The Crone Archetype

by Cynthia Hazen

I have recently turned 60 and entered that period of life associated with the waning moon, the crone.  The crone archetype has had a resurgence of interest from feminist psychology circles since the 1970s.  It is associated with that period of a woman’s life after menopause.  In astrological circles where moon and star cycles are referenced, it is associated with the saturn return (a return to the planetary positions of our birth occurring in 30 year cycles), thus age 60.  While the crone is a symbol of maturity, as we all know, age does not necessarily grant us wisdom or maturity.

The crone archetype encompasses development resulting from integrating the teaching we achieved as “maidens” or young woman (roughly 1-30 years of age) from our mentors and models.  It also comes from the lessons we learned through the trials and tribulations of having our hands in “mothering”, with or without bearing children, during our most productive years (roughly 30 to 60 years of age).  The teachings and lessons are integrated and applied to innovative and intuitive/spiritual guidance for the crone.  The crone has pruned away the ideas, habits and even relationships that don’t foster and support her.  She is nobody’s fool and she has become inner directed, no longer looking to others for approval.  She is a strong figure and is often intimidating such that derogatory terms and images have been attributed to her; hag (derived from holy), witch (from wit) and crone (from crown). She is an ideal for those of us who want to be our most fully developed and expressive selves as we move along in life.

Particularly good writing about this archetypal energy comes from Jean Shinoda Bolen, a psychiatrist and Jungian analyst who developed her thinking when coming into her own late 50s.  Because patriarchal western culture is largely “his” story (history) and ageist ignoring the powerful stories of older women, Bolen has had to turn to inference on the stories of key female mythical figures in early Greek/Roman culture and she draws from Asian and Indian cultures as well.  For women interested in going to the source and drawing their own conclusions I would highly recommend a couple of her books; Goddesses In Older Women and Crones Don’t Whine.  I am very compelled by her take that a developed crone lets go of what should have or could have or might have been and joyfully develops her life from what is.  She is not a blamer.  She learns from her life’s challenges and lessons and hardships and celebrates the gifts and joys.

In order to cultivate the crone for ourselves we must come to terms with who we are and what we want.  We must do what we enjoy and say no to what we do not.  We must respect our passion and our outrage and be willing to express it.  We must forgive ourselves and others when we change our minds and our hearts.  This coming to terms requires more solitude for most of us for self examination and reflection.  Thus, the crone is rarely developed before we have stepped back from the hustle and bustle of raising children and/or developing and engaging in our careers.

To live into our crone is to know our hearts and minds and have developed the spiritual/philosophical approach by which we then live our lives.  Since this is an archetypal rather than personal understanding it is not a constant in our awareness but something we come in and out of knowing and living.  I welcome the opportunity to develop and live into my crone and share it with all of you out there on this journey.