Most of us probably know that Wiccans tend to recognize three phases of the feminine experience: Maid, Mother & Crone.
In our mainstream society, the first phase is worshiped, the second celebrated, and the third . . . dreaded. Shunned. Set aside. A section of life to be put off with creams and face lifts and hormone replacement.
In an “alternative” spiritual community, particularly such a female-positive one, you’d think that we’d recognize the absurdity and sadness of this attitude. But we don’t. So powerful is our upbringing in Western culture, we still struggle to appreciate this third phase as anything but an ending to youth.
What nonsense. What a waste.
In my early twenties, during the first phases of exploration into the craft, I’d often wished my own grandmother were a practitioner so she could “teach me the ways.” How I envied the second gens! How special it must be to have a lineage passed down to you.
It wasn’t until years after her death that I’d realized that in her own way, my grandmother was a teacher of ways. Though she was a simple woman with traditional Southern Baptist values, and though she never would have understand my own path, if only I’d paid attention more, I’d have realized that many of the skills I learned from her weren’t that different from the ones I learned later in my practice.
My grandmother was a gardener. She knew the seasons. She knew at what hour the morning glories bloomed, and when the moonflower opened to the night sky. She was a skilled canner in the harvest season. She had a potion or a salve for every ailment. She could tell whether the pregnant lady down the street was having a boy or a girl by . . . oh, I don’t even know what method she used, but she always seemed to be right.
In short, my grandmother was a witch. She just didn’t know it.
And yours was, too. Or is, if you’re lucky.
Part of my failure to recognize this in her lifetime was the unfortunate idea ingrained in my generation’s collective upbringing that old women are there to tend, but not to learn from. Age was something to be dreaded and warded off.
Now, as I am fast approaching the crest of my Mother phase, the Crone looms on the horizon, not as far off as she once was, I am beginning to appreciate in a new way just how much the older generation has to offer us. And just how precious it is—-after all, once they are gone, so is wisdom they’ve acquired.
I am writing about this today to ask you to consider the Crone in your life. Your assignment, should you choose to accept, is to take the time to ask her about . . . anything. Her favorite recipes, what childbirth was like when her time came, what her mother used to do when she was sick. Or hell, ask her for her advice about men–and don’t be surprised to find out she still has a sex life.
Then write down what you learn in your Book of Shadows. If you never had a witch in the family to teach you the ways, look at all the elders in your life as teachers. Once you think of them that way, your relationship with the people generations ahead of you will be richer, and the way you look at your own future will begin to change.