Spirituality Reading – Notes on Wise Woman’s Way – Part 2

This is part 2 of my personal notes (see part one link here) which capture some of the ideas in Wise Woman’s Way by Berta Parrish for self-discovery, understanding your belief systems, and creating your own life symbolism.

Parrish explores both myths and folk tales to allow you to challenge your belief systems as well as re-define your own personal symbolism moving forward. For the psychological and spiritual passage that comes in this retirement life stage, we need to deeply understand our often-limiting perspectives and re-interpret the past to discover the unifying theme to your life and discover the symbols of your personal mythology/life story.


One of the ways Parrish explores to uncover your perspectives is to identify (and release!) some of the cultural archetypes we have been immersed in since childhood. Parrish shares a number of these cultural archetypes and challenges you to contemplate what they might signify in your personal belief systems.

  • Redefine what is beautiful. Think about your attitude towards an aging body versus the youth-focused Beauty Myth! How often do we embrace (versus despair) our gray hair, wrinkles, sagging skin, aching knees, and/or slower to recover body?
  • Release yourself from dependency of awaiting rescue (Cinderella Complex & Harlequin Romance ideals) to independence and confidence in own ability. Do you have a deep wish to be taken care of? Are you awaiting something external to transform your life? Do you refrain from risky behavior (being the good girl, the perfect one) or mistrust your own ability (Imposter Syndrome)?
  • Release from the Disease to Please and making others happy (being nice enough, good enough, helpful enough for approval of others; accommodating others) to self-validation of your own worth.
  • Release from the constant comparison (Mirror, Mirror on the Wall) creating competition and discontent with questioning, who is the fairest one of all? Everyone is unique, including you.
  • Release the Superwoman Syndrome of having it all or achieving perfection and allow for “good enough”, being true to self, and gratitude for what is.
  • Release the Hero Myth of conquest and control, suffering for success (trials and ordeals) and understand where you might be on The Heroine’s Journey (Maureen Murdock). Personally, I avoided being a housewife and mother, identified more with the masculine traits and aspirations. Have I relegated the feminine to my shadow side? Is my new need for being (versus doing) and search for spirituality that is emerging a return of the feminine? Am I allowing the left-brain logical (masculine) mind to release its grip on my thoughts?


A Life Review can aid in resolving past conflicts and issues, forgiving yourself for past acts or inactions, identifying limiting beliefs, increasing self-esteem, and bringing greater satisfaction and meaning to life. Contrary to others (Thomas Moore’s rites of passage life approach to understand the foundation of your identity or Julia Cameron’s memoir work to uncover possible put-aside passions) Parrish talks about a Life Review to make sense of the life lived (past) so can create the life yet to live (future). She talks about where you are in the weaving of your life tapestry! Isn’t that a glorious metaphor.

Her approach to how to do Life Review (and possibly even create an artistic life inventory collage):

  • Look at your life by decade; Relook at past journals & photographs.
  • List pivotal decisions, emotional states, misjudgments, adventures, losses, major accomplishments, moves, conflicts, hobbies
  • Think about: How did each decade and/or significant event contribute to who I am today? What resentment am I still holding? Are there unexplored dreams? Lifelong interests? If only’s?
  • Look for threads, themes. Synthesize to find patterns.  What symbols emerge? What colors?

Parrish explores finding your Wise Woman Within thru guided imagery. An Inner Wise Woman can be a guide, companion and inspiration. Parrish shares insight into a number of Wise Woman Goddesses who might become your own Wise Woman Within. I was personally most intrigued with the goddess Hecate. Hecate is the Crone, the waning moon goddess, the goddess of the crossroads (forks in the road of life), the carrier of female wisdom, and the protector of travelers. Her symbolic animal is a black dog and she is associated with transitions. She looks to the past, the present, and future. She helps with new endeavors, new paths. An intriguing fit with my mantra this year: Create the Vision, Plan the Path, Live the Journey.

Through listening to your inner voices (through journaling, guided imagery, or dream analysis), define your own polarities. Some common ones are:

  • Empowering versus enabling
  • Fear versus trust
  • Pleasing others versus self-hood
  • Inner critic versus being true to self
  • Caretaking versus sacrifice/martyrdom
  • Feminine versus masculine traits

Some of my inner voices I’ve identified: The innocent, frightened Little Girl who desires security versus the adventurous, free (bad girl) Gypsy who wants to take some risks – a definite polarity! I also have within me the knowledgeable analytical Thinker who thrives on security and routine (masculine and judgmental) and a nurturing Accommodator that wants to please others (feminine and fearful of displeasing).


Per Parrish, a deep self-knowledge enables you to make wise decisions based on conscious reflection instead of reflexive unconscious beliefs and conditioned habits. You are enabled to discern what is important and to trust your own intuition. Side benefits of this self-discovery are discovering your spiritual values, being better at expressing gratitude, and hopefully laughing more.

