A Dream of Crones


My grandmothers were not famous or brilliant or unusually talented. They were no different from other small-town, mid-western women of their generation; as teachers, they were perhaps a tad more well-educated than some, a little less sophisticated than others. They were not particularly insightful about themselves or wise in the ways of the world, but despite their learned preferences for masculine values and a masculine God, deep within the rich sub-stratas of their feminine grounds dwelled strong archetypal Queens with impeccable integrity; fiercely nurturing Earth Mothers whose alignment with the rhythms of nature taught them how to care for their families; Wisewomen with wonderful imaginations, understanding hearts, and respect for mystery; and beautiful Beloveds who knew their true worth to their families, friends, and God. Because my grandmothers loved me, they shared their wisdom and passions with me.
The lives of many, if not most of us were touched and shaped in important ways by the elder women in our families or neighborhoods. Yet, as a society, we rarely give credit to the crones or sing their praises in any public way. Indeed, in the West where youth is worshiped, the older a woman gets, the less visible she becomes. Respect for the Goddess archetype in her aspect as Crone may have disappeared from the Western world, but she remains a reality within the psyche. Many people who carefully attend to their inner life report experiencing significant encounters with wise old women, especially in dreams, but also in waking fantasies and visions. Jungians interpret these as important indications of the ego’s willingness to accept the guidance of the unconscious feminine.
The tenth dream I recorded after making the life-changing decision to take my inner life seriously indicated that I was beginning to understand the significance of the feminine unconscious. Here is an important part of that dream:
Dream # 10A: Gifts From the Crones. I am visiting a foreign, forbidden place, like a kibbutz. I feel guilty and afraid and know I will have to sneak out illegally. Dorene [a wise and admired professor friend in waking life who is married to a Jewish man] is working here. I have brought gifts for her. She is accompanied by three or four older women, grandmothers perhaps. They are sitting cross-legged on the floor dressed in flowing, earth-colored, ethnic-looking clothes. Plump and solid, with heads wrapped in turbans fashioned from natural fibers, they seem serene and benevolent. To my delight, they hold out gifts for me — small, loosely woven bags overflowing with sweet-smelling herbs and spices. I say their gifts to me are so much better than mine to them and know it to be true. I look forward to using them in the future. I want to avoid the guards at the check point at the train station, so I leave by sneaking in the back door of a dark theater and crawling through on my hands and knees. I am nervous about this surreptitious avoidance of the authorities, but full of confident, decisive energy.
Although I didn’t understand the full import of the dream at the time, today it seems very clear. Next time I’ll share my associations with it.
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0 Responses

  1. Dear Jean Raffa
    I follow you on twitter and subscribe to your blog.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Here’s a dream I had some time ago.
    I dreamt that I was an eagle : https://wildantz.wordpress.com/dream/
    Last night I had a ‘dream’ that poetry was flowing into and out of me effortlessly – it felt like gentle rain, though not visually. On waking, I cannot remember the words.

  2. Dear Anu,
    Thank you so much for the follow and subscription. I am honored. Your blog is wonderful and I will be subscribing and adding it to my blogroll as soon as I finish this note!
    Dreams of animals are always important because they are about our natural, instinctual selves (as opposed to our cerebral, civilized selves.) Jung said (in Aion, Vol. 9.II) that certain animals represent stages of the union of consciousness with its feminine counterpart, the unconscious. Dream images of eagles and ravens are the last to appear and so represent issues pertinent to the latter stages.
    Whereas the eagle would represent integration of the physical and feminine, poetry would represent integration of the mental and masculine. Uniting the two creates expanding consciousness. Sounds to me like you’ve been doing some inner work!!
    Re your poetry dream, I would say that remembering the words is not important. The opus is being conducted anyway. I suspect you already know this.
    Thank you very much for stopping by.
    My best to you,

