There are four main female archetypes that spiral through our lives, and these are maiden, mother, wild woman and crone. Every woman on our planet is a melting pot of sacred female archetypes, and we cycle through them just as the Moon cycles through her phases each month.
As you move through the days, weeks, months, and years of your life, different archetypal patterns will come to the forefront of your expression as a woman. And each of these has its own gifts and challenges.
What is an archetype?
An archetype is a universal symbol or pattern that represents a particular personality type or set of traits.
Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist, first introduced the concept of archetypes in the early 20th century, yet in truth, they are much older.
Jung identified 12 female archetypes, 7 of which are most commonly talked about, 4 of which I’ll share here.
According to Jung, archetypes exist in our collective unconscious and are expressed through our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Archetypal energies can be found in characters in mythology, literature, and art – they cross almost all cultures and time periods.
Humans are conditioned to recognize and respond to archetypes – this isn’t something we can switch off, and it often happens on a subconscious level. Ultimately, they represent fundamental human experiences and desires that are shared by all people.
Archetypes and Spirit…
So the female archetypes are energy blueprints that exist in the collective unconscious, the realm of Spirit.
And because they are everlasting (energy can’t be destroyed it only changes form) they’re available for us to try on, try out, play around with, and make our own for the time we have here on Earth.
So if you ever feel like you’re a totally different person depending on the day of the month (or even the minute of the day!) it’s because you ARE!
The archetypal energy moving through you is perpetually changing…
And this is totally normal.
**A quick note on Archetypes:
Some time ago I read something that felt really significant to me… I can’t remember where, but it goes like this:
When Jung was very close to dying, said that if he could change just one thing about his life’s work, it would be this: that he’d used the word ‘Spirit’ instead of ‘archetype’ to describe the essential character of an energy type.
Let that settle for a moment before we move on. And let that word weave its way through the rest of what you read here…
What are the 4 Female archetypes?
The four main female archetypes are maiden, mother, wild woman, and crone. Each of these archetypes has its own particular frequency of feminine energy, which we’re all able to tap into, whenever we choose. But at certain times in both the lunar cycle and the menstrual cycle, one or more archetype tends to rise up more strongly than the others.
This is because the female menstrual cycle has four distinct phases, and YES, each of these corresponds to a different female archetype.
As YOU cycle through these menstrual phases, they change who you are… or perhaps not who you are, but the kind of expression you embody.
What are the benefits of working with the four female archetypes?
Working with the 4 main female archetypes, in alignment with your menstrual cycle and the cycle of the Moon, is absolutely necessary, to develop as a healthy and whole woman. From greater self-awareness, a stronger connection to your body, and a more balanced and positive approach to life, the benefits of this work are endless.
Biology, hormones, energetics, environment, and circumstances all play a huge part in how a female archetype expresses through you during your cycle.
You may already know and love one or more of the archetypes. While others. you may resist and even fear.
It’s in your power to learn, explore, uplift, and embody OR suppress and try to hide an archetype too.
But be warned – if you ignore or try to suppress one of the 4 female archetypes when she rises, you’ll likely see her shadow side emerge instead.
This could lead to all sorts of problems, from a feeling of imbalance, anxiety or depression, to psychological issues, relationship breakdown, and physical health problems.
Whether your cycle lasts the average of 29 days, or longer or fewer days, OR if you’re in a perimenopausal, menopausal, or postmenopausal phase of womanhood, these four archetypes are still highly relevant.
As cyclical beings, all women are mirrors of the Moon. When we harness this connection, we all become part of the greater feminine mysteries of the Universe. You included.
How the four female archetypes correspond with the phases of menstruation and the Moon
The connection between the female archetypes and the menstrual and Moon phases is clear. It goes like this:
- Maiden archetype ⎜Waxing Moon ⎜pre-ovulation / follicular phase
- Mother archetype ⎜Full Moon ⎜ovulation phase
- Wise woman archetype ⎜Waning Moon ⎜Pre-menstrual / luteal phase
- Crone archetype ⎜ Dark / New Moon ⎜menstrual / bleeding phase
Just like the four main lunar phases (waxing, full, waning, and dark/new), the four female archetypes are fluid, changeable, and open to expansion and interpretation. And as a menstruating woman, you likely know from experience, that your cycle can change, adapt and switch around too.
None of these cycles stay the same.
But the energy, characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, and corresponding stories and myths of the four female archetypes will often strongly correlate with how you’re feeling, during a particular phase of your Moon/menstrual cycle.
Once you begin to track your cycle, you’ll see how the feminine archetypes tie into your own energy levels, creativity, depth of feeling, capacity for interaction, and even your sex drive.
