Crone Ceremony - You’re 40 -70 years old and…?

In many earth-based traditions like ours, there are three or four phases of life for people. For self-identified women, it is the Maiden, Mother, and Queening the Crone. For self-identified men, it is the Youth, the Warrior to Wise, and then the Sage. These can be seen and experienced as archetypal energies or thresholds that a person passes through as milestones are reached in their life. They are not achieved simply because time passes, and as we age; they are rites of passage on purpose.

Here we will use the She / Her pronoun but in another writing, we will explore in time -more than the binary. We beholden and respect all.

Women Passing from the phase of the Maiden to Mother is a sacred rite of passage. It includes, but isn’t limited to physically birthing a child from one’s body and it includes adoption or fostering too. A woman can also pass into this phase of Motherhood by truly mothering herself, breaking free of childhood patterning or dynamics, or by confidently stepping into her way professionally. The sacred passage from Motherhood to Queening may look like the start of her own business or developing her artform or releasing attachments and taking 20 years or so for stepping into Cronehood. Croning may occur when a woman is starting to be considered an elder in her community, maybe becomes a godmother or grandmother, sits still in her pearls of wisdom, and perhaps retires from her active professional life, or when she transitions through menopause (but not essentially).

“Crone” is derived from the word Cronus (time), and points to the wisdom gained through life experiences. This is the time when life experiences help the woman shed the concern she has regarding judgment from others. Crone also means crown. It is the time when a woman can more confidently wear her crown unabashedly. Cronehood is a time when a woman can blossom and reclaim her ancient identity, her identity of self, who she is without all of the conditioning that is so inevitable in this lifetime. All of that can now be stripped away so her glory shines majestically. She can confidently crown herself and step into the third aspect of the Goddess: embodied maturity. She has moved from childhood through puberty and fertility to now reach this new stage.

Barbara Walker writes in her book The Crone :

“The Crone’s title was related to the word crown and she represented the power of the ancient tribal matriarch who made the moral and legal decisions for her subjects and descendants. It was the medieval metamorphosis of the wise woman into the witch that changed the word Crone from a compliment to an insult and established the stereotype of malevolent old womanhood that continues to haunt elder women today.”

I want us to reclaim the glory of being a Crone and to that end, a part of my work is to personally honour my Queening for Cronehood where I offer myself a small ritual for this time in my life. The ceremony and space I hold is embedded in the depth of work I am already doing and I have found Buddhism very helpful at times along with meditation and preparing and imagining my end of life as a standalone piece of personal work. I started with preparations last year. I review what life has been like thus far and how I have gotten to where I am now, and then I consider what I accomplished as a Queen already and how might I conduct myself as a Crone and what kind of ceremony would fit. The ceremony includes embodiment, song, acknowledgement of grief, and rebirth of the less-conditioned self Queen into Crowning my Cronehood.

I share this with a circle of women that are already crones I deeply respect and together I meet them afterwards one on one and ask for their help as I go forward with my new, embodied sense of empowerment into the woman that I am. I work towards shedding anything that is no longer serving me so I can truly step into my wise woman self. I am now a preserver of knowledge and bearer of wisdom acquired over a longer life that has a lot of living still to do.

To quote Dr. Jean Shinoda-Bolen:

“Life gives you experience, and when you draw from it, that’s true wisdom. By the time a woman is in her Crone years, she is in an amazing position to be an influence. To change things for the better, to bring what she knows into a situation, to be able to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ You don’t have to just go along with things, which is often a part of the middle years.”

Yes! Crones can be more vocal, as we see with The Crone’s Counsel or Raging Grannies. They can step into their role in activism, being a catalyst, social justice advocates and trusted advisers. They have time and space to devote to causes that matter to them. Queening Crones are healers and mentors; in short, wise women. They can also choose to be more silent and let the younger minds around them -speak out and express themselves -the Queened Crone no longer needs to be heard; she can relax in the leadership that is rising all around her and give gratitude and appreciation too.

In our youth-focused society, it can be difficult to claim the role of the elder, to be proud of that state and recognize the important contributions elders make. However, it wasn’t always like that (and many societies still value the role of elders). In ancient societies around the world, women were wisdom keepers, helping younger women bring new life into the world and helping older women as they exited this mortal realm. The Crone enjoyed a special, revered status and was praised for her wisdom, healing skills, and moral leadership. She has a profound understanding of life and the world around her – she is a font of wisdom for her community and a source of inspiration.

To quote Marion Woodman, “The Crone has been missing from our culture for so long that many women, particularly young girls, know nothing of her tutelage. Young girls in our society are not initiated by older women into womanhood with its accompanying dignity and power. Without the Crone, the task of belonging to oneself, of being a whole person, is virtually impossible.”

Since we are likely now living 20 more years than a century ago - we have much more room for Queens Croning. This will be a phase of life that many will notice is longer, more robust, worth staying healthy for and one with longevity.

It used to be that Crone’s presence and leadership were revered at every significant ceremony. And it’s time to reclaim that space and not for longer years.

During our time together in the Crone ceremony, I mark the transition into Cronehood by recognizing the Queen in the Crone status as a major milestone full of a wide range of internal and external experiences. There is a grief of the life that is behind. There is a curiosity about the spark of creativity and Queen’s aliveness will be in this phase may mean. There is joy and celebration also of what has been lived as well as what is yet to come. To quote Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, "we are pulled into the territory of the crone when we need a “deeper, larger understanding of our most meaningful path [that] can no longer be denied – when the gifts hidden in our challenges must be brought forth.” This is something to celebrate and it’s part of my work to shepherd myself and then other women into this deep, rich phase of development. It is truly an honour to pass into this phase of life.

So Mote It Be

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