A Visit With The Crone – A Short Story
Author: Jadalya Boudicca
The inspiration for this short story came to me after a very turbulent and uncertain time in my life. I had just taken a major leap of faith that would have long-lasting effects, and whether it was positive or negative I didn’t know. Basically, one period of my life was ending, and another was beginning. I was terrified and unsure of myself, peering over the edge of the proverbial cliff and readying myself for the leap into Goddess-knew-what. I was coming face-to-face with the Crone, that unpleasant and brutally honest Hag that always appears when a death is imminent.
For those unacquainted with Crone energy, She can be one of the most terrifying aspects of the Goddess to face. Whether She be Black Annis, Baba Yaga, Kali, or one of the Fates, She always evokes a sense of foreboding, and it is well that She does, for She is not surrounded by flowers and sunshine, like the Maiden, nor does she carry a countenance of nurturing comfort, like the Mother. She is the essence of wisdom in its most raw form; She sees what lies in the murky darkness beyond and stares into it without fear. By communing with the energy of the Crone, one learns to accept death in life and acknowledge its necessity in growth. This is a hard lesson to face, and many of us will continue to struggle with it time and time again; however, when we learn it, we are graced with the ability to accept life’s flow and live in continuity with it’s cycles rather than fight it, and by doing so, we grow.
Let me introduce you now to the Crone.
A Visit With the Crone – A Short Story
I have met the Crone once or twice. Her fearsome eyes look you through to your bones, the houses of your stories, and read there all that you are and from whence you have come. She judges there where you will go, for she knows where all things must go.
The first time I met her, she scowled at me. “Your stories are dry; your words have no flavor and your lips are all but dead. One day you will die, and then what? Ha! Come back to me when you learn of it, and THEN share with me a story worth hearing, and I shall give you one as well.”
“But I do not know how, Grandmother, ” I said. “The only way I know to learn IS to die, or become near-death, and I fear it…Grandmother, I fear it’s grasp!”
“Heh…you are dead enough now, living as you are, “she replied, her voice harsh and rasping. “Go from me, now, and do not return until you have something worth saying and something worth hearing.”
I departed from the Old Hag then, forlorn. What is this she asked of me? To die, and THEN tell a story? One cannot do such a thing; it is impossible! Foolish old woman, I thought. Better to never go back…she spins old wives’ tales from the cobwebs of her senile mind!
I went to sleep then, and dreamt of great suffering, and of the Grandmother gnashing her teeth and swallowing me whole. “No, Grandmother!” I screamed. “Do you not recognize me? Do your eyes not know me?”
“I do not know you, ” she said, her eyes dark and glistening, her teeth yellow and tearing at me. “I do not know you because you do not know yourself.”
I leapt awake then, sweating and gasping for breath. Just a dream, I told myself. The old Hag has me scared out of my wits, with all her talk of death and dying! Let me throw her off now, out of my mind. And with that, I rested my head once more, and fell back into dreaming.
Once again, the Grandmother appeared in my dreams, with her fearsome grin and watery eyes. “Grandmother, ” I screamed, “why do you do this to me!”
“I do not do this to you, ” she smirked, “for you do it to yourself.”
Once again, I leapt awake, trembling and fearful. Were these just dreams? I shall face the Hag, once and for all, I thought. And a third time I slept, and a third time she appeared, more terrible and ferocious than before, making wrathful sounds and threatening to tear me apart.
“Grandmother, ” I said, my voice small from fear. “Three times you have appeared to me, and three times you have come to me with death. I am afraid, but I am here to face you now.”
“Then face me you will, ” she said, and swallowed me up. Down into the darkness of her belly I fell, but it instead of pain, I felt only warmth. How strange, I thought. The softness cradled me, and down I went, until a light could be seen. The light terrified me, but on and on I went, until I was enveloped no longer in darkness, but in light, and I felt arms around me, cradling me. “There, there, my sweet daughter, my beautiful one, ” a voice whispered, and when I opened my eyes I saw not the Hag beast, but a beautiful woman, and I knew this to be Mother.
“Mother, where has the old Hag gone?” I asked.
“She is here, too, ” the Mother said. And with that, I awoke, no longer afraid.
I rose and sought out the old Crone. “Well, ” she croaked. “What have we here! You are not the same sniveling girl that was here yesterday. Sit, and tell me what has changed. Tell me your story.”
I told her of my dreams, and as I told her my story, her eyes softened. “I have learned not to fear endings, Grandmother, for with all endings come beginnings.”
The Crone nodded, and her bones creaked as she roused herself. “That is a good story, child, ” she said. “Now, as promised, I shall tell you one myself.”
She looked at me then, and the darkness of her eyes drew me in until I once again could see nothing but black. In the darkness I saw swirls of light, small suns and stars. I saw these lights split and come back together, until they took the shapes of animals, great and small, all coming from the same light, and all returning to the same light. I saw men singing their songs, and women weaving their tapestries, until sound and material became one, intertwining all life together.
“You see, child, ” she whispered. “All comes from One, and all is connected. You are I, and I am you.”