Maiden/Mother/Crone — The Mythic Stages of a Woman’s Life

floozyCrone Henge is a wonderful new blog from author Juliet Waldron. It’s a place where old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not. Old women are the forgotten members of our society, but in times past, they were revered for their wisdom. In fact, both words, crone and hag, came from words meaning wisewoman. It’s good to see that older women are once again claiming their place in the world.

According to Moondance, crones cared for the dying and were spiritual midwives at the end of life, the link in the cycle of death and rebirth. They were healers, teachers, way-showers, bearers of sacred power, knowers of mysteries, mediators between the world of spirit and the world of form. In pre-patriarchical societies, women’s wisdom held healing power, and crone wisdom was the most potent of all. For nearly thirty thousand years, old women were strong, powerful sources of wisdom. Crones were respected and honored in their communities. Today, a crone is variously described as a woman who is either 50, 52, or 56, post-menopausal, consciously aging, willing to acknowledge her shadow side. Crone is a term used to describe an ancient archetype, an aspect of the triple goddess (maiden/mother/crone), and the third phase of a woman’s life. When a woman is near, in, or past menopause, she is potentially a crone. The designation refers to a perspective or point of view rather than a specific age or physical event.

This crone stage is a great new journey for women as they get older, but I intend to youth, not age. The way I figure, I did the mother stage first. By the time I was five, I could cook simple meals, clean house, do laundry, feed babies their bottles, and change diapers. By the time I was eighteen, I’d changed more diapers than most women do in a lifetime. (Sounds unbelievable, I know, but it’s true. I seldom admit it, but I was the oldest girl in a very large family.)

A few years after I met the man with whom I would spend the middle third of my life, his health took a turn for the worse. I wasn’t much of a healer, but I was a stayer — I stayed with him until he died. I also helped out when my mother died. I’m now staying with my 94-year-old father. When this stage of my life’s journey is done, this crone stage, the only stage left for me is maidenhood. And so I am youthing. (Youth-ing, not you-thing.) I am doing what I can to foster a spirit of adventure, to challenge myself; to attempt new things; to look at life as if I am a child again, lost in its wonders.

A crone is someone who is willing to acknowledge her age, wisdom and power, but me, as I continue my mythic journey, I am acknowledging my youth, wonder, and mystery.

Whether I become a maiden or not, I’m looking forward to this next stage of my life. It will be interesting to see what I become.

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