Witchtober Day 30 – Crone Witch

Photo by sabinevanerp on Pixabay.

The classic image of the Witch is that of the Crone, and can be seen unfortunately to derive from the many old women, particularly widows and spinsters, accused of witchcraft during the period of Europe and America’s witch hunts – women who were old and unmarried, living at the margins of society and keeping to themselves were easy victims to accuse.

The word itself may derive from the Old French carogne, the same root as the word carrion, a word that connotes dead flesh. It is not, to say the least, a pleasant word, and various dictionaries give such definitions as an “ugly old woman” in their list.

The idea of the Crone Witch has been somewhat reclaimed by modern Witches, following the “Triple Goddess” concept first presented without much historical support by Robert Graves in his influential The White Goddess of 1948. This version presents the Crone as the Wise Woman and the archetypal representation of the Dark Moon, Winter, Old Age and Death.

This may have been genuinely revolutionary thinking in the 1940s and 1950s when it was adopted into modern Wicca, but from a contemporary perspective the division of (cis) womanhood into “Maiden, Mother and Crone”, phases relating to reproduction and childbirth, is itself a deeply limiting view of the Divine…

The Crone Witch can of course be of any gender, and can in this Witchtober series, be seen as the counterpart to the Young Witch. The Crone is the one with a lifetime’s worth of knowledge, expertise and experience gained through study, practice, and trial and error. The Crone can be a guiding figure, and a protecting one, sharing knowledge and helping future generations on the path.

I can’t say I know any Crone Witches – and if I did, I wouldn’t call them that to their faces! So I don’t really have much to write for this prompt other than to encourage a critical evaluation of the archetypal image of the Witch as Crone and what that might mean for our views of gender, age, and Witchcraft today.


  1. There’s a helpful reimagining of the Maiden, Mother, Crone trope in “The Once and Future Witches” by Alix E Harrow. The idea is that they can be any age. There are also transgender witches in the book.

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