During the Hallowe’en season, we see images of the Crone everywhere: she’s the gnarled old witch woman, wild unbound hair, the glint of mystery in her eye. But who is the Crone, really?
The Crone is an archetype appearing in mythology the world over. We learn about her various guises through story and folklore: she appears as the cunning old wisewoman, the monstrous hag or the devouring mother, among others. In the cycle of life and the seasons, the Crone rules death, and in doing so serves some very important functions for personal and spiritual progress:
- Tests seekers for worthiness
- Instigates and/or facilitates challenge opportunities leading to growth
- Provides hidden insight, tools and illumination
- Initiates seekers into greater mysteries
So how does she manage to do this?
- Because of her age, the Crone is able to see the larger pattern of things and draw from her deep well of experience
- The Crone herself is closer to death; since death holds no fear for her, she can guide seekers through its trials with proficiency and skill
- Since she is closer to crossing the Veil between the living and dead, the Crone has more access to arcane, Otherwordly magics
The Welsh enchantress-goddess Ceridwen is a Crone deity I have worked with for 20 years. Although not always portrayed as an old woman, she very much fits the Crone aspect of devouring mother. If you’re not familiar with her story and lore, the bulk of it can be found in the Hanes Taliesin (The Tale of Taliesin). In this tale, we learn of how Ceridwen brewed the Awen, the elixir of inspiration, in her great pearl-rimmed cauldron. When the brew was stolen (some say purposefully, some say accidentally) by a young boy named Gwion Bach, Ceridwen and Gwion engage in an epic initiatory chase across the landscape, transforming into various animals before Ceridwen finally swallows the boy whole. She gives birth to him nine months later, transformed, into the famous Welsh bard Taliesin.
It is said that Ceridwen’s hall lies under the waters of Llyn Tegid (Lake Bala) in Wales. Wondering what it would be like to journey there yourself, to speak with Ceridwen? Trance journeys, sometimes called spirit flights or wonder voyages, are journeys of the imaginal, wild mind into the mythical landscape. Magically-inclined folk often “cross the hedge” using trance journey techniques to acquire deeper knowledge, inspiration and/or direction from the Unseen world. At the very least, but still very importantly, a regular trance journey practice is a great way to bring a sense of enchantment back into our lives.
I know the way beneath Llyn Tegid. Dare to taste the Awen? I’ll take you there. Listen on, Beloved*…
If this journey resonates with you, feel free to use this recording in your personal practice, or explore it with a group. Please do remember to give proper attribution. For a written transcript of this trance journey: download this PDF file.
*As always, remember to take good care of yourself before, during and after any trance journey or magical working. Drink plenty of water. Ground yourself with an earthy and nourishing snack after your trance. Reach out to a trusted friend or member of your community if you need support.
Featured photo credit: Llyn Tegid and Bala on Wales Live.