Reviewed by Geraldine Charles
I first heard of this book and the concept of women becoming “queens” in midlife when working on the Glastonbury Goddess Conference website early this year, and to be honest, wasn’t at all sure of the necessity for such a new paradigm. What, I wondered, was so terrible about being a crone? Aren’t we just spoiled Western women, lucky enough to have vastly extended life spans and now unwilling to carry the energy and archetype of the hag? What about many women in – say – South Africa, who are lucky to see their fiftieth birthdays, let alone become octogenarians? Shouldn’t we be trying to redefine or reshape the old archetype?
But deep down, I knew I was being a bit of a hypocrite, for even though I’m 55 this year I’ll be damned if anyone’s calling me a crone quite yet.
Then Donna suggested I review her book. On page three, I read:
“Impatient with the inessential and restless for authenticity, She sheds all attachment to the opinions of others and accepts complete responsibility for control over Her life”.
Hmm, that sounds like as much challenge as I need right now. I might think I deserve a crown just for getting through menopause without killing anybody, but maybe there’s more to all this than I first thought!
I like the humour and clarity of Donna Henes’ writing style, and found myself nodding at her description of our oft-extended “maiden” life phase. I’ve done the great mother too, to the point where I wanted to snarl at the next person who told me I had a “lovely mother energy”.
What I found most convincing, though, was the four-fold correspondences table, which relates women’s life stages to the seasons, the elements and the phases of the moon.
I began to think about queens in general – and who should understand how great queens can be, but the British? It is often pointed out that the English, certainly, have never been more prosperous then when ruled by a queen – from Elizabeth I, through Victoria and including the present monarch. I’m not going to go on about Boudicca because everybody does.
As I read on, and particularly read of the courage of women such as Representative Barbara Lee, a Democrat who was the sole dissenter to a United States Congress resolution to allow George Bush the authority to use military force following the events of 11 September 2001. Suddenly, I began to see the queen as something more than an optional extra – nice to have, but not essential, and to see her more like the queen on a chessboard (if you don’t play chess, the queen is the most powerful piece on the board in many ways, commanding huge sweeps of territory, and well able to protect the king – and herself).
There are also lots of interesting suggestions in the book. A couple of my favourites were the “day in bed” and the ceremony for dampened spirits, although as a waterlogged Cancerian I would probably benefit from the fire eating (not literal, I hasten to add!)
Now, where did I put that sceptre …?
The Queen of My Self: Stepping Into Sovereignty in Midlife (to buy the book, click this link then click on "publications" on Donna's website)
Published by Monarch Press, 2004
A web designer and all-round computer person, Geraldine is responsible for a number of websites. In her spare time she writes articles and poems, loves researching Goddess in mythology and also produces artwork on her beloved computer. She also runs an online correspondence course called "Getting to know the Goddess".