Slide background

Cobalt Blue: A Novel

A novel for courageous readers and seekers, COBALT BLUE is a turbulent, gorgeous ride into sacred sex..

Order Now

Emails to my Therapist

Crone? Me? How I Want to Age

Dear Nicholas, You dared to suggest the crone archetype as fitting where I now am in my life. Okay, I’m fine with the wise woman idea. But the word “crone”? Very troubling. And I do believe words matter. I want a clearly positive term for an often derided stage of life. A mild example of the usual language: “little old lady” is rarely a compliment.  Not what I want to age into.

All this dither of mine about the word is likely my way of pondering and avoiding pondering how I want to age. (Of course, at 68, I haven’t yet begun the process!)

I do know the word “queer” was successfully reclaimed by the LGBTQ pride movement. So there’s precedent for making an insult into a positive and owning it. However queer originally meant simply odd, eccentric. But crone?

A Tough Undertaking

What an uphill energy-consuming battle, it would be for me to shake off the currently prevailing definitions of crone. And I suspect that there are people who identify as LGBTQ who inwardly cringe at a word that was once used to bully them.

I also think the culture’s general view of old women contains a strong measure of the negatives usually associated with the word.

Google “define crone” and see what you get. Examples: “a hag…an old woman who is thin and ugly…cantankerous…a witchlike old woman  derived from the Old French for carrion…caroine, charoine dead flesh…”

Carrion? Dead flesh?! I object.

The Free Dictionary at least comes through with a second meaning that is positive. Crone is: “Derogatory An old woman considered to be ugly; a hag. 2. A woman who is venerated for experience, judgment, and wisdom.”

The Positives

I’m happy to be venerated for experience, judgment and wisdom. Got no problem with that. (And I like this post on positive croning that details one 60 year-old woman psychologist’s intentions with other resources on the subject.)

I’m also fine with old and thin. As for witchlike, it’s true that I have a pagan streak. And probably it would be healthy for me to be more overtly cantankerous upon occasion.

But ugly carrion!

How I Want to Age

I expect to keep tapping away at my laptop, in lipstick and turtleneck, with the same intensity and sense of exploration.



A Dream of My After-Life

Once years ago I dreamed I died and became a lake and, like everyone who died in that dream world, I had a portrait of who I once was hanging in the sky near me. The portrait I could see up there from my lake perspective was of Doris Lessing. Maybe that was a dream of career ambition rather than of an old age model. But I do feel there’s something more personal about bold aging in her image there.

I also like the images I see of Toni Morrison (fierce intelligence), Helen Mirren (unabashed sexiness), Georgia O’Keefe (going her own way, feistily and with flair). And I like the look of those supposedly elder women in cruise ship brochures; they set a fine example of sveltely having fun at sea with handsome white-haired husband.

Well, all this depends on longevity and good health and I’m working on that.  If you come up with a better word than crone, do let me know.

Venerably yours,




Follow This Blog


Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  • September 15, 2017 at 10:10 am Reply

    OMG you had me in tears over this one. Thank you thank you Peggy! Let’s come up with a new word to describe us Boomers who are not interested in “aging” into these old stereotypes! xxx

    • Peggy Payne
      September 15, 2017 at 2:39 pm Reply

      Do you think goddess would work, Gail?! I could get behind that.

  • Herb
    September 15, 2017 at 11:18 am Reply

    As the third goddess in the triad the Crone is carefree, has the wisdom of life, and license to explore beyond the innocence and duties of the younger goddesses. Perhaps this freedom and lack of accountability became too much of a threat to male dominated/controlled Christian society? With the simple association of “old” and Crone a term of endearment was given a negative meaning, eh! Take it back to the time of more equality between the sexes when family matriarchs were respected Crones and sought out for their wisdom of a long life!

    • Peggy Payne
      September 15, 2017 at 2:41 pm Reply

      I like this association with carefree explorers, Herb! Thanks for the history.

  • Sharon V
    September 15, 2017 at 2:17 pm Reply

    I actually don’t mind the word crone because I always associated it with wisdom rather than crankiness. I see a woman interpreting the patterns in bones cast on the dirt beside a fire and guiding the young. I see respect and veneration which beats disrespect and dismissal. Glad I didn’t look it up.

    • Peggy Payne
      September 15, 2017 at 2:42 pm Reply

      Vivid picture of the woman beside the fire, Sharon V. Sure does beat disrespect and dismissal.

  • Amey Miller
    September 15, 2017 at 10:15 pm Reply

    I’m totally with you on this Peggy, as a fellow-writer. I just can’t get beyond what I feel the word connotes. However, as in these posts, I do know people I respect who have fully embraced the word “crone.” Like what you say about “queer,” there is also the defiant, affectionate use of the N. word by African Americans (I can’t claim to know what is meant by its use in certain contexts I’m describing, but that is my projection).

    Our concerns re crone, I would say, are related to both mysogeny and ageism. Relatedly I don’t go for the idea of somehow keeping ones age secret as that would make one vulnerable to disrespect. I’m proud of every year I’ve put on the tires! So, in that regard, I’m happy with “oldster,” which you may not like either, but to me has the quality of affection for self and others that I’m after. Lee Smith’s Dimestore, written at different ages, but completed as she clocked seventy, has a nice wry take on this drama-rama. Thanks for this post —- Amey

    • Peggy Payne
      September 15, 2017 at 10:32 pm Reply

      I like your vehicular metaphors, Amey. I too brag about my age. One of my twin brothers said to me recently on their birthday that it must be stressful for me to have younger brothers as old as 65. So far I’m bearing up under the weight of that. And isn’t Dimestore terrific?! I love that book.

  • September 16, 2017 at 1:12 am Reply

    For women with grandkids, variations of Granny seem apropos.

    • Peggy Payne
      September 16, 2017 at 4:17 am Reply

      Women over fifty referred to as grannies? or gagas? I don’t know, Bob.

  • […] it has happened again, Nicholas. More signs of getting old.  Each time I notice some new change, I go through a series of […]

Leave a Comment


Follow This Blog