(Essay) Secret of the Crone by Amy Barron Smolinski

Photo credit: Liliana Taboas, Liliana Beatriz Fotografia
Photo credit: Liliana Taboas, Liliana Beatriz Fotografia

By the last fading light of the longest day of the thirty-fifth year of my life, I sit, bathing in the cool, mild air, watching the crescent moon and Venus and Mars bidding farewell to the sun.

My moon blood flows, for the very last time, for in four days, I will become a Crone.  It is a strange gift, this knowing.  A difficult choice to give over the natural mysteries of time and biology to the clinical skill of a trusted surgeon.  This was not how I envisioned entering Cronehood.  I thought I needed to wait until my hair was silver, my face etched with the map of time, my heart filled with the wisdom of many more years of life and pain.  When I was first given the news, a diagnosis of a condition so irreversible and unmanageable that even the most holistic of healers agree it warrants hysterectomy, I fought.   I rejected the idea of removing my womb surgically from my body, and one of the first panicked thoughts I had was “No!  I’m too young to be a Crone!  I’m not prepared!”

I felt I was being pushed into premature Cronehood, losing my Maiden sense of myself, moving too rapidly through Motherhood, though my children are still young and my journey as a Mother is still unfolding.  I grasped, frantically, at the last vestiges of my Maidenhood and Motherhood, terrified of losing my youth, my capability for innocence, my abundance of life-giving.  I sought to heal my body with food, with sleep, with herbs, with massage, with energy.  And I became much healthier, but my womb still swelled and ached every month, bleeding life from me in dangerous amounts and for far too many days.

I was visited in my dreams, three nights in a row, by a panther and a lion.  They came to protect and guide me, at one point so close that I could physically feel them sleeping in my bed next to me—and when I woke, I discovered my own black cat, a panther in miniature, on top of me, purring.  The third night, they brought me to a nature preserve where big cats were in labor, preparing to birth their litters, some of them in human form.  They told me to help these mama cats, and I protested that I have no training, no idea how to help a mother in labor.  “You must,” they said.  “This is your task now.”

I spoke to a spiritual guide of the dreams and the cats and the inevitable decision to release my womb so that I could live a life free from the debilitating pain and exhaustion.  “You already possess the wisdom you need,” she told me.  “Your womb energy is so full, your body can no longer contain it.  You aren’t losing your womb, you’re birthing new wisdom into the world.   And all the wisdom you need to accomplish the tasks coming to you is already within you.”

All the wisdom.  That is the gift of the Crone.  She does not lose the wisdom of the Maiden and the wisdom of the Mother.  How could I forget?  They are all-in-self, three-in-one, the Holy Trinity of a woman’s life lived to the fullest potential.  I felt a vast sense of relief, and remembering, and I felt rather like an idiot for forgetting this.  I had not lost the Maiden sense of myself when I became a Mother, why would I think I would lose either of these senses in becoming a Crone?  I had fallen into the trap of the unseeing current culture, which sees Cronehood only as an end—to life, to fertility, to sexiness and sensuality.  In a flash, I saw how foolish this was—a Crone cannot be “not a Maiden” or “not a Mother,” she must be ALL life-stages in order to attain Cronehood.  I felt a rush of energy and understanding and a cosmic head-slap moment.  Somewhere, very near, the Great Goddess laughed so hard I could almost physically hear her, and I laughed too.

I realize I am not losing anything.  My childbearing years are finished, that was a realization I came to years ago.  My youngest child is still breastfeeding, but I will not lose that relationship, it will continue until he is ready to end it.  My career goals have changed, my relationships have changed, but I am comfortable owning all of my choices.  My life now is as I have chosen it, and filled with blessings, gratitude, and powerful blossoming energy.

I am not giving up any hope or wish or dream that I had not already let go.  Instead, because I let go, I am being given the gift of Cronehood because this is where I am.  No one is forcing me over the threshold.  I needed only to turn my eyes forward to see that I have already crossed it, and my Maiden self and Mother self are here with me.

The secret of the Crone is that the Goddess laughs.  The secret of the Crone is that there are still grand adventures to be had, that life is still an unfolding of mysteries and sorrows and joys all woven into the fabric—and that we are all still weavers.

For four days more, as the days begin to shorten in the thirty-fifth year of my life, I will bleed my last moon blood.  I will wonder at the mystery of it, of our bodies, of the moon, of the Great Mother and the cycles that constantly regenerate our lives and our world.  I will meditate.  I will engage in rituals of caring for myself.  I will enjoy the gifts of my relationships, of the beauty around me, of the permeability between energetic planes.  I will do the work laid out for me on my new path with renewed vigor and the confidence that comes from being a Crone and knowing that somehow, all the resources I need are already there, I only need to call them.  Perhaps I will be visited again by spirit guides in my dreams.

And on the fourth day, when my trusted doctor removes my womb, I will look forward to meeting the wisdom my body can no longer hold, and to healing with this new wisdom integrating into my life.  And I will know that, if I just listen, I will hear the Goddess laugh again.

Read Meet Mago Contributor Amy Barron Smolinski.

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May the hidden wisdom flow through you, as you mark this time of your life. Life is so full of surprises that are waiting for you in the decades to come. Be ready, be healthy and rejoice. The best is yet to come.
Blessings of the Mother Goddess, whose daughter you will always be.

Glenys D. Livingstone

you write so well dear Amy.


I am 70 years old and very much a crone in age but I move back and forth through maiden and mother returning to crone only to step out of her once again! My point is that all of these powers move through us throughout our lives as cycles of abundance and attrition. I applaud your courage telling your own story so truthfully and hopefully. I do wish you well.