crone chronicles

 

It takes courage

I’m writing this post to my daughters, those beautiful middling-age women who grace my life, who still carry the bloom of youth on their cheeks, who sport only a few soft laugh lines here and there to mark the passing of the years – and perhaps a stray grey hair or two lost among the brightly-coloured strands.

silver fox borderIt’s early yet; you have time ahead of you in which to adjust to the tiny changes that inevitably soften our faces and bodies as the years pass. Sooner or later, though, you will reach the point where age becomes a fact of your life and ushers in an important rite of passage.

Few people in our society recognize this period as a rite of passage, and there is no longer any ceremony to mark it; but it is nevertheless as important as the ushering in of a girl’s first blood or the time of bearing children or bringing a career into fruition.

When a woman has passed her child-bearing years, she enters the stage of life I call the Time of the Crone.

elder woman 6 borderThe title “Crone” hasn’t always been derogatory. In its most simplistic sense, the word designates an old woman, a woman past her childbearing years, a post-menopausal woman.

But did you know that the words “crone,” “hag,” and “witch” were once proud names for old women?

The word “crone” comes from “crown,” indicating wisdom emanating from the head; “hag” comes from “hagio,” meaning holy; and “witch” comes from “wit,” meaning wise.

Beauty of AgeIn pre-Christian times, very old women were important members of communities: they served as midwives, leaders, artists, counsellors, and medicine women, and were viewed as the logical fulfillment of female life experience and wisdom, having grown from the youthful maiden, through the life-sustaining and generative work of the young woman, to the calm, evolved, and confident wisdom and compassion of the old woman.

The sources of wisdom in these old women lay in a lifetime of fierce commitment to caring and listening and connecting.

We are entering a time in the history of the world when there are more menopausal women than ever before. In the USA alone, some forty million American women are now in or past menopause, and another twenty million will reach that stage of life in the next decade.

Hepburn borderThe Baby Boomers, as we’re known, men and women born in the post-WWII period from 1946 to 1964, have changed society at every stage of our life, simply because there are so many of us. And as Crones, we elder women still have the opportunity to bring the richness of our wisdom to bear on those interests and concerns that move us at our stage of life.

As Susan Ann Stauffer says “….By bringing the term ‘Crone’ and these concepts out of the shadows and into the light, values can be revealed, strengths acknowledged, experience honoured, and new learning can come from these insights.”

Here are a couple of things to think about:

A Crone is a woman who has moved past mid-life and who acknowledges her survivorship, embraces her age, learns from the examined experiences of her life, and, most likely, appreciates the wrinkles on her face.

A Crone is an older woman who has learned to walk in her own truth, in her own way, having gained her strength by acknowledging the power and wisdom of the totality of her experience. She is “a wise old woman.”

elder woman 4 borderAs a woman moves past youth and midlife into old age, she consciously takes on the mantel of Crone – a woman who celebrates her survivorship, willingly choosing to continue forward in life with all the gusto she can muster. A Crone is a woman burnished bright by an inner fire that sharpens both her wit and her intensity, her passion and her power.

[By Susan Ann Stauffer, Crones Counsel Today]

We are like trees, we humans, and the language of human aging is all wrong. We do not become old; we do not just pass through these discrete ages named infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, old age.

We are born as a core that is built up, layer upon layer, over all the minutes and hours and days and years of our lives. And all that richness of detail, every self we were at any point in time, is still there.

elder women 12 borderThe layers change our concept of the core; sometimes they mask it, but they don’t erase it. The core and all the layers are available. The key is to find them, to see or hear or smell or feel them again.

[By Sharon Lee, Camdenton, MO, submitted to The American Gardener]

I’ve become proud to accept the mantle of the Crone, and I hope that you wonderful women who call me mother will do the same when your time comes.

elder woman 3 border rightYou’ve probably heard it said that “Life isn’t about the destination; it’s about the journey.”

It’s in the Crone years that these words finally take on their true meaning. Life is a journey of experiences, ongoing learning and growth, both spiritual and human; and at no time are we more conscious of this fact than in our Crone years.

The time of the Crone is about gracefully adapting to the process of aging.

It is about quietly inspiring others by our actions as much as our words. It’s about being comfortable in our own skin and with our own spirituality – which, if nurtured, can become the bedrock of our lives.

It is about allowing our increased intuitive and creative energies to come into full blossom. It is about freeing ourselves to be the best of who we really, truly are….and discovering the quiet, intense joy inherent in this freedom.

growing older border

Namaste,
Susannah

Sources:
The Ancient Crone, by Anya Silverman
The Crone, by Susan Ann Stauffer

 

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6 Comments

  1. I’m getting there, and as I lose weight, I see the chubbiness was hiding lines. Ah, well, I will learn to celebrate my crone-ness. When does the wisdom come? LOL

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    1. Ahh, chubbiness….so that’s the secret–it’s that layer of subcutaneous fat that’s stretching my skin out. Well, I find I’m okay with that; in fact, hooray for chubby! Come what may, I’ve long since retired from attempting to be svelte. As to wisdom. Hmm, if it’s true, as Leonardo da Vinci wrote, that “wisdom is the daughter of experience,” then we MUST be wise, ’cause we’ve certainly got plenty of experience under our belts by now, right? 🙂

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      1. Hello! In my opinion–if we’ve tried to live a conscious, caring life–by the time we reach these later years, we’ve earned the right to wear the title “Crone” with considerable pride. I definitely do.

        Namaste!

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    1. Hi Nancy!

      You’re absolutely right. And those stripes can be any and all of grey hair, wrinkles, changes in our bodies, loss of hair…the list goes on.

      But, as the Skin Horse so wisely said:

      “It doesn’t happen all at once….You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” [from The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margerie Williams]

      Sadly, I never read The Velveteen Rabbit until I was a grandmother myself, but these words are now one of my lifetime favourite quotes.

      Namaste

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