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The Path of the Wise Woman

This website and blog are dedicated to creating a platform and giving voice to historical, religious, mythological and present-day stories of women’s significance and wisdom. Many of the women that will be presented here were wayfarers that came before us whose lives and contributions were diminished or suppressed at the time. Others are stories of women currently walking among us on the path of the wise woman. 

These women's unique lives offer us a blueprint to meet the challenges in our own lives and push past the imposed limitations set upon us by our cultures, our countries, our religions and ourselves. The knowledge is available to all of us who long for our own truth and wisdom. Within the stories are the wise women themselves, standing sentry over their treasured creations and offering us their riches… to inspire us, to teach us, to guide us and to cheer for us. 

For the women throughout history whose voices were silenced, I hope by bringing light to other women’s voices there is some small measure of justice. For the mature woman who has felt invisible in this culture, I hope you are empowered by these stories and will add your own wise woman voice (even if it is trembling) and your valuable experience to this site. For younger women and girls, I hope these stories provide a model for you to emulate, reduce your fears of insignificance as you age and give you everything to look forward to as you become a wise woman. For the men reading this site, you are welcome here. There are many attributes of the wise woman archetype that you can integrate for your wholeness and evolution. 

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Mary Carson Breckinridge

From colonial days up until the early 1920’s, more women in the United States died in childbirth than all of the men in the United States...

Boudica - Celtic Warrior Queen

Almost everything we know of this heroic woman comes from her invading conquerors, the Romans and specifically the Roman historians,...


My holiday offering is a poem from Denise Levertov called Annunciation. I invite you to read it over a few times, letting it sink into...

Mary Wollstonecraft - (1759-1797)

The name Mary Wollstonecraft, should roll off the tongues of women as easily as Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson. The 18th century...

Susan La Flesche Picotte, MD

In honor of our Thanksgiving holiday in the US, I am presenting a Native American Indian who fought the Victorian stereotypes of race and...


From my previous posts, you may have noticed that in order to accomplish the feats that these wise women undertook in the time period in...

Fatima Al-Fihri (800 AD - 880 AD)

After years of being told the first schools of higher learning were founded in Bologna, Italy in 1088, followed by the University of...

Olympe de Gouges - Declaring Rights for All

“If women have the right to mount the scaffold, they must also have the right to mount the speaker’s rostrum.” Olympe de Gouges, an 18th...

Baubo - Goddess of Mirth

Terracotta Baubo figurines from the Demeter sanctuary at Priene. Found in 1898.

Edith Cavell

For this week's wise woman biography I chose Edith Louisa Cavell, a late 19th century, early 20th century British nurse and instructor....

Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley was an 18th century African slave who became a renowned poet and writer. Born in Senegal or Gabon, Africa in 1753,...

Hildegard of Bingen

For our first wise woman biography I chose a woman whose life and contributions were overlooked and not widely known until the last 30...

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A Historical Perspective

Modern humans have inhabited this planet for about 200,000 years. During most of this time period we lived peacefully in egalitarian societies and worshipped female deities. Over the last 4500 years, much of women’s contribution to their gender, their cultures, their religions and their countries has been minimized, made masculine, overlooked or erased.

The beginning of the inequality and diminishment of women’s value can be traced in history to an Akkadian law engraved on a tablet sometime during the years 2400-2300 BCE. This law stated, and I paraphrase, that if a woman spoke out of turn she should be smacked in the face with a brick and her teeth broken. Since that time, countless laws have been enacted taking away women's rights to their bodies, their property and their self-determination. Women’s bodies and natural cycles were made unclean, women who were prophets were silenced, women who were healers were killed, women who wanted knowledge were barred from places of learning, women's accomplishments were hidden or erased, women in the later stages of their lives could be abandoned and mature, spiritual women were demonized. It is no wonder that we are less likely to voice our opinions, attempt new endeavors, stake our claim to our ideas, honor our feminine intuition, or embrace our innate sensuality and the later stages of life when our ancestral role models lived under the weight of such oppression.

When women age and we drift further away from the patriarchal view of beauty and usefulness (i.e., the youth of the maiden and the fruitfulness of the mother), we often begin to feel invisible, inconsequential and unimportant. If we spend our creative energy trying to remain youthful and relevant through a masculine lens, we miss the necessary evolvement that comes from aging and the natural shift we need to make from our focus on our outer material world to our rich internal world. 

Today, we have the opportunity to seek out and learn from the wise women who came before us. Through the resurrection of their stories, we can learn to honor and embody our innately feminine traits and learn to lead from them, embrace the stages of our lives, take risks that lead to our growth and balance our energies to become whole human beings. The future of our planet may well depend upon our wisdom and our wholeness. 

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Wise Woman Archetype

An archetype is a universal blueprint in our collective unconscious (ancestral memory) and is accessible to all humankind. Taken from the Greek words arkhe, which means "original or primitive”, and typon, which means "pattern, model or type”, archetypes represent the fundamental human patterns of our experience. 

The Wise Woman archetype was first associated with the third phase of the triune goddess archetype. The triune goddess was drawn from our ancient connection to the lunar phases and was comprised of the Maiden (waxing moon), the Mother (full moon) and the Crone (waning moon).

