What image pops into your head when you hear the word ‘crone’? What characteristics do you associate with this female archetype? Does she remind you of the 3 witches in ‘Macbeth’, ‘fire burn and cauldron bubble’? If so, is she repugnant to you?
I first encountered the Crone in ‘Women who run with the Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. This book is a study of the instinctual nature of women – a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing – and tells the story of 3 archetypes representing the stages of life – the Maiden, the Matron and the Crone. Of these archetypes, the Crone jumped out at me, calling me like a kindred spirit. I was 22.
The Crone is present in the myths of different cultures such as Baba Yaga in Slavic, Annis in Celtic, Elli in Nordic, and Kali Ma in Indian mythologies. For me, the Crone has never been the ugly old witch, in modern-day parlance. Neither is she beauty, especially ‘beauty’ as espoused in contemporary society.
The Crone represents a woman of wisdom, the old and wise one; she is an ageless Wisdom Goddess.
This image has stayed with me for a very long time. Yes, I have been gently teased or unkindly mocked. Comments like “you are born 40 after all”, “you are an old soul”, “you are all too serious”, “be careful you may become boring”. Well, perhaps I am one, some or all of these, honestly I do not mind.
Through the years, I have learnt the Crone is light-hearted but never flippant, she is gentle not weak, she is healing not malevolence, she is ageless not old, she is wise not (necessarily) intellectual – what an inspiration! So I continue to embody these qualities… and the journey so far has been a blast! 🙂
Like the Pilgrim in Annie Dillard’s novel ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’
I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them…
Women’s life, like the moon, wax and wane. Let us embrace, revere and honour her – the Crone in our lives – for she must come to pass.