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Copyright © 1996, 1998 Bayla Bower
crone eludes precise definition. Some traditions, organizations, and individuals variously define the crone as a woman who
is 50, 52, or 56, post-menopausal, consciously aging, willing to acknowledge her shadow. Crone is a term used to describe
an ancient archetype, an aspect of the triple goddess (maiden, mother, crone), and the third phrase of a woman’s life.
When a woman is near, in, or past menopause, she is potentially a crone. The designation refers to a perspective or point
of view rather age or biological change.
A woman who calls herself crone is willing to acknowledge her age, wisdom,
and power. Through conscious self-definition, she helps to reverse hundreds of years of oppression, degradation, and abuse
aimed at old women. Although she may prefer to be called elder, grandmother, or wise woman, she does not dismiss, disavow,
or use pejoratively terms such as crone, witch, or hag. The wise woman/crone/grandmother realizes that the true meaning of
these terms, and the woman-centered traditions from which they originate, have been obscured and distorted by patriarchal
In ancient times, the crone was revered as an old woman who embodied wisdom and knew the truth of cyclic existence.
Crones cared for the dying and were spiritual midwives at the end of life, the link in the cycle of death and rebirth. They
were healers, teachers, way-showers, bearers of sacred power, knowers of mysteries, mediators between the world of spirit
and the world of form. In prepatriarchal societies, women’s wisdom had healing power, and crone wisdom was the most
potent of all. For nearly thirty thousand years, old women were strong, powerful sources of wisdom. Crones were respected
and honored in their communities.
Then patriarchy demanded obedience to outer authority and acceptance of linear concepts.
Death became a finality, the end of the line. Because crones followed inner guidance and knew the truth of the cycle of life,
they were dangerous to the hierarchy. Old women were persecuted, shunned, and denigrated. Although our forecornes resisted,
persisted, and adapted in any way they could, most of our traditions have been lost. The lineage of crone teachings, herbal
remedies, sacred practices, and wise-woman ways was broken when the information was burned, buried, and otherwise silenced.
consciousness is on the rise today, spreading in a grassroots movement through America and around the globe. We are awakening
the ancient crone within ourselves, and learning to trust the power of our inner knowing. We will not become invisible, trivialized,
or shamed by a society obsessed with youth and terrified of aging.
We honor each person’s wisdom, and take part
in dismantling the ageist, ableist, racist, classist, sexist, heterosexist, and other hierarchical structures that separate
us from ourselves, our forecrones, one another, and our connection with all beings. We teach, speak, and quietly inspire one
another, all women, and all peoples who wish to embrace the totality of life.
We respect the crones who preceded us
and pass on our wisdom to those who will follow. We tell our sacred stories one-to-one, in small and large gatherings, at
meetings, events, and conferences. We name our blessings and challenges, the truths and treasures of our lives, sharing the
harvest of our life experience. Empowered from within and strengthened by our growing numbers, we claim our place as wise-woman
elders in our families, communities, and groupings. We are women of age, power, and wisdom. We are honored to be known as