What is a Crone? By Deanne Quarrie


Deanne QuarrieFirst of all a Crone is a woman. She has lived most of her life already and has accumulated many life experiences and therefore, can relate to those younger than her with greater understanding. She has acquired the wisdom associated with having had those life experiences. She has reached a place in her life when she may be slowing down. She may have retired from her career. She may want to devote more time to herself, serving more as an advisor rather than as the doer. We can read the poem, Warning by Jenny Joseph to get an idea, or watch her read it here or below…

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.”

What this poem says that when a woman reaches a certain age, she is no longer driven by what others think. She simply doesn’t care what they think anymore. What matters to them is not her concern – only what matters to her.
Every woman has moments and days when the Crone appears in her life, just as the Maiden, the Mother and the Queen present themselves. It is basically how much of each show themselves that might determine what stage the woman is in at that time.

We all seem to push to be considered Crones, WAY before we really are. Yes, no matter what age, we have our wisdom. But it is only when the Crone aspect of ourselves is front and center almost all the time that we can truly be considered Crone. There is no rush. Why choose to be “old” when in the prime of life?

When Do You Become a Crone?

There are many schools of thought on this. Goddess women who honor their blood mysteries say that when a woman stops her monthly menses, she is a Crone. These days however, we have women ceasing their flow while still in their thirties. What happens when a woman stops bleeding because she has had a hysterectomy? Is she now a Crone? It is my opinion that no longer bleeding is only one aspect of becoming a Crone.

Some people decide a woman is a Crone when she reaches a certain age. Some say 50, others say 60 but can age alone determine a Crone?

Astrologically, it is said that when the planet Saturn makes its second pass around in our birth chart, we are now a Crone. That happens every 29 years, so it would be in a person’s 58th year that it happens. It takes a while, several months to actually pass by, so it might not be until she is 59.

I remember the years following my first Saturn Return at age 29. Major things happened in my life after that. Really, my whole life changed because my sense of self had changed along with how I viewed life. EVERYTHING was different.

During my second Saturn Return, I fell in love again. It was passionate, life changing and left me reeling. It rocked my world. I did not know at the time it was during my second Saturn Return so there was no bias or awareness affecting my experience. It was only after that I looked at my chart and realized what had occurred.

Since then, Croning has been a slow process. It has been an adjustment to a body that won’t do what it used to do. While I am still very active in my life, creating and building, writing and expressing, there is a prominent focus on my own self-care and a huge difference in how I see the world. I find myself being on one hand, more compassionate with my fellow humans and yet, on the other hand, less tolerant of all the “BS” I am exposed to.

Insight and wisdom come to me quicker and with less effort. I have many more experiences of thinking “How did I know that?” and “Where did that come from?”

At 72, I am Crone. No doubt about it. I qualify with cessation of bleeding. I qualify by having had my second Saturn Return. I qualify from the acquisition of much knowledge. I qualify from having had a huge amount of life experience, the loss of friends and family, the knowledge of knowing I can take care of myself at all times and the wisdom to understand the beauty of love.

There was no sudden moment that I became a Crone. It wasn’t when I had a hysterectomy at 43. It wasn’t when I turned 50, when I turned 60 or even when I experienced my second Saturn Return. It was a slow moving evolution.

I haven’t retired from life. I am still going full force as a priestess in service to others. I am active in my community with my neighbors but there is something different from what was there before; an intangible difference that I feel in my bones, in my soul.

All I can say to you is that you will know when it is time to say, I am a Crone.

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess and a practicing Witch and Druid. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Druidism, Celtic Shamanism, and Feminist Dianic Wicca and mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.

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Categories: Aging, General, Goddess Movement, Goddess Spirituality

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22 replies

  1. What about the Wearing Purple indicator? Do you find you have increased the amount of purple in your wardrobe? (Now I’m going to have that Gogol Bordello song running in my head).
    Thanks for sharing a great poem!

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    • Not sure if there is more or not for me. I do wear quite a bit of purple. My friends who are near my age all seem to love purple too! Red is also prominent in my life but that is more in my home!

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      • I’ve definitely noticed the purple-crone connection. I was once on the council of a women’s spirituality organization and I do believe we were all at least in our 40s and most of us older. We had a non-profit consultant come in to help be more financially stable who arrived wearing, I believe, a black suit. She kind of laughed and said “Why I had this crazy idea you would all be wearing purple!” and we looked around the room and, sure enough, we were all wearing purple. And accessories… at another, much larger meeting of the same organization, the woman next to me said “Wow! Look at all these great accessories!” and it was true – dangly, bejewelled earrings, colorful silk scarves, silver necklaces and bracelets – we were all amazingly bedecked. I actually do think there is something about coming into your personal power, feeling comfortable being who you are, that encourages women to dress up – a wonderful, positive impulse, I think. And we must have similar home decorating instincts, too, Deanne – my house is red through and through – another impulse of women who feel comfortable with their own vibrant energy, I think.

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  2. Dear sister, thanks for writing this. When I turned 60, I announced that henceforward I was going to admit to 60, look 40 (I still have good skin), and act 12. I’m told that I have succeeded. Actually, at 73, I’m not altogether sure where I am on the continuum because no one I’ve ever talked to says she feels as old all the time as the calendar says she is. I don’t often feel old. So I’m working up to Crone.

