We're living in uber-transformative times, so perhaps it comes as no surprise that transformation around us happens through transformation within us, even as circumstances seem to conspire to nudge us into that change.
For generations of women before us -- our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and before -- societal constrictions made such radical transformations difficult, if not impossible.
Even with these restrictions, there were many remarkable women who were transformed, and whose wisdom, words, and actions inspired transformation in others.
It's always inspiring to me, having experienced such a wild transformation -- that Inanna-Persephone death and rebirth -- during the decade of my 40s, to see examples of other mid-life 're-bloomers': women, and men, who truly came into new purpose and life-work at mid-life.
This morning, two wonderful and inspiring wise-women come to inspire: Hildegard of Bingen and Florence Scovel Shinn.
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a Benedictine Abbess, a mystic who was called "Sybil of the Rhine" for her power of vision and prophecy. While she had experienced visions from the time she was a small girl, she lived in a time when such things were as likely to be attributed to the 'devil' as to Divine inspiration.
She was 42 years old when she had a vision that instructed her to begin writing about the visions and guidance she was receiving. Still hesitant, she resisted the guidance initially, until she received encouragement from several supporters in the Church and finally began to give expression to the visions.
Hildegard's descriptions of her visionary experiences are very similar to other descriptions of activated Shakti -- the powerful, creative Feminine (for more about this listen in to my Feminine Mojo Show with Teri Degler on "the Divine Feminine Fire", and other shows on the Feminine as well).
Having experienced "the Divine Light" through her senses -- the wisdom and feeling of her body -- Hildegard poured forth the creative energy of Shakti, the Divine Feminine, in music, art, wisdom, healing and herbal wisdom, and prophecy. Shakti-fed brilliance, coming into full expression starting in her 40s.
Florence Scovel Shinn (1871-1940) lived more than half of her life during a time when women weren't even allowed to vote. She was an actress, artist, and illustrator whose life took a radical turn after her divorce at age 41.
During her 40s, rebirthing herself following the devastating 'surprise' of her divorce, Scovel Shinn left behind her former life as an artist and cultivated a metaphysical wisdom. She self-published her first book at age 54.
She became a wisdom teacher for what would later become known as 'New Thought', and her teachings influenced many of the Unity, Religious Science, and other New Thought teachers who would become well-known after her death.
If we had more information about her experience, we might see the trail of Shakti creative-fire as the source of her rebirth and creative expression, too.
Unity Minister Ernest Wilson, quoted in The Writings of Florence Scovel Shinn, wrote, "She never prepared for a lecture...and she depended on freewill offerings at the classes and in counseling sessions in (her) Fifth Avenue apartment. She lived, you might say, by 'invisible means of support.'"
She published many more books, which are still in distribution and still inspiring thousands.
These are just a few of the women -- and men like Carl Jung -- who were recreated, ripened, and rebirthed through the experiences of mid-life transformation. They speak to us, inspire us, and guide us as we move through similar transformations and rebirths now.
With Joy & Gratitude,
Image Credits: Zhulong (pig-dragon) from Neolithic China was related to the ouroboros - symbols of death, rebirth, and ever-flowing Life energy, or Shakti. Florence Scovel Shinn and Hildegard von Bingen from public domain image archives.