  3. Hi Jeanie,
    I would think If this were my dream, that my inner Feminine is bestowing Wisdom to me that I instinctively know I need to guard from too much ego scrutiny until I grow into its meaning in my life. This is a different kind of knowing and being in the world that isn’t always valued in the west, and I feel I must keep it hidden and protected as I travel on my path.
    I, too, have had my share of Crone dreams. One I recorded in my dream journal in 2007 went like this:
    I come out of a building and start to go down a road. I soon realize that it is the wrong way to go, and choose another road. It is a dead end – ends with a brick wall. I apologize to the people I have to cut in front of to turn around, and begin going the other direction on the first road I was on, realizing that I am now going the right way. I am carrying a broom that causes a big stir with the people I pass. A small group of them start making fun of it (the broom), calling it a special name (I remember it to be “Baba Yaga” when I wake up). I carry the broom past the people on the side of the road. Once I am clear of them, I start riding it like a pogo stick. It is so fast and so fun to ride that I pass a lot of people up on the road. Eventually, I come to an open field and keep bouncing along joyfully. (End of Dream)
    Some of the symbols signify choices I have made – wrong turns that delayed my progress and other decisions that turned me around to move ahead quickly in discovering passion and freedom in my life. As the dream shows, I am a person that doesn’t always follow the norm. I feel more at home in my own skin when I am off the linear, main road of life and checking out its mysteries in a more circular, spacious way that is portrayed by the open field symbolism in the dream.
    When I had the dream, I was not familiar with the specific characteristics of Baba Yaga per se, but found this excerpt on the Internet describing her in part: Baba Yaga is the Arch-Crone, the Goddess of Wisdom and Death, the Bone Mother. Wild and untamable, she is a nature spirit bringing wisdom and death of ego, and through death, rebirth (“About Baba Yaga” at http://www.oldrussia.net/baba.html). I see a connection with this symbol and my own ego transformation and regeneration of late. I was 60-years old when I had the dream. Now, at 63 and having just retired from my corporate marketing job, I feel I am finally entering the Crone stage of archetypal feminine development that the dream presaged. The soul work I am engaging in this second half of my life is shifting from the more Masculine focus, engendered by a career in business, to rebirthing the archetypal Feminine in ways that include focusing on unity, communication, creative writing, storytelling and opening.
    Thank you, as always, for sharing your story and opening up a forum where inner wisdom can be shared as well.

  4. Hi Jenna,
    It’s good to hear from you. I hope all is well.
    Thank you for contributing your association. It helps so much to hear other perspectives! I knew I was protecting my new pursuit of feminine wisdom from the external world whose criticism I feared, but I hadn’t considered I might be protecting it from too much ego-scrutiny. That resonates. My ego can be a harsh self-critic! I ‘ll be sharing my other associations in the next post. This dream was far more significant than I realized when I had it 20 years ago and I’ve gained some amazing new insights by writing about it this week.
    Thank you for sharing your fascinating Baba Yaga dream. Having taught Children’s Literature for many years, I am familiar with her, but learned even more when I read the great link you provided. Isn’t it fascinating how the Wisewoman/Crone/Witch shows up when we reach critical crossroads that impel us to turn within? I wonder how many others have experienced this. I would assume it must happen to men as they get in touch with their inner feminine, but do not recall reading anything about this.
    The Wisewoman/Crone/Witch connection is archetypal. Many elder women gain great wisdom by suffering through the most painful aspects of the birth/death/rebirth cycle and much of what they know is frightening to others; hence, the less-experienced tend to project their fears upon them.
    Again, thank you for your always pertinent and helpful contributions!
    My very best to you,

  5. Hi Jeanie,
    Thank you for your Crone dream. I look forward to your associations/comments, which I am finding shed light on my own dreams! Here are excerpts from two of my ‘wise woman’ dreams:
    (2000) I am going into this house …to visit. There are only native people there and these old Indian ladies are there and they offer me candy—a chunk of chocolate with nuts and icing and stuff. I take it and eat some—it’s good. They’re so pleased I like it and they smile widely and nod at each other and at me. I smile back at them. They keep smiling and are just delighted that I like their offering.
    (2002) …But the wise old woman was something else. She was a healer and set about showing me her magic cures. I think I helped or I was learning. The river, blue the whole time and a sunny day, looked to be swirling with logs and things but when I looked closely it was not haphazard or random but was coming together and forming something like a house or a structure of some sort… then I woke up.
    I liked being with these dear ladies and still feel a yearning when I revisit those dreams. I had them during a period of turmoil when I was coming to terms with making major life decisions. bett

  6. Hi Bett,
    Thanks so much for sharing your crone dreams! They’re wonderful. I especially love the wise old woman teacher. If it were my dream I’d be thinking about the river (or sea) of life — the unconcious source of all that is manifested in the physical world — and how learning from the wise woman is helping me manifest the materials to heal/reshape/remodel/reconstruct a healthier psyche (house)!
    If it were my dream I would think it was a confirmation that my inner work is paying off. Would you mind sharing if you have a psycho/spiritual practice and what it is? For me it’s a combination of reading, study, writing, meditation, and dreamwork.
    Blessings on your path,

