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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Crone on the Road

Happy Bealtaine! The sacred fires of Uisneach were relit on Sunday evening, on the cross quarter day. Summer is officially in, even though the temperatures were chilly.  But the hawthorn is in blossom, the cow parsley is frilling the lane, everywhere I look from my window is lush and green or in blossom.

For the third year running I have been away form home for Bealtaine or in transit. In 2017. (, I was with Wise Woman Ireland at our weekend in Newgrange. Last year I was merry meeting on May Day in Glastonbury. (

This year I did virtually a solitary ceremony at Orkney's Ring of Brodnar, drumming at the megaliths. And do you know what they told me? "We are not just for looking at!" So many sacred sites have been preserved by heritage organisations. But because of the footfall from the wider public, they then get roped or fenced off. Sites that gloried in ritual, ceremony and gathering are isolated. Even standing stones can get sad. They were very happy with my drumming.



It has been a very 'people-y' few months. With one companion, a native Scot, I travelled 1,000 miles over a week's time. Rather than experience this time of growth in a large gathering at a place like Uisneach or Glastonbury, this year I felt drawn to a sacred space that offered solitude. Orkney provided that, as did the beaches of Caithness where my companion wished to shamanically journey to her motherline ancestors.  Spirit helped us find some missing links in a story of secrets and generational edits. It was my privelage to walk that path with my travel companion.

But the Land itself is ancestor. Humans have lived long and perhaps wiser for much longer than we imagine. At Skara Brae you can see how ancestors lived in a stone-built virtual human beehive. Looking down on the stone foundations, the walls, interconnecting passages, the stone beds, dressers, querns, it felt to me that it was a truly collective life. Just as bees live in co-operation, performing their function for the greater good of all. But perhaps one day it felt restrictive. Someone felt a stirring of strong individual consciousness. Or they could not comply with the old ways. Or the old ways were not working anymore and they wanted to survive. No one knows why Skara Brae was abandoned after what they reckon was about 600 years of continual habitation. Perhaps the Queen Bee died and there was no other to take her place, so the hive dispersed.



Perhaps it just began to feel all too people-y. Rather like the last couple months which has found me very busy juggling a number of projects involving workshops teaching creative writing to children from ages 8-12, as well as adults. So the crone took her poetry practice on the road to prime the poetry pump and make sure the well was still full.  Because the one constant in my life since last 15th September has been the daily writing and posting of a poem.  If you would like to see what poems were inspired from my Bealtaine sojourn in Scotland you can read them on

Meanwhile, all about us grows this way and that. For all the chaos, uncertainty and malcontent in our world, the wheel continues to turn and will turn long after we have returned to the earth. Then we shall be one with Great Mystery and the Ancestors. What is important is that we re-light the sacred fire in our hearts this time of year. We are growing and changing. We are bud and bloom, no matter what age or stage of life.

Blessed be and blesesings upon all ye this Bealtaine.

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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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