As we get ready to welcome the Spring Equinox this month as the sun enters the pioneering sign of Aries, we have the opportunity to promote growth and rebirth in our lives. In the Maiden-Mother-Enchantress-Crone goddess cycle, the Maiden corresponds to the season of spring. I call this the Maiden/Trailblazer archetype. ‘Trailblazer’ can be used for those who prefer a term that is not gender-specific, which depicts the aspect of the Maiden that is brave, independent and driven by an internal compass rather than the needs of others.

The Maiden/Trailblazer traits: Self-oriented, adventurous, enthusiastic, open to new experiences, youthful, innocent, naïve, idealistic, freedom-loving, seeks fun, pleasure & stimulation, not afraid to start something new and different, ok standing apart from the crowd, creating new paths forward.

The Maiden/Trailblazer is the energy of new life sprouting up and becoming visible for the first time. Shoots break new ground. Buds and leaves emerge. Sprouts reach for the light. Energy goes outward and upward, with growth as the primary motivation. Fire is the element often associated with this energy.

This season is a time that calls us to embrace being brave, honest and ever-so shamelessly ourselves. To honor our needs, align with what we believe in, take action on our circumstances and create the life we want. Like the sprouts shooting through the ground, we may be called to break through our perceived limitations in order to express our emerging selves. We may bump up against insecurity, fear, or past wounding. This is par for the course. When we are ready to make a shift, blocks come up to be released. Growth can be a bit uncomfortable or even painful at first. But it always serves our highest good. It is time to gently release that which doesn’t support or inspire us anymore. It is time to take a step outside of our comfort zone and open to new opportunities & growth!

The Maiden/Trailblazer in the life cycle, lunar cycle & menstrual cycle:

In the life cycle, the Maiden/Trailblazer stage of life comes into play during our teen years to early 20s. This is the most self-oriented time of development, when we discover who we are and what makes us unique or different from our peers. It is a time of life where we wish to experiment, quench our thirst for adventure, follow our personal passions or our ideals to change the world. It is a time to live life primarily of and for ourselves, un-encumbered by the weight of responsibilities to others.  Depending on our experiences at that time, we may or may not have been able to express the full potential of this archetype. (More on that in a bit.)

In the lunar cycle, the Maiden/Trailblazer energy is most active during the waxing first quarter moon, where our creative energies instinctively lean towards growth and trying something new. During this time of the month, we are on the lookout for opportunities and information to help us move toward accomplishing a new goal. The world becomes our oyster, as the previous month’s energies have been washed away from the new moon and we now feel the need to explore new territory. If we have not cleared space during the new moon to slow down and feel what our intuition is telling us, the explorative instinct may be delayed.

In the menstrual cycle, the Maiden/Trailblazer energy corresponds to the week after our bleed is over. It is called the follicular phase, where the egg prepares for ovulation. As estrogen rises, our physical energy increases, we feel mentally clearer and emotionally less sensitive. Our ‘go-getter’ energy is in full swing. It is an ideal time to start a new diet or exercise routine, creative habit, learn something or reach out to new contacts.

The Maiden/Trailblazer archethype within us

Our relationship to the Maiden/Trailblazer will depend on our early attachment experiences with caregivers -the process of individuation- and our experience of finding our independence in our teen and early adult years. If you had a healthy attachment with caregivers and your independence was nurtured and fully supported, you will have a healthier inner Maiden/Trailblazer than someone who did not. You may find that certain Maiden qualities are familiar, integrated parts of you, while others are less so.

No matter what our age or gender, we have an inner Maiden or Trailblazer within us. It is important as we age to stay in touch with this part of ourselves, because it helps us grow, change and move with the times. It helps us break out of the box and see from new perspectives.

When the Maiden is forgotten we can become rigid, fearful, stuck in the past or too serious. Our passion for life dies and we lose our sense of youthful wonder and curiosity. We may also have lower self-confidence and fear going outside our comfort zone. We may worry too much about what other people think and need, or feel too duty-bound to enjoy life.

My experience with the Maiden/Trailblazer

I admit, this may be the least integrated Goddess archetype in my personality, but also the one that has led me to the most healing. As a child, I was shy, introverted, deeply spiritual and often wished to be taken more seriously. I was the oldest sibling, so responsibility was given to me early. I was called an ‘old soul’ and felt like one. My inner Mother & Crone archetypes have always been strong. I often felt I wasn’t really part of my generation and my relationships with older people were more satisfying.