These archetypes inform the direction you feel the urge to move your life in, and where you feel the need to retreat and turn away.
There are more female archetypes – many more – yet these 4 are absolutely vital to get to grips with, when it comes to forming a relationship with sacred female cycles, and nurturing your connection with the Divine Feminine as she rises on our planet.
A note on YOUR Moon cycle:
The two cycles – of menstruation and of the lunar phases – don’t always align with each other. Every woman is different and she has a myriad of personal energies acting inside and outside of her body.
This particular cycle pattern of bleeding at the new Moon and ovulating at the Full is known as the white Moon cycle. (Find out more about the white Moon cycle here).
Some women do see alignment as a kind of holy menstrual grail. But I disagree with any assumption that it’s ‘right’ or somehow ‘better’ for the two cycles to correlate like this. Women are complicated (and so are our relationships with our bodies!)
An intimate, shifting, overlapping dance crafted by these two cycles (amongst so much else) is way more suited to feminine nature, than an unflinching, super-coordinated, and consistent rhythm!
If you find you tend to bleed at the Full Moon, then you have what’s known as a red Moon cycle. (Find out more about the red Moon cycle here).
Whatever your body’s pattern – trust that it is right for you. Denying the truth about your body and trying to shoehorn yourself into some external template is nothing more than an internalized patriarchal program of self-denial and shame.
Your body is holy.
Now let’s take a look at each of the female archetypes in turn…
The maiden / virgin archetype
The maiden (or virgin) archetype is the female energy type that emerges between days 7-13 of your cycle, during the pre-ovulation, or follicular phase of your menstrual cycle (when your bleeding has just completed).
As a Moon archetype, you can feel the maiden rise up with the waxing lunar phase – during the crescent, first quarter, and waxing gibbous phases of the lunar cycle.
The Maiden/Virgin embodies purity, though this has less to do with sexual status and much more to do with a state of mind in this context.
(To elaborate on this, the meaning of the word ‘virgin’ has been misappropriated and in modern times, its ancient, pre-patriarchal meaning refers to an independent, autonomous woman, a woman not required to answer to anybody).
The maiden archetype is youthful, dynamic, independent, and strong.
The maiden has a certain magnetism too – her positivity and openness often attract new opportunities and she is willing to take leaps of faith into the unknown.
The weight of responsibility (and experience) has yet to temper her excitement and sense of “what if…!”
How to embody your own inner maiden:
- Be assertive
- Make plans for the cycle ahead
- Be sociable – go out, meet friends
- Make new connections
- Inspire yourself
- Seek out opportunities to grow, learn, and discover
- Celebrate the successes of others (especially other women)
- Strengthen your solar plexus
- Do some dynamic exercise – running, kickboxing, salsa, for example.
- Dress to impress!
Need more ways to cultivate your inner maiden?
Read this post next: 15 Powerful Ways to Embody Your Inner Maiden
The mother archetype
The mother archetype is the female energy type that emerges between days 14-21 of your cycle, during the ovulation phase of your menstrual cycle.
The mother breathes into life after the maiden, and as a Moon archetype, the mother corresponds with the Full Moon. This makes sense – as the ovaries release an egg, this same “ripeness” is expressed externally too.
The Mother Archetype is glowing.
This potent female archetype is sensual, abundant, and bursting with fertility. She’s creative, generous, and compassionate. The mother archetype is also the queen of nurture, care, and support.
She gives the gift of presence, yet also knows the sacred art of tough love.
In many mythologies, this potent divine feminine archetype is one with the Earth Goddess herself. Her essence is connected to the flora and fauna of our planet and she knows that we all share one body.
How to embody your own inner earth mother:
- Slow down and be present in the moment
- Give gratitude
- Gather with friends, family, and kin (nurture community)
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
- Spend time outside in nature, connecting with the Great Mother
- Create ceremony (for the Full Moon, or whatever sabbat is close)
- Replenish your own energy through self-care practices
- Be creative – especially making things by hand (crafting, cooking, etc)
- Prioritize – get in touch with what’s true and important
- Strengthen the connection to your heart
Need more ways to cultivate your inner mother?
Read this post next: Meaning of the Mother Archetype in Today’s World (and how to embody her)
The enchantress / wild woman archetype
The wild woman archetype is the female energy type that emerges during days 22-29 of your cycle, during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle. This comes after ovulation and coincides with the pre-menstrual phase.
As a Moon archetype, this occurs after the full Moon, during the waning and last quarter Moon.
Of course, many women dread this part of their cycle – synonymous with PMT/PMS it can be physically painful, emotional, and can bring out the darker, more challenging sides of our psyches. Bad days of the luteal phase can be peppered with mood swings, irrational thoughts, anger, shame, and tears…
Yet this phase (and female archetype) is actually thoroughly misunderstood, along with her distorted sister: The witch.
