Barbara G. Walker
Harper Collins, 1985
My guess is if ten people read this book five would think it was totally ridiculous, three would call it boring, and two would feel differing degrees of enlightenment. The Crone as a title “conjures” up a wrinkled old woman, probably smelly, and not too bright. A woman who is disposable and forgettable.
Which speaks to the point of Walker’s book. She knows that’s how
women beyond the age of a young man’s fantasies are stereotyped. In 1985 it was worse. At least now there is Hilary Clinton, Judi Dench, Christiane Amanpour, and Meg Whitman, which only starts the list. Walker’s last sentences declare the need for the emergence of female strength, intelligence, and wisdom before the doomsday she saw coming with modern warfare:
“Women, who have suffered so much at the hands of patriarchal
mythmakers, need no longer pretend not to understand their motives. God can’t, but women can call man to account for his gynocidal, genocidal behavior.”
This nonfiction book culls from myth, religion, and culture in the style of Joseph Campbell. Her premise is that world cultures were originally matrilineal and therefore primarily based on wisdom, reason, and goodwill toward future generations and earth. Through time the male use of power and ability to thrive on a “we” vs. “them” mentality resulted in the domination of women and other men.
Walker cites history that is acknowledged although not often written with the same slant as she gives it. She states she is an atheist, but explains the world through its religions, universal symbols, and collective consciousness. The chapters of the book’s outline explain the traditional roles of the crone as powerful and wise in her trinity as creator, preserver, and destroyer. She takes small bits of archeological findings and ancient texts, dusts them of patriarchal interpretation, and presents much of history as male questing to overrule feminine values.
The Catholic Church’s Inquisition and justification of burning at the stake of millions of old women is suggested as the lowest point
of female subjugation. From there it appears women may slowly be rising again, although by 1985, Walker didn’t see it as happening fast enough. From the view of 2014, I would agree. Walker does not suggest women should regain domination over men. What she seems to encourage is a tradition that wishes, “if only God could get his spouse back.”