    1. Good morning, Jeanie,
      Yes, I too do a combination of reading, writing, meditation, and dreamwork. No access to courses, or classes, or teachers but lots of searching, reading.
      I’m not sure why I persevered with dreamwork when I was most times frustrated by my dreams in spite of dream books. Over time I was able to glean enough insight to keep me going. This past year or so, having moved, I have been able for the first time (I lived in an area where there was no access) to sit with a Jungian analyst and look back over dream patterns and attend dream workshops, which I found to be exhilarating! Now my dreams are opening up as never before!
      Another breakthrough was enneagram which I came across around the year 2000! I was amazed that there were others like me, and read voraciously in that area. I still go back to enneagram and find the ‘daily thought’ from the Enneagram Institute a good reminder for my type 5 personality!
      Finally, reclaiming my ‘instinctual energy’ (bear dreams!) and listening to my strong inner voice, which I’d muted for most of my life, has been and continues to be pivotal in my growth process. So there you have it-the lay person’s version of individuation!!! bett

  7. Dear Bett,
    It is so very lovely to meet a fellow traveler. Your lay-person’s version of individuation sounds almost exactly like mine! My doctorate is in education, not depth psychology, and with the exception of one year with a Jungian-oriented therapist, I’ve conducted my inner work almost entirely alone!
    Thanks so much for finding me and this blog.
    Much love,

  8. Dear Jean, Isn’t it wonderful how the Sacred Feminine is speaking to so many of us, so many and the only requirement is a willingness to hear. As I entered a specific prayer and meditation practice several years ago, it was clear to me that I was to share what I was learning through my connection with my own Spirit Guides and Soul Partners; the primary of which was Mary Magdalene. It remains amazing to me the spiritual resources available to us all. Thank you for your voice and heart to share with us all. Blessings and Love, Sally
    “As you receive, so shall you give. We are all connected.”
    Wisdom of Mary Magdalene

    1. Thank you for writing, Sally.
      Yes, it is wonderful that we are opening and listening to Her. And I love it that Mary Magdalene is finally being recognized as a particularly strong and wise conduit for Her wisdom. It appears the collective ego is finally learning the value of receptivity, a feminine virtue that has been abused for far too long. I think it may well be our salvation!

  9. Jeanie, Such a beautiful Big Dream and precious gift (the dream itself) to you! I love the symbolism and will watch for your associations to it in upcoming posts. I, too, was gifted with a Big Dream of the feminine when I was 19-years old, a few years after my mother died. In it an ancient, but ageless, goddess-like being who was large and broad-shouldered met me on a different ‘plane’ after I died in an airplane crash. She showed me in imagery that we survive death. She called herself Mother Earth and taught me about reincarnation (being raised Catholic, this was something I knew nothing about) and a few of the reasons I came back into this incarnation (most of which I forgot upon awakening). You’ve inspired me to write more extensively about this dream in my blog. But I want to say here that for women dreams like these are so important to guide and mentor us and help birth the Feminine Principle into our hearts and minds to share with a world so in need of it. By the way, my paternal grandmother was a teacher, too…English literature was her forte. :))
    Always a pleasure to visit your blog,

    1. Thank you, Jenna. Your dream is extraordinary. I would expect it came to you for many healing reasons. I wonder if one of them might have been because your soul yearned for, and was unusually receptive too, spiritual knowledge, especially about the Feminine Principle. As you say, dreams like this have great power to guide and mentor us in this direction. My Lone Ranger dream certainly did that for me, though I had no awareness of its influence until much later.
      So your mother died when you were young; my father died when I was young. You had an early Big Dream; I had an early Big Dream. You are a fan of Jung; I am a fan of Jung. You write about psycho-spiritual matters; I write about psycho-spiritual matters. You strive to help birth the Feminine Principle into the world; I strive to help birth the Feminine principle into the world. Your name is Jenna; my name is Jeanie (I believe both are feminine versions of the masculine name John.) Hmmm, the similarities just keep coming.
      Do you suppose we knew each other in other lives? 🙂 Thank you for writing!

      1. Jeanie ~ And, unbeknownst to either of us, we began reading Anne Baring’s The Dream of the Cosmos around the same time! I think that’s a real possibility (being old soul friends)! We will have to compare notes on the book when we’re finished reading…I am finding it enthralling!

