Crone in Corrogue: Wild Wisdom of the Elder Years

Glorying in the elder years, a time of spirituality, service and some serious sacred activism

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Bee Smith

Bee Smith

Bee Smith has enjoyed a long relationship with SageWoman as a contributor, columnist and blogger. She lives in the Republic of Ireland, teaches creative writing and is a member of the Irish Art Council's Writers in Prisons panel. She is the author of "Brigid's Way: Celtic Reflections on the Divine Feminine."    

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Celebrating Aging at Bealtaine

The maidenly May Queen. The fecundity of the land. The sacred union of masculine and feminine.  It seemed a bit counterintuitive that in Ireland, Bealtaine, the month of May, is a month celebrating creativity in people who are well over the age of 50. Beataine is the time of year when crones rock!

All over Ireland there are arts activities aimed at those who are of pensionable age. For instance, the Hawkswell Theatre in Sligo is offering weekly acting classes in May for €30! That is completely affordable for someone on a state pension. All over Ireland there are arts activities that celebrate our creativity as we age.

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A Crone's Sponsers

After autumn equinox I consciously looked for crone models as 'sponsors' for my croning. When I had my confirmation at age 12 I had a sponsor's hand on my shoulder. Now I wanted that virtual, spiritual hand on my shoulder as I crossed this threshold place. I needed some Wise Women at my shoulder. So I went researching, meditating and seeking my sponsers in the weeks before my Samhain croning ceremony.

The Cailleach Beara is an obvious starting point and certainly fulfilled the sponsorship role for my fellow crone.  But I had this intuitive niggle that it wasn't quite right.  On some level I needed not just a mythic witch or goddess. And then I went to Yorkshire on a visit and visited Mother Shipton's Well in Knaresborough.

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Crone With Crown

Croning ceremonies are a relatively new feature. As a mostly solitary spiritual practitioner, public ceremony is not my first choice for expressing momentous passages.  But 2016 pushed me out of my comfort zone. We had a wedding, a Big Fat Irish one that the Husband in Training had always wanted and which I had demurred. But having survived the wedding, I felt that I could do a croning ceremony via wifi and the World Wide Web okay. Apparently, 2016 was my year for rites of passage.  Like weddings, these things take a good deal of thought and intention to be pushed into them beforehand.

I already had a crown. Actually, when I turned fifty I thought I was 'ready.' I was not. I did not have an early post-menopause and the peri- phase lasted for the best part of decade. By the time I turned 50, I was in full flush. An Irish friend who now lives in Asheville, North Carolina, made this crown with loving intent. It includes Brighid's eternal flame and the phases of the moon. There are pearls of wisdom and turquoise to express it. It ties on with a tartan ribbon, a nod to the Celtic connection, but is also a deep royal blue, fit for a crone's crown. (Thank you, Liz for your artistry and spiritual intention. It was perfect when the time came!)

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Gloria in Equilux

I like the alternative name for vernal, or Spring, equinox - equilux, the equal light, this brief balance before we tip into the increasing daylight and lengthening days, the 'doing-ness' part of the year.

At this point when the the earth is equally poised between light and darkness, what stories do you tell yourself?  How do you frame your life's passage? Is there a single, unifying theme or thread? Or is it a tapestry with intricate workings of warp and weft? Where is the balance between the personal and universal in your story?

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A Day Without Women

My call from the springtime fastness of Corrogue this International Women's Day. Giving voice and presence to this day of action.

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Crone without Crown

This is the first entry in Bee Smith's new blog, "Crone in Corrogue." Entries for "Away with the Fairies" can still be found in the archives of Bee Smith's writing on PaganSquare.

It is not a flattering word – crone. But like that other ‘c’ word used pejoratively that references my lady parts, it wants reclaiming. Etymologically unflattering, it does not, as some would have it, refer to a crown. Its roots are deep in Old Northern French, carogne, translating as carrion.

Old woman – hag, putrefying flesh, cantankerous. Sounds…’Nasty!’ Cantankerous? We know what that’s like. Quarrelsome, ornery, and troublemaking. And if you trace the ancient roots of the word cantankerous we come again to Old North French (which makes one wonder what amazing, glorious old women were hatched there) contechier, which means ‘to hold fast.’

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Abducted by Fairies

You might have thought I had been abducted into the Other World.

It has been nearly a year since I posted here. You could well think I have been abducted by fairies. For I have indeed been inhabiting a liminal space.

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