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Crone thoughts: Being 40-something in a youth-obsessed culture

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Obviously, a community called Mile High Mamas appeals to moms and not crones. Otherwise the URL above might be

Because of infertility and other factors, I arrived at motherhood late. I am an older mom who never gave birth. So I have already begun thinking of what comes after Motherhood, and I come up with this question:

Am I a Crone?

I am intrigued by the ancient notion of the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. Although the idea’s origins  go back maybe thousands of years, I think the notion permeates our viewpoints today.

Where some cultures revere the Crone as a wise-woman and healer, ours has just about nothing good to say about Crones:

From American Heritage: n. An ugly, withered old woman; a hag.

From Webster’s: An old woman; — usually in contempt.

From A withered, witchlike old woman.

[Origin: 1350–1400; ME carrion]


It follows that if a woman is not a nubile Maiden nor a fertile Mother, she is left in the position of a Crone. And infertility puts some women into this role prematurely. I am much too young — as in decades! — to be considered a hag or withered (even if 40 were not the new 30).

Why does the Crone get such a a bad rap? She’s scary, wicked, and ugly while the Maiden is beautiful, pure and desired  and the Mother is kind, nurturing and bountiful.

As baby boom women age into the realm of the Crone archetype, what will happen to the Crone? Will she get an image makeover? Is there a tipping point where huge numbers of people will simply decide that an aging woman should be valued for her inner beauty and wisdom? Or will boomers continue to fight to the death the inevitability of aging through hideous facelifts?

And my final musing, what would it be like if we accepted the Crone as equal in value to the Maiden and the Mother?

Yes, I suppose I AM a Crone, but not in the dictionary sense — I swear I did not have carrion for breakfast. I am a Crone because I have experienced numerous joys and heartaches. Because I have proven my resilience. Because I have earned the stripes I carry, and I am hopeful to have the opportunity to earn more. Because I have discovered so much along the way, and can now impart some of what I’ve learned to others who are open to learning.

I am Crone, hear me roar.

“For millennia women’s wisdom was honored; crones were revered. Today women are reclaiming the identity and status of the ancient crone. We are coming of age, accessing our wisdom and acting upon it. Croning is the process of becoming active wise women…Engaged in the process of Croning, we can act in ways that embody the changes we want to take place in the world, in our communities, families, relationships, and within ourselves. When we apply our wisdom to effect positive change, we improve our own lives and leave a legacy for future generations.”


When you imagine yourself past the Motherhood stage, how do you see yourself, your life? What do you think are the challenges of The Crone in modern times?

Lori Holden
Author: Lori Holden

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson August 3, 2010

    Wait. There is life past the motherhood stage? 🙂

    I say that in jest but I rarely think that far ahead because that is so many years away.

    And when it happens, I will be Crone and you WILL hear me roar!

  • comment avatar Mama Bird August 3, 2010

    I am thankful I will still be a mother as I become a crone. No one can ever take that away from us! I look forward to being there for my daughter as she goes to college, starts a career, marries and begins a family of her own. If it weren’t for her, becoming a crone becomes so much more of a lonely prospect. Instead, I have so much more to look forward to!

  • comment avatar Gretchen White August 3, 2010

    Unfortunately, when it comes to older women, cougars get all the press. It’s hard to find portrayals of wise, dignified, influential older women in the media these days. Team Hideous Facelift seems to be winning.

    Many baby boomers are complicit and don’t seem to mind being made into a very unfunny joke.

    So, how does a woman learn to be a crone when many of the examples of older womanhood are so loathesome? It’s a blessing if you have mothers and grandmothers still around to lead by example.

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz August 3, 2010

    Amber — so I hear! Hope to find out.

    Mama Bird — we can give our daughters wisdom AND beauty tips.

    Gretchen — so true about Cougars!

    You’ve made me re-appreciate my mom and MIL and grandmothers and their aging with grace (and without botox).

  • comment avatar Kagey August 3, 2010

    I know the maiden-mother-crone paradigm, but I don’t buy any of it. When I was a little girl (pre-maiden, I suppose) I was just as valid as a human being as I was as a young woman (who ignored boys for years because I was more interested in studying), and as a mother, I am more than “just a mom” (every mother I know is), and as I age I don’t intend to be a simply a “crone” or even the more positive “wise old woman”.

    We don’t try to stuff men into these kinds of boxes. Why try to reshape the paradigm? Why not just throw it away?

  • comment avatar Kelly Ozley August 3, 2010

    I really enjoyed this post. I am also an older mother as well. I never gave birth but have adopted 2 children (one 17 months and one 3 ½). Both my girls are from Moldova.

    I am really shocked at times by reactions. There are all sorts of odd and inappropriate responses regarding the adoptions. That is sadly normal. Then when they find out that I am over 40 and that I have never been married – honestly, its as if they know not what to say. I actually had a guy in a bar tell me – “I have never met an attractive woman that has never been married, what happened?” I think that was supposed to be a compliment.

    I have wanted a family (kids and a husband) since my own conception I think. I am just doing this out of order and fully intend to have a hot husband one day. You go girls!

  • comment avatar Jenna Hallock August 3, 2010

    I have to chime in to say that I am have had the blessing of a mother and grandmother who are both amazing examples of womanhood. But I do agree that many older woman are striving for youth to their own demise.

    Wisdom and “a silver crown” are certainly not glorified by our culture, but should be revered by younger woman as something to be aspired to. WE can be an agent of change by choosing to respect the elderly among us and choosing to embrace our age as the gift that is it rather than striving to be young eternally.

  • comment avatar Melissa @ Full Circle August 5, 2010

    Crones ROCK!

  • comment avatar elle February 28, 2011

    It’s the patriarchy. Crones are no longer revered because they have power that rivals that of men, and mothers and maidens are beholden to men and therefore more controllable. Men rule and men have no interest in or need for crones. It’s really that simple. Older women are marginalized in our society. Your rarely see them in the media or in actual life increasingly as we segregate older people into retirement communities. This is why its so important that we keep pushing for women’s rights and pushing against the mainstreaming of porn and child sex trafficing. Until women share power equally in this world the crone will never be revered, imho.

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz February 28, 2011

    My observation is, Elle, that women do this to ourselves, as well. We fight aging tooth and nail. In fact, I think women are sometimes more harsh about women aging than men are about women aging.

    I was pleased to see Annette Bening on the Oscars last night, because she is allowing herself to age. What a lovely crone! I mean that in the wise, self-actualized sense.

    Thanks for commenting.

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