Everyone has heard of the triple Goddess, in her forms of Maiden, Mother and Crone. The concept can be interpreted in different ways. It can be thought of as the phases the Goddess passes through, and can be seen through the Wheel of the Year or the phases of the moon. This point of view comes about when one sees Deity as a single Goddess, rather than a pantheon of separate and unique Goddesses.
But it can also refer to a triplet of Goddesses within a particular pantheon. One example might be the Greek Goddesses Persephone (the maiden), Demeter (the mother) and Hecate (the crone). Many Goddesses are associated with one of these 3 phases, even when they are not grouped into any particular three-some:
Maidens– Athena, Persephone, Bleudowedd, Aphrodite
Mothers– Demeter, Hestia, Isis, Arianrhod, Gaia, Ishtar
Crones– Hecate, Cailleach, Cerridwyn, Hel
Some women have resisted this Goddess archetype, because they have not chosen a parenting path. A woman does not need to reproduce in order to be complete. I don’t think “Mother” needs to be taken literally, that it is necessary for women to have children to fulfill their purpose on Earth. Motherhood doesn’t have to mean having children. It can mean the creative force behind any project or undertaking. Pursuing a career, vocation, or further education instead of a family fits this criteria, in my opinion. In fact, this triplet has been rephrased as Maiden, Warrior, Crone by some to encompass a wider scope of women’s lifestyle.
A personal aside. I am in my mid-30s and I feel that I have left my Maiden phase many years ago, but not because I had children. In my own life, I think I passed into ‘motherhood’ and independence when I moved to a new city on my own. Over the years, I’ve put forth the creative power of the Mother. I started my own business and opened a store, published a magazine, got married, bought a house, and embarked on an independent writing career. I can think of all these things as my children.
Further update. Since I wrote this article, I have had a child and now am a typical Mother with a vibrant and brilliant daughter. But my views on the role of Mother have not changed. Being a Mother isn’t directly related to the raising of children.