The Crone aspect of the conceptual Goddess not only offers power to draw upon, but a map to follow as we drawn ever-nearer to her wisdom.
The aspects of the triumvirate conceptual Goddess (Maiden, Mother, Crone) represent a journey from one energetic pole to the other. For lack of better vocabulary, the Maiden’s journey is all active doing and very little wisdom. The Crone’s journey is all wisdom and less and less active doing. The Mother, being the mid-point in the journey, holds equal amounts of both doing and wisdom – which any Mother can tell you is a challenge in its own right.
The Crone isn’t weak, but She allows events to unfold rather than directing them. To use stereotypes, Maidens rush off to war, Mothers draw up strategy and alliances, and Crones advise patience and seeking a diplomatic solution that, while wise, is often too broad for either the Maiden or Mother to actually perceive.
See, the Crone’s gift is wisdom. She sees patterns and outcomes. The Maiden passionately embraces a vision, the Mother puts all of the pieces into play, and the Crone speaks of the outcome bringing that vision to life will have for generations to come.
A Cultural Tragedy
When we look at the various phases of the Goddess (and because we’re all divine, Her journey is also our own), we often place value on a single aspect of that path. For instance, our culture idolizes youthful beauty. Americans literally spend billions of dollars on elective plastic surgery each year. These procedures aren’t designed to make us look older, but younger. Our culture doesn’t embrace aging; it seeks to banish it.
When we picture the Goddess, we typically picture her young and beautiful. If you go to almost any gallery of the Goddess – whether it’s a collection of pictures online or an offline exhibit – the Goddess is nearly always portrayed as the epitome of youthful beauty. Occasionally we see Her as the Mother, but it is rare that we ever see Her championed as the Crone. Even as children, if given a choice between a hug from a beautiful young woman and a wrinkled elder with trembling hands, the vast majority choose the embrace of the younger woman. On some level, we’re afraid. Maybe it’s of our own mortality. Perhaps we can sense the power that the Crone holds, not in Her body, but on a level that we can’t see with our eyes. It could simply be that the aged are rare in most of our worlds. We’re surrounded by other children at school, call our co-workers and former classmates peers, but interacting with our grandparent’s generation – if they’re still alive – is typically saved for holidays and occasional visits.
And that is one of the tragedies that has led us to where we now stand as a culture.
The Power of Wisdom
The Maiden has the power of passion and vision. She follows her heart and her intuition, often blindly. There is no magic line that you’re carried across where a Maiden becomes a Mother. Simply giving birth won’t do it and you don’t have to have offspring to be a Mother in the eyes of the Goddess. Like everything else of value on our path, being a Mother is earned. Just as a Maiden has to learn to trust the callings of her aspect in order to follow her own heart and intuition, so a Mother must learn to give without strings attached. She must be willing to sacrifice herself for those under her care while juggling the need to recharge and allow herself to be cared for in return. Without walking this journey, it is impossible to embrace the lessons of the Crone, not because they can’t be taught, but because they build on the lessons of the Maiden and Mother.
Wisdom doesn’t come in a bottle. You can’t find wisdom in books. Wisdom isn’t found in playing it safe and winning every hand. The only place wisdom can be found is in striving to reach something and falling short.
There are lessons to learn that can only be found in dead ends, failure, and heartbreak. We don’t build strength in laughter and happy moments. Strength is found soaked to the bone on our hands and knees in life’s metaphorical back alleys, our sobbing tears indistinguishable from the rain. We find strength in staring fear in the face and not moving forward confidently, but in stumbling forward simply because we can’t let ourselves quit. Strength leaves scars on our minds and wrinkles on our faces. It is found in going on against fear, pain, heartache and the odds that are stacked against us.
Wisdom is found in having walked that path and surviving to look back upon it.
That’s the Crone’s power. She can reach out with a wrinkled hand and, though her touch is frail, the spirit reflected in those eyes holds wisdom and might. The Crone knows the secret paths that lead through the dark night of the soul. When the Maiden has found her passionate cause and the Mother is willing to work and sacrifice to bring it to life, the Crone knows what pursuing that vision will cost. She thinks not of herself as the Maiden does; nor does she think of her family and Tribe as is the Mother’s focus. The Crone sees all – herself, her Tribe, and all of the strands of the web that intersect with that moment. She finds that wisdom and perspective, not through some mystical ability, but by having made her own mistakes, healing her own wounds, and from the clarity of understanding what it’s like to have walked through Hell and come out the other side.
Reclaiming The Crone
We need all three aspects of the Goddess, regardless of whether they are in the feminine divine or if they are simply reflected in your own path. Your failures aren’t graded, your short-comings aren’t a reflection that you’re less than someone else. They are there simply because you have the ability to become a Crone yourself with all of her power at your fingertips – and there’s a price to be paid to earn that power.
The next time you look in the mirror and see a wrinkle, a smile line, or find a new gray hair it is not because you’re no longer a Maiden or even a Mother. You will always be those things and they will always be a part of you. Each wrinkle, each line, each gray hair is a badge of honor, a medal of valor, and a witness that says, “She knows power.” Embrace it. Celebrate it. Those steps you’re taking are the Universe’s way of showing that you’re trusted not just to take care of your own path, or even to guide those directly under your care, but that you’re being given the keys to everything. Those aren’t wrinkles – they’re power lines.
This lesson is from Week Eight: The Deities. The week’s focus includes: