Welcoming The Crone

my Intuition Doll has a bit of the Crone in her
My “Intuition Doll” has a bit of the Crone in her

I look in the mirror and see the bags under my eyes, the crows feet and lines around my mouth  (the same as my mother’s) my jowls hang lower than they used to and the skin under my chin sags.  Then there are those hairs that seem to grow from one moment to the next.

When I turned forty, my mother-in-law at the time, gave me a Nora Ephron book for my birthday.  I don’t remember the name of the book but in the first chapter she talked about the idea of having plastic surgery on the loose skin on her neck.  How it was inevitable.  I don’t know how it all played out, I didn’t get any further.    I understand that most public figures, especially women, wouldn’t be able to continue their careers without altering their looks when they get old,  but that’s not the world I live in.  I’ve never even worn make-up.  I just couldn’t relate, wasn’t interested.   And now, twelve years later, as I watch my own skin give into  gravity and age,  I still feel like I can’t relate.

But what I am thinking about is The Crone.

Before the idea of the one male god, there were many gods and goddesses.  And the work of life and death belonged to the goddess.  Different Goddesses in different cultures, but it was, the work of a female, not a male to bring life into the world  (Not hard to see where that idea came from).

The Goddess was all three Virgin, Mother and Crone.  Along the way, they got separated.  The Crone became the ugly, evil, old lady.  And the Virgin and Mother are seen in figures such as the Virgin Mary.  Barbara Walker in Red Moon Passage, writes how Mary has her power and divinity taken from her through the idea of the Immaculate Conception.  Suddenly the goddess is merely human and  can only experience god through  divine intervention.

I couldn’t help thinking of the TV shows Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie,which I grew up watching.  Both women had magical powers that their husbands refused them to use. And both of these women agreed to give up their powers, but  actually didn’t.  (I guess if they did, it would have been a pretty boring TV show.)  Helps me have faith that the Goddess was just lying low for a while, waiting for her chance to re-emerge.

So yes, the Crone is scary and brings death, but she’s not the evil thing we’ve come to see her as.  She brings death as the natural cycle of life.  And as Walker writes, ” The Crone is the most powerful female figure humanity has ever known”. ” …sometimes we need to scare people to get their attention”.

I remember  hearing how in the Iroquois Nation it was the post menopausal women who made the important decisions for the tribe.   I’ve since read that this is true of many ancient cultures also.  I can imagine men wanting a piece of this power.  And the way they took it was by trying to destroy The Crone. Mostly by co-opting and bad mouthing her.

So for me, it’s time to take The Crone back.  She’s not something  for me to fear or try to repress.  She’s something to look forward to, to embrace to work at.

I can already see my Crone power emerging.  In my ability to create the life I want for myself and say no to the things that aren’t good for me.  But I want it to go further than just me.  I think that’s an important part of being a Crone.  I don’t know how this will manifest.  Most likely through my art, but you never know what will happen when you open yourself up to it.

When I think of the Crone I keep seeing a picture from a nursery book I had as a kid of a witch flying in front of the full moon.  It was one of those images that used to scare me, but that I also couldn’t stop looking at.  Now, the older I get, the more I can see myself stirring the cauldron.




17 thoughts on “Welcoming The Crone

  1. Nora Ephron’s book was “I Feel Bad About My Neck”. I also could not get into the book and put it down. I just love that many indigenous cultures look up to the matriarchs, the elder women.

  2. I read it too Nora Ephron’s “I feel bad about neck”. I couldn’t relate to it either. I finished it, though, and I felt depressed afterwards. I stopped wearing make up over 10 years ago and let my hair grow gray naturally last year. I love my silver hair. I think it’s so powerful. I’m 50 and I’m finally feeling good about myself. I love this idea of embracing the crone and stirring the cauldron. I remember the books with the witches flying across the moon when I was a child. I was totally fascinated by witches. And monsters. I thought monsters were always so misunderstood. I finally feel like I’m coming into a full power so different than anything else. I love your writing. I hope you will keep writing more about the crone. Thank you !! Love this.

