Connecting With the Maiden, Mother, and Crone Through Ritual and Totem Jewelry
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Connecting With the Maiden, Mother, and Crone Through Ritual and Totem Jewelry

Clare Ullman’s class, Deepening our Connection with the Maiden, Mother, and  Crone through Ritual and  Jewelry Totem Pieces, was one of the most special experiences I’ve ever had at The Ranch. This spiritual class, which took place in Oak Tree Auditorium, helped to deepen women’s connections to themselves and other females through ritual and creating a piece of totem jewelry.

 A Spiritual Ritual for Women

Clare opened the spiritual session with a Native American blessing for women; she sweetly sang a traditional circle song as she cleared the space around each guest with sage. She then explained how ritual practices have been around for thousands of years, but today it is a relatively lost art. While events like Baptisms, Bat Mitzvahs, and marriage ceremonies are considered the norm, modern women don’t typically experience rituals that are dedicated to passages of womanhood. Clare’s work is focused on bringing spititual rituals back into contemporary life. She performs ceremonies that include wisdom from many different traditions which include rituals that honor first blood, marriage, birth, menopause and other major events in women’s lives. Drawing on her experiences, Clare created a beautiful ritual that she shared with the women of The Ranch.

Connecting With the Maiden, Mother, and Crone Through Ritual and Totem Jewelry

Set before us were three altars which represented different stages of womanhood. The maiden altar stood for youth and first menses. It had a snake to symbolize transformation, a pomegranate for fertility, flowers, and a small statue of Diana – the goddess of the hunt and protector of children. The mother altar represented mid-life – a time when women come into their fullness through partnerships, marriage, childbirth, and birthing their creative selves. There were clay figurines of mother’s and children, and other meaningful nature-themed decorations. The crone altar (pictured) symbolized the wise women, menopause, and intuition. Clare invited us to reflect on the altars and then she led a beautiful meditation to help us connect with the maiden, mother and crone.

Connecting With the Maiden, Mother, and Crone Through Ritual and Totem Jewelry

Sitting up straight with our eyes closed, we were asked to reflect back on our pasts as maidens, when we were budding youths, and to call her into our lives today. Next we were guided to think about the mother – which represents full womanhood. Clare encouraged us to consider our experiences as mothers – whether it be to our own children, other peoples children, or even to ourselves. Lastly, we paid homage to the crone. To wise women, teachers, grandmothers, and the sage within ourselves. After the meditation concluded, we paired together to share which aspect of the meditation had heart and meaning to them.  We then blessed our partner with an aromatic blend of lavender, lemongrass, rose, orange, and ylang ylang essential oil. The ritual was extremely moving, and through these experiences, some women were brought to tears.

 Totem Jewelry

After the blessings concluded, Clare began the totem jewelry making process.  A totem is defined as, “A natural object or animal that is believed by a particular society to have spiritual significance and that is adopted by it as an emblem.” (Oxford Dictionaries | English). Our necklaces were to be infused with a representation of our own life experiences. We were given an array of beautiful pearls, beads, and gemstones to choose from to create three pendants representing the three aspects of ourselves. I created three branches of my necklace – one that evoked a sense of me as a maiden, one to represent the mother, and one for the crone. Picking the beads was easy – the purple bead on the left symbolizes my best friend since childhood. Her favorite color is purple. The mother pendant (middle) represents me now – it has pearlescent beads. Since my last name has the word “Pearl” in it, it felt only natural to place it in the center.  And since my grandma wears turquoise often, I added a turquoise bead to honor the crone.

Once everyone picked their beads for their pendants, Clare, being a master jeweler, embellished and completed each necklace. When mine was done I felt a sense of peace wash over me. I had created something sacred that was infused with meaning. I am grateful that I had this experience and I hope to take another class with Clare in the near future.

Learn more about The Ranch’s Art Classes and upcoming events.





 About Clare Ullman

Clare Ullman has been a ritualist in the Bay Area for the past 30 years, leading women through ceremonies honoring the many stages of womanhood. Rites of Passage, Marriage, Pregnancy and Birth, Healing, Loss, and Rebirth are just a few of the ceremonies she creates that characterize the art of ritual as a tool for personal empowerment and collective intention.  She began designing jewelry 21 years ago, incorporating the use of ritual pieces/jewelry in her ceremonies. It served as a way for the women to embrace their prayers and intentions through the creation of a totem piece they could wear, and adorn their homes and altars.

Clare has been involved with the Women’s Spirituality Movement for over 30 years. She began organizing women’s retreats and ceremonies in 1989. Her award-winning jewelry collection, Clare Ullman Design, was created in 1996. It emerged from her use of extraordinary materials, many collected from her world travels, and from inspiration from her spiritual roots in Far Eastern and Western cultures.  Her work is in galleries in the United States and in private collections throughout the United States, Europe, and Latin America. Clare Ullman lives and works in Berkeley, California. She just returned from Bali where she was working on her jewelry designs and also leading a group of women, touring the temples, and engaging in the spiritual culture of the Balinese.