What Maiden, What Mother, What Crone Means for this Election


The roots of my religion run way back before the birth of Christianity and one of our most ancient symbols is:  Maiden, Mother (Warrior), Crone.  You can see Her in the phases of the Moon, as She waxes from crescent, to full, to dark.  You can see Her in the lives of most women as we age from a Maiden, full of youthful energy and promise — Persephone, Flora, Artemis — to Mother, whether of actual children or of some project, — Hera, Demeter, Danu — (or to a Warrior — Athena, Durga, the Morrigan), to Crone, exercising judgment, making jokes like Uzume, exacting payment like Ereshkegial — Hecate, Baba Yaga, Mother Holle.  You can see Her in the agricultural wheel of the year — bright green sprouts, mature fruits that have persevered against the weeds, the harvested seed, stored away for the winter and full — which is why we call it a Wheel — of the promise of the Maiden.  You can see Her in everything you do:  the brainstorming phase of a project, the plan and execution, the completion and evaluation.  (You can see Her copied several times in Christianity.  First, there’s Mary, the Maiden, telling the Angel of God, as all good women in Patriarchy must, “Do with me according to thy will.” Then, there’s Mary, the mother, watching her son discussing religion with the rabbis.  And, then, there’s Mary, the Crone, upheld by spiritual daughters, watching the crucifixion.  And, of course, there’s what Derrick Jensen would call the toxic mimic of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.)

One of the prayers I say in my morning meditation is:  It’s all real.  It’s all metaphor.  It’s always more.

You can’t just go around praying things every morning — cold dark winter mornings, with hot coffee in a pottery mug,  all the way through sun-lit summer mornings with iced mint coffee in a crystal glass — morning after morning, day after day, in the same chair, with the same incense burning, and not expect it to erupt into your life, Charles Williams-like.  And the Maiden-Mother-Crone archetype erupted into mine the other night.

I stayed up late to watch Hillary Clinton’s speech when she became the first woman to become the nominee of a major American political party.  I started crying during the introductory video when Shirley Chisholm once again disabused anyone who thought the women’s liberation movement was a joke.  And, well, then, I pretty much cried all the rest of the way through.  I’ll likely have more to say later, but:  wow.   Clinton went full-frontal feminist.  How different from 2008 when she was constrained to try to pretend (as too many of us in business, politics, education, the arts, etc. must do) that she was neutered, just as good as a man, so-not-a-feminist.  We’ve come a long way, baby.  Seriously.

But the moment that shocked me to my core came at the end of the speech.  I haven’t been able to find a picture of it, but, after the speech, Chelsea Clinton, whom I will always remember as a maiden ready to grow into her own bone structure, already the mother of a toddler and hugely gravid with her second child, came on stage and hugged her mother.  And at that moment I (of course, wherever I go, there it is) saw Maiden, Mother, Crone writ large across the entire world.  There is was, before me:  a powerful Crone, hugging her own daughter, the Mother of a Maiden and pregnant with another child.

What struck me, physically, was that — for America’s entire history — there has never, ever, not once, been a president who understood, on a physical level, what it means to have cramps, to menstruate, to feel your body swell with the presence of another being, to grapple with preventing an unwanted pregnancy, to keep producing prose through morning sickness, to give birth, to lose a wanted child, to sigh with relief when an unwanted child miscarried, to walk out into the clear morning after an abortion, to experience the moment when part of your own body becomes separate and is placed in your arms, to suckle a child, to go through menopause and have hot flashes, to sit firmly in the feminist wisdom of age  . . .  to have that experience after almost 300 years. . . . well, I think you take my meaning.  And, yes, I want to acknowledge that many women, by choice or otherwise, don’t have exactly these experiences, and I still see them reflected in the Maiden, Mother, Crone symbol.  But we’re 50+% of America’s population and there has never been a single president who’s lived in our bodies, dealt with the essential issue of whether to reproduce or not to reproduce, month after month, day after day.

But suddenly, the prospect of having a president who has hugged her own pregnant daughter just lit up all my neurons.  If you don’t think that this, like the roads diverging in the wood, can make all the difference, well, then your eyes are shut.

After this, things will never be the same.

Picture found here

31 responses to “What Maiden, What Mother, What Crone Means for this Election

  1. Try “People Magazine: pregnant Chelsea joins mom Hillary…” for photo.

  2. Fabulous! Thank you for sharing this moment (and your thoughts) with those of us who missed it! A moment to treasure, recognize and remember! Goddess willing something good will come of these days!

  3. I think the world really really needs old crones. And we do seem to be getting a little bit of cred these days. Maybe Hillary can be among the first (let’s not forget the few in Europe), and show people that an old woman can be a repository of wisdom — if she’s dealt with the chains her culture bound her in at birth.

    • They definitely can give one a different perspective on things. I was raised mainly by two elderly women until I was 10 and had no kids around who were my own age except in school. Sure, I still don’t understand my own generation very well but maybe that’s a good thing. I learned to fix things, if possible, instead of toss them.
      I still get along with older people and people who were raised like I was better than I do most folks from my generation.

  4. https://leviquackenboss.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/lowly-womens-work/
    Wishing hillary wasnt formedical mandates. Usurping mother’s/women’s rights rights and parental rights, plus religious and medical freedom. She doesn’t represent women everywhere. I wish it were so, but she does not. Lots of us warrior mom’s and crones fighting hard for our rights. We need all the sacred feminine warriors helping.