    1. I feel like something inside me is changing Janet. And it is powerful like you say. I’m trying to be aware of it all. good for you for seeing the other side of the monsters! You were a wise child to be able to do that. Although I had a soft spot for Frankenstein and the Wolfman. As portrayed in the old movies.

  3. It’s funny, Maria, I may think I look like a crone when I look in the mirror these days but I don’t think of myself as a crone out in public. I pretty active for someone my age (78), I’m determined not to walk like an old lady even though my knees are constantly sore, I go to the gym frequently, I refuse to wear spandex, that might look like I was serious about ‘working out’. I’m determined not to vegetate my way into old age but the funny thing about is that I can speak to young kids about things that if I was younger they might take offence with. I volunteer Monday mornings in a county building which houses social services as well as a classroom for kids who are having trouble in the mainstream of school. These kids stand outside the door I go in and out, smoking. I sometimes look at the kids and say “gee, you have really nice skin” and they thank me and then say “it’s too bad if you keep smoking like that, your face is going to look like a roadmap by the time you get to be an old lady like me”. Some are polite and laugh…and then, there was the day when I met up with the young woman who had an issue about my dogs in my car (they are there briefly, then taken to a puppy play camp) who was crying and in great distress with her boyfriend who, when I tried to help her, shouted at me ‘get lost, granny’. Funny how I think of myself and how others perceive me…but age I think should be honoured for what it is, an accumulation hopefully of experiences learned. In some cultures the elderly are revered. In our culture here in the western world, I don’t believe it is.
    SandyP in Can.

    1. You are an inspiring Crone Sandy. you’re volunteering is just the kind of thing I was thinking of when I wrote about bring the Crone into the world. You are living it.

  4. Very nicely said!
    I have been to a “Croning party” for women who turn 50 or are post menopausal. It’s a very cool way of embracing getting older. It’s about not buying into modern/western civilizations’ idea that women who get older are not as valued. Each woman invited brought one thing she admired about another older woman. It could be a song, poem, passage, art etc.
    I remember one friend brought a photo of Gramma Moses. As I am sure you know, she didn’t start painting until she was a crone. Someone else played a song about aging hands and all they good do. We lit candles, laughed & loved life right where we were.
    We enjoyed the sisterhood of women who know their value.
    Join us- Crones rule.
    Perhaps when I am on Colfax this summer we can meet some day. I hope so.
    Blessings & peace to you.

    1. That sounds wonderful Manya. What a nourishing thing to do. And yes Grandma Moses is one of those people I think of when I think of getting old. She continues to inspire. it would be nice to meet you too.

  5. What a great line “the older I get, the more I can see myself stirring the cauldron”. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea that it’s almost shameful for a woman to age. There’s a magazine ad for eye makeup with a tagline like “my eyes will never give away my age”, that I know will appear in my writing one of these days. Why shouldn’t we admit our age? As my dad always said when asked about aging “It’s better than the alternative”.

    Which is all a really long way of saying you touched on a topic that I have strong feelings about too. Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned.

  6. “Now, the older I get, the more I can see myself stirring the cauldron.”
    Love this! And love your post. I’m turning 60 in two weeks and I’m enjoying life more than I ever have. Crone power indeed!

  7. Hi Maria,
    I’ve followed your work with interest!
    I think you would enjoy the work of Elizabeth Gurrier very much. She also was very innovative, influenced by goddess imagery and way ahead of her time. Please check her out and enjoy. They are trying to scan her work onto the net at elizabethgurrier.com

  8. I love the Crone and I love Virgin Mary. Thank you for writing about the connection between the two. Crones are awesome because they have the power and wisdom to do what they want. Kinda like the Honey Badger!

  9. The Honey Badger is a viral video on the interwebs. It’s a spoof of a nature video with an extremely irreverent voice-over. Not for everyone, but hilarious to many. The video contained a quote which which has seeped into pop-culture: “Honey badger don’t care! Honey badger don’t give a #*%@!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Full Moon Fiber Art