Cycles of Seven in Chinese Medicine: The Arc of the Maiden, the Mother, the Crone III


Note to the Reader: Throughout this article I will be discussing the the arc of life in cycles of seven, which, in one of the foremost source texts of Chinese medicine the Yellow Emperor’s InnerCanon (Huangdi Neijing) describes the life processes of a woman. Thus, this article in its most superficial, or exterior layer applies only to the feminine or female identified persons. Without question, the overarching themes apply to any human being inhabiting a body, regardless of gender or gender identification. For the sake of these archetypes we will refer to the feminine and use she pronouns. If you haven’t read the first article in the series, check out the first article here and the second article here.

Thank you for taking the time to read into my favorite archetype of all three, the archetype of the crone. For those who are not familiar with this archetype, the crone is commonly found in folklore and fairy tale depicting an old woman.

In this portion of the arc, the traveler is expanded in her personality. This is in contrast to the former two manifestations, the maiden and the mother. The two previous archetypes are depicted through the lens of beneficence, innocence, and self-sacrifice.

The crone has greater expression and identification – she can be either “good” or “bad”.

The crone’s heightened ability for self-expression is an important aspect of this archetype. The crone just is who she is – this is of the reasons it gets to be filed into my category of favorites. Let’s give a concrete example…

“Melinda, when you are this old, you can say and do whatever you want,” a trope my Grandmother used to say to me when I was a child. My grandmother was absolutely right. She had arrived into the archetype of the crone and was thereby granted far reaches of expression, ones greater than others around her. Her expression was, without question, deemed uncomfortable and there were even some times in which she was referred to as outspoken, she paid no mind.

The archetype of the crone in the arc of life grants connection to the divine feminine energy in the form of the direct current. Think of an inner fire hydrant coming at you constantly reminding you of how you really feel, instead of in monthly cycles.

The crone does not have to wait for insight.

Rather than processing emotions cyclically, every month the crone has a direct line, tether, and understanding to her experience. This direct current almost necessitates more authenticity. She is entering into a different time, she sees and experiences things with new eyes. All of that sounds great right? So far, we can’t see any idea why this would be a time in life anyone would want to avoid, or ward off! Tragically, the majority of western society does not happen to look at this time with the same honor and reverence that other cultures do. Folks are made to anticipate “shriveling up” and “becoming brittle.” This is simply not the case.

Given the proper tools and encouragement to listen to one’s own body the transition into the archetype of the crone can be exquisitely beautiful and meaningful. This does not mean it can be exquisitely easy. Much of my work in clinic is explaining that what is occurring is a natural process and something that the in many ways, needs to do.

The archetype is one of arrival, one of saying, “you’ve made it,” arrival often necessitates slowing down.

There is a good chance that many folks that arrive at this time in life have used much of their gas tanks throughout their former years. The resources that were previously accessible to the body at a seemingly limitless measure are now all of a sudden showing what they have left. This can be very alarming – just this transition of slowing things down can be incredibly challenging for many in the archetype of the crone.

This archetype, as much as it is freeing, has a fair amount of symptoms that accompany it.

Hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, headache, reduced libido, sluggish metabolism, vaginal dryness; all of these things are symptoms people complain of when they come in for treatment during this archetype. Often people feel as though they wish these symptoms would simply go away, and are not as interested in the mechanism that got them there. No problem! Chinese medicine is fantastic at treating the underlying pattern (often Kidney Yin/Yang, Spleen Yang, Liver Blood, Liver Yin deficiencies). In fact, we work with these patterns for folks who are transitioning all the time!

Now that we have a brief introduction to all the archetypes we’ll go back through some more symptom patterns related to women’s health and explain those from a Chinese medicine perspective.

In the meantime, if you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms yourself, or other things you think Chinese medicine might be able to help you with – be in touch. I’d be happy to consult with you about what I think we could address in our work together.


Written by Melinda Wheeler, LAc

My care is personalized and tailored to each individual. Through my studies and training, I have developed many techniques and tools to treat anyone, no matter their ailment or injury. Whether you have identified symptoms of physical pain, emotional instability, or you aren’t quite able to put your finger on any form of dis-ease, but you want to try acupuncture and/or Chinese medicine, come and see what we can accomplish together for the betterment and evolution of your well being!