When I was officially a Maiden, witchcraft was a banned subject. We knew that the women of my family were all witches working for good or ill, as people deserved, but it was a word which would never be used. I studied under my mother and grandmother and learned to put the case before “Them Upstairs” to let them decide. When a friend’s elderly mother was very ill and on her way out I asked the Great Mother to release her, both for her sake and the son’s. It worked. She died in peace in a couple of days with her boy holding her hand. A good release for both of them.
Similarly “Crone” in most circles meant a nasty, ugly bad-minded old woman. As I approached my sixty years I knew that I was none of the above but officially entering Crone-hood, no longer able to bear children and wise in the ways of healing and witching.
In our village I am still somewhat of a foreigner, even though I live in the old witch’s cottage and do healing and good work amongst my neighbours but I wasn’t born here. I was therefore astonished when the old ladies of the commune came to fetch me to the seats by the river. I was sixty and it was the sixteenth birthday of Claire, one of my honorary grandchildren. In England they would have called it Mayday and her Queen of the May but we knew better – she was Maiden for the day and my own chair was decorated to show that this year was my croning.
Cakes, bread and fabrics were brought to me as I stood next to Claire on the riverbank, celebrating the beginning and ending of life. We laid our hands on them together and blessed them before holding each other close and giving the three kisses of blessing to each other.
I could die now – I had handed on my role.