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|Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972. She has published four books and currently writes for the Huffington Post, Beliefnet and UPI (United Press International) Religion and Spirituality Forum, and serves as ritual consultant to the television and motion picture industry. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately called, maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, NY where she offers intuitive tarot readings and spiritual counseling and works with individuals, groups, institutions, municipalities and corporations to create meaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion.
"The crone of the traditional triple goddess archetype is premature for describing the middle years of modern women. Donna Henes agrees. She feels that the wild phase of transitioning through midlife is a time to be crowned Queen: sovereign of ourselves. It's fun being around in a time when we can re-write our own mythology."
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Midlife Crisis into
Your Crowning Achievement!
What an extraordinarily exciting and gorgeous time of the year this is. Life is bursting out all over. Buds, blossoms, and babies everywhere! Is it any wonder that May is the month of the Mother?
In this season of teeming birth and growth, we honor the Mother Goddesses, Mother Earth, and our own mothers, as well as our own mothering, nurturing, loving Selves.
We don't need to have given birth to a baby to be a mother, and in fact, nearly one quarter of the Baby Boom generation chose not to bear children.
The archetypal Mother is biological parent as well as the Mother of Invention. She produces and reproduces - be they children, books, businesses, careers, or political causes. Then She labors endlessly to nourish and sustain the fruits of Her passion: Her family, Her business, Her home, Her job, Her projects, Her clients, Her students, Her community.
Full with nutriment, She is the ultimate cosmic creator, nursemaid, caretaker, and provider. She is committed to the well-being of those around Her, and the daily domestic and productive concerns of the material world are Hers. Endlessly reliable, dependable, solid, and sure, She is the woman whose work is never done.
The Mother is the progenitor of life and the provider of sustenance for the living. Including Her own! It is so important that we extend our mothering instincts to include our Selves. To be our own Mother. To be the ideal mother we might not have had.
To nurture our own well-being. To hold our deepest needs in tender trust. To care for our personal concerns and inspire and encourage the development of our best potential. To honor our purpose. To celebrate our passion. And to embrace our power.
With blessings of Mother's Day everyday,
It is promulgated in some paleontological circles that all of humankind is the offspring of a single lady who lived in Africa, or some say, Asia, a very long time ago. The geometrically multiplied generations of her darling daughters and sons have since become geographically dispersed and ethnically diverse. Over millennia, through mutation and migration, the descendants of our mutual motherland have developed an incredibly lavish, endlessly appealing smorgasbord of cultural variety.
While I love nothing better than to sample and savor the delectable differences among peoples, what I truly crave and find to be profoundly more satisfying, are the ways in which we have managed to remain fundamentally the same under the skin. I consider it a downright miracle that, beneath the random trappings of trend and tradition, underneath the underwear of custom, and below the belt, we have retained, hidden in the hollows of our hearts, some race-memory-semblance of being human. Of being related.
Lately, linguists have been speculating on the communality of verbal communication. It has been suggested that all of the extant thousands of languages and dialects in the world today come from a single shared source. That, ultimately, we all speak some variation of one original mother tongue. Certainly, the very first word most of us utters is identical everywhere: "Ma."
The word for mother, world wide, is based on ma, or close enough. Ma is the earliest form of the Indo-European root word for mother, mâter, which is reflected in the Latin, mäter; the Greek, métèr; and the prehistoric Germanic, möthar. These, in turn, have become madre in Spanish and Italian, mère in French, mae in Portuguese; mite'ra in modern Greek; mutter in modern German, moeder in Dutch, moder in Swedish, mör in Danish, mor, in Norwegian and mother in English. Mother is mat' in Russian, matka in Polish and Czech, majka in Serbo-Croatian, máyka in Bulgarian, anya in Hungarian, ema in Estonian, mâte in Latvian, nâna in Albanian, ima in Hebrew, anne in Turkish, and omí in classic Arabic. In the many languages of Sub-Saharan Africa, too, ma is prevalent: mamá in Ibo and Hausa, mma in South African Sotho, mbuta in the Congo, and inate in Ethiopian Amharic.
