recipe, Spirituality, winter

Crones of Winter

Winter is upon us. We’ve passed the Solstice; the longest night of the season, but we still have the bulk of winter ahead of us. Winter is a time to go within and reflect, to rest and nourish the body and soul.

I wrote these thoughts about the Crone a couple of years ago:

As we enter Winter, I’m enjoying researching some of the traditional crones of Winter. Winter in colder climates is seen as the dying part of the year; the void from which the Spring will flow. It was associated with the crone phase of a woman’s life and there were some interesting archetypes and myths. One of these is Baba Yaga, the old woman of Eastern Europe who lived in the woods, outside of regular village life. These old hags lived out in the woods, and were fearsome as a winter’s storm. They wielded thunder and ice and generally had bones lying  around their abodes. Baba Yaga lived in a hut on chicken legs. This is thought to refer to the food huts that country folk would construct on one or several stumps that would keep the food high enough to be out of the path of most animals. The fact that they are chicken legs, a domesticated animal shows that she was part civilized, part wild, a hedge-witch or a person who could straddle both worlds. She rode around in a pestle and abducted small children, presumably to eat. She is probably where some of our popular fairy tales, such as Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood, originate from. She had a lot of knowledge but was likely to extract a high price for it, or set difficult tasks, or some say put one through an initiation. Old women have no time to harbor your illusions, aren’t afraid to speak their minds and can be quite cranky. They also understand there is no teacher like experience.


The western Europeans had Caillech Bheur, the big blue giantess who reminds me an awful lot of Kali. She ran around with a tree stump as a club, and when she struck the ground, it caused the winter storms and thunder. In fact, there are other Celtic female archetypes who remind me of Kali, such as Sheela na-Gig, another crone. I’ve traced the Sheela na-Gig image back as far as Gobekli Tepe, 12,000 years ago in Turkey.

Cailleach Bheur'

As we moved forward in time, we started taming the wildness of woman in her wisdom, and requiring her to be more polished and youthful, so we end up with the Snow Queen, who nonetheless is cold and inaccessible; sharing her wisdom with only those she deems worthy or who have fulfilled her tasks.


Winter tests our mettle, can be unpredictable and harsh, showing no mercy to the unprepared. It’s also a time to go within and reflect, to sweep away all that doesn’t serve us, transmute the leftover energies of the previous year, so that energy becomes the fertilizer of the growth that will burst forth with the new Spring.

For the adventurous and wise who would like to journey with the Crone this Winter, get out your cauldron, er, pots and pans and make your own bone broth! Bone broth is nourishing, providing minerals that our body needs to build itself up. Adding a dash of vinegar helps to extract the minerals from the bones. Simmer your bones, vinegar and whatever herbs you would like for a few hours for maximum nutrition. I like to add astragalus, which supports the wei qi of the lungs, where we directly interact with the world while breathing, and perhaps encountering viruses and such. I also like to simmer mushrooms in the broth as most mushrooms have immune supporting constituents. You can drink this broth as is after straining, or use as a base for a soup to add even more nutrients to the mix.


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