Throughout history, certain archetypes have weathered the test of time and appeared in countless mythologies and stories. Out of all these tropes and cliches comes the familiar silhouette of women, in particular, that of the Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Magical women have been praised and revered as maternal forces of balance from ancient Greece to the groves of Ireland. Many concepts we know today, like Mother Nature, are born from this archetype of the Triple Goddess. To understand the Maiden, Mother, and Crone better, we must first understand their history and their purpose in modern witchcraft and neopaganism.
Before we adopted Robert Graves’ contemporary language of Maiden, Mother, and Crone, these maternal archetypes were seen in different goddesses throughout history. Hecate is an early example of a Triple Goddess. Though Greek mythology is often contradicting, many sources and artworks depict her as being a woman of triple aspects. Other Goddesses like Persephone an aspect of Hecate (another head, so to speak), and Hecate was often referred to as the “three-fold goddess” by philosophers and writers. As the goddess of witchcraft, spirits, and night, Hecate is a major inspiration for many neopagan traditions.
In the same vein as Hecate, concepts like The Fates inspired many folklorists. The Fates were three women who controlled the fates of all mortals on earth. Many myths depicted them as we see the modern Triple Goddess; one was youthful and bright, the next maternal and warm, the final wrinkled and wise. Another popular example of a three-fold goddess is The Tridevi, a Hindi triad of the goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati. All of these mythos of women, in triads or simply possessing triple aspects, are the ground workings for our modern view of the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.
The Modern Maiden, Mother, and Crone
In Neopagan traditions, the Triple Goddess is a deity that is revered as the feminine energy to counterbalance the more masculine deities (the Horned God) assigned to the same practices. Most symbols related to the Maiden, Mother, and Crone are crescent moons, circles, and feminine bodies, as the Triple Goddess is most often called upon for fertility spells and moon magic.
The three separate aspects of Maiden, Mother, and Crone all possess their own elements, seasons, moon phases, and symbology. The Maiden is characterized by her youthful energy. She is the new beginning, springtime, and the waxing moon. Next in the triad comes the Mother, a maternal force of fertility, sexuality, education, and social connection. She is representative of summertime, feminine leaders, and the full moon. Finally, there is the Crone, often depicted as a wise old woman cloaked in shadows and darkness. The Crone stands as a symbol for death, the end of all, wintertime, and the waning moon.
Together, these three women make up the Triple Goddess and the cycle of life. Like a coven, the Triple Goddess archetype inspires a sense of both camaraderie and safety to those possessing feminine energy. The number three in general symbolism is that it is the perfect number. Three is the number of the beginning, middle, and end, of past, present, and future. So as the number three is divine, so is the divine goddess who stands shoulder to shoulder in our mythology.
Springtime with the Maiden, Mother, and Crone
Springtime is the Maiden’s season. Know that when the trees turn green and the flowers begin to bloom that it is her waking up along with nature. Goddesses who have similar energy, symbolism, or likeness to the Maiden are Persephone, Greek Goddess of Spring and Death, and Sita, Hindu Goddess of Spring and Agriculture.
To best celebrate the Maidens in our lives during the spring season, consider connecting with the land around you. Meditate under the morning sun, explore a nature walk nearby, or simply go out and forage for beautiful flowers to display around your home. If you are yourself a Maiden, try and do your best to care for your body and for the people who bring joy to your life.
Waking Spring Spell
Here is a special spell plucked straight from my personal grimoire that you may use to aid in worship of the Maiden and the Triple Goddess as a whole.
You Will Need:
- A pot with soil, a garden, or anywhere you can plant seeds or a starter plant
- A starter plant, bulb, or seeds
- A light green chime candle
- Olive oil
- Any other herb of choice
At the beginning of the spring season, under a waxing moon, take your pot of soil, your seeds, and your candle outside into the open air. Next, anoint your candle with olive oil and your herbs then light beside your pot. As the candle burns down, slowly begin to plant your seeds. While planting, meditate on the state of the world. Imagine the entire earth beneath your beginning to wake after a long, restful sleep. Feel the stretch of trees and grass. Listen to the soft hum of the wind. Once you have finished planting, leave the pot in a sunny spot. Water daily and speak affirmations to it so that you too may wake and grow like the nature around you.