The Crone

The crone is the source of the world's wisdom, powerful beyond the other archetypes. Hers is the magic of understanding nature, of knowledge and creation. And her wrath can be as deadly as she is beneficent. She is the godmother but also the thirteenth fairy at the christening.

Long ago, the people suffered from a horrible sickness and so they sent for a great healer far to the southwest. her name was Qiyo Kepe, and she lived in a house of leaves. they sent her a messenger and she quickly agreed to come. at the edge of the first river they had to cross, Qiyo Kepe shook out the sand from her sandals and herds of buffalo and deer poured from them. At the next river, she shook birds from her sandals, and lizards and snakes at the next. At the fourth river, she shook loose a buzzing cloud of insects. at last t hey arrived at the village, where Qiyo Kepe bathed the people's sores with pure springwater and they recovered. Meanwhile, the men of the village were angry and fearful. the messenger had told them of Qiyo Kepe's exploits at the rivers, and they feared her power. Worse  yet, her simple water cure had worked when all their magic had failed. so they resolved to murder her and her family. But Qiyo Kepe knew of their plan. she went home and swept the house, chanting "Because you would murder Qiyo Kepe, you will bear the scars of disease forever in all your generations." So the men of the village arrived and killed Qiyo Kepe and her family. and all of the animals mourned her loss.

 Retold from Grandmothers of the Light 122-124

 

The ancient wisewoman crone was the Dark Goddess‘s earthly representative to society. She was venerated as elder sought out for advice, as seer called upon for prophecy, and as healer asked to tend the ill. The crone acted to bridge the transition from the dark to the new moon; she was the funerary priestess who helped the old to die and the midwife who assisted the new to be born.[i]


[i] Demetra George, Mysteries of the Dark Moon: The Healing Power of the Dark Goddess (USA: HarperCollins, 1992), 222.

 

Ovid (Met. 14:130-153) tells how the Sibyl of Cumae, in southern Italy, was loved by Apollo. He bribed her by offering to prolong her life for as many years as there were grains in a heap of dust, in return for her embraces. She refused him and although he kept his word he denied her perpetual youth, so she was condemned to centuries as a wizened crone. The Sibyl, a young woman, is shown standing before Apollo holding out her cupped hands which contain the heap of dust. He sits on a rock before her, one hand resting on his lyre.