The Crone ceremony
When a woman has reached the age of menopause, she is now deemed to be a Crone. A representation of the crone, is that of the Goddess who has entered into her ‘Winter months’. Her body is no longer ‘life giving’, it is now going towards its death. Her family, friends, and community will honor this last stage of the Crone’s life – with a ceremony.
The Crone Goddess:
To better understand the Crone Ceremony, one would do well understanding the representation of the Goddess in her Winter season. Women are closely linked to the cycles of the Moon in their seasons. As women, our bodies have been closely attuned to the monthly cycles of the moon, and to its seasons. We easily represent to ourselves the Full Moon – as the fully rounded belly of the Goddess who is full term, with child. As women we easily represent Springtime as the season for planting new life; we go out into our gardens to plant the seeds that will be harvested once ripe. We then look at the new plants and flowers in our gardens, nourishing and watering them over the summer months. At the time of Samhain, we harvest for the third and final time what we have planted. It is now the season of plentiful bounty, its is the Fall. We store our harvest for the more meager months of Winter.
It is when Winter arrives that the Goddess retreats into her Winter Residence. Separate and alone, there in her Winter Residence will she await for her consort to return to her once more – in due time – to love her again. Meanwhile, her Lord (her consort) also retreats into his own Winter Residence; separate from the one he truly loves (the Goddess), he will continue his life giving activities with another.
Alone in her Winter Residence, the Crone Goddess will eat what food she had harvested and stored away for herself. It is then, during the Winter Season, that the Crone Goddess undergoes her ‘transformation’. This Crone Transformation is both physical and spiritual.
Her ‘life-giving powers’ have escaped her; The energy giving sap within her body has completely dried-up for an entire six months in a row. She is as a tree during its Winter Months – with its sap not flowing within it anymore.
Wintering there for the season, the crone mentally and spiritually prepares herself for this most recent new change in her life. There, she dreams for her True Love (her Lord) to return back into her arms – once more. She awaits for him, with great anticipation; but he does not yet come back to her; he is busy with his newest conquest.
Her bed now permanently empty beside her, the crone gains great wisdom from such a situation she never has experienced before (being without a lover is but yet another change in her life)… This is the last straw that brings her face-to-face with her ‘truth’. She now knows for sure, without a shadow of a doubt, that it is now that time for her to prepare for the unavoidable death of her body.
The unavoidable death of her physical body is necessary so that it may be reborn ‘life giving’ once again! Then and only then, will her Lord return to be in her arms again. Meanwhile she undergoes, willingly or not, the transformation of her life giving powers into those of being ‘death giving’ ones. For, as Winter brings the long months of darkness along with it, so does the Crone Goddess live in darkness during the long winter months of her old age.
As women, there also comes a time in our lives when we ‘Season’ in our Winter Residence. Us Crones go to live there alone and separate from our own consorts, our own lords. No longer does he come to us; instead, we must await his return to us – in the spring of our next life. Truth is, it is rare when any man will go to a Crone, because we have lost our ‘life giving powers of attraction and of seduction’.
It is during her Winter Season, that a woman undergoes ‘the physical and spiritual transformation of the Crone Goddess’. During the long winter months of darkness, and just like the Crone Goddess, our powers also become transformed into that of ‘Wisdom’. During our retreat, our powers become very powerful under the Crone Goddess’ teachings.
The crone is a woman who has undergone ‘the transformation’. She no longer gives birth to her own children; she is now ‘the grand-mother’. The grand-mother of her own children’s children.
She is the one, within the confines of her own family, who imparts the wisdom of her years. It is the wisdom pertaining to womanhood itself. The crone imparts this wisdom onto both the mothers and the young girls in her own family. She also shares her old women’s wisdom to those mothers and daughters within her tribe or community. In other words, the crone’s wisdom reaches out to the women that are at the childbearing stage.
Not only does the crone impart her wisdom to those who have life giving energy, she also reaches out to those who are about to die. She is there to help the Living go towards their death. For only the crone has the wisdom to use the powers found in ‘the dark months of Winter’. For there, in the Dark, does the Crone Goddess herself abide. This is why, when the Crone comes out of her Winter Residence to join the rest of her family, tribe and community, the women there welcome her; her and her wisdom – and her new-found powers.