In my previous blog I introduced the concept of The Lost Maidens, the dissociated parts of ourselves that we left behind in childhood and young adulthood to roam unattended in the wilderness. Now the question is: how can we as adult women go back and collect the fragments of the lost maiden integrating and receiving her into our adult woman? Do we even want to? Aren’t we doing okay as we are? We’ve managed this far without her- and maybe some childhood fragments too -but doesn’t everybody. Isn’t that the way of the world now, a reflection of our fragmented culture? We may be fooled into thinking that we are doing okay, that we can get by without these unacknowledged parts of ourselves, the parts that went into hiding, deep into the basement of our unconscious… yes, those parts, the same parts that erupt from time to time and of which we say “I don’t know what came over me. It’s just not like me. I have never said/done that before…”
The maiden may be lost but she is not gone. She still lives in hope that one day we will free her from her bondage- that is bondage of self-betrayal, stuffing her authenticity down a plug-hole in favor of exhibiting a socially acceptable, people-pleasing face that might just earn us love and acceptance- but more often it earns us crumbs and erodes our self respect. The unhealed maiden who never received her rightful love and acceptance continues to crave it- no matter how old. It is possible to have crossed the threshold of crone and still be held ransom by the approval seeking maiden.
The lost maiden wants only to be returned to her rightful place, firmly anchored in our bodies, heart, spirit and soul. Her purpose is to be realized. She stands barefoot, laden with an armful of treasure tarnished and broken by her time in the wilderness or underworld, but she will not let go of those things- she lives in hope that one day those treasures will shine and be seen by the world.
But the truth is they can’t be- these things belong to another time… our lives have taken the course they have taken- we have lived. There have been births and deaths, we have shaped things and been shaped. In reclaiming the lost maiden it is more a question of bringing back the energy and libido of the soul fragment and allowing it to find its place within us- expressing it in the best way to bring us to wholeness now. We can synthesis that energy into the matrix of our life, as women, as crone. In its primordial state, the essence of the maiden is pure, unadulterated vision, inspiration and warrior-like focus to see it through and make it happen, no matter what anyone else thinks, no matter how disappointing or unacceptable we become to those around us…who may in fact be quite happy with the people-pleasing pale imitations that we have become.
There is no one who is going to birth us from child to woman (although by grace of the goddess, if we are lucky, we receive much support and guidance along the way). For whatever reason- and there are many- for those of us who did not receive the grounding, witnessing, celebration and anchoring of our young feminine that we longed for as teenagers we must find a way to do it for ourselves. But like the phoenix we can rise from the ashes of our wasteland and see what remains of those soul treasures.
Retrieving the lost maiden could also initiate a cull- to receive her into our soul we must let go of the people, situations and the stagnant energy of our half-lived lives. This is the ego-sacrifice of the mother- we are literally mothering ourselves, letting go of grasping to people, situations and habits that keep us small in the vain hope of offering us security, comfort, love or acceptance. In allowing the lost maiden to return we finally give this gift to ourselves. No one else could ever do this for us, and deep down we knew that, we just did not know how to find the self-belief, courage, will, and unconditional self- love to birth ourselves over the threshold to woman.
Now we know.
In a shamanic sense, what is needed is a soul retrieval- the lost maiden is a soul fragment that has become separate from us. We need to make space to call her back; she needs to know there is a place for her and that she will not be abandoned again. She needs to be received. We begin by listening very carefully to what she has to say and we do this by turning inward to the silence within- so that we can hear.
My lost maiden is trying to come back, and I want her to. We are negotiating how this can happen. Part of the issue is that it is like learning to walk again- literally. In my dreams, I am given new shoes, kick- ass shoes that are going to take me many places- but I am not quite sure how to walk in them yet. Or else, I am trying to get ready for a return flight to somewhere- home- but I am disorientated and cannot get organized- I have too many things that I want to bring back with me and it’s just not possible. I have to let go of those things knowing that they are mere representations or symbols of an energy that I already possess because it is me. I let these things go. I decide to travel light. These dreams seem to me to be characteristic of the newly called back soul fragment trying to integrate and live along-side the part it has become dissociated from. The exiled part having now returned, or returning, needs a period of transition to settle in, and this is where the listening comes in. Her needs may be different to what we think she needs- this is where the ego surrender comes in, the sacrifice of the mother. What if she is asking for something, has a need, that will necessitate a big change, a big letting go of something we have been holding on to for such a longtime. Who are we when we are stripped bare of the trappings and trimmings of our false selves?
There is also a grieving in this transition.
We can create ceremony and holding for this soul working, midwifing the new and hospicing the old- both equally important. And, although it is not always easy we need to give ourselves time for this process to happen and that begins with first acknowledging and accepting what is unfolding without trying to fight it. It is a death and rebirth.