In the mundane world, when people use the word crone, they usually envision a shriveled old woman, bent and wrinkled. It is not a compliment. If you’re a woman and you overhear your blind date referring to you on his cell phone as an old crone, feel free to hit him with your purse. Hard.
But in the Pagan world, the world crone has a completely different meaning. Well, three meanings,actually.
The first meaning is the one that most of us might think of automatically-the crone as the representation of the third embodiment of the triple goddess: maiden, mother, and crone. When the goddess is in her crone guise (such as at Samhain), she has reached the end of the year and the end of a cycle. Wrinkled she may be, but also wise and revered. And as Pagans, we know that eventually this phase too will pass, and the goddess will come around again as maiden, young and beautiful.
The word crone is also used to indicate age and honor in the practice of Witchcraft. A crone is a woman (sorry, guys, but there is no male equivalent-I guess you’ll just have to settle for being called “that old, wise Pagan dude”) who has practiced the Craft for many years and has attained much wisdom and experience along the way. To be called a crone in this context really is a compliment, a term of respect and honor. Personally, I look forward to the day when I am called a crone!
Crone can also be an indication of the stage of a woman’s life. Once a witchy woman has hit menopause (or it has hit her), she is no longer considered to be in the mother stage of her life and has moved on to the status of crone.
Despite what you might think, this is not a bad thing.
Remember that it is only in our modern world that “old” has become a bad word. In days gone by, the older generation was more often looked up to and admired for their knowledge and their wisdom.
So if you are a woman of a certain age, enjoy being a crone. Rather than bemoan what you have lost (remember, it will all come along again in your next life), rejoice at when you have gained—wisdom and knowledge and the ability to lord them over the younger generation. Be proud to be a crone; you’ve earned it!