Women in the second half of life understand the physical and emotional changes that occur naturally as we progress through various stages. And for females in the company of those who dare to call their experiences mythical, it can lead to battles of epic proportions.
In an ironic twist, Andrea Slominski of Santa Clarita has used the power of myth to explain these very real stages. She has applied the wisdom of mythology to help us understand the process, while experiencing a journey of her own – through womanhood and through her coursework for a doctorate in mythological studies.
A few weeks ago, I drove to Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria to watch Andrea’s oral defense of her dissertation. With dozens of supportive friends, family and colleagues in attendance, she summarized “The Fourfold Goddess: Maiden, Householder, Regent, Wise Woman. A New Metaphor for Women’s Midlife Creating Sovereignty and Power.”
Her study has led her to conclude that the previously accepted three categories of a woman’s life – maiden, mother and crone – are no longer adequate. She has staked new territory, dropping her flag right into midlife – the age span of 45 to 70 – including perimenopause, midlife, menopause and post-menopause, which she described as “the four psychological and biochemical engines that power this 25-year period of profound transformation.”
In addition to renaming the final phase “wise woman” instead of the pejorative “crone,” Andrea added the moniker “regency” to depict the second-to-last stage.
“This study argues that menopause and midlife, once harbingers of death, are now thresholds,” she told us. “They are rites of passage through which all women will pass, as they live into regency, whether they choose to participate consciously or not. … I found that menopause and midlife are powerfully encoded physiological, psychological and spiritual developmental shifts, or opportunities, if you will, offering women a hitherto unprecedented opportunity to re-vision their lives, priorities, passions and focus.”
The new Dr. Slominski used data to point out that female baby boomers are the first entire generation in the history of humanity to live collectively into what she calls regency.
“(We’re) experiencing another 25 years before old age, where potentially 60 is the new 40 and 70 is the new 50,” she said. “The average lifespan of white women in the year 1900 was a little over 48 years. And the average lifespan of black women was a little over 33 years. Most women didn’t live past menopause. By 2011, white women’s lifespans had increased by 58% and the lifespans of black women had grown by 129%.”
Thus, a new stage of life for women appeared: regency.
“As a feminist I was always interested in the history of feminism and its role in the renaissance of goddess spirituality,” Andrea said. “As I studied world myths, religion, and depth psychology for three years, I saw that the global resurgence of the expression of the divine feminine, the archetypal feminine, and the women’s rights movement were working together to change consciousness and culture.”
But what interests me most is the vision Andrea has for harnessing the power we hold to affect our society today.
“Women’s leap in life span, which included new territory in education, agency and personal freedom, now allows women of the Global North to create a new, post-homemaker, post-first career life after menopause,” she said. “It is an astounding development in women’s history. Seemingly simple, it is a historic first in the history of humanity – we are the first generation of women to live past menopause and use our experience, wisdom and passion to do and achieve great things after 50.”
She cites a Harvard Business Journal article from several years ago advising companies to market to women, who make more than 90% of purchasing decisions in many categories from home furnishings to vacations. Collectively, we have billions of dollars, which can be used to solve societal problems and support causes.
Andrea is contributing with an upcoming book about women’s “power years” between age 45 and 70. She has also launched a private coaching practice to help women navigate the transformation between perimenopause to midlife and menopause. She leads workshops and seminars, and speaks at conferences, plus she teaches women about entrepreneurship at Women’s Economic Ventures in Santa Barbara and Ventura.
“The graduate program helped me unlock my story, and my life, leading me to new ways of understanding and deepening my appreciation of life, the highs and the lows, the whole adventure,” said Andrea, whose goal is to help 10,000 women. “The six years I spent studying there were among the best, and definitely the most transformative of my life.”
We don’t have to attain the beauty of Aphrodite or the position of Queen Hera to understand our power. The goddesses within are already helping us.
You can email Andrea Slominski at [email protected], or visit her website at www.MidlifeReboot.expert.
Martha Michael is a Signal staff writer.