All women are cyclical beings, constantly in motion, waxing and waning along with the moon. We grow into our most outward nurturing aspect, sharing our light and love with all that come into our circle, and then slowly retreat once more into the welcoming dark to rest and replenish ourselves.
Our phases echo the Earth’s seasons; her spring is our maiden, her summer our mother, her autumn our enchantress and her winter is our crone. As we deepen our awareness of these connections and what they mean for us as individuals, the greater our ability to support ourselves and maximise our potential to achieve all that we aspire to.
In this series of articles, I am acting as your guide to the four archetypes which correspond to the four moon phases… maiden/first quarter, mother/full moon, enchantress/third quarter and the crone/dark moon. Each phase last for roughly 7 days, peaking on day 3 or 4, yet as well all know each one of us are different and our experiences belong solely to us.
Here in the darkness and isolation of winter, the great grandmother observes from her place beside the fire. She watches as icy fingers stretch across the land, the shadows lengthen, stealing away the days, and the moon hides her face, because along comes the Crone.
The image of the Crone is of the old wise woman that sits silently in her chair, ignoring the hustle and bustle of her family all around her. She appears to be asleep but then an argument goes too far, or a squabble can’t be resolved and so she speaks. Her voice is quiet, but it has an authority that will be respected. She has heard all it all before. She sees through the bravado, cutting through the nonsense to heart of what really matters. Her advice is to be heeded and her warnings not to be dismissed.
The word ‘crone’ is often considered a negative one in modern western culture. Conjuring a similar image to the word hag. It has negative associations of the wizened old witch deep in the forest. The witch you are warned about, the witch you grow up scared of and know to avoid. We do not embrace aging, we run from it and in doing so we run from all the goodness that it holds within it. The wisdom that you can only acquire from living.
In its relation to winter and the night time of our day, the crone energy is connected to the dark, another element we have been taught to fear. But what if there were two types of darkness? What if the darkness that conceals threat and danger, is not the only one? What if the feminine dark is the dark of the night sky, full of infinite possibility and wonder. What if the feminine dark was the darkness of the womb, the birth place of all creativity. What if the void wasn’t empty space but the exact space needed to allow inspiration to rush in and to give intuition room to breathe?
We think of the mother bear as the archetype of feminine protection, but what of when she sleeps? Is her strength so easily dismissed by her need to hibernate, or can we identify just as closely with her need to retreat from the world and rest and restore herself, for only by doing so will she be able to embody the fierceness we sometimes need.
When we push ourselves into continual motion struggling to keep up with all the ‘shoulds’ we invent for our lives, it is easy to move at high speed while becoming directionless. We become so focused on goals laid down by the external world, we lose our inner compass, our own wisdom to navigate this journey which is unique to each of us. While letting go and surrendering to the inevitable night is challenging, we have all stayed up too late trying to get something done, rather than getting the sleep we so desperately need and coming back to our task refreshed and with a clear head. Through rest we reconnect to that sacred centre within us and stay heading toward our truth north.
Just as in the moments just before sleep claims us, during this phase of our cycle the edges of our vision and our thoughts become hazy and just out of focus, just like the words that escape us though on the tip of our tongue, or the title to a book we just can’t remember. With the crone energies building and emphasising our inner landscape of magic and intuition, our mental abilities and linear thinking fall away, our senses shift inward, our body awareness is heightened our very existence becomes a living meditation. We do not need elaborate rituals or words of any kind, we only need close our eyes to connect deeply.
The crone is removed from the world and yet connected to it in a much deeper and more profound way. She doesn’t care about the distractions we place before ourselves during the rest of our cycle, and while her eyes seem in a daze, she is seeing more and to greater depths than we, who move so quickly as though to dance only across the surface.
If you think of the moon as a torch light illuminating your way forward, during the dark moon the way ahead disappears, and you are left with no external light to guide you. At this time, the light you seek is the one inside you, your own inner voice which knows the way home if you can trust it enough. Maybe we fear getting lost in the dark because we just haven’t given ourselves times to adjust to the darkness, haven’t given ourselves the opportunity to find our own way, the one that has not been written for us but that we are constantly writing for ourselves.