The similarity holds in Asia as well: aamaa in Nepali, mae in Thai, nanay in Philippino, omoni in Korean, chomo in Tibetan, moqing in Mandarin and mamá in Cantonese. In the Telgu and Tamil languages of India, mother is amma, and she is mata in Hindi. In Pakistani, mother is man, which means "moon" and "wisdom."In Japanese, one's biological mother is called, ha ha, while the ubiquitous bar hostess who, with offers of sake and sympathy, listens tenderly to a man's troubles is known as mama-san.
The great primal Mother Goddesses, the creatrixes of nearly every culture, were invariably called Ma. Remembrance and reverence to Her Who Birthed the World has been indelibly imprinted on our collective brain. Her invocation, a common bond. Mama, Mama Cuna, Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Nammu, Macha, Ma-Nu, Mamat, Mana, Maa, Mah, Al-Mah, Qis-Mah, Asintmah, Ilmatar, Maat, Matu, Mat Hatti, Maj, Yemanja, Mawu, Mahuea, Mayuel, Mami Aruru, Mamaki, Mamokoriyoma, Mamata, Mahatma, Mater Matuta, Matabrune, Mara, Mardoll, Magog, Margawse, Magna Dea, Madri, Marici, Maia, Maya, Mari, Mary, Mai, Mariamne, Mana, Mana-Anna, Man, Manannan, Maha-Nila-Sarasvati, Manasa-Devi, Matrikadevi, Mati-Syra-Zemlya, Malinalxochtl.
Interestingly, words that designate father do not display such a remarkable resemblance. The universal inspiration for the maternal appellation, ma, must then come from some inherent quality unique in the relationship with the mother. It is not difficult to imagine how this etymological concurrence might have come to pass. Behold a scene played out billions upon billions of times throughout human existence:
A baby, cradled close, is nursing. Along with the rich nourishment of her mother's bountiful body, she blissfully imbibes warmth, security, contentment, love. Her small head buried in soft breast, she enthusiastically sucks. Mmmm. Mmma, mmmaa, mmaaaaaa. Ma! Mama!. Ma, as in "maternal," Ma, as in "mammary," Ma, as in "mammal." Mama means "mother's breasts" in many places, and ma frequently refers to "milk" as well as "mother." Certainly from the point of view of a dependent child, mother is milk.
The Great Goddess, divine maternal model, source and sustainer of all life, prototype single parent, has been widely represented as a lactating mother. Abundant, ample-breasted and serene. Protective and nurturing. Full with the wherewithal to provide perfectly for the children whom She has created. Provider of bliss, She personified the primal miracle of mother's milk.
It is interesting to note that our galaxy is not only named for milk, it actually means "milk." Galaxy is from the Greek, gala, "mother's milk," referring to Gala-Tea, the Milk Goddess, the galactic mother in classical Greek mythology. The one portrayed in Pygmalion's famous white marble sculpture. Since the time of ancient Egypt, western civilization has referred to our galaxy as the Milky Way, made from the magic milk of the Great Mother or one of her divine daughters.
Since we live in a milky universe, shall we celebrate
Mother's Day every day? Let us toast our universal Maternal Creatrix, our mutual Mother Earth, our biological mothers, and our own mothering impulses with the nurturing milk of human kindness.
Today I saw a woman plowing a furrow.
Her hips are broad like mine, for love, and
she goes about her work bent over the earth.
I caressed her waist; I brought her home
with me. She will drink rich milk from my
own glass and bask in the shade of my arbors
growing pregnant with the pregnancy of love.
And if my own breasts be not generous, my son
will put his lips to hers, that are rich.
" Sister" by Gabriela Mistral
Our Mother who art within us
Each breath brings us to you.
Thy wisdom come,
Thy will be done
as we honor your presence within us.
You give us this day all that we need.
Your bounty calls us to give and receive
all that is loving and pleasurable.
You are the courage that moves us to be true
and we act with grace and power.
We relax into your cycles of birth,
growth, death and renewal.
Out of the womb, the darkness, the void,
comes new life.
For you are the Mother of All Things.
Your body is the Sacred Earth and our bodies.
Your love nurtures us and unites us all.
