Every Maiden isn’t young. Every Mother doesn’t have a child. Every Crone isn’t old. what distinguishes them is not age, but energy.
Beginning in 1996 and nearly every summer for the next 20 years, I spent a week with hundreds of women writers from all over the world. The gathering is the annual conference of the International Women’s Writing Guild. They ranged in age from teens to 90s! It wasn’t uncommon for mothers to bring their daughters. One year, we had four generations from one family, though one generation was still in utero.
For at least seven years, I designed the closing ritual for the conference. In 2008, I wanted the ritual to honor the many Maidens, Mothers, and Crones who had come to share the stories they had written and the stories they had lived. In fact, for some of the women, reading their work out loud at that conference was the first time they had shared their voices in public.
The ceremony was held in a college auditorium. Picture a raked floor with two aisles, running from the top level down to the stage. Unlike many of the DIY rituals I’ve shared on my podcast, Ritual Recipes, this conference ritual was more of a production. For one thing, I needed music. I chose the song Diety by Wendy Rule. Both the lyrics and the melody are fiercely powerful. The song includes these three lines: I am the Maiden. I am the Mother. I am the Crone.
To begin the ritual, I addressed the writers: “We are not just many women gathered here this night. We are generations of women, from every corner and curve of the world. While we may not all be related by the blood of our veins, we are deeply connected by the blood of our wombs, even if we have yet to experience the flow, even if the flow has long ceased.”
The Maiden embodies the creative force.
I talked about the multiple generations present, about how the Maiden embodies the creative force. Like one of spring’s colorful perfumed flowers, her purpose is to attract. Dancing with wild abandon, she gathers the stuff of life – big dreams, bold ideas, and intense desires. But she’s impatient and doesn’t settle down long enough to bring those dreams, ideas and desires into reality. She isn’t supposed to. Her story is about beginning. We see her in the waxing Crescent Moon, the silver sliver that grows bit by bit. The Maiden is usually young…but not always. Regardless of your age, if some new relationship, or new project, or new idea is calling you, slip on your fancy shoes. Dance with the Maiden.
The Mother embodies the creative act.
Sensual, sexual, fertile and strong, she’s the one who weaves the ideas, dreams, and desires, then gives birth to something tangible. She feeds and protects. The energy of the Mother is often seen in her child. But the child doesn’t have to be human. The Mother’s devotion could be to an idea, a project, a cause, or a story. She is the Lady of the Dance. Her story is about fulfillment. We see her in the Full Moon. The Mother is usually of child-bearing years…but not always. Regardless of your age, if you’ve birthed a creation of any sort, give it time and tender loving care. Find a rocking chair. Feel the rhythm. Nurture with the Mother.
The Crone embodies creative transformation.
She sees far beyond the last note of the dance. What was, is no longer. The Wise Woman, she recognizes that death is only a change and that beyond death is life in a new form. She leads those going on that new path, and comforts those left behind. Her stories are about endings. We see her dark outline, an empty womb, in the waning Crescent Moon, what singer/songwriter Wendy Rule calls “the old moon held by her daughter.” The Crone is usually old…but not always. Regardless of your age, if you know, sense, or feel that it’s time to move on with a project, a job, a relationship, do it. Be bold. Cut the cord. Feel the grief. Walk away. It helps to remember that the Crone herself transforms…into the Maiden.
The Crone transforms into the Maiden.
At this point in the ritual, I cued the song “Diety.” As the music played, a procession of 27 women slowly, solemnly entered from the back of the packed auditorium.
Each woman carried a white candle (battery operated). On her wrist she wore a white scrunchie fringed with dozens of long, satin ribbons. Nine women wore white and carried candles with white ribbons — for the Maiden. Nine women wore red and carried candles with red ribbons — for the Mother. And nine women wore black and carried candles with black ribbons — for the Crone.
Once all 27 women reached the stage, they formed 3 lines, Maidens in the front, the Mothers behind them, and the Crones behind the Mothers. As you picture this, just know that the Maidens weren’t all young and the Crones weren’t all old
One by one, each Maiden spoke about how she embodied the energy of the Goddess she represented. Then the Maidens stepped to the back and the Mothers moved to the front. They spoke, moved to the back, and the Crones stepped forward and spoke. All 27 women spoke. What they said had all been coordinated in the weeks prior. Here are six examples, along with each writer’s website.
From Jan Phillips: I honor the story of the Maiden. I honor the seeds within me and scatter them as I go. <janphillips.com>
From Judy Adourian: I honor the story of the Mother. I remember to nourish and nurture myself. <writeyes.com>
From Susan Tiberghien: As a Crone, I summon wisdom into our lives. I summon Sophia. <susantiberghien.com>
From Judith Searle: I honor the story of the Maiden. I represent unlimited potential. <judithsearle.com>
From Marsha McGregor: I honor the story of the Mother. I offer warmth and light to tender shoots. <marshamcgregor.com>
From Paula Chaffee Scardamalia: I honor the story of the Crone. I know what it means to lose and let go. I have the power to cut the threads of that which is finished. <diviningthemuse.com>
In the auditorium that night were Maidens in their nineties and Crones in their teens. You could be feeling any one of the three energies right now. Remember, age doesn’t matter. What does is that you acknowledge the energy and work with it.
Of course, you can explore your own Maiden, Mother, Crone energies without an elaborate ritual. Set aside time. Create sacred space. Enter that space and reflect. What are you attracting? What are you nurturing? What are you releasing? Then write. Or draw. Or sing. Or drum. Or dance. As you do, say out loud: “I am the Maiden. I am the Mother. I am the Crone.” You’ll discover layers of meaning only your heart can know.
Though props aren’t necessary, I appreciate them and use them when I can. In particular, I like the energy of stones. All around my office I have semiprecious stones in forms both raw and polished.
If you want to align your energies with the Maiden, white quartz is easy to find and usually economical.
For the Mother, use red garnets. Bead shops often have strands of garnets for reasonable prices.
For the Crone, use jet or black obsidian. With all of these, you don’t need to use big stones. Chips work fine, too.
Whatever you do, don’t get hung up on the idea that you have to have to spend a lot of money to create this ritual. Use a white-yogurt-covered raisin for the maiden, a dried cherry for the mother, a regular raisin for the crone.
Are you a member of a moon circle? If so, designate someone to represent the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. The Maiden lights a white candle. Each woman in the circle talks about what maiden energy means to her. The Maiden gives everyone a white yogurt raisin. Repeat with the Mother lighting a red candle and giving out dried cherries, the Crone lighting a black candle and giving out raisins.
You’ll want to allow at least ten minutes for everyone to write, even if only to jot down a few insights to be explored later.
What can you expect? You might find that a young person in your family or circle of friends speaks with the wisdom of a crone. A grown woman might dye her hair pink to express the flirty feminine energy she suddenly feels. And the gray-haired “old lady” might take in a foster child.
What else can you expect? Do you remember the click-your-heels scene at the end of “The Wizard of Oz?” That’s when Glenda the Good Witch teaches Dorothy how to use ritual to get back to Kansas. Everyone can learn how to access that power. No, I’m not talking about the Hollywood version. I’m talking about your inner power to see your world from a different perspective, to discover your own ruby slippers, and ruby boots, and ruby stilettos.