Sometimes when we think of crones we immediately envision ancient stories in which women appear bent with age and scary to look upon as they brandish mysterious powers to disrupt or perhaps destroy. These legendary women cause the young child in us to shutter with fear. We feel compelled to turn tail and run. She appears in Slavic folklore as the enormous and gruesome Baba Yaga, a witch who eats children and lives in a magical forest hut. We know her as the Irish mythological being Cailleach Béara or Hag of Béara, a frightening figure who brings cold and darkness wielding great power as she throws boulders from her apron reshaping the landscape. She also occurs in the folklore of indigenous tribes of North America in the form of Grandmother Spider who lives underground and arises from the earth as a huge, terrifying spider.
But before turning away too quickly, forever reinforcing fears of a horrifically destructive figure, this so-called hag of bewitching magic is patiently waiting for us to listen to her tale’s counsel. Each of the folkloric and mythological stories reveal another characteristic to the crone or hag. She is a wise woman. She has unique power and strength. And, yes, she sometimes responds to the energy around her with sadness or anger. Crones of old don’t deny the responses to their heart-felt feelings. With old-soul wisdom crones know that reframing timeworn interpretations or releasing the short-sighted stories we live by enables the creation of a new way of being. When we look again at the enormity of the terrifying Grandmother Spider we see that she has shaped-shifted into a tiny creature who whispers words of wisdom into our ears. No less powerful, she is now a welcomed presence.
There are so many lessons that crone myths have to offer. One of them is exchanging the crone or hag image for a powerful wise woman who reflects striking beauty in her strength and confidence. She is a person who has walked the earth and is posed to listen compassionately to fearful tales offering counsel to transform these stories into less troublesome life narratives.
Given recent global and national events resurrecting the archetype of the Wise Woman seems essential. She is asking us to embody her spirit of strength in ourselves. And, there are those of us who are being called, being asked to step forward, to embody the wise woman energy. This modern-day advisor is vital now more than ever to deep listen so that others can reclaim their power thereby shape-shifting their lives. The world needs crones.
Have you met the wise crone in your life? When have you had an experience of taking your power back and reclaiming an inner strength?
For a deeper dive into the meaning of the crone there is a program that you may be interested in, or know someone who would like to investigate it. Hagitude: Reclaiming the Second Half of Life is a book and a year-long membership program, offered by psychologist and mythologist Dr Sharon Blackie – author of the bestselling If Women Rose Rooted. Sharon hopes to reclaim the sacred stature of the crone in our society.
She writes, “Our story begins with the bone-deep metamorphosis of menopause. As we slowly begin to burn away old identities and outdated structures, we enter a state of conscious incubation in which a new life can be dreamed into being.”
If you’d like investigate her program here: https://hagitude.org/the-program/ (And, full disclosure, I am part of Sharon’s Hagitude Team.)