The Crone or Wise Elder Woman

The Crone represents the third aspect of the Mother, Maiden, Crone triad, where one takes the position of an honored elder. Linked in a cyclical growth process, the Mother and Maiden mature together. The Crone is implicit in their maturing (Woodman, 1991).


Ancient Crone,
You are the source of eternal knowledge
That leads to the completion of the spirit.
Let my soul seek your lessons,
And strive to understand your mysteries.
I will not fear the darkness
For I know you wait for me within it.



The symbol of the crossroads represents the moment in women’s lives where the unconscious crosses consciousness, where a higher will demands the surrender of the ego. The Crone has gone through her many crossroads. Through age and experience, she has reached a place where her ego demands do not control her. Surrendered to her ego, she is detached and objective. However, this does not mean indifferent. She has been there, she has suffered, and she draws from that suffering. She can hold the pain and look at it at the same time. She is totally present, and she lives her naked truth. And she is able to listen without judgment to the truth of others.

Bolen (1985) referred to this as an inner presence where a woman is not attached to people, outcomes, possessions, prestige, or power. She feels whole as she is. Her identity is not tied to external circumstance. The Crone can afford to be honest. She is not interested in playing outworn games. Who she is cannot be taken from her. Her directness is sometimes hard to take, but her truth is the measure of her love. She loves without desire to control. T

The Crone is the embodiment of the Dark and Light Goddess. She encompasses all that is and can use all of experience, passion, warrior strength, creativity, compassion, and spirit to guide her wisdom and share it with others. She has been through the darkness, passed through her crossroads, and is the divine intersecting the human.

Personas of the Crone include Hestia and Hecate in Greek mythology (Bolen, 1985). Hestia was the elder sister of the first generation Olympians and the maiden aunt of the second generation and occupied the position of an honored elder. She was honored in the temples of all the other gods and shared her wise perspective on their aims and purpose. In Europe today, people still make offerings to Hecate, Goddess of the Crossroads, to help them face going down an unfamiliar path into the unknown. Both of these Goddesses were also considered Virgin goddesses (discussed in the next section) and represent the transformation of the Maiden, Mother, Crone trinity. This trinity offers a contrast to others that dominate in patriarchal culture such as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Lost in a culture where youth and beauty are valued, the gifts of the Wise Old Woman are often unappreciated or discarded. Women often are out of touch with the value of this stage of life and resist the richness of the Crone. Celebrating this phase in a woman’s developmental lifecycle is essential in reclaiming the fullness of the Feminine.