This book's first paragraph is a doozy. After announcing that women are turning away from Judeo-Christianity, Walter claims...


THE CRONE: Woman of Age, Wisdom, and Power

This book's first paragraph is a doozy. After announcing that women are turning away from Judeo-Christianity, Walter claims that there's a growing worldwide movement in which women meet in each other's homes to ""discuss recent studies of prepatriarchal Goddess worship and engage in rituals aimed at re-creating some feeling for those ancient faiths."" At this, most readers will probably hurl the book into the nearest cauldron. Those who plunge on will be provided with a muddied but evocative exposition on the ""Supreme Goddess"" theory, replete with myths and rituals of numerous cultures. This theory propounds a prehistoric world in which society's power was invested in women under the aegis of an all-powerful female deity. These Stone-Age goddesses, argues Walker, were, in effect, a trinity that embraced in a single entity the Virgin, inexplicably representing ""the Creator,"" the Mother, or ""Preserver"" and what the author calls the Crone or ""Destroyer."" In later pre-Christian religions (Judaism presumably excepted), the goddesses' various personae were split up into a number of female deities who shared power with a whole gaggle of male deities. The Crone, sometimes merged with the Virgin, became in various cultures Artemis, Astarte, Diana, Isis and so on. With Christianity and its one all-powerful male deity, she became the hag, the witch, the succubus--a creature to despise or fear. ""Our culture's official rejection of the Crone figure was related to rejection of women, particularly old women,"" says Walter. She blames most of the ills of the world--war, environmental rape, maltreatment of women--on male dominance. To save the world from the coming atomic or environmental Doomsday, she wants to return power to women and feels that restoration of Supreme Goddess worship would do the trick. (She waffles over this point, wondering if another religion would be welcomed in a materialistic-scientific society.) But the Crone seems to be her ace-in-the-hole. Men, she says, fear the power of older women, which is one reason they have rendered them so powerless. Yet it is these post-menopausal women who would hold the reins of power in a matriarchy. Presumably this is what those women of the first paragraph are trying to effect.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 1985


Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1985