My teen years were frought with much change, trauma and anxiety. It felt like always being in survival mode. To survive, I defaulted to people-pleasing and being as low-maintenance, adaptable as possible. I defaulted to being a caretaker and/or ignoring my own needs. I didn’t have a strong sense of self-hood or identity in my teens or early 20s. However, I did have a taste for fun, learning and adventure, and had a thirst for new experiences. My maiden was wounded, but still active. Sometimes her shadow qualities manifested.

Moving to Toronto when I became an adult and building a life of my own was the first step to healing my inner Maiden. I finally felt like I had the independence, opportunities and freedom I craved. Living in a larger city made it easier to satiate my hunger for experience and make connections with other ‘weirdos’ like myself.

When I became a mother in my mid-20s, I realized that mothering wasn’t so new to me. I had already been mothering people all my life- always prioritizing others’ needs over my own. It became clear that it was time to take my own needs seriously. I needed the Maiden/Trailblazer more than ever. Not only to help me take care of my self, but to help break unhealthy relating patterns I inherited.

Since life brings us lessons in the form of people, I’ve attracted alot of folks with strong Maiden/Trailblazer energy into my life to teach me. Healthy Maiden/Trailblazer types exude self-respect, healthy boundaries, and creative inspiration. They know how to live life like an adventure but in a grounded, responsible and kind way.

I’ve sometimes attracted people with shadow Maiden qualities- such as selfishness, flakiness, superficiality, recklessness, anger issues and emotional unavailability. However, they taught me about myself, in what ways my own inner Maiden/Trailblazer was hurting and how I expressed these shadow qualities as well.

All these people taught me to let myself get a bit more self-respecting and self-loving. To honour my own needs. To set boundaries around my time and energy. They taught me that its ok and safe to have fun and enjoy life.

The Maiden/Trailblazer aspect of myself is something I am still learning how to honor and heal.  Integrating this energy is more complex later in life when you have a family and adult responsibilities, however it is much easier to express the positive aspects because responsibilities help to balance out the shadow nature.

Social and Cultural considerations

Cultural values determine how we relate to an archetype. For instance, in North American culture, being bold, brave, independent and freedom-loving are celebrated. Going after what you want and being assertive, extroverted and social are encouraged. We are also in a culture that worships youth. Being young, sexually attractive and active, energetic and fun are what makes the world go round. In many ways, the Maiden/Trailblazer archetype is well-liked and revered.

However, it is a bit more complicated. There are double standards, especially for women.

Patriarchy and ‘selfish women’

It can be challenging for women to embrace our inner Maiden/Trailblazer because we’ve been conditioned to stay small, obedient and cater to the needs of others all our lives. It may not have been safe at home or in our career or family to be ourselves.

It may be that you’ve been called ‘selfish’, ‘bossy’ a ‘ball-buster’, or ‘too confident’ one too many times, reflecting the double standard of women being expected to succeed at their careers, feel confident in their looks and achieve their dreams, yet also expected to be agreeable, caretaking and subordinate at the same time.

You may fear being yourself or carry resentment because you cannot express the Maiden/Trailblazer energies without negative consequences.

Women are often deemed ‘selfish’ simply because we live the life we want to live. Unfortunately, it is all too common for us to be called selfish for all kinds of choices that are seen as completely acceptable for men. For example, deciding not to have children, pursuing a career while having children, taking time after work to be with friends (or by ourselves) instead of our spouse or setting boundaries around emotional labour with co-workers and friends. It is a long hard road to self-respect and self-love. Especially when the culture deems these acts as selfish for some but not for others.

Patriarchy and ‘strong women’

There are double standards around being a ‘strong woman’ too. For instance, the only images of this considered acceptable are when overt sexualisation and objectification are in place. For example Wonder Woman or Uma Thurman in Kill Bill represent acceptable forms of feminine strength because they look ‘sexy’ while kicking ass. However, in real life to be strong and kick ass, we don’t look like that. Many women fear bulking up too much at the gym or weighing too much as they grow in physical strength for fear of no longer being considered beautiful or sexy by current standards.

Strength is also not necessarily a physical quality, but an inner one. The Maiden archetype represents physical youth and vitality, but strength may also take the form of being a non-conformist who walks her own path and blazes new trails for others to follow.

