Irwin leverages her own experience working with vibrant older women to provide inspiration for women in their “second spring” “wise woman” phase of life to lean into their capacity for creativity, intuition, healing, and passion. Presenting the archetypes of Maiden, Queen, and Wise Woman not only as life stages, but as powerful inner allies with energies that can be accessed throughout life, she offers inspiration for readers to discard the myths of aging as decline and of the post-menopausal end of sexual energy. Exercises at the end of each chapter encourage readers to engage the ideas through personal contemplation and gentle action.
Irwin’s love and energy for her older peers comes through clearly and infectiously throughout the text. Her conversational tone is inviting, her advice easy to process, and the experiences that she shares, both her own and those of her group members and coaching clients, are relatable. Her conceptualization of the three female energies and how they manifest throughout life is a unique take on a well-worn female empowerment trope that readers should be able to put into action. The most powerful messages prioritize internal work and personal growth, doing internal work of healing old trauma and connecting to the untamed self via nature, and expanding embodied joy, an idea tightly entwined with encouragement to keep pursuing sexuality and sensuality. Advice to find an “angel posse” puts a spiritual spin on the importance of community during aging.
For all its inspirational power and welcome mythbusting, Radiant Wise Woman is less helpful on the physical aspects of the menopause transition, leaning on personal experience with bio-identical hormone replacement while skipping most of the biological background and blaming familiar feelings of exhaustion on spiritual disengagement. Still, the effect overall is an uplifting contrast to the negative cultural messages often pushed on older women.
Takeaway: Readers discouraged by our culture’s sidelining of older women will find empowerment and inspiration in this mythbusting guidebook.
Great for fans of: Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s Women Who Run With the Wolves, Jean Shinoda Bolen’s Goddesses in Everywoman.
Production grades Cover: A- Design and typography: A Illustrations: N/A Editing: A Marketing copy: A