Symbols in Changing Woman

Superficially insignificant or accidental looking detail [in art] may well carry the most important unconscious symbolism.”
~~Anton Ehrenzweig

“Your badge – it’s just a star, just another symbol. Your talisman. It can’t stop criminals in their tracks, can it? It has power because you believe it does.”
~~Sally Owens in Practical Magic

Making this draft version of Changing Woman has been a long time in the making. Not necessarily because the design (at the moment) is super complex or challenging, but because ideas have been busy percolating and simmering. Often I will have ideas that percolate for months or years before coming out into the world. Sometimes they need a nudge to be shared, like seeing women and organizations share stories and support on various platforms on World Menopause Day (October 18). 

After I shared the draft version on social media, I had a few people ask me what the different symbols meant. These are the meanings I discovered and that resonated with me. As with most symbols there can be multiple meanings. If you find a symbol that’s interesting to you, I encourage you to explore it!

Changing Woman

I discovered Changing Woman when I was visiting a friend in Placitas, New Mexico many, many years ago. It was my first trip to New Mexico. Another friend and I were on what we called our Writers Road Trip and had stopped at a tourist shop on one of the reservations. I saw a piece of jewelry called Changing Woman. The name immediately resonated with me and became embedded into my mind.

Changing Woman is a Navajo and Apache deity. There are some variations of the story of Changing Woman. I found this description from Catherine Myers blog post particularly interesting, in which she quotes The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock:

“In Navajo mythology, Changing Woman is the creatix. She is earth and sky, the Lady of the Plants, and of the Sea. She goes beyond the bearer aspect of the mother; she is the feminine creator. Her cosmic cyclic movements-aging each Winter and becoming a young beautiful maiden each Spring-make Her the essence of death and rebirth signature of the continual restoration and rejuvenation of Life. It is said “where masculine creativity tends to move away forward, feminine creativity tends to turn round on itself,” not circularly so much as spirally. It’s constantly changing.”

Four Arms
Samhara Kali by Raja Ravi Varma via Wikipedia

This was inspired by the Hindu goddess Kali and this article titled, Kali, the Goddess of Time and Change. And Menopause by Samra Hasanovic Juson. 

Kali is the “goddess of death, time, and destruction. She is often associated with sexuality and violence but is also considered a strong mother figure and symbol of motherly love. Kali embodies shakti – feminine energy, creativity and fertility….” 

This appealed to me as menopause can be seen as the death of one’s identity. Menopause also marks the passage of time. Finally, I love that Kali embodies shakti – feminine energy and creativity.

Spiral graphic

In the center of her body is the spiral. Spirals mean many things in various traditions. For me, I was thinking of the spirals that are seen on the goddess symbols as well as the spirals of galaxies. Each woman contains the goddess and the spark of the cosmos.

A symbol representing the Awen from Celtic mythology via Wikipedia

Directly below Changing Woman is the Awen symbol. According to Wikipedia, “In Welsh mythology, awen is the inspiration of the poets….” Awen is also used by modern Druidic and/or pagan traditions where I have read it described as flowing inspiration, being in the flow, and even representing creativity. I found this post on cultivating the flow of awen very insightful.

I have read of and heard from many women experiencing menopause that they also experience a new-found creativity during and after menopause.  By placing the Awen symbol below Changing Woman and between her legs it represents a birth of creativity, a rebirth of herself, and coming into flow with her new state of being.

Crescent Moon and Rays
Crescent Moon and Rays graphic

Above her head is a crescent moon. The moon is often used to symbolize the goddess, the menstrual cycles of women, the seasons of women, and more. There is a line descending from the crescent into the head of Changing Woman. This line represents energy from the cosmos coming into her where it is then transmuted and shared again with the world in the form of Awen or creativity. This symbol is also reminiscent of the solar crown which sits on the Statue of Liberty.

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt graphic

In the upper right hand corner is a lightning bolt. The lightning bolt represents radical change, power, the heat of hot flashes, and fierce anger. Many women have been taught not to express anger even though there are plenty of things to be angry about. During menopause often women find themselves – in common parlance – Not Giving a F*ck.


In the upper left hand corner are 3 rings. These can represent the sun, the moon, and the passage of time. They also represent the traditional phases of a woman’s life – maiden, mother, and crone.

Jera Rune
Jera Rune graphic

On either side of Changing Woman at the top is the Jera Rune. This symbol of two open triangles somewhat interlocking is often said by current Nordic Wiccans to represent change. Menopause is all about change. Change in body, mind, spirit, identities, jobs relationships, and more.

Interlocking Arrows
Interlocking Up Down Arrows graphic

Below the Jera Rune on either side are interlocking arrows with one pointing up and one pointing down. This symbol can be found in many graphic libraries and is often used to represent change. I like this symbol as to me it can represent the topsy-turvy waves that many women experience during menopause. One minute you are up, the next minute you are down.

Ollin Eye
Ollin Eye graphic

According to SymbolSage, the word ‘ollin’ means ‘movement’ or ’motion’ in Nahuatl. It also represents seismic changes and transformation. Another apt symbol for a time in a woman’s life that is filled with changes and movement.

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