‘Tis the season of the Elder, Crone, Hag and Wise One within. The season of tough love which urges us to to simplify, surrender, conserve our physical energy and contemplate the bigger questions in life.
The Crone aspect of the triple goddess (Maiden, Mother, Crone) rules over the dark moon phase of the lunar cycle and winter in the seasonal cycle. For those with a menstrual cycle, this aspect rules over one’s bleeding time- where body and mind ask us to slow down, release the past and open to new dreams and potential by tapping into the wisdom of the Universe.
The winter season carries the same energy, asking us to make space to reflect, dream and simply ‘be’. The working world doesn’t stop for winter, but invites us to simplify and conserve our energy. The subconscious requires more attention and processing, pulling us to sleep, meditate and heal our inner self.
Who is the Crone?
The Crone is the Death Goddess, the One who Sees in the Dark, She who comes to our aid when we are going through dark and difficult times. She teaches us the lessons of surrender, letting go, patience, strength and the necessity of death and decay to bring new life.
These can hard lessons to swallow, which is why there is a general fear of this aspect of the goddess, and consequently, a fear of womxn as they age, and a general devaluing of elder wisdom in our youth-obsessed, death-avoidant culture.
We are taught to equate old age with death rather than wisdom. If one believes in reincarnation, or an afterlife, or even just in the cycles of nature, we can find comfort in knowing that energy never ceases to exist, it simply transforms. But change can be scary, especially when it comes to death- the greatest mystery of all.
The Crone teaches us that death is a necessary component of life.
There are Crone goddesses in cultures all over the world. Some that fit this category are Ereshkigal, Nepthys, Hekate, Mother Holle, Sedna, Kali, Cerridwen, Cailleach Bear, Baba Yaga, and more. What these goddesses all have in common that they are somehow connected to the realm of death in some way. It is reflected in their myths, or by seasonal association. They often share stories of pain, trauma and rebirth that render them the wisdom to help us through our own difficult passages. They are also known for their knowledge of the unseen realms and the mysteries, as they are the lights that guide us through the dark.
Elder as Community Leader
During the winter solstice we welcome the energy of Capricorn, as it initiates the winter season, followed by the last 2 signs of the zodiac, Aquarius and Pisces. These three signs rule over the winter months in the northern hemisphere and carry the qualities of Crone/Elder energy in each their unique way. They are the signs most concerned with the collective- its structures, social health and spiritual wellbeing.
Similarly, the elders in a society are meant to be the ones who care for the community by being advisors and in turn, the community takes care of them. In our current system, elders- especially women and 2SLGBTQIA+ folks are not given value or purposeful roles and they are often forgotten and shunned to the shadows of society.
As we go through the winter months, we start to look at the big picture more. We become more aware of our sense of security and place in the world, as well as whether the collective is sustained within the structures that are meant to support it.
Things get serious in Capricorn season. Survival and security are at the top of our minds. We need to get responsible and be accountable. We start to think about our long-range goals and what practical steps we need to take to get there. We notice if the structure our life rests on is sound, and make any necessary adjustments. Capricorn, an earth sign asks us to be patient, think long term and think like an elder.
When we contemplate our goals, we my ask ourselves: Is it functional and sustainable? (Capricorn) Is it inclusive and progressive? (Aquarius) Does it leave room for spirituality and liminality? (Pisces).
Elder wisdom reminds us that we are small beings in a big universe, we are not the centre of it.
It also reminds us that we are all an intricate and important part of the web of life and have a duty to participate in its weaving. We must follow the light of our inner wisdom to lead us to our part to play in the dance of life.
Connecting to the Wise Elder Within
The Crone aspect of the goddess has always been the one that most resonated with me. Maybe because I was born in the depths of winter, or because I always felt like an old soul. It’s just an energy I gravitate toward and strive to cultivate. I feel it needs a greater voice and value in our culture.
Family structures have shifted in such a way that many of us have not been able to have a strong bond with grandparents, aunts and uncles or other elders in our lives. We may feel groundless or lost because of a lack of this energy in society. Sometimes family dynamics are simply too toxic or dysfunctional to have healthy relationships with our elders. Intergenerational trauma plays a big part and each generation must contend with its own struggles.
Connecting with our inner Elder can help heal that generational trauma, by bringing death to old patterns we are carrying and acting with wisdom. No matter what our physical age, we all have an inner Wise Elder within that we can connect with and consult with when we reach an impasse in our lives. It can become part of a regular practice to strengthen this part of us, so that when times get tough, we have the internal light to help us through.
If you are someone who journals, you may wish to try journaling on these reflection questions below. Or, perhaps you wish to simply contemplate these seeds in your mind, as a way to start connecting to your inner Elder.
What are qualities you admire in the elders you’ve encountered in your life?
In what ways does the Elder/Crone energy show up in your life?
How have the losses in your life changed you?
How do you feel about aging?
How do you imagine yourself as an elder in the future?
If you are already an elder, how would you describe your role and way of expressing this energy in your life?
What metaphorical or physical ‘wrinkles’ and ‘scars’ in life have strengthened you or made you who you are today?
If your younger self was looking for advice from you right now, what would you tell them?
Imagine you are with a wise elder right now, who knows everything about you, loves you unconditionally, really ‘sees’ you on the deepest level. What would they say to you about your life situation right now?
I think often about the future, and what kind of elder I want to become. I imagine different scenarios (some include grandchildren, while others include more cats, and maybe even a dog). My husband is much older than me, so I imagine what it would be like to live my elder years without him, which is very hard. I think about the strong independent women elders in my life, the ways they stay young at heart and the ways they express their wisdom and age gracefully.
The more I connect with my own inner Wise Elder/Crone, the more I live my life authentically, let go of the small stuff, and release the things that drain me. My inner Elder sees the big picture and knows the price of acting in self-abandonment or out of step with my values. Integrity is probably the most important lesson I learn from this part of me. She urges me to do the right thing, rather than the easy thing.
What does your inner Elder or Crone say to you?
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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.