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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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.

Mother Shipton lived in Henry VIII's reign and wandered the King's Forest along the River Nidd. Widowed young, she lived in the wildwood and was the local wise woman.  She began to prophesy, too, and these were later published. Like Nostradomus's predictions her's can also be seen, in some light, as coming true.

Walking along the river to visit the Petrifying well, I paused at a statue of her in the cave where she is reputed to live.  In the dim lamplight she recalled Hecate to me, holding her lantern to shine a way in darkness.  We were in dark times and going to linger there a while still. A crone shining a lantern in the darkness felt like the crone not just for me, or my Croning Ceremony, but our times.



Then, a few days before my croning ceremony an Irish witch called me. I had visited Biddy Early's lair in Co. Clare before we moved to Ireland. Indeed, at the time the tumbledown ruin of her cottage was up for sale. I had a look and got the distinct impression she didn't want me there. Which was fine. I respected that. You do when you deal with a seer who is in with the fairies and was the last women in Ireland tried as a witch. (She was exonerated, much to the clergy's chagrin.)

The most famous Biddy legend is that a tall dark stranger gave her son a blue (some say green) bottle from which, when she peered in, she would see the future.  I had a blue bottle, too. One that was kept just for pretty. But suddenly I knew it needed to go on my crone altar. It dawned on me that finally, Biddy did want me. She had work for me to do for her. Okay, fine, I thought. In the meantime, the fairies and I have gotten more closely acquainted. I am not the same woman I was in 1999.

But here is the interesting synchronicity. A few weeks after my croning I learned that a friend was related to family who's homeplace is where Biddy's blue bottle originated!  The information was offered out of the blue. So my intuition was confirmed. Biddy was another 'confirmation' crone sponser.

I had my witches, my wise women, my seers in the dark. That is my crone's vocation to hold a light up like Lady Liberty, like Hecate, like Florence Nightingale. These are all co-sponsers, the Ladies with Lanterns.

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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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