The word Crone conjures up images of wizened old hags wearing black pointy hats and cackling madly. As a feminine archetype the Crone has gotten some pretty bad press mostly being portrayed as a woman who likes eating small children and indulging in other unsavoury habits.
The Crone has also been portrayed as a woman past her prime, no longer fertile; vengeful and mean because her juices have all dried up. There is very little in Western culture that celebrates the Crone. She is nearly always portrayed as a jealous old woman, praying on the young.
The Crone phase correlates to the bleeding phase in the menstrual cycle and the menopausal phase in a woman’s life. Both these phases focus on the flipside of physical fertility; a time when women can focus on themselves rather than constantly nurturing others. Being a Crone can be liberating, once you get over the cultural conditioning to be Mother.
The main work or theme of the Crone phase is release and letting go .
The Crone understands the importance of death and renewal. She understands that without death, release and letting go, there can be no renewal and fresh starts.
With experience She has learnt to recognise what it is that needs to be released so that you can move forward. This experience lends wisdom and maturity and an intimate understanding of the nature and inevitability of cycles. The Crone more than any other of the archetypes understands cycles, she knows that there is a time for all things and uses this knowledge for her own and others benefit.
The Crone represents the older, more mature female who has become immune to many of the issues facing young women; the constraints of partnership, beauty, social conditioning and children. She has the freedom to live her life more fully and make choices based on what She wants rather than what others in Her life need from Her.
The Crone can be a container and guide to the darker emotions, for the companions to death and release are often pain, grief and anger. The Crone is familiar with the seedier and darker aspects of life and death for She has survived the descent into the Underworld (as the Enchantress). Knowing how to deal effectively with these important emotions is a necessary skill to harness the gifts of the Crone phase.
Getting in touch with the Crone is getting in touch with that part of ourselves that is old and wise, who has seen everything, and dropped many of the pretensions, rules and limitations that society lives by. She is that part of ourselves that is infinitely understanding and compassionate yet also direct and unrelenting. The Crone sees the truth everywhere, in our lives, our relationships and our actions and She will work upon us to clear out the dross and garbage.
There is strength and courage required to meet the Crone but there is also a wealth of strength, courage and wisdom to be gained from making the journey.
*Examples of the Crone are Baba Yaga or Sheila na gig.