The maiden, mother, crone is a useful, modern archetype that shows the cycle of feminine development. Girlhood is the period of innocence, discovery, youth, new beginnings, and enthusiasm. The maiden is springtime. Maidenhood lasts roughly from birth to the early twenties.
The next phase is summer. It’s about fertility, growth, gaining knowledge, nurturing, and creativity. It’s the phase where one has matured into adulthood. Although we call this phase Motherhood, one does not have to actually give birth to a human to be in this stage of her life. This phase lasts from the early twenties to menopause.
The final stage is the Crone. This is represented by fall and winter and goes from menopause to death. It is a time just after harvest. The fruits of life have ripened into wisdom. That wisdom is now available to be used. The crone is also the destroyer or transformer. All must go through this phase to make way for new beginnings.
All things go through the phases of birth, maturity, decline, and death. It’s natural. It’s normal. When they don’t go through these cycles, things get stagnant and out of balance. Yet this is where we are. This is why I ask where have all the crones gone?
We live in a youth obsessed culture. “Forty is the new thirty.” If you don’t like your breasts, lips, derriere, you can just get new, more youthful ones. Got crows feet or tiny lines on your face? Get botox. It doesn’t matter if you’re just twenty-five. It’s never too soon to start. Even stretch marks, the calling card of motherhood, are hidden and considered ugly and shameful. Trauma and abuse can also create arrested development.
As a result, there are generations of women who are old enough to be mothers or crones who haven’t progressed beyond maidenhood. We need you to progress. Your children need you to progress. It’s not about age, but attitude. If the maidens don’t become mothers, then we can’t have crones.
We’ve got it so backward. We idolize youth, make motherhood a niche population, and denigrate age. When we lose our crones, society loses. The young can’t guide or nurture the young. Yet that is what we see. There are many adults who either don’t know how to be adults or can’t because they are stuck in the trauma of their past. They are having children, and there are no crones to help them along.
So how do we deal with that? We outsource it. We go to life coaches, pastors, and therapists to help guide us. We’ve got young “experts” trying to teach things that they haven’t lived. It’s not working out so well. Knowledge is not the same thing as wisdom. Our wise elders need to be back in the families and societies in positions of formal and informal leadership. When we throw away our cultural wisdom, we throw away our future.
Ladies, no matter what stage of life you are in, be there. One place isn’t better than another. It’s just in sync with the natural flow of life. This doesn’t mean you can’t look youthful or be sexy. Look at Helen Mirren! I think she’s gorgeous because she doesn’t try to be forty. She appears confident and owns her power. When I look at her I think, “I could learn something from her.” I see wisdom in her face – maturity, strength, and power. How about we value that?
If you’re a maiden, be a maiden. Explore, do new things, gain experience. Enjoy it fully. We need you to break new ground, come up with new ideas, and be so naive that you don’t know yet what’s “impossible” so you do it. If you are a mother, mature, create, nurture, and learn. We need you to care for the future leaders of society and to ripen into the beautiful human being that you are. And if you are a crone, own it! We need you. Don’t let another generation go by saying, “Where have all the crones gone?”