Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The mythical and mortal Crone: Recollecting and reclaiming the sacred regeneratrix
by Parker, Nancy Ann, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2009, 331; 3447669
Abstract (Summary)

As increasing numbers of women enter what are viewed as the crone years, interest in this ancient female figure is on the rise, often with little understanding of the primal, feminine-identified power that is being summoned forth. With roots in a prehistoric Goddess-ordained cosmology in which life dies into and is reborn through a generative, albeit mysterious, darkness, the Crone is the regeneratrix, destroying in order to create. My study focuses on questions designed to explore what releasing the Crone's mythic role as death-bringer into the imagination might mean to an experience of aliveness for contemporary women. How might a goddess of death serve life? The methods of archetypal psychology, alchemical hermeneutics, and feminist studies are used to reveal the Crone through the perspectives of mythology, culture, and depth psychology.

With a particular focus on Celtic mythology, my study traces the Crone's once indispensable regenerative function as death-bringer in cyclical, nature-based traditions through to her sublimation into corrupt female figures when death is re-imagined in later heroic and monotheistic mythologies. A cultural perspective is explored to surface challenges to identifying with the Crone in Western patriarchal culture that fears death, diminishes embodied ways of knowing, and sees little value accruing with age. As an image of destruction, the Crone is studied from a depth psychological perspective as a regeneratrix who initiates change through death-like experiences.

Weaving these three perspectives together, my study finds the Crone to be a mode of consciousness that values endings and completions. While death remains the ultimate mystery, recollecting the death-Crone as an aspect of the Goddess-ordained creative matrix in which life/death are inextricable can be an imaginative means of deepening our experience of embodied life. Death-like experiences of change and loss may be imagined as occurring within the regenerative, though disconcerting, darkness of the transformative Goddess. Psychologically, this means submitting to and trusting in these experiences as essential to the renewal inherent in life's natural flux. Women who are consciously aging are found both to be challenging Western epistemologies that denigrate the feminine and dissolving cultural forms of sexism and ageism that marginalize aging females.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Downing, Christine
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 72/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Womens studies, Psychology
Keywords: Ageism, Aging women, Celtic goddesses, Consciousness raising, Crone, Dark feminine, Depth psychology, Morrigan, Mythic imagination
Publication Number: 3447669
ISBN: 978-1-124-52085-8
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