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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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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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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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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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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Early on Brigid's morn

Shall the Serpent come from the hole,

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I live in a landscape of liminal spaces. This past Samhain I have been hovering, neither truly in this world nor out of it. Partly this has to do with pondering mortality and how we may live out our last days.  I am not dying (well, not that I know of at any rate), but there are others close who have been taken to that edge physically, mentally and spiritually.  2015 was a challenging and exhausting year, with many highs and some gutting lows for me and those close to me.  I have had to pause, hibernate and dip into the no-words place before I could break surface.

Winter has a stillness that I truly value. I am grateful for the ice that hems us in. I am grateful for the wood that snaps in our log burner and the candle that glows with my many special intentions. I sit and knit little squares that will eventually become a blanket for a refugee or migrant and I am grateful for the meditative space between the click of the needle and the flick of the loop.

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