The tiredness, both physical and mental, we experience during this phase can be frustrating in a society that does not allow for women to simply take a few days off each month. But notice the things you feel most draw to while in this phase. Notice the things you feel driven to do even through the fatigue. Here lies the truth of what matters most to you. And in the layers of what matters to us most, is our purpose and our direction for the next cycle.
Just as we lack the energy to motivate ourselves for goals no longer aligned with our authentic selves, we also find it a challenge to hold onto hurt feelings that no longer seem to matter. Th crone is the woman who at the end of her life realises that the petty arguments simply wasted her time, and in this way, she can be your greatest ally in knowing who deserves your forgiveness. With self-judgement and criticism laid to one side for this brief moment, you will be able to acknowledge the truth of situations and let some things go, and perhaps offer some of that forgiveness to yourself.
The withdrawal the crone energy asks of us, is similar to taking a well-deserved holiday from the busier more demanding aspects of our daily lives. Time away offers us the gift of distance, and an objective perspective. By pulling back a little we can see with a wider lens and let go of some of the smaller things we’d been holding on so tightly too without even being aware of it.
The space we create for ourselves by doing this offers the opportunity to dream, to imagine and make active choices about the lives we want to lead. We can feel the dream and see the reality and know the difference between the two. This is the gift that the crone will whisper to the maiden as her energies begin to creep in, and it will be the maiden who use this deep wisdom to create a plan the mother can put into motion.
So, what does she want…
The Crone asks that you acknowledge and accept that stopping before you find yourself running on empty is an essential not a luxury. All she requires of you is space and time to sit in silence together.
What are her superpowers…
The Crone is the gatekeeper to your wisdom and authentic self, spending time with her means spending time with your intuitive self. The stronger your connection and the more respectful your bond, the easier you will find it to call on her help during the rest of your cycle, when you find yourself momentarily lost and in need of direction.
The Crone has the benefit of hindsight and wisdom, her ability to reflect honestly and objectively makes this the time for journaling and meditating on anything that has been troubling you this month. Take your dilemmas to her and listen patiently for her response.
What are her challenges…
One of the difficulties of this phase is that we can feel indifferent to the people around us. Their needs and chatter can feel irritating and unimportant, which of course to them feels like rejection and can be very hurtful. The need to be alone can also be experienced this way by the people around us, so it is important to plan ahead. By scheduling time for ourselves before we hit a point of overwhelm, we enable ourselves to communicate our needs in a way that doesn’t cause others pain.
Another challenge is the reduced capability to maintain the physical activity you can at other times. Most of us do not have lives in which we can simply take a break for a few days each month, but here is the lesson of control. How much of what you do needs to be done straight away? Could somethings wait, and is there anyone you could ask for help? Asking for and accepting help are not easy, but the crone’s challenges are here to help us even though they are uncomfortable. Not doing this and ploughing through is what ignites the fuel in the enchantress’s fire. It is all too easy to feel victimised, overwhelmed and under-appreciated by those around us, when often the biggest bully in our lives is our self.
Self Care essentials…
If we suppress our needs during this phase, the lack of time to heal and restore our energies can leave us tired and exhausted in our maiden phase and for the rest of the cycle and thus begins a destructive pattern. It is imperative to accept the needs of this phase and honour them by not pushing through using stimulants and willpower. Being overly active physically, mentally or emotionally leads to anger, and frustration, so whether it be a leisurely bath, a walk in nature, time for meditation or with your journal. Find ways to meet your needs.
Without the crone’s involvement in our lives we can feel a lack of purpose or direction.
While this phase can feel like a welcome relief from the intensity of the enchantress phase, but it can also feel disabling, like a sudden and unwelcome stop. In the same way that you need to cool down the body after a workout, try to plan the transition between Enchantress and Crone by charting your cycle. When you feel the crone energies building, instead of trying to cram in as much as possible ‘to get it all done’, begin to slow down. Remind yourself that the maiden is around the corner and with her high-speed energy you’ll catch up in no time!