The crone eludes precise definition. Some traditions, organizations, and individuals variously define the crone as a woman who is either 50, 52, or 56, post-menopausal, consciously aging, willing to acknowledge her shadow side. Crone is a term used to describe an ancient archetype, an aspect of the triple goddess (maiden/mother/crone), and the third phase 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 than a specific age or physical event.
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 wisewoman, she does not dismiss, disavow, or use pejoratively terms such as crone, witch, or hag.
The wisewoman/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 systems.
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 pre-patriarchical societies, women's wisdom held 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 forecrones 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 wisewoman ways was broken when the information was burned, buried, and otherwise silenced.
Crone consciousness is on the rise today, spreading in a grassroots movement throughout 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 are reviving the ancient custom of croning with ceremonies that celebrate the fullness of our evolution. 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 conventions and meetings. We name our blessings and challenges, the truths and the 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 elders in our families, communities, and groupings. We are women of age, power, and wisdom. We are honored to be known as crones.