Now and forever more.
- Dale Allen
Women of the Sixties Generation were the first to enjoy an unprecedented access to a variety of birth control methods. It was also largely the women of those politicized times who demanded, and ultimately won, the right to legally decide the destiny of our own bodies.
Once in possession of this precious, personal choice of whether or not to become and/or stay pregnant, we have chosen, on the whole, to have fewer babies and at a more advanced age than ever before in history. Freed of what we considered to be biological tyranny and possessed of sophisticated ecological concern, fully one fifth of us chose not to have children at all. And among the urban educated classes, the number jumps to 25%.
When the tenure of our Mother time ends, it causes many of us to re-evaluate the choices that we have made about fertility, decisions that have defined our life for the past few decades. The finality of menopause really rankles. Some women who had never wanted babies now suddenly become nostalgic for what might have, could have, been.
Thirty-three years after writing a ground breaking piece in Look magazine about not wanting to have children, the writer Betty Rollin admitted on the pages of Modern Maturity that she was "one of those old-time 'career girls' who forgot to have children. At the age of sixty," she continued, "I began to mourn for the children I never had."
Others, upon consideration, are secure and still satisfied with their earlier choice to remain childless, or what many in that category prefer to call "childfree." One such woman wrote in response to Rollin's recent article that Rollin's earlier piece had been "a source of strength" over the decades to resist the social pressure to have children when she knew she didn't want them.
For those of us who are not biological mothers, it is still extremely important to acknowledge that we have, in fact, been Mothers in the archetypal sense. We have been birthing careers, mothering social causes, nurturing creative endeavors, tending businesses, mentoring students and co-workers. If, as it has been said, "Some people give birth to children and some give birth to culture," then we were the Culture Mothers, the Mothers of Necessity, the Mothers of Invention.
The World Record for having the most number of children officially recorded is 69 by the first of two wives of Feodor Vassilyev (1707-1782), a peasant from Shuya, 150 miles east of Moscow. In 27 confinements, she gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets. The children were born between 1725-1765.
The modern world record for giving birth is held by Leontina Albina from San Antonio, Chile. Now in her mid-sixties, she claims to be the mother of 64 children. Of these, 55 are documented, birth certificates apparently being something of a less-than-serious concern in Chile.
The youngest mother whose history is authenticated is Lina Medina, who delivered a 6½-pound boy by cesarean section in Lima, Peru in 1939, at an age of 5 years and 7 months. The child was raised as her brother and only discovered that Lina was his mother when he was 10.
Nadya Denise Doud-Suleman, known as Octomom in the media, is an American woman who came to international attention when she gave birth to octuplets in January 2009. The Suleman octuplets are only the second full set of octuplets to be born alive in the United States. One week after their birth, they surpassed the previous worldwide survival rate for a complete set of octuplets set by the Chukwu octuplets in 1998.
Jayne Bleackley is the mother who holds the record for the shortest interval between two children born in separate pregnancies. She gave birth to Joseph Robert on September 3, 1999, and Annie Jessica Joyce on March 30, 2000. The babies were born 208 days apart.
Elizabeth Ann Buttle is the mother who holds the record for the longest interval between the birth of two children. She gave birth to Belinda on May 19,1956 and Joseph on November 20, 1997. The babies were born 41 years 185 days apart. The mother was 60 years old when her son Joseph was born.
In 2008 when her daughter was born in Baddhu Patti, India, Rajo Devi became the oldest women to give birth. She was 70 years old. She died less that two years afterward, having experienced a ruptured womb as a result of the cesarean birth. Her husband said that she died in peace, having finally - after 53 years of marriage - escaped the stigma of being barren.
Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate.
- Charlotte Gray
So when the great word "Mother!" rang once more, I saw at last its meaning and its place: Not the blind passion of the brooding past, But Mother - the World's Mother - come at last to feed and guard and teach the human race.
- Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Queen's Correspondence
Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to The Queen's Chronicles.
Please keep your comments coming. And do feel free to make suggestions about content you would like to see. Or anything else, for that matter. It is a joy to connect with you.
