Mid-life…a journey Along with the appearance of those first crow’s feet, wisps of white peeking through, a few little sags here and there with a wrinkle or two thrown in comes the realization that good habits and healthy living will not exempt us from aging or experiencing moments when all we want is the coolness of a Breeze to gently ease our discomfort. Mid-life…a journey and how we choose to experience it will depend on our understanding of self. We all know that some things have to change with time and aging…mainly youthful bodies and our ability to accept some limitations. Our society being so youth orientated often dismisses women as they mature leaving many envious of their younger sisters.. As we approach our “Crone” years, we must make a decision to celebrate age rather than bemoan it. For in honoring who we are becoming a wonderful quest awaits… a journey of discovery. When we first hear the word “Crone” we cringe. Dreadful images appear before us, some not so flattering but as we continue to explore the True meaning of this word we find ourselves captivated by the meaning it extends to us. The word Crone is derived from the Tradition of the Triple Goddess depicting the 3 stages of a woman’s development… birth: innocent, virginal, maiden: wife, mother, and finally elder: wise-woman, crone. The Crone is a being of age old wisdom and was widely recognized for her wisdom, knowledge and spirituality. At the time of menopause, it is said that she herself can partake of its Wisdom. In many older cultures she became known as crone or hag, words whose original meaning meant “wise one”, revered elder of the circle. The word crone has long been defined by society’s disdain for old women. Here, we choose to name ourselves “crones” to raise consciousness around issues of aging. Crone is not the disregarded old hag that is defined by Webster but rather as the fulfillment of female life experiences and wisdom. Native Americans have wisely known for generations that Crone is the model for empowerment, the recognition of wisdom and knowledge in women of age
Croning Celebrating Celebrating Women’s Wisdom
For a long time, to be called a crone was an insult. The very word implied a wrinkled, hunchbacked old woman, unwanted and unloved. Women who had reached an advanced age were dismissed as useless hags, and there was nothing to celebrate about it at all. Fortunately, times are changing, and more and more women are welcoming this aspect of their life. We spend many years in the guise of the Maiden followed by a couple of decades as Mother for many of us. Why not celebrate this next phase of life?
Feminine at Any Age:
More women in their fifties, sixties, and even seventies are forgoing all the trappings of “false youth” that have been a part of society for the last few decades. It’s not uncommon to see mature women with glorious manes of silver hair, when ten years ago they might have spent a small fortune to hide the gray strands. Older women are dating younger men — after all, we live longer than they do — and they have busy, active social schedules.
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Women today are far more willing to embrace their sexuality and womanhood during the years which not too long ago were considered the time of, for lack of a better phrase, drying up. We’re finally able to take back the notion that with age comes wisdom, and we’re welcoming the power of our own energy. We’re living longer, we’re self-sufficient, and we’re willing to share our knowledge and experience with others. We’re smart and confident – and that’s sexy.
Reclaiming the Name of Crone:
In early cultures, the female elder was considered a wise woman. She was the healer, the teacher, the imparter of knowledge. She mediated disputes, she had influence over tribal leaders, and she cared for the dying as they took their final breaths. For many women in Wicca and other Pagan religions, reaching the status of Crone is a major milestone. These women are reclaiming the name of Crone in a positive way, and see it as a time to joyfully welcome one’s position as an elder within the community.
Rejoicing in Our Own Wisdom:
Any woman can have a Croning ceremony, although traditionally most choose to wait until they are at least fifty years old. This is partly because of the physical changes in the body, but also because five decades of learning is nothing to sneeze at! In some traditions of Wicca, it is recommended that you wait until after menopause to become a Crone. However, some women in their thirties no longer have periods, and some women continue menstruating into their sixties, so the timing of your ceremony will depend on the guidelines of your particular path.
A Croning ceremony may be performed by a High Priestess, but can also be performed by other women who have already attained the position of Crone. The ceremony itself is typically performed as part of a women’s circle, a coven’s Esbat, or a Sabbat gathering. There is no set rule for how a ceremony is conducted, but many women who have achieved the title of Crone find they like to include at least some of the following:
A ritual bath or cleansing beforehand
Singing and chanting
A guided meditation honoring the archetype of Wise Woman
Symbols of initiation — a staff, a special cloak, a garland or crown
Drumming, music or poetry celebrating womanhood
An altar with photos of female relatives and friends who have empowered you
A celebratory meal
A symbol of the passage into Cronehood — entering through a curtain or tunnel, crossing a ceremonial threshold
An exchange of gifts or blessings (a Croning basket filled with chocolates and herbal teas is popular)
Some women choose to adopt a new name at their Croning Ceremony — this is certainly not mandatory, but just as we take new names for other milestones in our lives, if you feel that this is right for you, do so. Your Crone name can be one you keep to yourself, share only among friends, or announce to the world.
Crossing the threshold into Cronehood can be a major event in a woman’s life. It’s a celebration of all that you’ve learned, and all that you will come to know in the future. For many women, it’s a time to make new commitments and vows. If you’ve ever had an interest in taking a leadership position in some aspect of your life, now is a great time to do so. This third cycle of your life is the one in which you become an Elder, and you’ve joined a special group. You have a lifetime of achievements behind you, and decades more to look forward to. The word Crone should now be a word of power for you, so celebrate it. You’ve earned it.
The Maiden, Mother, and Crone of Pagan Traditions
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