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Embracing the Crone

Updated on March 24, 2010

Embracing the Crone

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” [95]. 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 : " 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.


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    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 4 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      Thanks for posting marlia and blessings your way as well. We need to encourage each other every step of the way!

    • profile image

      marlia starwater 4 years ago

      thanks for providing info and an opportunity to share about "cronedom". our attitudes make such a big difference in the quality of our lives--and those around us. i believe that "getting old isn't for sissies", but it offers opportunities as well as challenges !!! may we each be blessed with the courage to offer our wisdom and love, and the situations to have them be appreciated.

    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 5 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      amen sister! Thanks for coming by and validating your feelings here! Woohoo!

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Aley, I am becoming QUITE A FAN of your work. This hub says it all. Many people are fearful of older women because we are in OUR OWN so to speak. When we were maidens and/or mothers, WE ANSWERED AND/OR WERE RESPONSIBLE TO OTHERS; however, when we become older, we are freer to manifest OUR TRUE AUTHENTIC SELVES and are finally free to be who we are with explanations to none except for ourselves! Since we have OUR OWN POWER as older people, there are many people who are quite UNCOMFORTABLE with this new stage in women!

    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 6 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      I just watched a PBS special tonight on people in their 90's, definite crones! It was wonderful and made me feel so young...I always wanted to get my degree at Pacifica University on mythic and archetypal themes, just love to read and teach about much to learn, so little time!

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      Jean Bakula 6 years ago

      Hi Aley,

      I was driven to write a poem called Maiden, Mother, Crone about a year ago when I was doing all that tarot writing. I love the Motherpeace deck, it's round cards are women centered. It lead me to many terrific female authors, one that really captured my attention, Dr. Jean Bolen. She writes about the "Goddess in Everywoman' and "Goddesses in Women over 50." It's great stuff and I've written a 4 part series on women archetypes that we can become when we are 50 or over, the last third of our life. I'm saving them for the contest. But she makes it sound so exciting, that we live in a time where we have a 3rd act once the kids are grown and we have time to do what we want, exlore things we always wanted to do but didn't have the time. It is a beautiful and kind attitude for wonderful women, such as ourselves!

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      Incognito weirdo woman 7 years ago

      Being crone is the most respectable cycle of life,in my opinion,unfortunately we see quite disrespectful attitude in western folklore,especially in fairy tales,that's why modern european and also american societies can't get rid of that negative attitude,fear of old age and fear of becoming elder woman is still laid deeply in their minds.But I come from Caucasia,where respecting elders is a must,this is one of the fundamental traditional rule of our society,our everyday life,so in my country,crones enjoy a great deal more concern,and estimation.Old people deserve it,besides,this is a part of our lives,and we must accept it....

      Wonderful article and may all happiness be with you:)

    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 7 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      Have a wonderful time!

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      Kathleen Herrick 7 years ago

      Wonderful article. Thanks. Planning to meet with other crones tomorrow. :)

    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 7 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      thanks Jean!

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 7 years ago from New Jersey

      Great post! I love Women Who Run With The Wolves, and read it again about every two years!

    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 7 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      Me too!! Crones rule!

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      I love this, in part because it echoes what I have discovered :). I am proud to be a CRONE! Thank you so much for a reinforcing hub.

    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 7 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA


    • brianzen profile image

      Brian 7 years ago

      Exceptional, And please add some of the superstitions surrounding the Crone in any follow ups for us. Particularly about Cerridwen. Be well.

    • cupid51 profile image

      cupid51 8 years ago from INDIA

      The bare truth of life has been expressed so nicely! Thanks.

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 8 years ago from New Mexico

      Aging came as a rude shock to me, but now that I've had some time to adjust, I realize it's different but not necessarily bad. It's very strange to go through a "reverse adolescence" and find oneself thinking thoughts and saying truths that were perhaps muffled by hormones before.

      Thanks for writing this, Aley. I think it's exactly what I need to read right now.

    • Aley Martin profile image

      Alice Lee Martin 8 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      Thanks both...your reading this means a lot to me!

    • melindaenglish profile image

      melindaenglish 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Beautifully written!

    • keithb7862 profile image

      keithb7862 8 years ago from Seattle

      Excellent post!!!