Our Lady of the Grey
I’ll admit, this one hits a personal nerve. I am one of those women who was subjected to assumptions about whether my family obligations interfered with my commitment to work. I know many women who shifted thriving careers to focus on family and when they were ready to rejoin the workforce, their careers stalled and in some cases compensation didn’t even match what they started with and progress stalled by a reduced tolerance for aging women at work.
Women are outliving men but are being forced out of the workplace earlier. These generalizations often take the form of stereotypes with the older women traditionally seen as inactive, unhealthy, asexual, and ineffective.
Here Our Lady is seen as both her younger and older self. For better or worse, we often do not embody ‘correct’ examples of our age as others may perceive it.
Ecclesiastes in the Bible, an almond tree is used as a symbol of age, and so almond branches in various stages of bloom are her halo.
On either side are stages of the Goddess archetype. The blooming rose and waxing moon on the left, the crown of wisdom and waning moon on the right.
Her face and hair show both youth and experience-exuberance and trial.
Her younger side wears bright pink. Her older side, red or an ‘older’ pink.
The Maiden side holds a mirror facing outward. She is concerned with her own appearance and how she is perceived. The Crone carries a shepherd’s crook. It is a staff she can lean on and a symbol of ‘caretaker’ status. Note that the top is a question mark, representing a position she may have been put in that she did not want for herself.