    • Apologies for autocorrect errors in post. I did manage to catch crones that had corrected to clones, at least. (:

  5. Has me really thinking………and a bit problematic. What do you say? After reading and resonating, the voice in the back of my head questioned what might this feel like for a transwoman to read? Because it’s so rooted in biology. What with the current version of the TERF wars going on…..I felt that w/ the emphasis on biology. And that’s a problem.

    Don’t mean to deny your experience, which I appreciate your sharing.

    Just had to speak up for my experience reading this piece and how I was concerned that it could feel hurtful to some of my sisters. Not because I thought you were being exclusionary but rather that possibility hadn’t occured.

    • Women are not responsible for transpeople’s feelings. Biology is an inescapable fact of being human. We women are still learning to celebrate first periods, and now last ones. Cronehood is restricted to women. You can’t be one without being female.

    • Women’s biology, and lived experience, is not a problem. Asking women to not mention it, and celebrate it, is.

    • I can only guess how they’d feel, but I know how I feel since I’m at the age where traditionally one is already a parent and yet I’ve opted out of childbearing. She did mention that the phases also can apply to the things and projects we do in life. We conceive of an idea, work on it, nurture it, fight for it to survive, and then watch it go off into the world when it’s done (mature). For me, that’s crafts projects and planting ideas in heads via discussion. For some it may be social causes or getting a local library refurbished. Yeah, she stuck to the biological metaphor. Maybe that’s because she physically saw it on display with the Clinton ladies. Who, besides she, knows?

  6. https://3rdiconsultants.wordpress.com/blog/ check the blog on The heart of economy- small scale businesses

  7. Thank you, thank you for being a “voice” for this humble old crone.

  8. Documentary on film, Hollywood and Women …. so worth watching!!!
    Thanks for all of this Most Deep Magic!

  9. Does Hillary’s status as a feminist woman really qualify her to be President of the United States? Since when does gender and the ability to say she hugged her pregnant daughter have anything to do with the ability to run a country? Let alone the (arguably) most influential and powerful country in the world.

    • Jane Gagle-Bennett

      Having two balls and a penis was a qualifier for too many years.

      • I don’t think gender should be a qualifier regardless of male or female status. The fact that the American public can choose a candidate solely based on that however, something I’ve witnessed said by numerous individuals, is rather frightening

      • Exactly, Jane. Having two balls and a penis isn’t good enough to qualify a man for Presidency. Why should having a vagina or a uterus be a good enough qualifier for a woman? It shouldn’t. Biology alone doesn’t make one qualified to lead a country.

      • Jane Gagle-Bennett

        My comment re “cock and two balls” as qualifying for president was a comment on the overwhelming number of men who hold political office every where and at every level. I don’t share your opinion about Hillary Clinton.

    • Hillary, regardless, of her female parts, is the most qualified of all the candidates. We will see.

    • In your eyes, what qualifies any human being to be President of the United States? You seem to forget her credentials.

  10. As an inclusive radical feminist, I wouldn’t presume to know where the author stands on these issues, but I feel that her “by choice or otherwise” certainly could cover me as a transsexual woman. In fact, recognizing that the vast majority of my sisters in the female sex class experience menstruation, and a very large majority can give birth, seems to me part of the sex class solidarity I owe and affirm when I call myself a transsexual female and a feminist — one with mixed sex characteristics and mixed socialization, of course. Also, the T**F word is widely taken as a slur, and doesn’t advance any constructive dialogue. Private women’s and Lesbian spaces, sacred or secular, may have a range of policies on how to define woman or female, and what groups of women are welcome. I know that Dianic spiritual leaders like Z Budapest do reserve rituals for women who menstruate, have, or will; and that is a matter of religious freedom which deserves respect. However the author may view these things, I’ll say that reading what she says about Hillary and Chelsea Clinton has made me a more aware woman and feminist.

  11. Cheryel Lemley-McRoy

    I must mention the greatest Crone of all, Eme Elohim, the Holy Spirit, who was female in Hebrew and Aramaic until the Roman Catholic Church in the third century changed Her to a male.

  12. I very much admire your ability to see your religion alive in the world. Please keep sharing that gift.

  13. Doubt HRC would like to be given the “crone” label unless it meant a vote or is associated with a donation. She does not represent me. I’m very disappointed and while you have a point about never having had a president who knows what it is to menstruate and be fertile, I am highly suspicious that she is taking testosterone and she sure looks like she’s had her share of botox. This piece of writing lost my respect at the close suggesting that my eyes are not open. I am not a fan and I am sure that just as you are sure of your statements, my points of view have validity too. I don’t want any kind of president that is funded by the multinational corporations, supports fracking, the TPP, etc. I am not under the illusion that because she is above this. I believe she has learned to play hard and dirty very much on purpose and for the glory of the title of “First Female President.”

  14. This was such a lovely post. I found this lovely picture for you, at this link: http://img2.timeinc.net/people/i/2016/cbb/blog/160620/chelsea-clinton-2-600×450.jpg
    Hope it comes through! It was a sweet, sweet moment.

  15. Cari, Thank you so much!

  16. I’m sorry, but voting someone into the Presidency of the United States based on the fact that they have a uterus and have experienced menstruation is no better than voting for them because they have a penis and have experienced ejaculation. I would be THRILLED to have a woman for a President (whether or not that woman had a uterus or a vagina, because not all women do), but I’m not going to vote for Hillary Clinton just because she’s a woman. I won’t vote for just ANY woman. She has to be the RIGHT woman. And I truly do not believe Hillary Clinton is the right woman.

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