ‘escaping ones’ about what is helpful. Just a little introspection, if needed, can move aside some clouds.

    Helpful #1: To outgrow gossip, and egotistical competition, and impotent anger toward the controlling powers. These things only feed the storm.

    The escaping slaves, following the unmoving North Star, selflessly lifted each other up. They had to, they wanted to, it was natural – and most importantly, the experience itself demanded it. So with that said…

    Helpful #2: The only reason I’m here talking with you is because of the boost-ups that I’ve been given. I’ve experienced selfless cooperation time and time again. It’s a testament to the liberation aspect of our journey and a wonderful counter-force to the fears, obstacles and diversions that can cloud our way.

    May we weather all assaults with grace and trust born in the knowledge that we are in the right place, there is help, and there are many ahead of us on the journey passing along clues about what to watch for in the landscape. All is as it should be.

    About the Author

    Ida Lawrence is an author, blogger, copywriter and editor based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has contributed to and edited two books on racial justice and human rights, and numerous articles on human rights, self-empowerment and related subjects. Her latest book is entitled The Warrior’s Way to Heaven on Earth. Ida has also published a companion book of blog favorites from

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