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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Hello, Darkness!

Darkness and Awakening. These are, in my personal estimation and temperature taking of the zeitgeist,  the two great themes of 2017. Whether you look at the year from a macro or micro view, take it personally or put a more universal perspective to your lens, these are the recurring motifs.  Even the 2017 Word of the Year that has been identified is complicit. It speaks both of a knowing darkness and a guilty glimmer of self-insight. We ask ourselves these days if we are 'Woke.' That implies awakening from, perhaps a dream or very deep slumber. Some people awake with a jolt. Others emerge slowly in a fug of confusion. But awakening eventually happens, even in the darkness of a December morning.

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Some mark Samhain over the 31st October to 2nd November period. Others like to wait for the cross-quarter day, like my Druid friend John; this is a variable date but is astrologically Sun at 15 degrees Scorpio. Personally, I like to celebrate the dark moon in Scorpio. Partly, it is because I was Dark Moon in Scorpio moon born. So I revel in my natal vibe. Now, in my crone years, I especially value the special magic of the dark of the moon at the darkest time of year. On November 18th, we have a dark moon in Scorpio, which I call the Cailleach moon.

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While participating in Joanna Colbert Powell's 30Days e-courses around the Wheel of the Year in 2016, I revived my practice of creating seasonal altars. But recently I have started being a bit counter intuitive to the seasonal symbols. I have had to have a bit of a ponder, squaring up what my unconscious was nudging me to create with what my more logical, conscious self was prescribing as 'appropriate' for the current station on the Wheel of the Year.

First off, I have to say that I have twin devotions to Brigid and Danu. Since Danu's feast is in June she precides from June to the January New Year. Then Brigid is the deity who has pride of place. So you see Danu in this photo of an altar I created this week just before the Aries Full Moon. 

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Autumn, or fall, equinox marks the anniversary of my moving to Ireland sixteen years ago. This was my third country move and each Mabon I fall into a contemplative mood regarding my peripatetic life. The first move was at age three months. Reading an article this morning by Mary Condren in Celtic Threads I had a bit of an 'Ah ha!' moment. 

Even as a child I felt outside in my homeland. In fact, as an eleven or twelve year old, I penned (with Quink and quill made from a seagull feather), a gnomic little poem called 'The Exile.' I felt suffocated in my native country, surreally out of place, not belonging. Logically, this didn't make sense. In my mother's lineage- Dutch adventurers and English Quakers - family had made their home in North America since early colonial days. Louisa May Alcott, author of Eight Cousins, is an eighth cousin according to ancestry.com.

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Eclipses are said to be a closing of one door and an opening of a window. At this past full moon on 6th September I did some Tarot queries using Joanna Colbert Powell's Gaian Tarot. The results were a bit counter-intuitive. A full moon is a culmination, but all the cards were pointing to beginnings and letting go so the new could happen. So eclipse season ain't over yet. Nope! The weather happening globally is the narrative set by the eclipse.

Fire and water are duking it out all over the USA. Here in Ireland, after a relatively dry (for us) winter, spring and summer, Lunasadh has brought the monsoon season upon us. In our boggy, heavy clay laden west of Ireland the water tends to pool. There is only so much land can hold and then it just lies on top. In winter we have these naturally occurring lakes called turloughs that evaporate in summer. Well, the turloughs are arriving early! And our car engine was killed when some local flooding on our lane turned out to be deeper than estimated.

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The August 2017 eclipse season is upon us. Astrologer's view eclipses as doors closing (sometimes with a slam) and new windows of opportunity. During a solar and lunar eclipse season we encounter a period of shadow. Something is hidden. Then something is revealed. Weather can turn capricious. This summer I have had a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Well, this  month I suspect we will hear multiple thumps on the ground of our being. 

Which may fill you with fear. And I say, in the Northern Irish vernacular, "Catch yerself on!" Which is a less elegant, but more bracing, way of rephrasing Hemingway's "Courage is grace under pressure."

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Thanks for this lovely, cogent piece on the phenomenon known as the eclipse. I always find them fascinating and this one will be e
  • Bee Smith
    Bee Smith says #
    If you live within the pathway of even partial visibility it will feel all the more potent still!
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    I do, in central MA.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    We are going Eclipse crazy over here!
  • Bee Smith
    Bee Smith says #
    I rather gathered that. And they are particularly poten when they are visible from your location. I know that from personal experi

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It is traditional to bake a Lammas loaf at this time of year, although many may wait to celebrate next weekend, closer to the cross-quarter day.  But there are harvests and harvests. Lammas or Lunasa as we have it in Ireland, is the time when there is a pause in the silage making and hay cutting. There are plenty of festivals around the country and in yesteryear this would be the time for fairs and all that they include - drinking, fighting, wooing, some horse trading.

From Ballycastle's Auld Lammas Fair up in Country Antrim where you can get your dulse and yellow man (a really hard candle that might extract your fillings) down to County Kerry where they crown the goat at Puck Fair, this was the pause for revelry. Many gatherings happened at holy wells and there are numerous accounts of priests having to ban nude bathing of both sexes (together, imagine!) at these sacred sites rededicated to the Virgin Mary.  There were 'faction fights' - supposedly playful, but often they got ugly. My local holy well was contaminated by blood spilt in it at a Lunasa fairy. (All is well; it has been renovated, re-dedicated and the local priest lifted the curse on it back in August 2014.)

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Here is my Harvest Poem, in answer to our question. Blessed Be, Tasha My Harvest My harvest is not from a field or meadow It is n

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