The first documented Crone (wise women/ sage archetype) taken from Greek mythology was the goddess Hecate. Hecate was often depicted as a woman with three faces who was able to see into the past, present and future and thus was called the Guardian of the Crossroads. Like most gods and goddesses (humans too), Hecate was capable of good and evil. Hecate was often called upon for protection and to use her vision to help others make difficult choices and decisions at crossroads. Hecate was also associated with death, the underworld, dreams, darkness, the moon, magic and creatures of the night. In other words, experiences, places and things that frightened most people. When these shadow aspects were taken literally, Hecate was demonized as a witch. 

Metaphorically, and in a positive light, Hecate can be viewed as a conduit between this world and the next, a wise woman with sight into the past, present and future, a midwife to help one birth their truth and creativity, a fierce presence removing obstacles that limit our evolvement and a guide bearing a lantern to illuminate the way through our own darkness or unconscious underworld. 

On this site we will meet many historical, religious, mythological and present day crones/wise women and younger women who have embodied the archetype. 

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Attributes of a Wise Woman and

Characteristics We Aspire to Embody

A Woman who is mature…generally is in the second half of her life. 

A Woman who is conscious of her own ego and the existence of her shadow so as not to project her unacceptable parts on others. We don’t blame others. We own our shadows.

A Woman who is in touch with her embodied experience, can hold her feelings with compassion and allow them to naturally wash through her. We are sensitive and we feel things.

A Woman who has embraced her feminine energy and has a finely developed masculine energy. We are balanced, whole beings.

A Woman who has come face to face with loss and difficulties, has sat in the transformative fire and has chosen the path of love, compassion and acceptance. We choose love.

A Woman who stands with the marginalized (people, groups, animals, our planet) with compassion and a fierce protectiveness. We are mama bears looking after our cubs. 

A Woman who supports the journeys of others, who will ardently challenge, encourage and console them. We will walk the path with you and support you in making hard decisions.

A Woman who embraces the mystery of aging and the collateral beauty and evolvement that come from the process of letting go. This is a hard one, yet we will persevere. 

A Woman who is rediscovering her voice and purpose on this planet and uses her refined energy to create things. We are fruitful and our fruit has been on the vine longer, so it is sweeter. 

A Woman who is the keeper of traditions and knowledge. We are conduits from our ancestors to our families and future generations. 

A Woman who is in touch with her intuition and can discern truth from illusion. We have super powers.

A Woman who is open to the mystery, enchantment and symbolism between the play of her inner and outer worlds. We are open and curious.

A Woman who can hold the tension of opposites and trust the emergence and creation of a new understanding. We have endurance and faith. 

A Woman with a fine sense of humor and can see the absurdity of life and situations. We laugh often.

A Woman who grasps the paradox of diversity and unity (preciously unique blueprints within the one whole). We have the sight. 

A Woman who knows the importance of the egalitarian circle for sharing experiences, healing, solving issues and initiating ideas. Circle love…may be a gender thing.

A Woman who deeply knows in her bones that she is worthy of the space she occupies in the circle and on the planet. We each stake our claim to be here. 

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About the Author

From the time I was a small child, I sought out time with older women in my family and my neighborhood. These women's lives enchanted me. I was captivated by their histories, their accounts of what the world was like when they were young, their hobbies and talents, how they lived, the choices they made, the constraints they faced, the heartbreaks they lived through and what they learned from their trials. I was hypnotized by their trinkets and the treasures that they would gently place in my hands to hold. I loved watching the way they prepared meals and went about their chores with intention and ceremony. These women’s lives revolved around their families and their homes. They were masters of their homes. I found in them a sense of connection, reliability, safety and continuity.

Fast forward fifty years and I was longing for some wise woman counsel again. As I was answering the call of my soul, I felt pressure to step out of the comfort zone of my small world. I realized I didn’t have a model for bringing my authentic vocation, or purpose for being on the planet, to others. I found myself fearful of being exposed, terrified to use my voice, follow my true path and risk myself in the world. (Which all makes perfect sense from our oppressed history.) I wanted stories of powerful women who embraced their vulnerability and developed courage. Women who embodied feminine traits and made a difference on the planet. Real women who made mistakes, failed and still tried. I wanted accounts of women who were at times a disappointment to others and themselves but survived and even flourished. I wanted stories of women who pushed through personal and cultural thresholds to places unknown to discover a bigger sense of themselves. I was desperate for narratives of women who had to forgive themselves and grant themselves mercy in order to live fully. I longed for stories of women who were not only masters of their home but masters of their destiny. 

I knew these women existed, I could feel them in my bones even if I’d scarcely heard of them in history. I need not have worried because the wise woman archetype is strong and longs for emergence in our psyches and embodiment in our lives. It pushes us to evolve and become. Since I have identified my longing, I now come across the names and lives of truly wise women on a daily basis and I want to bring them to you so that they can be restored to their due prominence and their contributions can enrich your lives. 

Thank you for reading my website and following my blog!


Patricia Masters

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Thank you for your interest in my website and blog. Should you come across a story of a wise woman, please share it with me. These women's stories have so much to offer humanity. 

For more information or to share a story, feel free to contact me and I'll get back with you as soon as possible.

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