    When I wrote Secret Lives http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Lives-Barbara-Ardinger/dp/1466251786/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316117982&sr=1-7 , in which almost all the major characters are crones, I still believed in the tripartite division, so in one chapter a woman is croned at about age 50. I think I’d do that differently if I were writing the book now.

    I took a class about crones when I was 50. Some of the women in the class were in their late 20s and early 30s. They said–and I’ve heard this more recently, too–that “crone is a state of mind.” I think that’s nonsense. I also don’t own a red hat.

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    • I have to confess, Barbara – the main times I am reminded of being a Crone is when someone takes my picture and I see it or I suddenly see myself in a mirror. It is always such a shock because my imagination is much kinder to me!

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  3. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on how the arrival of grandchildren inform one’s self-identity as a Crone? It seems for me an avalanche of quiet wisdom and perspective has entered my heart with this newest transition. Being a grandparent was never something I longed for or imagined would arrive at this point of my life, and yet it has infused me with every aspect of the Crone you have developed. Thank you for a very thoughtful piece.

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  4. Carolyn – sometimes it amazes me how much red I use in my home but all I have to do is remind myself that it would be perfectly natural for a Triple Aries! Yes, read is most comfortable color for me!

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  5. Thanks for this piece, Deanne. At 62 I still struggle with the whole idea of whether or not I’m a Crone yet. Grandchildren just seemed to bring back my Mother aspect and I’ve always liked wearing purple so those were not good qualifiers. Just as you said, some days I feel more cronish than others, but I have to agree, it is a process not an event. I agree with Barbara, crone is not a state of mind, if it was then I was more a crone in my 30’s than I am now. Life was making me feel much older at that time.

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  6. I did not even know who I was in my thirties! I was living a role society (or society’s conditioning) demanded of me! My only role now is my own – sometimes Mother, sometimes Grandmother – sometimes Great Grandmother – always as Her priestess – open to life as it comes and as I manifest it.

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  7. I’ve spent the past few months (and still going) doing research on an exceedingly fine British still life painter, named Mary Fedden, born in Bristol in 1915 and who died in 2012, almost 97 years old. She has gradually been getting some attention, as her estate is now being sold off at various galleries. She’s in the Tate too and other well known collections. Fedden is what would be called a modernist painter, her style dating back to the 1930-1950s, but which she simply carried forward her whole career. Most of the paintings I’m working with at the website were done between 1970 and 2008, that is, when Fedden was between the ages of 55 and 93. The site is located here: earlywomenmasters.net/mary_fedden/ Do have a look, you’ll love her!!

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  8. Thank you all for such wonderful inspiration! I am an “older” mother and sometimes being out of this stage seems so far off, but having a strong inspiring vision of life as a (hopefully) wiser older woman to move towards (rather than wish for a wild and free Maiden past) helps me stay grounded in the present and enjoy these precious moments even amidst the tedium and sacrifice of domesticity and motherhood..

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  9. Cherish each moment right where you are and revel in tiny joys. They are the juicy stuff of life.

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  10. Deanne,
    Thanks so much for this wonderful post about aging and becoming a crone. Turning 60 had the same effect on me as on Barbara. In my 50’s I never wanted to tell my age, still being influenced by the male-dominated youth-loving culture we have. But upon reaching my 60’s I realized that I am proud to be my age, proud to be strong and healthy and vibrant and moving forward though more and more of the later years. But I must admit, though I am enjoying the moments of wisdom age graces me with occasionally, there is something about the word “crone” that I don’t like. An older man is “distinguished” while an older woman is a “crone”? Anyway…. love the post and the comments.

    And Sarah, thank you so much for the info about and link to Mary Fedden’s art. I love it all!

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  11. I enjoyed your post, Deanne, but had a funny reaction to Jenny Johnson’s poem. I loved it in my 20s. It spoke to the outright rebellion I felt in those days. But my feminism and my life have moved me beyond flipping the bird, spitting, and running “my stick along public railings.” I haven’t cared what others thought for a while now, but I want what I put my energy into to have the possibility of coming to fruition, so I sometimes couch it in terms that others can hear. I guess for me one of the factors in being a crone has to do with realizing that I have a limited amount of energy, and that means prioritizing where and how I use it.

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  12. Important to realize that the poem does not say she is a Crone. Actually it says she is only practicing for the day ….. quite often the reality is not what was imagined.

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  13. Wonderful article!! But it says you are 72! You sure don’t look 72! I’m going to print your article and put it in my notebook and I’ll share it on Facebook, too.

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  14. Reblogged this on FeistyAmazon and commented:
    Perimenopausal…this is a good synopsis of what coming into Cronehood is about. As a Dyke Amazon Priestess,,Amazon Warrior and Witch..I am not yet quite ready to claim full Cronehood. And I still bleed but not consistently anymore. But as far as the Clear seeing Vision..both Amazons and Crones see through the bs and people pleasing women are expected to do in patriarchy. It is why I have always gotten along with Crones. And I’m just not willing to tolerate bullshit any longer. In other words Cronehood is very much letting go of trained codependent behavior and THAT is a great source of Wisdom and brings one back into OUR OWN Power and Wisdom rather than giving it away…

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