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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A Council of Crones

Even wise women need wise women. Life likes to mix things up. Including messages. People are complex critters. If only they could be as straightforward as taming feral cats! To navigate life I have my council of crones.

I am that most fortunate of women who has collected and maintained connections with smart, savvy, talentd, empathic and compassionate women who are scattered across many continents. They come from varied life and professional experience.  Not all have grey hair yet. But what they share is the wisdom of the cailleach. Each has been to the brink, eyeballed the abyss, didn't blink, and come back to tell the tale.

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Bealtaine In Bloom

Just in perfect timing for Bealtaine cross-quarter day, on our bank holiday weekend here in Ireland, the hawthorn blossomed in all its blushing beauty. I was over at Newgrange for Wise Woman Ireland Weekend. Walking along the lane that leads to the Brú, the air was heady and heavy with the blossom's scent.

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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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