Gifts From Dream Mother and the Crones


Respect for the Goddess archetype in her aspect as Crone may still be scarce in 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 which indwells us all.

Thirty years ago I made the decision to take my inner life seriously enough to work on my dreams. The tenth dream I recorded presaged a turning point in my life that would come about because of that choice. Here is a brief summary:

Dream # 10A: Gifts From the Crones.

I’m 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 and I’ve brought gifts for her. She’s with three or four older women, grandmothers perhaps. They’re 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 surprise, 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’m 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 clear. Here are my associations:

I’m in a place like a Jewish kibbutz (somewhere foreign and somewhat threatening to my conscious orientation: i.e., the unconscious). I’m met by an admired professor friend (symbol of my positive feminine side), and three or four crones (images of the wisdom and authority of the deep feminine). I’ve brought gifts (my strong desire to connect with, and show respect for, the contents of my unconscious); but, surprisingly, the elder women give me sweet-smelling herbs and spices (symbols of the feminine, nature-based mystery wisdom which awakens the body and its senses and brings physical and spiritual healing in natural, organic ways). The dream says I know the value of these gifts and look forward to using them in the future (I want to acquire the wisdom of the Great Mother and hope to use it wisely someday).

This dream planted the seeds for this blog some thirty years ago. It said I know (from the Greek word, gnosis, meaning knowing or knowledge, particularly intuitive, esoteric knowledge of spiritual truths) the value of these gifts. I want the wisdom of the Great Mother (from the Latin mater matrimonium) and hope to use it wisely someday.

MatriGnosis. Matrignosis means “knowing Mother wisdom.” I made up the word when I started this blog over nine years ago but Dream Mother told me long before that that the Grandmothers were giving me gifts I would use some day. And I am. To name and write this blog, and to write four books about empowering the feminine principle in humanity.

Here’s another gift from Dream Mother. The dream ends with me crawling away through a darkened theater feeling guilty and nervous, yet confident and decisive. Why was I in a theater? I didn’t know at the time, (I was in the dark) but four years later, that tiny detail inspired the title for my second book about the inner life, Dream Theatres of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine through Jungian Dream Work.

A third gift was a new awareness of hidden beliefs and emotions that were blocking my growth. In the dream I felt anxious and nervous about being caught by the authorities. Who were these authorities, and why was I so afraid of them?

In those days I couldn’t see the patriarchal cloud of unspoken repressive attitudes and expectations for women under which I had lived all my life. I didn’t know I was intimidated by it. But deep within I felt I was breaking the Old King’s rules (the unspoken agreement of collective culture to discount femininity and the life of the unconscious) by entering this dark and foreign land, and I was afraid of ridicule and scorn. Thirty years later this fear has not completely left me, but I’ve made much headway and I’m still determined to overcome it.

Do you see why I trust the wisdom of my dreams? My ego could never come up with this stuff all by itself. And it happens often. Our ego selves are not alone. All we have to do is turn within where our teachers are waiting to bless us.

Being known and loved by the mysterious, benevolent grandmothers confirmed my worth. It touched me deeply that they were prepared for my arrival, wanted me there, loved me as I was, and offered their gifts freely.There were no strings, no reservations, no sense I had to behave a certain way or believe certain things to be acceptable.

Yes, I received this assurance from a dream. For some, this might invalidate its worth. But this would be a grave mistake. The archetypal feminine is an actual force within humanity that contains the potential to change and heal us and our world. My willingness to cooperate with it was all that was needed to spark a process of growth that still goes on. Even now, there are times when I need the reminder that I am good enough as I am, and entitled to be loved by my maternal Source. In retrospect I believe the unconditional love of this Source is the secret power of the crones’ gifts. Tapping into it may be the ultimate meaning of life.

Photo Credits: Google Free Images, Origins unknown.

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Her new book, The Soul’s Twins, will be launched next year.

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10 Responses

  1. Jeanie, this is such a delight to read more of your Jungian dreamwork and inner journeying. The unpacking of dreams, especially when shared in a clear, practical way, can be so helpful for those who’ve just begun this (life-long I feel) practice. And from the baptism of your blog to the instinctive naming of your books and beyond, our psyches seem set on offering us all much wisdom and healing … if only we would listen and work closer with those archetypes who inhabit our soul space.
    For me, I started recording my dreams (only) 12 years ago and the books I record them in remain my most precious of possessions. Other notebooks have come and gone but never the dream books! Over the course of those years of collecting I’ve turned several of them into poems, a process which I feel is similar to active imagination at times. Such joy!
    Oh, I love it when you start writing about “The Crone” and this well timed as we approach Samhain (Oct 31st) and the thinning of the veil. Inspired by your post on the Cartiyids and a conversation about Hekate and your Lady of the Torches (Statue of Liberty), yesterday I found by magick, the Great Mother herself, stepping into my new “October” poem. Warm autumnal blessings, Deborah.

