Pagans who follow Norse traditions see life as an ever-flowing circle. Contemplating this darker aspect of the Goddess teaches us that as well as everything Nature moves in circles, we as individuals also must do it, accepting death as a passage into another state, as valid and as much part of our lives as our own birth.
The Crone can be associated with the Waning Moon, and the colours black, deep blue and the deepest purple. Her corresponding season is Winter, and her usual animals are the owl, wolf, crow and raven. Her festival is that of the dead, that is, Samhain.
If the Maiden talks to us about beginnings, and the Mother of maturity, the Crone makes us think of endings. This is maybe the less understood aspect of the Triple Goddess, one that usually causes fear because it makes us unavoidably to face death.
The Crone was revered in ancient cultures as a regent of the Underworld, seen in those times as a place where souls went to rest between incarnations, before coming back to the earthly plane. The later associations this place got with the hell of the revealed religions was the reason why this aspect of the Goddess was equal to something evil or demonic, forgetting the fact that we all must die as we all are born, and the duty of this Goddess was generally to guide us during this last phase in our lives, getting us ready for the big leap, reigning afterwards over the souls of the dead while they waited for their re birth.
As in the previous cases, there are many examples from all over the world on this aspect of the Goddess.
Among the Greeks, called during the Middle Ages the Witches’ Queen, a deity of the Underworld and the Moon, worshiped in cross roads where she received sacrifices during the Full Moon.
Germanic goddess of the Underworld, is recognized as having her origins in the Indo-European period (prehistory). All mortals returned to Her when finishing their physical existence.
Goddess of the Dead, known in Britain, Wales and Ireland, who also reigned over battles. She had a Triple aspect in herself, and sometimes was also called the Three Morrigans.
In Sumerian mythology, Goddess of the primeval abyss, both creatrix and destroyer, represented as a snake. In one of the combats typical in ancient mythology where descendants rebel against their fathers and primitive gods, Marduk kills Tiamat, building then the sky and earth with halves of Her body.
For the Hindu’s, known in her aspect of Destroyer and Terrible Mother, has, nonetheless, among her attributes a skull necklace, each of them bearing a character from the sanskrit alphabet, which She uses to create words or mantras.
In Egypt, wife of Seth and regent of the Underworld, mother of Anubis, the jackal-headed god that guides the spirits in their journey after they die.
Riding on a broom, was associated for the Aztec with the moon, the snake and the bat. Her worship was held at cross roads just like european Hecate, and her priestess were known as capable of cleansing whoever asked of every sin, but that grace could only be asked once in their lifetime.
All these written images, except maybe Nephtys, invoke a darker aspect of the Goddess, what in analytical psychology is called “The Terrible Mother”. A clear example of this can be seen in a famous image of the Goddess Kali Ma, that shows her copulating with Her consort Shiva, with a dented vagina and feeding on His entrails. At first sight, this is almost a repulsive image; but is not so from a symbolic point of view. We can see it as a reminder that life needs to feed on life to subsist, and a representation of the aspects of Creatrix-Preserver-Destroyer of the Goddess.