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Embracing the Crone
Embracing the Crone
Embracing The Crone
Just what exactly is a Crone? And why are there so many negative associations with the term? In mythic terms one may think her to be an old hag, a witch, the one who may have wanted to cook Hansel and Gretel in the fairy tale.
There is however another view on the crone, based on the writing of Robert Graves. Graves wrote the the book entitled: Triple Head of the Goddess. The three manifestations of the Goddess are the maiden, the mother and the crone, and each represent stages in a woman's life. As a teacher of literature with an interest in mythology I can see this triad made manifest in story, and mythic archetypal representations in feminist literary criticism.
The Maiden as symbol can be found in the ancient divination of tarot. She represents new beginnings, youthfulness and virginity.
The Mother is the second part of the triad and represents fertility, motherhood, power and life.
The third representation of women is the Crone. This stage represents wisdom, repose, and endings and death. This is also depicted as a wise woman, a sage, one who has embraced her authenticity and one who embraces her power.
The triad also is identified with the stages of the moon, and the stages of woman's reproductive life. When a woman becomes a crone, she has left her ability to reproduce but now has time to share her wisdom with younger women.
Leonard Shlain’s book: Sex, Time and Power: How Women’s Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution explores the archetype of the Crone in detail. One of the statements he makes about women who become crones is that:It drives men crazy but allows women to become their true selves in menopause, when they can wield power as “crones” . Shlain also wrote a fascinating study of the Goddess in his earlier work: The Alphabet vs the Goddess where he explains that before there was writing, or society was more matriarchal, and not patriarchal.
There are many countries who value the crone in their society, while Western women seem to dismiss the value of their life experience and age due to societal worship of "youth" as more valuable. In other countries the wise woman elder is valued as a powerful resource in a community. Women should welcome this part of their lives, not fear it, but in a society where women try to hide their age through surgery or botox, getting older appears to be something from which women run.
The name "Crone" is still unacceptable by many. Generally speaking, the crone is a woman who is over 50, or post-menopausal, she is willing to acknowledge her shadow side and the wisdom gleaned from many years of life experience. Most of the time it also refers to a perspective or point of view a woman has rather that her specific age or the biological changes of her body.
So how can we change our mindset from one of fear and loathing to one of acceptance and embracing an authentic life? As with all things, it takes effort to remember that words have no power but that which we give them. To accept the stages of life as the natural cycle of living and realize our value in our new role, we can claim the power we have perhaps long denied and live the rest of our lives to the fullest. A woman who can bring herself to call herself crone and acknowledge her age, wisdom, and power can be an inspiration to those women coming behind her that label her a hag and witch, thereby transforming the label to something more positive.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, a Jungian psychologist wrote a book that changed my life. In 1995 I picked up her book entitled: Women who Run with the Wolves and read about the Wild Woman archetype. At the time I was in the final stage of my "Mother" years and heading into crone-dom within 4 years when I had my hysterectomy. This work set the tone for my acceptance of the third stage of my life. The fairy tales and stories she tells in this work embrace the juicy woman. According to Kirkus review on Amazon.com : " Each story demonstrates a particular aspect of woman's experience--relationship, creativity, anger, spirituality, etc. Estes finds evidence in the most diverse tales of the necessity for women to reclaim their wildness."
It is with the acceptance of our new role that we become free to explore a new chapter in our lives. One of freedom and reconciliation with the temporary roles we play on the earth plane. We can all learn a great deal from these teachers, and pass them along to others who may be resistant in the future.