The truth is, the wild woman archetype is the healer.
She’s the medicine woman, the untamed one, the awakening soul who will not rest. She is raw, she is powerful and she’s connected to an undercurrent of magic, something intangible that our modern societies have no place for.
The energy of this wild female archetype gives us our intuition, our inner knowing, and our power to heal. Yet her illogical ways make her frightening, unpredictable, and unknowable to the uninitiated.
Our patriarchal paradigm has worked hard to systematically suppress and control this wild female archetype, leading to most women internalizing this conditioning and blocking their raw feminine power.
And if that weren’t bad enough, we then pour shame on ourselves for her the very existence of this wild, unkempt, and untamed part of ourselves.
It’s really important to understand that the wild woman archetype isn’t the problem. This archetype isn’t creating any of the problems you experience during the luteal phase of your cycle. The problems are caused by your suppression of her (which, in turn, isn’t your fault – it’s the fault of generations of conditioning and control).
So what do we do about it…?
How to embody your own inner wild woman archetype
- Retreat. Consciously step back from social engagements and take time for yourself.
- Unplug from screens
- Say no. Hold your boundaries
- Spend time outside in nature, especially in wild places.
- Practice radical self-acceptance
- Explore sacred rage
- Eating nourishing food
- Do your shadow work
- Strengthen your fifth chakra (the throat)
- Practice divination, journeying, or other spirit work
Want to read more about the wild woman / huntress archetype?
Read this post next: Best Ways You Can Embody the Wild Woman Archetype
The crone/ wise woman archetype
The cron archetype is the female energy type that emerges during days 1-6 of your menstrual cycle when you’re bleeding. This comes after the luteal, or pre-menstrual phase.
The female archetype of the crone is probably the least valued, by our modern culture. She has come to represent aging and the loss of fertility, external beauty, and activity.
Yet the crone is another archetype that’s been heavily distorted, leading to her being vastly misunderstood.
Over the centuries, patriarchy has only allowed the crone to appear in popular culture disguised as the spinster, the wicked witch, and the haggard old woman who lives on the edge of the village. Often ugly, bitter, and twisted, she is framed as mean and destructive.
Yet because the crone is old, slow, and less dynamic than the other female archetypes, she has her own kind of power that’s mysterious, and perplexing to our one-dimensional world. She appears to be at odds with the high-octane speed of our modern societies.
Yet the crone’s rich life experience gives her wisdom.
And because she no longer needs to “produce” or “achieve” in the world, she is free. She has nothing to lose. And most likely, it’s this freedom that others fear.
How to embody your own inner crone archetype
- Rest when you are bleeding (or if you don’t, then on the dark Moon)
- Honor the dark Moon phase
- Perform releasing rituals, embrace ego deaths
- Befriend your elders
- Work with your Moon blood (hold menstrual rituals)
- Journal for self-inquiry
- Practice radical self-acceptance, particularly around your own aging.
- Set new Moon intentions
- Connect with the Dark Goddess
- Tap into your own dark feminine energy
Want to read more about the crone archetype?
Read this post next: 12 Ways to Meet Your Inner Crone
Want to track your cycle?
Being a cycle, this constant, rolling rhythm doesn’t officially ‘begin’ anywhere.
But traditionally, for tracking purposes, the first day of bleeding is recognized as day 1 of your cycle, which lies in the ‘crone/wise woman’ archetype.
But to be honest, to me this intuitively feels closer to the ‘end’ of the cycle, symbolizing the culmination and release of knowledge.
It doesn’t really matter – we are cyclical beings, so the path curves on…
The easiest and most efficient method I know, is simply adding the number of your cycle into a diary or journal you already use – either digital or paper.
I use a red pen and write the number 1 for the first day of my cycle (which is the first day of your bleed) all the way through to the last day before my next sacred blood flows.
If your journal already has the Moon phases in it, then great. Otherwise, you only really need to add full Moon, new Moon, first quarter and last quarter. (So get practicing those little Moon diagrams!)
You can also track your cycle using an app. Do some research – I don’t have a recommendation as I don’t use one, but I believe there are plenty out there.
The key is, after two or three lunar cycles, to zoom OUT and have a look at the patterns that are emerging. You should see a basic correlation.
Be aware, though, that very strong Full Moons and lunar eclipses (blood Moons) will affect your cycle. They may knock it out of sync completely, as can stress or medication.
But do NOT let yourself get overwhelmed with any of this!
The path of the feminine is winding and crooked, so let yourself come and go, shift and change, as she does.
Which of the feminine archetypes do you resonate with more?
Leave me a comment and let me know!