All forms of defying patriarchy are expressions of Maiden/Trailblazer energy!

Introverts and sensitives

It can be challenging for more introverted, introspective, sensitive, ‘old soul’ types to feel a positive relationship to their own unique brand of Maiden/Trailblazer energy, because they may associate it with struggling to fit in with popular culture. Wounding can show up here, because the culture we live in may have prompted feelings of rejection- both in the family of origin and out in the world.

But, the Maiden/Trailblazer energy is not necessarily extroverted or social. Nor is it limited to any age! We all have this part of us. The main motivation is growth, so that can mean inner growth and breaking through limiting patterns from our childhood. In a world where extroversion and superficial connection dominates, it is actually a brave, trailblazing action to shamelessly be your introverted, sensitive self because it is against the grain.

If you deviate from the mainstream, embracing who you are is an act of Trailblazing.

This is also the warrior archetype. Fighting can be necessary for peace and equity. Or, it can be recklessly destructive. It is important to ask ourselves if we are expressing healthy Maiden qualities or shadow qualities. Fighting for a cause and advocacy work can be Maiden/Trailblazer expressions, too.

What is your relationship to the Maiden/Trailblazer within?

If you feel you have a strong Maiden/Trailblazer within you may find that it seems to be your life’s journey to cause a stir wherever you go! You run on enthusiasm, and your energy can be quite strong and contagious. You also may run into conflict more than others, because of your zealous and headstrong nature. You inspire courage and self-expression and awaken the inner youth in us all. You like to have fun.  You have an abundance of energy but may not notice when you are burning out. You thrive on challenges, and delight in new people, places and things.

This time of year is when your inner Trailblazer really shines! However, it can go into overdrive and the shadow qualities of restlessness, ego, impatience, anger and conflict-seeking arise.

Here are some reflection questions to discover the unique spirit of your inner Maiden/Trailblazer:

In what ways are you a trailblazer or pioneer?

In what ways are you not afraid to stand apart from the crowd, or follow your own drum?

What/who do you fight for?

Where/how do you seek adventure?

In what ways are you brave?

What gets you fired up? (Angry or excited)

Now reflecting a bit on your past:

What was your experience of your teen/young adult years?

Did your parents support your individuation and independence? How?

Did you have the chance to express your uniqueness?

Did you feel you had agency and autonomy?

Did it feel safe to express the Maiden/Trailblazer qualities in your home?

How have your past experiences in your teens/early adult years affected the way you live now?  

Do you often experience the shadow Maiden/Trailblazer qualities of shame, fear, anger, recklessness, bullying, competitiveness, dominating, over-idealism, selfishness, superficiality?

Ways of healing our inner Maiden/Trailblazer:

Imagine your current adult self meeting with your inner teen/young adult self. Connect with that part of you and hold them in love, acceptance and compassion. Imagine being there for them in the ways nobody was for you. Tell them how brave, unique and needed they are in the world.

-Remember what inspired you when you were younger and what activities made you happy. Listen to the music you enjoyed back then or watch a favourite show or movie from that time to rekindle your memory.

Connect with what fuels your inner fire now. Is there a cause dear to your heart you’d like to fight for? A stand you need to take? A passion waiting to be explored? An action to take to honor your personal needs and desires now?

If you feel frustrated or angry- Follow the thread of your frustration/anger, go deep within. Ask yourself-What am I angry about? What emotions are under the anger?  When have I felt this before? What unfulfilled need lies underneath? How can I fulfill this need?

If you feel scared, stuck or anxious about moving forward- write down what you are afraid of. Then objectively assess how realistic these fears are, and what you can do about them.  

Think of a character from pop culture, myth or someone you know that carries strong Maiden/Trailblazer to you. Imitate them for a short time and see how it feels. How do they carry themselves, how do they engage with their environment? What is it about them that you wish to bring more of into your life?

Forget the past. Gaze towards the future. Imagine anything is possible, no limitations exist. What do you desire to do? What small, realistic step can you take towards that desire now?

Embrace your inner Maiden/Trailblazer and let them help you answer the call to new life coming your way…

If you wish to explore this energy further, join me for my upcoming Zoom gathering- Spring Equinox Circle: Moving Forward Where we will go on a guided journey to meet our inner Maiden/Trailblazer and connect with the spirit of growth to help birth ourselves anew this spring.

Spring Equinox altar 2019