4 Ways To Embrace Your Inner Crone This Equinox

Today is the Autumn Equinox, which means that our days and nights are roughly the same length today. In pagan traditions, that makes this a special time of year – one that’s focused on balance, but that sees the path toward death in the coming months as crops either are harvested or die.

It’s also the time of year when pagans celebrate the Crone, the guiding-elder figure that compliments the Maiden and Mother in the Triple Goddess as the sort of last stop of femininity. In the political circles I run in, “crone” has become sort of a joyful joke – those women who are accused by misogynists of being humorless and sexless embrace the idea that, sure, they’re crones.

And it’s not a bad thing. In paganism, crones are wise and fierce. The best-known crone in folklore is Baba Yaga, the old woman who, in Mikhail Lomonosov’s myth, appears three times as the traveler Ivan traverses a forest. Each time, she asks him questions, and each time, he stubbornly provides the same wrong answer. The first Baba Yaga ignores him; the second ignores him but warns him that the third will try to eat him if he doesn’t ask for three horns to blow; the third, indeed, tries to eat him, but gives him the horns when he asks, which summon a firey bird that whisks him to safety. She’s a crone who has no time for Ivan’s silliness, who guides him, and who has every intention of eating him. She’s concerned with herself and with what she wants. Why not tap into that kind of crone-ness?

In honor of the Equinox and of the fierce elder women in our lives, here are four things you can do to embrace your inner crone:

1. Do a personal croning ceremony. 

Croning ceremonies are usually reserved for experienced pagans and women who have gotten through menopause or have just accepted cronehood as the place in life where they’re at – past child -bearing and -rearing, basically. Keep that in mind – no need to be appropriative. But if you’re in a place in your life where you feel accomplished, wise, and past the need to be a mother or parent, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time and space in your day to honor the experiences that you’re proud of, that made you who you are. Maybe make a photo album for the occasion, or gather objects from your past that are meaningful to you and arrange them in a display.

2. Help someone on their personal mission, Joseph Campbell-style.

In Joseph Campbell’s hero-journey, the first person the hero encounters on their path to greatness is a figure who gives them a talisman that will protect them from the dangers ahead. In many folk stories, that figure is a crone – like Baba Yaga, who armed Ivan with the knowledge that the third incarnation of herself would eat him if he didn’t ask for and blow the horns. If there’s someone in your life who’s making a big change or going through a personal struggle, what can you do to help them? Reflect on that, and offer whatever aid you can.

3. Re-read the myth of Demeter and Persephone.

The Crone is also called the Dark Mother, exemplified in the myth of Demeter and Persephone. In Greek mythology, Demeter is a harvest goddess. When her daughter Persephone is abducted, Demeter abandons her duties to search for and rescue her, leading to the death of crops and the invention of the seasons. The myth of Demeter and Persephone is all about motherhood and childhood, fertility and infertility, and the stages of life, wherever you are in your own.

4. Write to or about your personal lady role models.

What women have inspired and guided you in your own life? Who has given you good advice, protected you, and made sure you had what you needed? Who has been your “crone”? Take some time to think about those people. It’d be a good opportunity to journal about what inspires and empowers you in their example, or to get in touch and thank them for their wisdom.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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