Maiden, Mother, Crone… Or Something Else?

By Kris Bradley

Editor’s Note: This is re-posted with the author’s permission from Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom.  Photo credit: Hecate via Rob Koopman.

I’ve participated in a couple of discussions in the last month or so on the subject of the typical Triple  Goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone  The Maiden is virginal.  She is the waxing moon; the early spring, not quite yet burst into bloom; she is  new beginnings.  She is a seeker of knowledge. The Mother is sexual  She is the  full moon, the fertile earth of spring and summer. The Mother is strengthened by the knowledge she has gained. The Crone is the waning moon.  She  is the cold, hard, deadly winter.  She is as wise as she is old, and recognizes she is in her final stage on this side of the veil.

One of the conversations I’ve been a part of is based on the question, “If I don’t have children, and don’t plan on having them, where do I fit into this triad?”  This was a theme I touched on in a baby blessing I officiated a few months ago. (Name redacted for privacy)

“We celebrate (name)’s progression from Maiden to Mother.  While the Maiden, represented by the waxing moon, represents beginnings, youthful enthusiasm and mysteries yet to be revealed, the Mother is the bountiful lady of the harvest, the swollen full moon, representing stability, fulfillment and power.  While some might think that giving birth creates a Mother, it is so much more than that.  Mothers are created when a women comes into her own.  When she is strong enough to care as much for others as she does for herself, when she has laid claim to her own spot in the world and watches over it with confidence, courage and love.  A Mother creates change in the world.  That change might be a beautiful infant, it might be creating something else that she is passionate about and tends with care.  (Name) comes to us today embodying all of these qualities.”

The Mother aspect of the Goddess can embody more than just a woman who has or will give birth.  Many modern women choose not to have children or put children off until they are older and more established.  They can still fall under the Mother title.

But is it time for us to create new titles for modern, changing times?  There seem to be spaces in between Maiden, Mother and Crone that could be easily filled.  I’ve read a few articles about their being a “warrior” or even a “temptress” aspect between Maiden and Mother.  Personally, I’m not all that crazy about the “temptress” title.  It imparts, at least to me, the idea that there is a stage in life where you’re all about seeking out a partner or even just sex.  While there’s nothing wrong with having a healthy sex life, it seems that there is probably more going on in a woman’s life than just being “tempting”. The title “warrior” sounds a little more up my alley, though I’d say that I never felt like more of a warrior than after I’d become a mother and had something real to fight battles for – and I know women who have passionate, warrior-like feelings about causes or animals that they have adopted as part of their Mother aspect.  For me, Warrior should come between Mother and Crone.

And speaking of Crone… once our children are out of the house, and we’ve got a few years on us, is that it?  We’re wise now and should just sit in our rocking chair and wait for death to greet us?  People in this world live longer than ever.  Our children grow up, leave home and we go back to school, start new careers, go on cruises or travel to places we’ve never been before.  To me this isn’t croning, though it is a new and exciting path in your life.

So what’s a woman to do?  Throw away the labels and just put the Maiden, Mother and Crone on a shelf as purely metaphorical aspects meant to represent the phases of the moon?  Add on an aspect or two to cover the “in-between” phases?  How do you address the Triple Goddess phases in your path?


  • kate

    In my small, private circle, we’ve talked a lot about this. We decided that it could be appropriate to add two or even four more phases, for a total of 5-7:

    Nymph – very little girls (0 – 9), purely innocent and almost sexless
    Maiden – adolescent girls (10 – 16/17?), journeying through puberty to sexual maturity
    Huntress – similar to temptress or warrior, young women who are sexually mature and out seeking their life’s work (17 – mid-20s-ish)
    Mother – women who are building their life’s work, be it children, career, or something else (20s-30s)
    Queen – older women who are enjoying the fruits of their hard work in life (40s-50s)
    Crone – retired women who hold the community wisdom (60s-70s and beyond)
    Hag – very old women who have begun to decline in health and are journeying towards the veil (70s or later and beyond) We’d like to reclaim the word hag in the same way we’ve reclaimed the word crone.

    We’re all currently in the Mother phase, although not all of us are mothers. We could very well decide to categorize things differently as we get older. We’ve also talked some about whether men have similar life phases, but didn’t come to any consensus on that point.

    In my personal work, I still call upon the Triple Goddess explicitly, but I also think about the Huntress/Queen and Nymph/Hag facets as kind of unnamed shadow-faces that help fill those gaps.

    Thanks for your interesting post!

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  • JessP

    I’ve been struggling with this recently, and it’s nice to others’ thoughts. I definitely don’t feel like a maiden anymore. I’m a young adult, with a life partner and attempting to find my place in the world. I don’t feel motherly really at all. I care for friends, my partner, and our dogs, but I certainly don’t feel like any of them is my project or part of my legacy to leave for the world. Huntress sounds good; I’m certainly seeking something and doing my best to take care of myself. I’m sure that I need more time to think things over regarding what words/labels to use, but I’ve at least come to recognize the three stages as inadequate to explain my life stages.

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  • Tina Lynn

    Ive also been thinking about this a lot. My 24yr old daughter will not consider having children till she gets her Md, go baby go! But in the meantime, my next in line will never conceive and my son is only 16. I like the concept of maiden, temptress, mother, warrior, crone; because even tho Im old enough, and ready to be a G-ma, it isnt going to happen for quite a while yet. No I have something else to do with my time ;) Me Time!