  2. Thank you, Deborah. I have all my dream journals too. The first 15 years are in paper notebooks, and the rest are digital. One of these days when I’m old and bored, I’ll decide what to do with them. They are such a precious treasure to me. Maybe I’ll try to reread them all and turn them into a final memoir? Maybe I’ll let them rest. Maybe I’ll save them for my children. Maybe I’ll toss them out. I don’t know. Right now I can’t bear to part with these outpourings of my soul.
    I’ve just read your wonderful new poem and am totally captivated! As I wrote in my comment to you, “You are a seasoned sorceress with great power to mystify and delight.” I urge all my readers who love poetry to check it out here:
    With love and blessings,

    1. Wow! Thank you Jeanie for including a link to my new “October” poem and for the gift of your wonderful, kind-heated words! Hmm, dream diaries and what to do with them? I haven’t got a clue either! I only know how precious they are to me. xx

  3. Thank you Jeannie for this wonderful post of your rich dreams and associations with them. I know that my dreams enrich my life immeasurably, and I too have zillions of notebooks with my recorded dreams some of which really became clear after much time had passed.
    I believe that the wisdom of the feminine IS beginning to felt and embraced, though it’s been an arduous journey indeed. We need to give up ways of conditioned thinking and feeling – but the rewards are great when we learn to trust our inner voice, and can share it. Thank you again!

    1. Hi Susan,
      Thank you for writing. I’ve just returned from a wonderful long weekend at a Jungian conference at which I was mostly off the social media grid, which accounts for my late response.
      The conference triggered some interesting and affirming dream images last night which I’m still pondering. I used to want so badly to understand the meaning of every dream image, so hungry I was for self-knowledge. So worried I was about my shadow. But today I’m not sure it matters if I understand them or not. Because my feeling response to them upon awakening this morning was peace, wonder, and gratitude. If that’s all I get from them, it’s enough! This feels like another step away from my head toward my heart. For me, that’s a huge reward for trusting my inner voice! 🙂

  4. Dear dear Jean, Your entry this week gives powerful evidence of the beauty of synchronicity. I am facilitating an exploration of my book “The Living Spirit of the Crone, Turning Aging Inside Out,” with a group of very bright women at our church and your dream of the Crone could not have been more timely. Sharing it with the group led to some fruitful discussion and an impetus to revisit our Myers Briggs typologies. Many thanks for your leadership and wisdom. Sally

    1. Oh, Sally. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this with me. Your validation about this post and my dream came at a very good time for me too. I am prone to self-doubt and self-criticism and this shadow bully of mine has been at it again lately! Luckily, I am able to see it now. Also luckily, I have dear friends like you who are very good at shooing it away!
      Congratulations on your book and important work with it. Our aging society needs to know there are ways to turn the negative associations we have long had about aging inside out!! Jeanie

  5. I’m so glad I returned to this piece. It’s beautiful, dear Jeanie. I attended a Robert Bosnak dream workshop this fall–the first one I’d been to for many years because of hearing, but I decided to test the limits of the cochlear implant and knew the workshop would be 3 days in a quiet space with people speaking slowly and carefully as they do in embodied dream work. The group incubated dreams for a problem in their life. I chose vertigo and ended up returning to a dream I had before the workshop: “A woman is giving a lecture. I enter the lecture hall from a high area in the back and it’s full of noisy young men. I won’t be able to hear her with all this noise, so I walk down, down, down wide steps toward the lowered stage. She stands alone, strong and rooted. She’s dark skinned, thick legged, and has no head. She says to me, “Do you know what happens after Death?” I say, “No, but I have a strong belief system.” In the dream work, it became clear that she is Earth Mother and her Knowing is fathoms deeper and larger than my belief systems. Her knowing roots me, so is an antidote to vertigo. I painted her after the workshop as an old tree with a thick trunk and deep roots. I wrote about the experience, but it’s not ready to share. I’m still digging into Her message and seeking that deep knowing in me, far below the jangling noise of my animus and my fragile auditory system. So this is my Crone Goddess and the Dream Mother. I’ll work with this dream for years, just as you work with yours and let them guide your life. Thank you for sharing your path.

    1. I love your knowing Earth Mother, Crone Goddess dream! What a gift to know she lives in you and is watching, guiding, asking thoughtful questions, and centering you. And I especially love that you paint so many of your dreams. That’s such a powerful way of embodying the dream and keeping its meaning close. Thank you for sharing this. I’ll look forward to hearing more about her message when the time is right for you to share it.

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