The Princess, The Queen and The Wise Woman
In life, every woman should move through age-appropriate stages of maturity and power. These are The Princess, The Queen and The Crone (wise woman).
NB Some clients really don’t like these labels. If they don’t work for you, then use different names.
Let’s dive in and meet them:
The Princess - from birth to aged 50 approx
The princess is unsure of herself. She may seek affirmation from the outside world about her worth. This does not necessarily make her passive. Katniss from The Hunger Games is a Warrior Princess.
...and Hermione from Harry Potter is a strong female character with elements of the warrior and mother archetypes as well as probably many others!
The Queen - from 50 to 70
The queen is self-aware, she is sure of herself and does not rely on other people affirming who she is. Whereas the king expresses his power in a very goal-directed way (like an arrow moving to its target) the queen’s power is more about drawing others toward her. This difference between King and Queen power is perfectly expressed in how sex works: a woman does not have to move toward anything, but rather she draws the man to her!
You can have good queens - for example Pamela Landy from The Bourne films and Marianne Williamson.
...and bad queens. This is a cliche in fairy tales (the evil stepmother).
At the time of writing (early 2018) I have noticed a huge surge in film and TV roles given to women of queen age: Robyn Wright in both Bladerunner 2049 (clip below) and House of Cards, Helen McCrory in Peaky Blinders, Peri Gilpin (Ros from Frasier) in Scorpion, Sigrid Thornton as the head of the crime unit and Robyn Malcom as a politician in The Code to name but a few.
The Crone - 70 onwards
The respected tribal elder who offers wisdom and healing. Here is the best-known Wise Woman of them all - Professor McGonigal from Harry Potter (although Oprah Winfrey is level pegging, fame wise):
I really like this quote about The Wise Woman from this article https://stottilien.com/2013/02/01/queen-mother-wise-woman-and-lover-rediscovering-the-archetypes-of-the-mature-feminine/
The Wise Woman...is the archetype behind a multitude of professions like doctors, but also lawyers, teachers and priests. She sees the unseen. She is the prophetess, mediator and communicator of secret knowledge, the healer, counselor, teacher, and spiritual.
For more on this have a look at this article: https://acidemic.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/cinemarchetype-11-wild-wise-woman.html
Note that the wise woman archetype in film encompasses younger women (eg Alanis Morrisette as God). This to my mind is about Hollywood's obsession with youth. We have to ignore this under-represention of older women, and take the useful messages those characters carry.
Now, the REALLY interesting thing about all this is...
...what should happen to a woman between 30 and 50. She should go through a very long transition from Princess to Queen, which we will call The Queen Programme.
The Queen Programme is just about the most liberating concept any woman between the ages of 30 and 50 can learn. In fact of any age. If you are under 30, you have great things in store. If you are 30 or older, you can turn any problem into the opportunity to get in the queen programme!
Even if you are a strong Warrior Princess, it is still a massive shift to move from Princess to Queen.
The fact is that women have grown up in a culture where we were encouraged to be passive, disempowered princesses. Where our body shape is chronically over-valued, where male sexuality can often run amok and girls get their sense of self from people pleasing.
Ask yourself whether your eating and body image issues have been (at least partly) a way to unconsciously rebel against these disempowered princess social rules.
Many women in their 50s and beyond are still behaving in very princess like ways.
Thinking your life will be perfect if you can just lose x amount of weight
Feeling shame about your age
Age reversal tactics such as cosmetic surgery. NB There is nothing wrong with looking as youthful as possible, as long as you are not going to extraordinary lengths that express lack of acceptance of the ageing process. I personally am all for hair dye and Spanx!
Not standing up to your mother (and other childhood authority figures) or creating healthy, firm boundaries with people who you feel do not respect you. Kowtowing to emotional blackmail.
What This Means For You
You can see how prevalent the pressure has been and is on women to NOT graduate to Queen status. In addition to this, eating problems can be seen as a way to divert yourself from certain issues that need attention in your life, and stay in
disempowered Princess mode.
Therefore The Queen Programme is a very liberating and empowering way to see the process of dismantling compulsive eating. Walking away from the deli aisle when your sugar centre is screaming FEED ME is no longer some crappy you vs your addiction struggle, but is now elevated to a quest to reclaim your power.
For every problem you encounter, you can ask:
What would the queen do?
The Shipwrecked Queen
I remember a few years ago, after I had learnt about this concept of archetypes, I was doing some visualisation to this piece of music - Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis (Ralph Vaughan Williams).
Here it is. Play it now, while reading the rest of this page.
I started imagining myself as The Queen processing along the shore of an island, with the islanders following me. I awoke the next morning and the image of myself as that queen shipwrecked on the island came to me. I realised that this idea of The Shipwrecked Queen was very powerful. At the time I was going through the split with my ex and father of my kids, and it was really acrimonious. I love the idea of The Shipwrecked Queen, because no matter what she was experiencing, nobody could take her queenhood away from her. She may have lost all her possessions, but she still had her sense of self AND she was on dry land. She had survived. Nobody can take The Shipwrecked Queen's power from her; nobody could take my power away from me, and the same is true for you.
What so many self help gurus fail to be honest about is that change is painful. Reclaiming your power is painful. There are powerful (if misguided) reasons that you have stayed disempowered, shackled to your compulsive eating all these years - overwhelmingly they have to so with perceived safety.
Moving from disempowered princess to Empowered Queen is not easy, but it is the path to an easy life.
Russell Brand, in his book Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions says this about giving up his compulsions:
It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Actually no, the hardest thing I’ve ever done is toil under the misapprehension that I could wring pleasure out of the material world, be it through fame, money, drugs or sex, always arriving back at the same glum stoop of weary dissatisfaction.
Thinking about the move from Princess to Queen, I would rephrase that as:
It is hard to do. But the hardest thing I’ve ever done is toil under the misapprehension that I could wring safety out of my life, be it through food, money, work or people pleasing, always arriving back at the glum stoop of weary, disempowered dissatisfaction.
Think back to when you were 15. Identify any ways in which you were a disempowered princess
In what ways are you a disempowered princess now?
In what ways are you an Empowered Queen?
What Queen/Crone role models do you have, real or fictional?
Rewrite Russell Brand’s quote, filling in the gaps. I have rewritten it is less flowery language and put some ideas below to help
The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is labour under the misunderstanding that I could get (A).................... from my life, be it through (B)................always arriving back at dissatisfaction and disappointment.
Ideas for (A): pleasure, safety, control, happiness, certainty, security (use more than one if needed)
(B) food, sugar, money, work, status, people pleasing, spending, drink, drugs, sex, hoarding, danger, risk, smoking, being passive aggressive, being a victim
Free Hidden Sugars Checklist
- The 6 main offenders in virtually every health food store
- 42 other 'fake healthy' sweeteners
- The 'health' drink that is more harmful than Coke
- Which alternatives are OK in moderation
- Why you should avoid artificial sweeteners
- all on 1 handy page to print and stick on your fridge