Women of Wisdom

Marking the Passage into the Crone Years

Winter Solstice 2013

Whatever holidays you celebrate at this turning of the year, we wish you peace, joy, hope, and love.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, this is a time of growing darkness and the beginning of winter. Traditions invite us to fill our homes with light to hold back the darkness and affirm the return of the sun. And yet, this season also invites us to enter the darkness, honor it as a time to go inward, reflect on our lives, and dream new life into being. As Starhawk says, “We can know the dark, and dream it into a new image.”

Melody Lee offers a story for this season about Mother Holle, a winter goddess in German folklore:

Mother Holle could be called the Crone of Yule. In a sleigh pulled by dogs, she rode through the land and distributed gifts to the people. She rewarded those who were hardworking and generous and brought misfortune to those who were lazy or selfish. In the folktale about her collected by the Brothers Grimm, Mother Holle is an old woman with large teeth who lives in a cottage the Other World. When she shakes her feather bed, snow falls on earth. She is a goddess of abundance and justice as well as of winter and death. She is an emblem of the power and wisdom of the crone.


Mother Holle, ancient mistress of the earth and keeper of the old stories, you ride the wild winds of change and forgetting. You turn our lives inside out or upside down to teach us what we need to know. You send us forth in search of wisdom along the wind’s keen edge. When we see you, we know wonder is near — the wonder of Winter’s darkness and the light it hides inside.

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