“Crone.” I love that word. It’s an image that I hope that I can grow into one day.
In order to share my vision of the Crone archetype, here is a story. The author is unknown.
The Wise Woman’s Stone
While walking along a mountain stream, a wise woman found a precious stone. She picked it up, put it in her pocket, and continued her way.
The next day she met a hungry travel who asked to share her food. When she opened her bag to give him some, the man saw the precious stone. He asked the woman to give it to him, and she did without hesitation. The traveler finished his food, and they parted ways.
The man was full of joy. The stone could provide him with enough money to live well for the rest of his life.
A few days later the wise woman was surprised to see the traveler return. “I’ve been thinking,” he said. “You have given me a really valuable stone, but I am hoping that I can give it back in return for something even more precious. Will you give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone?”
Some mainstream people see the Crone as a hag, a worthless, ugly, bitter woman whom no one loves. She’s an outcast living at the fringes of society doing her witchy things.
Through the animist lens, she is the free, independent sage who doesn’t conform. She’s done her time as a coquette. Maybe she created children, a career, or nurtured a spouse. Now she retains the juicy power of her menstrual blood and uses it for herself.
The Crone has been around the Sun many times. She’s seen it all and taken it in. It’s not easy to intimidate or frighten her. She’s seen birth, death, suffering, heartache, sex, love, grief, loss, mistakes and survived. Even big things like war and natural disaster are just natural to her. She flows with life and accept it as she finds it.
The Crone doesn’t have a certain look. She can be frail or spry, a firecracker or a hermit, or a fashionista or a fashion challenged. A Crone is true to herself and abhors superficiality and falsehood in others. If she doesn’t have intimacy, depth, and authenticity in her community, she may shun society.
Because of the Crone’s relationship with destruction, death, and decay, she is often misunderstood and feared. One way that this shows up is that the Crone is often the midwife who ushers life into the world and also out of it. The modern Crone revival often overlooks this aspect of her, showing her instead as a bad ass. She’s a bad ass, but it’s because she is not afraid of the Dark. She is the Night. This can make her creepy to some people.
The Crone as a Goddess
Some examples of the Crone as a goddess are:
Annis (Celtic) – Keeper of wisdom and old ways who is shown as a scary, old woman
Baba Yaga (Russian) – The wild old woman; the witch; and mistress of magic.
Cerridwen (Celtic) – She represents the wisdom of old age.
Grandmother Spiderwoman (Native American) – An old wise woman who gave man the sun and fire.
Libitina (Roman) – Goddess of funerals and pyres.
Nephthys (Egyptian) – A funerary goddess associated with death, magic and reincarnation.
The healthiest manifestations of Crone energy are things like magic, intuition, psychic energies, clairvoyance, and wisdom. In Shadow she is bitter, vindictive, isolated, and ostracized. Or she may use her powers and wisdom to harm.
All archetypes are accessible to all people. However, not everyone embraces every energy. Wisdom comes from a life consciously lived. Age alone doesn’t make a Crone.