I am still working through a number of the exercises Parrish presented in this book, including working on my Life Review and creating my tapestry, exploring the mythology around the goddess Hecate, looking at the symbolism I’ve put into my vision boards the past 5 years, and reading some of the inspirational books recommended.  

I believe I am a wise-woman-in-training!


Did any of these new tools (exploring cultural archetypes, a tapestry-like life review, guided imagery to find your Inner Wise Woman, identifying your inner voices) sound intriguing to add to your self-discovery process?





23 thoughts on “Spirituality Reading – Notes on Wise Woman’s Way – Part 2

  1. Hi Pat, I do recognize myself in some of these belief systems, such as “disease to please.” I find the concept of “pivotal decisions” intriguing. Continuing to work on self knowledge seems to be a thread throughout this book. You made me smile with “a wise-woman-in-training.” I may adopt this phrase:)
    Lots to think about here. Thank you for sharing:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica, I found the cultural archetypes fascinating, and Michele’s comment below made me think about one differently again. I love that in retirement I have the time to reflect and build self-knowledge. And adopt -away. I always believed in “steal & reapply” when I was working … why re-invent when someone has already created. Reapply and improve if possible…that moves the world forward.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This book is rich in ideas and offers a lot for contemplation. I’ve added it to my books to read list.
    I was struck by the waiting to be recused idea. I’ve always thought of that as looking for a man to come and save you ( like in the movie Pretty Woman) and that doesn’t ring true for me at all.

    However, as I think about it, in my past I have often wished for a partner in other ventures, someone to work with on writing a book or start a new program. If only this person would help me figure out how to do XYZ.

    Of course the power is in me, and I don’t need a savior. I know I can count on myself. If I choose to have a partner in a venture, it doesn’t come from wanting someone to rescue me, but in recognizing that we can be better together than we are alone.

    I waited too long to tackle new projects because I thought I needed someone else. I can make things happen on my own!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the concept of the tapestry like life review. Unlike many, I don’t regret decisions I’ve made along the way, choosing to think of them as how I became who I am today. Yes, even some that might appear to have been bad decisions. I don’t do a lot of self-analysis but after reading your post, I do recognize myself in the cultural archetypes!! I think I let some of those affect my happiness with myself. Thanks for giving me things to think about and hopefully change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aren’t those cultural archetypes mind opening? I’m really starting to think about the Beauty Myth, Mirror Mirror, and the Hero’s journey a bit more – the three I think most impact me. I agree with decisions… the choices I made lead to where I am today, and I like where I am today, so I can’t “regret” those decisions!

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  4. There was a LOT of information here Pat – those cultural archetypes really hit home for me – many of them are represented in my life. I know there is a lot that I need to work through and leave behind as I progress towards Wise Woman status – and it’s helpful to have stuff like this summarized for me. It may be a book I need to consider down the track though as I re-define myself in retirement.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leanne, it would not be the first book I would recommend … it has quite a bit of “new age” thinking in it that I don’t think you would enjoy. That said, I did love her cultural archetypes. I had heard of a few, but she had some I never really considered the impact.


  5. Wow, Pat, this was a thought-provoking post! Heavy, man! lol
    I am not a journal person or story-board creator, so I don’t have anything very concrete to inform my life review. It’s almost a scary endeavor…not sure I want to go there. I can relate to many of the archetypes that the author identifies.
    Maybe I should get the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nancy, yeah the book was a bit heavy. Not the heaviest one I’ve read though. If you just think about the different belief spaces and how they “fit” or don’t fit you, you’re probably 75% of the way there without reading the whole book. The book has a lot more stuff in it I didn’t talk about that might be too new-agey for most. As I mentioned below, I don’t personally relate to Superwoman, but Mirror, Mirror is a big one for me – comparing myself to others. I also have read a number of books that talk about life reviews in various ways… again, if it’s not right for you, don’t do it! (But you might try it on before dismissing it…. I did with journaling and found I love it.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A thought provoking post. I found myself nodding at some things eg identifying with the masculine archetype and the Superwoman archetype but shaking my head at others eg the Cinderella and Mirror complexes. I am, however, a massive contradiction. My takeaways were definitely around the pointers for reviewing and reflecting. Fear and trust is also something I need to work on. I have no reason at all to distrust yet, it seems, I do. If I’m being super honest, I think it’s myself that I have the trust issues and not anyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jo, I’m personally less Superwoman and more Mirror, mirror. But it was a fascinating take on belief systems. Interesting comment about trust. I am actually too trusting at times. In fact, when I do archetype quizzes, I often get the Innocent. Which is interesting given how important security and safety are for me! Aren’t we all massive contradictions?

      Liked by 1 person

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