The Four Stages of a Woman’s Life

Traditionally we have been taught to see the progression of a woman’s life as beginning with the young girl, the archetypal Virgin, who moves into maturity as the Mother and at the end of her child bearing years, closing in on 50, she enters the time of the Crone. As I fast approached the dreaded archetypal Crone title I realized that something had shifted with contemporary American women. A shift so profound it left a wide gap between the Mother and Crone years of yore. As I stood at the precipice of my changing body I looked down the length of the next 20 years and saw them as the culmination of my whole life to this point. I was strong, fit, healthy, crowned with wisdom I had earned (the hard way), and I was damned if I could identify with the sagging breasted, toothless Crone of archetypal legends.

No indeed, I envisioned a new paradigm arising from the ashes of my female ancestors. I identified this stage in my life as the age of the Spiritual Warrior. One whose experience, knowledge and wisdom can be put to good use in shaping the future of the world. Entering my 50′s I could see the women around me confused by a youth oriented culture and the visible signs of an aging body. Recently a friend told me how she looked in the mirror one day and was shocked to finally see the changes to her skin and body. “It may have been there for awhile, but I have just embraced the reality of it and it is shocking.” And this from a woman who plays a mean game of tennis 5 days a week, eats with integrity and practices yoga.

It is a common story when a woman looks in the mirror and see’s that she has lived more of her life then she has still to live. She may have some extra weight, slight bags under the eyes, low energy and an aching back, but mentally she knows something about the game of life and in her heart she wants to continue to be a player. She wonders if it is to late, to difficult, to useless to dream of changing her health and re-sculpting her body. Then one day she meets a 55 year old woman who looks, walks and radiates like someone 15 years younger, an ageless warrior, and she is amazed to see what is possible. There are women and men who have defied the call to grow old. They have good health, peace of mind and the understanding of how to give back to the world the knowledge and wisdom they have struggled to attain. They have asked themselves a few essential questions and then set about finding the answers:

Who am I?

Who asks who I am?

What is important to me?

What makes me happy?

What brings me into harmony with others?

How can I serve the world around me?

The spiritual teacher J. Krishnamurti once said that the quality of the questions you ask is more important than seeking the answers. I wondered about that for a long time until one day I understood that the answers are forever changing, and so I too must change. In each stage of life we have the freedom to recreate ourselves and to become more effective in how we take action in our surrounding community. For women between the ages of 50-70 let us create a new archetype, one that demonstrates the emerging power of women around the world. Where there were three stages of life let there now be four: Virgin-Mother-Warrior-Crone. Together we can create a compassionate, kind, but powerful force in our actions to support those in need.

A wise older woman once confided in me that it takes great courage to grow old and so what better archetype to emulate than that of the Spiritual Warrior. Since it is inevitable that we all age, we do not need to give up on our dreams of achieving peace and harmony in the world. Let us become warriors who are not afraid to stand up to the tyranny of war and evil and who can stand united for peace and prosperity. And where does this begin? None other than in your own heart. When you look into the mirror see what has been there all along, a woman who has traveled the road of life, with a lifetime of experience and wisdom willing to share with the next generation.


Janine Andrews
Janine Andrews3 years ago

As a women of 43 I am really struggling with the loss of my youthfullness. Perhaps I was blessed with a little more in the physical beauty department which may make it a little harder to accept but all this has given me hope that there is life after youth. It's a tough one for some I'll give you that. I feel sad and a little lost. Am I still worthy? I feel fear of rejection and abandonment now more than ever.

Emma S.
Emma S6 years ago

I'm 44, and have always loved the idea of being a crone, so have decided to skip all the rest! Interesting about the third stage: in a book called Red Moon I saw it described as the Enchantress, which is also rather nice. That section of life, which I'm approaching, does seem to be a time for rediscovery, for bravery, and for nurturing a world beyond our own immediate families.

Andrea M.
Andrea M7 years ago


Pat Tyler
Pat Tyler7 years ago

How about Spiritual Warrior and Grand Warrior

MA Be7 years ago

from Jean: I really wish we could find another adjective that describes a struggle or a search or a vigilance that war or warrior. To me, war should be banned from the language of humanity. A spiritual vigilante seems more appropriate. Someone who takes matters into her own hands and finds ways to keep the fire glowing, without fighting or warring, but with gentle vigilance.

I agree - recently listening to Joan Borysenko - lovely lively woman on menopause. She calls the later years The Guardian years. I also like the middle place of Peaceful Warrior years. Even with the 'strength in adversity" language it is inspiring.

Our own internal Department of Peace (go Marianne Williamson!)

It seems as if middle aged women are the target in too many cultures. American culture one of the worse for worshipping the young woman type of beauty.

The changes are difficult from an internal perspective. To come out of the grief over loss of youth to grip life and make something of it despite it all is remarkable.

Never be afraid to tell your age to family and friends and never put yourself down. You are beautiful no matter your age shape color etc! You are beautiful inside and out. Let the world know! So be it.

Inga P.
Past Member 7 years ago


johan l.
paul l7 years ago

As a man who is not referred to as a crone, but is the same age, I can only say that I love women of all ages.
I know you ladies cannot all look like the woman in the picture, starting off this article, but all women have something special.
Do not for one moment allow yourselves to be put down or to be full of negative thoughts about your wrinkles and sagging breasts!
Remember, the next generation will also arrive at this particular age!
Love you, girls (6 or 60)

Jane H.
Jane H7 years ago

Thank the goddess for the women's movement of which I was a part. May it live for as long as it needs to and I am so grateful women's lives are not so circumscribed as they were in my young days!!

Donna F.
Donna F7 years ago

There is no male equivalent of the word "crone", so I resent this stage of life as a woman. I, too, will stay a wise warrior to the end!

Kaye Skinner
Rev. Dr. Kaye S7 years ago

Don't forget the saggy breasted crone.