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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Magic and Paradigm Shifts

If this were a cinematic moment, there would be a scene where the wind blows the weathervane round to signify a huge change in direction.  Do you feel it, too? Ever since February (well, for me Imbolc, but for some friends a bit later on) it feels as if the huge 'stuckness' of 2018 was unclogged.Whoosh! And that whoosh! is the wind shifting the weathervane round.

These times of paradigm shifts are very liminal. Partly, we are responding to the celestial energies of Uranus and other planets stationing on the critical degrees of 29 and 0.  Endings and beginnings.  We have had a very potent New Moon in Picses to inspire visions and dream new realities. But somehow, I sense there is more than just an astrological explanation. There is such a powerful pulse of interconnectedness that I am sensing in the air, even as sleet and hail, thunder and lightening visit the landscape I inhabit along with tulips and hellebores, badgers and birds of numeous species. In a time where there is much to worry a body and soul, I feel as if we have been through a great clearing of energy. Now we have more power to perform acts of kindness, love and wisdom in the world. We are the channels.  And there is more space for us to fill.

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Imbolc New Moon Ritual

Five years ago an Englishwoman, a Scottish woman and an American-Irish woman travelled together to Galway to attend the Spreading Brigit's Cloak conference at Brigit's Garden.  My friends Morag and Jo, and I had a memorable weekend celebrating the Feast of Brigit together with many other woman from across the globe. In the intervening years we have not always been able to celebrate together, but this year we all had day time available on Imbolc New Moon day, 4th February. So we three, the self-styled Cailleach Coven, met again at Imbolc.

At that conference we encountered the Crios Bríd and it's ritual. If you have ever read Seamus Heaney's poem "Brigid's Girdle", you will begin to understand. It is the belt of the goddess (or saint). I had seen one made once before, with the man trying to facsimilate the traditional way of weaving a straw rope with a hand sickle. It was tricky and it looked like a recipe for injury. At the Brigit's Garden conference there was a much more health and safety version one made from yarn. 

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Imbolc As the Cailleach Leaves

...and Brighid prepares to arrive in her Maiden rainment. In Ireland I always marvel at how the old tales still mimic weather wisdom.  The saying goes the Cailleach goes and gathers firewood on Imbolc for the rest of the winter. If the weather is sunny it means that she needs to stock up for more cold. But if there is precipitation then it will set fare and she needs not re-stock. Of course, the old people round where I live now used to say "A fair February crushes the rest of the year!" But old bachelor farmers are not life's optimists. Anyway, this was the way the Hag in the Mountain was extravagently garbed yesterday round my way.

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Making a Brídeog

Tis the season to prepare for the Festival of Brigid. Here in Ireland the customs of the goddess Brighid and St. Brigit, Abbess of Kildare, are often conflated. There was a Fire Temple at the Abbey until Henry VIII broke up the monasteries. Both the saint and goddess rule poetry, healing and craft. Both represent abundance, springtime, and returning light. In 'being both' Brigid (or Brighid or Brigit or Biddy or Bride) is a prime example of spiritual adapt and survive. Nothing is lost. It transforms a bit and moves with the times, but the essence is still there. What is important is to keep what is useful of the old and infuse it with up-to-date intentions as time rolls on, feeding the well spring of inspiration.

Back in 2017 I made my first brídeog or Biddy doll. I nicknamed her Activist Brigid. She eventually went to live in Co.Clare when she was a raffle prize as the last Wise Woman Weekend that year.

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Year's End Dark Moon

Hasn't 2018 been the oddest year energetically? It has felt both overfull and stop and start. Old routines and ventures appear to be coming to the end. Or at least need to go fallow for a year. Meanwhile, what is beginning is also a bit lame and halt. Nothing is quite what it seems to be. Or at least that is what this crone divines.

We have just passed the night of the dark moon at the darkest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In our rural fastness,without street lighting, night is very tarry at this time of year. And so, too, at this dark moon did my knees and bones complain and beg to rest. 2018 has been exhausting,personally and collectively.

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Hecate's Eve

A friend had to remind me that yesterday was Hecate's Eve. As a crone I love Hecate,her dogs and crossroads, her ways and means, her lantern light. I wrote several poems back in 2016 when I was participating in Joana Colbert Powell's 30 Days of Hecate e-course. It was a wonderful way to stay sane in what was a momentous year for me - getting married, turning 60, my croning ceremony.

And just prior to that croning ceremony I wasin Knaresborough, Yorkshire at Mother Shipton's Cave. It was there I realised that, along with Biddy Early, that she was one of my croning confirmation sponsors. She lived in a cave in the King's Woods and prophesied. She is an Anglophone Hecate made flesh. Here cave is really very, very, woo-woo!

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  • Hearth M Rising
    Hearth M Rising says #
    So pretty!

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How to Build a Sanctuary

I answered the phone. It was my brother-in-law. He opened the conversation with "Your country has gone mad." Which I know.He's absolutely right.  And he has seen some crazy in his day in Northern Ireland during the thirty years of The Troubles.  So how to not add to the sum total of crazy these days? The words sanctuary and refuge keep resonating with me.  We speak of asylum seekers and refugees. Sanctuary is a safe haven, which in ancient times could be claimed in sacred space by those who were hunted. In this cultural climate of fear, where do you build a place of safety for yourself and for others? How can you build a sanctuary, which is also synonymous with a reserve, although in that sense it is used when talking about protecting nature or animals.

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