Letters In Response to the April 2012 Issue:
It is so frightening to read about the War on Women being waged in the US. But it is also heartening to get a pulse on the angry response that it is eliciting. Keep on ranting, please!
- Gina, Wales
You are a fabulous writer and I thoroughly enjoy every issue of The Chronicles
. But I also really liked that you opened an entire issue to the opinions and work of readers from all over. Very nice!
- Jeannie, CO
What a treat to read the writings of other readers. Their words and opinions really resonated with me. We Queens are formidable!
- Sally, WI
Wow, there are Queens everywhere. I enjoyed reading all the feedback, letters, and poems from other women, ostensibly like me.
- Joellen, FL
This issue was just what I needed. It felt great to read the words of so many other Queens from all over the world. What a network. It drew me out from myself into feeling like I was a part of a bigger, more beautiful community. Thank you so much for the connection.
I just want you to know that I read your book and thoroughly enjoyed it, and also these Chronicles
. Thank you for helping to shift the story for all of us Queens and goddesses.
- Wendi, CA
Thank you for your insight. It is powerful. I now need to begin to work with the insights and suggestions in your wonderful writings!
- Monica, PA
You always manage to express what I feel! And to put into words exactly what needs to be said. Write on!
- Monique, NY
Keep it up, Queen. Your Chronicles
gets better with every issue. I am so grateful to receive them.
Thank you for another warming, inspiring issue. Your words heal and make me feel powerful as a woman. That is such a wonderful feeling. And it is a great gift of the heart, which I so appreciate.
We extend hearty congratulations to our multi-talented circle of Sister Queens for their impressive accomplishments and successes.
Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth and that is not speaking.
- Naomi Wolf
Heléne Aylon, NY; Marieken Cochius, NY; Lauren Curtis, NJ; Karen Fitzgerald, NY; Karen Guancione, NJ; Suzanne Lacy, CA; Ana Mendieta, R.I.P.; Beverly Naidus, WA; Jodie Niles, WI; Lorraine O'Grady, NY; Sheila Pepe, NY; Howardena Pindell, NY; Susan Plum, Mexico; Linda Stein, NY; Robin Tewes, NY; and Regina Vater, Brazil; on the exhibitions of their artwork.
Alessandra Belloni, NJ; Susanna Dakin, CA; Barbara Hammer, NY; Barbara Higbie, CA; Jehan, NY; Laurie Lewis, CA; Judith Molino, NY; Linda Montano, NY; Pauline Oliveros, NY; Jayne Pierce, NY; Reno, NY; Ekere Tallie, NY; Linda Tillery, CA; Diane Torr, Scotland; and Martha Wilson, NY; on their performances and/or performances of their work.
Heléne Aylon, NY; Whatever is Contained Must Be Released: My Jewish Orthodox Girlhood, My Life as a Feminist Artist (Book); Daht Blanchard, WA; Dream of the Circle of Women (Book); Joan Chittister, PA, How Can I Follow My Bliss? Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy (Book) The Piscator Notebook (Book); on their publications.
Lisa Levart, NY, on winning the 2012 Nautilus Book award for her book, Goddess on Earth.
Lissa Margueles and Emily Eyers, NY, on their marriage.
Send your good news, achievements, accomplishments, successes and celebrations so that our international circle of sovereign sisters can send you blessings and accolades.
And we are glad to so. It is a joy and a privilege to share in the fortune of another woman. I recently heard Oprah say the saddest thing ever - "The hardest thing about being successful is having someone to be glad for you."
It takes a centered and confident Queen to break that pattern. There are 60 million thrones out there. One for each of us. There is plenty of purpose, passion and power for us all. May we use it well!
