Maiden, Mother, Crone; all three important aspects of a woman’s life.
I feel quite strongly that the final aspect; the crone, is overlooked a lot. We can accept and embrace the first two incarnations of womanhood but the latter is something that strikes against the core values of our youth obsessed culture.
We find it very hard these days to see old-age as something useful or important- but it’s vital. With age comes wisdom, and the crone (or hag) represents this. Paganism teaches us that there can be no light without darkness, no life without death; it teaches us that there must always be a balance in the world and that we should embrace this without fear.
The Hag is important. In folklore she can be a terrifying figure, she represents death and darkness as well as wisdom. Goddesses such as The Morrigan and Badb are commonly associated with The Hag.
Common ‘hag’ figures include:
Jenny Greenteeth: A hag from my home county of Yorkshire, she is said to lurk in rivers and pull children and the elderly to their deaths.
Baba Yaga: As well as being the inspiration for my last novel Baba Yaga is a wise woman from the Slavic forests who rides around on a mortar and lives in a house on chicken legs. She is known to help the hero on his quest, but her help will come at a price.
The Cailleach: A figure from Irish/Scottish mythology, she is said to be concerned with the harvest and is said to rule the winter months whilst her counterpart the Goddess Brighid (my matron deity) rules the summer.
The Three Fates: Three powerful figures from Greek mythology who control destiny are often depicted as hags, once again highlighting the ‘wisdom’ aspect of the hag.
On a personal level I have to mention that this post was inspired by something that happened to me early this morning, I’m not sure if what came to visit me in my dreams was a ‘hag’ figure, or what the visitation means, but it was certainly interesting. I usually have very vivid dreams but this one felt very different.
At first I though that I was awake; I was lying on my back in bed, my partner asleep against me. I remember very clearly feeling his warmth and the way that he was breathing as I looked around our bedroom in the darkness. Then the bedroom door began to open slowly, I watched as a figure filled the doorway. It was a woman shrouded in black; she began to walk into the room.
At this point I tried to move but found myself frozen, I think I could move my fingers and toes a little but nothing else- I also quickly found that I couldn’t scream, my voice had gone. I tried to wake my partner but to no avail.
The woman walked closer and closer to me, shuffling along the floor until she was about a metre away from me… then I woke up.
When I woke up there was no difference to the scene apart from the fact that I was lying on my front and not my back and the door was closed.
The Hag is important, she holds more wisdom and knowledge than we can ever hope to imagine; honour her.