I am thinking of the concept of the Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Some people add a fourth at beginning or in the middle, but the triplet is the most common.
I am thinking on the Crone. The Hag.
The Ancient One who stands at the Crossroads and demands that you choose your way. That one way says yes and therefore you are saying no to the other. A boundary.
The Ancient Ones, they know about boundaries. They have been through it. They know, some of them, about childhood and caring for others. For some, that care has been motherhood; for others not. For some of them, they had happy childhoods; for some of them, that childhood was stolen away.
No matter what their childhood, they know what it is to look at mortality and see Death’s hand stretching out for them. And so they know what it is to have said no, and they know what it is to have said yes.
And there is Atropos, the eldest of the Three Fates, the one who cuts the thread of a life. Now that is setting a boundary.
I am thinking of the athame (pronounced in my tradition “uh-THAH-may”), the dagger or knife used to carve the Circle that makes space, that peels back illusion, that begins to remind us where we are, that goes with the words, “A Circle is cast not by what we exclude, but by what we bring into it.”
The athame is also associated with the sword, a weapon. But it also goes with the sickle, the little curved knife with which the Goddess is said to have taken the life of the God. And the scythe, the instrument of harvesting the grain, like the sickle, only bigger, something you have to throw your back into. The blade.
Boundaries are important, so important, and they are something I have struggled with in my life. Boundaries are related to priorities—saying no to say yes—and I have mostly wanted to say yes to everything.
I have convinced myself at times that I could say yes to everything. There is a running joke among some of my friends that, given a choice between two things, my answer is, “BOTH, please!”
But you cannot always, or even most of the time, have both.
And so I am learning to say no to say yes.
And in this time, I am considering the Ancient One who stands at the Crossroads with her sickle. I am considering the ones who open Ways, and who yet close others in doing so.
We think of “God opening a window” when a door is closed. But I think often we do not think of the other way. That when we walk through the door, the window is usually closed.
When I very much wanted to have a child, I did many things to make that happen. I had a loving friend who committed to staying to help me raise the child at least until they were five. I had a friend with XY chromosomes who was willing to help me by attempting to sire a child with me. I had a very great desire.
What I did not have was a sense of Divine confirmation.
And so I did two things. One, I went to a babala’wo, a Father of the Mysteries from la Regla de Ocha/Santeria. And he said I should be very careful if I made a baby with the man I had chosen. He said it was dangerous for me and could be dangerous physically.
But I didn’t want to listen.
And so I went to the Stone in the Circle, the Stone called the Doorway. I lay my face against it, and I prayed. I prayed this prayer, “I want a child. I will dedicate my child through the Hole in the Stone. I can do it without You. I can do it. I know I can push with all the muscle of my will and I can do it. But I do not want to push and muscle and demand.” I began to cry. “I want this so badly, but I will not do it without your blessing. And I do not hear anything. I do not hear You speaking in my heart. Speaking to my spirit. Where are You?”
And as I prayed this prayer, with my face and closed eyes pressed against the cold, rough, and tender texture of the Stone’s face, I realized. I saw. I saw that I was on a great threshold, standing at the Doorway indeed. I saw all the connections of all things on Earth and in Heaven. I saw time and space and joy and sorrow wound together all in a great and radiant darkness. And I saw my own lines, the cords of infinite gifts and wounds. And I heard Nothing. I heard what I have always called since a Patient, Loving, Dark, Silence.
The confirmation was not given.
That doorway I so hoped would open so loving confirmation would pour out, the one the Doorway had shown me, was closed.
And so I, of my own will, stepped backwards over the threshold and away from the glory of the vision I had had, and tears continued to leak from my eyes.
Patient, Loving, Dark Silence.
The boundary of the threshold.
I heard the boundary and I respected it. Who knows what would have happened if I had not heeded the message from ifa, from the babala’wo? I planned not to. But the message of the Stone, and of the great spinning Universe was too clear for me to ignore. Too much a part of me and what I was trained to hear and see.
So there is that kind of doorway closing. And I didn’t know what else might happen, how, as the Quakers say, “Way will open.” And for that matter, while I can guess at many things, I do not know exactly what closing that door allowed for me. My ongoing life and its blessings and wounds, I suppose.
Most boundaries, though, most door-closings, are not so dramatic.
Most boundaries, if we’re blessed, are set between those who care for one another.
Most boundaries are invitations to care better for one another. To allow space. To let space be and not to fill it with unwanted words or actions. To say, “Hey, this hurts me to talk about, can we not?” and to trust that that will be honored.
To take the goddam difficult risk of setting the boundary in the first place.
I must say, both of these are hard for me. To risk anger—that is to say, the finger that points toward the place I feel transgressed. To let me anger cool and my mind calm. And then to say, “I feel hurt.” Or even, “I don’t feel as though I can trust you or our conversations on this particular topic.” Or just, “I don’t need this in my life. Could you please not bring it?”
Or needs for space and solitude. Or time limits.
Or all kinds of things.
And so I am pondering the Crone. I am pondering the knife in the pomegranate, the athame in the Circle, the sickle in my hand, and the scythe cutting down the swinging wheat at harvest.
These are Lammas thoughts, I suppose, but they are what I have today. Today, with much love swelling in my heart for the child that could never be. And for you and your boundaries, doorways, and windows.