Please Offer Your Purest Thoughts, Your Heart-Felt Prayers, Your Great Good Feelings, And Your Very Best Blessings For Healing and Peace of Mind To:
Adrianne, NY; Alison, TN; Amora, FL; Amy, NY; Bebee, DE; Berenice, NY; Betty, AL; Chrissie, NY; Dana, CA; Dani, WI; Dee, NY; Deni, NY; Dominique, NM; Glenys, Australia; Jo, AZ; Judith, NY; Karen, NJ; Kathleen, PA; Kay, NY; Kazuko, NY; Kim, NY; Kimi, NJ; Lorie, KY; Lydia, CO; Lisa, PA; Lucia, TX; Mari, VA; Mary, MD; Nancy, NY; Naomi, DC; Pat, MA; Patsy, NY; Pearl, NY; Roberta, NY; Ruth, NY; Sandi, NY; Sandy, CA; Sharon, NY; Shelley, NY; Shirley, IN; Sherli, CA; Sid, PA; Smriti, CA; Susan, MA; Susan, NC; Terri, FL; Wicki, NY; and Yvette, NY; who are in the process of healing themselves from illness, accident, injury, or surgery.
Amy, NY; D. Barbara, NY; Carol, NY; Glenys, Australia; Joanne, NY; Kimberly, NY; Kimi, NJ; Linda, NY; Linda, NY; Maureen, NY; Meryl, NY; Dee, NY; Patricia, Australia; Regi, CA;Sheryll, CA;
and Svetlana, NY;
who would benefit greatly from some spiritual support.
Ali, VT; Annie, NY; Chrys, NY; Deni, NY; Erica, New Zealand; Gaetana, NY; Gail, NY; Hemetra, PA; Kathrine, Denmark; Lois, NY; Marla, NY; Nancy, NC; Roslyn, NJ; and Sharon, FL; the caregivers who are in weary need of care themselves.
May Their Spirits Rest in Peace:
Jill Chernoff, CA
Maria Tulia Downing, MA
Rita Guidice, NY
Elizabeth McMahan, DC
Mary Von Briesen, DC
Donna Summer, FL
Blessings of love and light my sistars, These past few days my heart is heavy. My daughter-in-law's father unexpectedly passed away last week, the same time and same way that her 24-year old sister died last year. We are heartbroken. My sweet friend of 5 years, Brandee, who I adopted as my god-daughter, recently passed away from a long struggle with cancer, manifested from exposure to chemicals while serving in the Coast Guard. Brandee was the sweetest, bravest most loving spirit I have ever met. She heals my broken heart. Six months ago, she married a wonderful man, her second marriage, after burying a husband almost 8 years ago. Yesterday I was informed that her husband, a friendly, caring man, also courageous, passed away this week. Please light a candle and send healing and love to all of us who remember and all of those who are journeying on. Please pray for safe journeys for us all. Thank You. And thank you for allowing me to share my ups and downs with you. As I sink into Her embrace, I am also comforted by your patience, understanding, and support. Blessed Be.
- Adrianne, NY
Please say some prayers for Ellen Rand, author of Dear Females. She was hit by a car. Her jaw is wired shut and she is bruised all over.
- Judith, NY
Please send your requests for physical and spiritual healing and positive energy so that the powerful women of The Queen's Court might send their prayers and blessings to you in your time of need.
The only work that will ultimately bring any good to any of us is the work of contributing to the healing of the world.
- Marianne Williamson
Here is a photo of me in the lovely Queen t-shirt that I won last month.
I know you hear (or read) this often, but the book The Queen of My Self came to me at exactly the right time.
Having to deal with an emotionally difficult experience made me realize that, turning sixty, I am now in a new phase of my life. But I was having a very hard time reconciling to being a crone.
I had become something of a late-blooming athlete in my early 50s, discovering my love of triathlons, duathlons, (even a marathon), and biking long distances for the first time in my life. I still love those things and once I had The Queen of My Self I finally understood what I'd been feeling: I just don't feel like a crone yet.
So I'm now happily in my Queen stage. And it's allowed me to give myself permission to clear out the old to make room for the new - whatever that exciting new is going to be. I have been cleaning out, purging, and giving away possessions in a big way that I no longer need and it feels great.
Winning the t-shirt was a bit of icing on the cake. Thanks so much!
Please Submit Your Royal Reports. Tell us about your Self and/or your Queen Group: Who, what, where, when, why? What Queenly topics do you explore? What projects do you engage in? Describe some golden moments.
for Personal & Planetary Transformation
By Mama Donna, Urban Shaman
Information about seasons, cycles, & celebrations