I hope you had a meaningful Samhain. Some people celebrate the Samhain season into early November, finding a midway point between Mabon and Yule. So for some, the Samhain season isn’t over yet. Enjoy the season! This is the time of year of the crone goddess. When we think of the crone, many of us think of the physical characteristics of this woman and are taken aback by her appearance. The Halloween witch (see above art) is a Christianized version of the crone. This is an image of an older woman with extreme physical characteristics created by terrified Christian men. Yet, really look at the above photograph of The Crone and see the vitality in this woman. I imagine she is listening to someone’s story and is waiting to respond. Her response is a well thought out and a measured one. After menopause or about fifty life is a new normal for the crone. She has seen life, has made it through and is ready to continue to live her life to her fullest.
To understand the crone let’s go back to the other two aspects of the triple goddess, the maiden and the mother. The maiden comes of age at the beginning of her menses and when she is ready to start taking on the challenges of an adult. She is looking at life and experiencing things for the first time. She therefore can be shy yet she can take a stand. She is a beauty and corresponds with spring and the waxing moon. She is like a flower and we sometimes see her wearing a floral crown. She can be athletic, testing her body and can turn heads. She is represented by the Japanese goddess of renewal, spring and plum blossoms, Rafu-Sen. Considering the freshness of her life, the color for the maiden is white or pastels. Choose a white cloth bag with a pastel drawstring as a gift bag for a maiden. The maiden is testing out her new life.
The mother bringer and the primary caregiver of new life has the power of creation. For eighteen years after giving birth she nourishes and cares for the child. She is powerful. She is the great teacher for the child. She is the one who gives both direction and correction to her child as needed. Her word is law. If anything threatens her child, she is awesomely fearsome. She corresponds with summer and the full moon. Isis is one the the mother goddesses of Egypt. She was a great mother to Horus protecting him fiercely as he grew up. Considering the blood, work and life force that goes into motherhood, her color is red. A red rose can symbolize the mother. The mother is a life bringer and nourisher in so many ways.
The crone has seen it all. She once was a maiden and has those experiences. She once was a mother and has those experiences. If she did not give childbirth, chances are she still mothered someone or something. For example she may have been a teacher. We even say that we are parents to animals if we have them. Some women opt to go for careers and skip motherhood. The life experiences of a woman choosing a career may be a bit different from the mother, but she gains her own wisdom. Either way the crone has her own power through her life experiences and is someone to be respected. In fact what is history for you and me, the crone has experienced. She is an elder to be honored.
The crone knows death. As is the way of things, many of her contemporaries are dying, and she feels the losses. Her body shows signs of failings: wrinkles, blemishes, silvery thinning hair and maybe a dowager’s hump. These indicate that she is nearer to death than some of the rest of us, and she understands her approaching death. But to balance things she has experience, knowledge and wisdom she can and should share. She also has the will to perform her great acts in life. In this throw away society and out of fear of our own mortality, we tend to throw away our elders instead of cherishing who they are and what they have to give. I challenge you to take an interest in an elder. The crone corresponds with late autumn, winter and the waning moon. Considering her closeness to death, the color for the crone is black, which is the absence of light, indigo or deep purple. If you want a candle representing the crone, these are the suggested colors.
These are a few references to the crone goddesses. Badb is an Irish crone goddess whose name means raven or crow, and she usually takes the form of a crow or an old woman. She is known to foretell death, which makes her a goddess to fear. She presides over a great cauldron to which all life goes to when it dies and from which all life is reborn. This cauldron is a metaphor for the womb. Hecate is a Greek goddess who watches over an entrance to the underworld torches in hand. She is also goddess of the crossroads with an invitation to choose one. The Norse goddess Elli demonstrated the strength of a crone goddess by arm wrestling Thor and nearly winning, which embarrassed Thor. These crone goddesses may be frightening but they offer an insight into great acts in great age and the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth.
Check out Suggested Investigation. Enjoy learning more about the crone!
David Rankine and Sorita D’Este, The Isles of the Many Gods, Avalonia, 2007.
D. J. Conway, Maiden, Mother, Crone, Llewellyn, 1994.
Edain McCoy, Celtic Myth & Magick, Llewellyn, 2005.
Janet and Stewart Farrar, The Witches’ Goddess, Phoenix Publishing 1987.
Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary Network Podcasts, Powers of the Crone, November 17, 2019, Encore Presentation from 2012.
I will continue to post on Wednesdays.
So interesting. Let’s have a cheer for the crones!
Thank you! And the crones get our interest and praise!