Women's Goddess Retreat
September 10 - 12, 2010



An Initiation Into the Wise Woman Cycle

Crone Symbol

The Crone's title was related to the word crown and she represented the power of the ancient tribal matriarch who made the moral and legal decisions for her subjects and descendants. It was the medieval metamorphosis of the wise woman into the witch that changed the word Crone from a compliment to an insult and established the stereotype of malevolent old womanhood that continues to haunt elder women today. ~ Barbara Walker, The Crone

In early cultures, the female elder was considered a wise woman. She was the healer, the teacher, the imparter of knowledge. She mediated disputes, she had influence over tribal leaders, and she cared for the dying as they took their final breaths. For many women in Pagan and Goddess-centric belief systems, reaching the status of Crone is a major milestone. These women are reclaiming the name of Crone in a positive way, and see it as a time to joyfully welcome one's position as an elder within the community.

The word crone is derived from the word cronus (time) and it means the wisdom gained through life long experiences. Krone also means crown. To become crowned crone then, acknowledges that you are a wise woman who has gathered up the fruits of her experience into profound and sovereign understanding. The wise crone becomes the resource of wisdom for her community and a source of inspiration for her circle of cronies.

For a long time, to be called a crone was an insult. The very word implied a wrinkled, hunchbacked old woman, unwanted and unloved. Women who had reached an advanced age were dismissed as useless hags, and there was nothing to celebrate about it at all. Fortunately, times are changing, and more and more women are welcoming this aspect of their life. We spend many years in the guise of the Maiden followed by a couple of decades as Mother for many of us. Why not celebrate this next phase of life?

Whether you embraced the Crone stage from the moment you had your first hot flush (aka hot flash or power surge) or whether you reluctantly dragged your feet into Cronedom, there is often a feeling of regret that there was never any definite moment when you could mark the occasion. Many women feel that they have somehow been cheated out of the acknowledgement that they have moved forward and now have new status. In the past - and indeed in some cultures still today – the onset of menstruation is recognised by a special ceremony for the young girl in which she is admitted to the circle of women. At the other end of the spectrum, it was believed that when a woman stopped menstruating, she kept her wise blood inside her and increased her wisdom. Elderwomen were, therefore, revered and honoured. The Croning Ceremony aims to provide a ritualised acknowledgement and celebration of a woman’s move forward into her Cronehood and wisdom. It doesn’t matter whether you have only just started the menopause or whether it happened several years ago: what matters is that you want to mark this rite of passage.

You've probably heard the cliche, "Life isn't about the destination but about the journey." These words take on a more profound meaning in the crone years. Life is more about a continuous journey of experiences, lifelong learning and growth, both spiritual and human. The crone is a woman that is gracefully adapting to the process of aging. She quietly inspires others. She is comfortable in her own skin and with her spirituality. Her intuitive and creative powers are pronounced. But what really sets the crone apart is that she embodies a passion to explore meaning in her life; and she exemplifies an unselfish willingness to share her honesty, knowledge, wisdom, love, and compassion.

Crossing the threshold into Cronehood can be a major event in a woman's life. It's a celebration of all that you've learned, and all that you will come to know in the future. For many women, it's a time to make new commitments and vows. If you've ever had an interest in taking a leadership position in some aspect of your life, now is a great time to do so. This third cycle of your life is the one in which you become an Elder, and you've joined a special group. You have a lifetime of achievements behind you, and decades more to look forward to. The word Crone should now be a word of power for you, so celebrate it. You've earned it.

The Charge of the Crone

I am the Queen of Magick and the dark of the Moon, hidden in the deepest night. I am the mystery of the Otherworlds and the fear that coils about your heart in the times of your trials. I am the soul of nature that gives form to the universe; it is I who awaits you at the end of the spiral dance. Most ancient among gods and mortals, let my worship be within the heart that has truly tasted life, for behold all acts of magick and art are my pleasure and my greatest ritual is love itself. Therefore let there be beauty in your strength, compassion in your wrath, power in your humility, and discipline balanced through mirth and reverence.

You who seek to remove my veil and behold my true face, know that all your questing and efforts are for nothing, and all your lust and desires shall avail you not at all. For unless you know my mystery, look wherever you will, it will elude you, For behold, I have ever been with you, from the very beginning, the comforting hand that nurtured you in the dawn of life, and the loving embrace that awaits you at the end of each life, for I am that which is attained at the end of the dance, and I am the womb of new beginnings, as yet unimagined and unknown.

Radient and much-loved Crones gathered together after the 2010 Croning ceremony.

Croning Information Links

All Things Yoni: The Crone

Blessed Day: Croning Ceremonies

Croning Ceremonies: About.com

HealingWise: Croning Ceremonies

Obsidian Mask: Crone Goddesses

Older Wiser Women: Being Crones

RedBox Company: Menopause

Tangled Moon: Croning Ritual

Tryskilion: Croning

UU Croning Ritual

Wikipedia: The Triple Goddess

Wisegeek: What is Croning?

WiseWomen Worldwide: Ceremonies

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