The Maiden, Mother and Crone: Ancient Goddesses Meet Modern Religion


A MODERN INVENTION

moongirl

Source

A careful study of ancient mythology will reveal that a singular “mother, maiden and crone” Deity is nowhere to be found in ancient myth. There are triple Goddesses in the Ancient Celtic Mythos – but they do not exist within this archetype. The Celtic Goddess Brigid is a classic example of a triple Goddess. Yet she is one of three sisters, not a maiden, mother or a crone. Each sister is also named Brigid. They have similar but different attributes.

There are also a fair share of triunal deities in Greek Myth, however, these also do not fit exactly into the mother, maiden and crone mold either. Hecate is a prominent example. In Greek artwork she was sometimes paired with the two moon Goddesses Artemis and Selene. Artemis is a virgin and Selene is a mother to some 50 daughters. However, there is no hard evidence that any Greeks saw these triple Goddesses as aspects of one person. They each had their own distinct lives, mythological tales and purposes.

It is important to note that the Mother, Maiden, Crone archetype is a modern invention of the Neo-Pagan or Wiccan movement. It is a concept that was influenced primarily by Robert Graves, a mid-20th century novelist. This was popularized in his novel The White Goddess (written in 1948).

However, the fact that the mother, maiden, crone aspect is new does not mean that it isn’t valuable. It is a useful archetype for a woman venerating the different phases of her life. Perhaps though, instead of lumping all these aspects into one person, it may be useful to think of different Goddesses who existed in each of these different phases. A Goddess is a Goddess – not an “aspect.”


THE MOTHER, MAIDEN AND CRONE ARCHETYPE

maiden-mother-crone

The phases basically speak for themselves: there is youth, adulthood and old age. In a culture that celebrates youth and pressures women to look young forever, learning to celebrate other phases of your life is important. Think of the fact that the Cosmetic Industry is worth billions, it makes major bucks off of women’s insecurities. So let us examine the three phases of the Mother, Maiden, Crone archetype below:


THE MAIDEN

maiden

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She is a young and virginal girl who has not yet awakened. She is often associated with innocence and beauty. She is probably the archetype most celebrated by our current society.

  • Concepts: Associated with new beginnings, youthful ideas and enthusiasm
  • Moon: Waxing
  • Season: Springtime and Ostara
  • Symbols: Flowers, the colors pink, white or green
  • Maiden Goddesses: Persephone, Artemis, Hestia, Rhiannon

THE MOTHER

mother

The mother Goddess is associated with creation, birth, marriage, sexuality, nurturing, care-giving and protection.

The Mother doesn’t get enough credit in this day and age. “Powerful” and “Assertive” are positive traits ascribed to females. But people often dismiss “nurturing” and “care-giving” as weaker qualities. It is not so. It takes a lot of strength to be compassionate and nurturing in the face of overwhelming stress and frustration. Isis was certainly a powerful and yet nurturing Goddess. She literally went to the ends of the Earth to help put her husband Osiris back together, so that’s pretty nurturing. Yet is she powerful? Hell yes. Her name literally means “throne,” the symbol of the pharoah’s power.

  • Concepts: Associated with harvest, achievement and fulfillment.
  • Moon: Full moon.
  • Season: Summer, sometimes spring and fall.
  • Animals: Cat, Dove, Dolphin
  • Color: Red
  • Mother Goddesses: Isis, Demeter, Gaia, Pachamama

THE CRONE

crone

Source

The Crone represents the inevitability that all things must come to an end. She is associated with death and what happens after death. However, death isn’t a bad thing, it is a necessary phase in creation. In Traditional Cultures, the “Crone” aspect of womanhood received much respect. For example, in India and China, women who traditionally lived to old age received more status and respect in the family than younger women.  The ancient reverence for older women is connected to the fact that living to old age was rare, and thus those who were capable of this feat were wise and had sagely advice.

Today, women often feel embarrassed by their age. I have some female friends at 27 who feel “old.” Really?! I think some chicks have been reading too much Twilight (I apologize for the reference). Sorry, you can’t be a teenage vampire forever, grow up! Celebrate your age. Celebrate the fact that you are ripened with experience and life knowledge that the young wipper-snappers  lack. You are like a fine wine, getting more refined with age.

  •  Concepts: Death, Completion, Endings
  • Moon: Waning
  • Season: Winter
  • Symbols: Owl, Wolf, Raven
  • Color: Black, Dark Blue, Dark Purple
  • Goddesses: Hecate, Grandmother Spiderwoman, Elli, Cailleach Bear

MUSIC 

Here’s a good example of the Mother, Maiden and Crone in modern music.


LINKS

Mother, Maiden, Crone: Ancient Goddesses For A Modern Religion (A Presentation)

Wiccan Goddesses

Mother, Maiden Crone (About.com)

5 responses

  1. Nice post, pictures, links, and i even liked the song. I may reblog this since it is so complete. BB

    October 2, 2013 at 8:09 am

  2. Reblogged this on Blau Stern Schwarz Schlonge and commented:
    I like this post, and the pictures, links, and even the music video. Enjoy and BB!

    October 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm

  3. While I agree it is a useful concept, the MMC trinity, I find it an incomplete one. Even in the linkage to seasons…there are four, not three. And I find the youthful virgin, the baby-mother, and the old crone a sad complement of examples in that they are the only ones popular with patriarchal sorts.

    If I would have to have some combination of morphing goddesses? I’d have four. I want an option besides motherhood for my maturity, thanks….call that other middle-ground one the Warrior or Queen; a woman/goddess does not need to reproduce to find worth in MY spirituality.

    October 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm

  4. Oooo, I think the Warrior or the Queen would be a cool archetype to add, since there were many mature female Goddesses who didn’t end up having children.

    I think “The Mother” archetype doesn’t necessarily need to have children. She can be a strong, mature woman who protects those she cares about.

    October 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm

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