  10. Hi again, Jeanie ~ I just noticed that this is a post from 2011…so no need to wait for your dream associations! I can just back and read them. 🙂

  11. yesterday I noticed that my daughter, who is almost nine, is starting to develop breasts. the same time I noticed this, she brought up a “serial dream” she has been having that feature “an old woman, 180 years old, who lives in a log cabin the middle of dead woods where the only light is from one candle.” the old woman is a witch. the first dream she had of this Crone, she was with her in the dead woods, and the old woman tried to murder her, but instead, the witch transformed her somehow and became her friend and began to teach her spells. ever since then, she’s sometimes visited the old woman’s cabin to learn more spells and become better friends with her. once, there were other people in the cabin who ran away screaming because they were afraid of the witch, but my daughter knew the witch was a friend.
    I believe the Crone is coming to teach her wisdom as she is at the crossroads of the end of childhood. Ive never taught her about these things myself, I am amazed that the Crone is visiting her dreams like this.

    1. Wow! I’m amazed too, but not surprised. The older Wise Woman is an archetypal reality in the psyche, a pattern of energy that exists in all of us and has a powerful influence in the lives of some of us. The onset of puberty is an important crossroad in a child’s life, and BIG or recurring dreams like this can, like my Lone Ranger dream, prefigure the direction of one’s life path.
      If she’s interested, you might gently suggest she draw, paint, or write about these dreams, or perhaps find a figurine or picture that reminds her of them, to keep in a special place. This form of inner work would be a good way to let her know that dreams are to be taken seriously. It would also be a personal ritual and reminder that would strengthen her memory and awareness of the benevolence of the Wise Woman whom many fear. She can go back to it again and again, and it might influence some important choices she’ll have to make years from now.
      I love this recurring dream, and I love the fact that you are taking it seriously and helping her to do so too. It might be years before its full meaning is revealed, but that’s okay; the Deep Feminine has a timing of Her own that we can trust without trying to manipulate it. Just giving Her our attention and respect is enough.
      My best, Jeanie

  12. I feel a deep connection of many things this morning , after a dream that has bothered me for weeks , but I have awoken to many new insights today , I feel like sharing , especially if it may help us / me connect .
    I am in a room I do now know , I hear a voice tell me ” they are waiting for you ” .
    I open a door and step into another room , I see three women dressed in black , one sitting infront of me to my left looking forward . Another sits looking to the left , I notice a third women standing in the door way upfront , she is looking to the right of me . I do not recognise any of them , we do not speak .
    All the women to me feel to be full of wisdom , but the woman in the door way feels most ancient , powerful , old and calm .
    As I notice her last I get a sense of foreboding or fear , at this moment a high pitch sound grows into an unbearable loud sound progressively . I am deeply afraid at this point and I awake in very deep fear .
    I have searched and searched for a meaning to this dream in my life and where it came from or what it could mean .
    Does this resonate with anyone ?

    1. Thank you for writing and sharing your dream. As you probably know it’s impossible for anyone else to tell you what it might mean for you…it all depends on what was going on in your life when you had the dream. But if it were my dream I would find the three wise women in black to be very comforting. Just the fact that they “visited me” in a dream and are waiting for me. This would make me feel that ancient feminine wisdom is waiting for me somewhere down the road in my journey. To me, the most ancient and powerful woman standing in the doorway suggests some sort of opportunity awaiting me: the door is open to new possibilities, new healing growth and change, something that can increase my wisdom, and it has to do with the archetypal feminine.
      My growing fear as I watch the wisest and oldest crone could be there for a lot of reasons: my ego’s fear of change might be one. No ego welcomes change, or anything that might threaten its desire to be in charge of the psyche; wisdom has a way of unseating the ego so the Self, our God-image, can take center stage, and a growing, strengthening ego suspects and fears that! “Will I suffer? Will I have to sacrifice some habitual way of being that I’m partial to to acquire wisdom?” are the kinds of things the ego worries about.
      The loud high sound could also represent many things. But the first one I thought of was the wailing and keening of grieving women. If the sound is coming from this oldest and wisest crone, perhaps she represents the archetypal Great Mother, Soul, or Anima, who’s grieving the fact that she’s been repressed for so long….in my soul and also in the patriarchal culture I live in. What we have to realize about archetypes is that they can be dark and light (in terms of our human moral perspective.) So perhaps this dream is telling me something about how the Great Mother’s rage has impacted me in my life….made me afraid to speak my own truths, or stand up for myself, trust my instincts, etc. The repressed, angry feminine is a very big problem for many men and women in today’s society. If you’re interested in knowing more about that, there’s a wonderful book by Jungian analysts Bud and Massimilla Harris titled, Into the Heart of the Feminine that you might find meaningful.
      I wish you increasing wisdom as you move more deeply into your own story. Blessings, Jeanie

      1. Thank you Jeanie for sharing with wisdom and heart . That has sent me on a beautiful journey of head heart body journey of healing and opening to love , inner grace and understanding .
        I will respond when I have discovered more .

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