croning

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

September, 2015

Croning : miscellaneous

Merry meet!

This month is the last of a six-part series on croning – a feminine rite-of-passage ritual for those reclaiming the power and wisdom of the old woman, the crone.

As we prepare to enter the dark half of year on Mabon, I wanted to offer some final thought about the celebration of croning.

In the world of muggles, the crone is an old, ugly, unproductive woman. Her proximity to death makes her dark and scary. In the pagan community, she is the wise woman who is respected. She is a teacher and a mentor. Her proximity to death makes her powerful and able to walk in both worlds. Not only does she preside over death, she presides over rebirth, for she knows the two are linked and that all endings are beginnings. She can feel it in her bones.

When the croning ritual is competed, the candles extinguished and the circle opened, it’s not over, it’s just beginning. Now that you have the title, you get to live it.

In this past year, I have grown more and more comfortable with myself even though we live in a world of where youth is still coveted. Women of a certain age are targeted with commercials, articles and infomercials encouraging them to dye hair, use make-up, get rid of wrinkles, lose weight and have procedures done in an effort to look younger. While I now understand it, I only aim for healthy and, after almost a year, I have made changes I had been resisting.

I am more at peace with where I am – and am not – in life. I was able to lay aside some dreams and some burdens. I’m planning a bit less and trusting a bit more. I have bounced back from blows quicker, accepted more and expressed more gratitude more often.

I no longer think someone else has the answers and will look inside. I am more comfortable sharing knowledge and giving advice. With two other crones, I have been helping run a pagan discussion group for LGBTQ youth. When co-workers, neighbors and others who cross my path ask for help with smudging houses, spell work or defining the influences of a particular moon phase, I am more comfortable answering without feeling a need to do extensive research. I’m also honoring my ancestors more – including the elders who are still living.

My croning ceremony was one of the most meaningful events in my 61 years. The change it signaled was not the end of a journey, but very much a beginning. Grandmother Spider is back with me, and snake is close by as well. Both have helped me through previous transitions, and I know there will be others as as the wheel continues to turn on my crone years.

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

August, 2015

Croning : The Ritual

spell1

Merry meet!

This month is the fifth of a six-part series on croning – a feminine rite-of-passage ritual for those reclaiming the power and wisdom of the old woman, the crone.

Below is the croning ritual that was used last Mabon on the first night of our weekend retreat for a group of Goddesswomen from three states known as Ladys of the Lake (Yes! Ladys … because

ladies was taken.) It was written and led by three dear sisters, all crones themselves. About 19 in all were present, including sisters who had not circled with us before. As part of the first night’s ritual, I was croned. The next evening, I had a chance to speak.

Following my ritual is that of my dear friend, Leandra. Hers was written by Christopher Penczak with whom she had studied at the Temple of Witchcraft in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

The song that is used in both rituals was written for Leandra by her dear friend, Kellianna,

I hope they will give you ideas of things you like – and just as

importantly, things you would not want – for your ritual.

If you have any questions, or details you’d like to know, please

express them and I will respond in the next column.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

LADYS OF THE LAKE – MABON 2014

AND LYNN’S CRONING

Before Ritual starts:

Lynn is “banished” to her room, accompanied by a Maiden, to spend time in solitude and reflection. The Maiden will rejoin the group and Diane will

distribute and explain the amethysts.

Women are reminded to pick up an instrument if they do not have their own, and also to have their apples ready.

Priscilla will speak about the Crone, Crone Cave, Council of Crones (briefly!) Four decorated chairs will be placed in the North. In deference to the Crone, we will proceed into the ritual area in roughly age order – meaning Priscilla, Leandra and Diane will enter, followed by everyone else as they see fit.

The Maiden(s) doing the smudging will ask, “How do you enter?” and be

answered, “In perfect love and perfect trust.”

The Maiden will go get Lynn and accompany her downstairs where she will take her place in the line to enter.

Another Maiden will smudge the room, moving in a clockwise direction,

returning to a position by the door and to smudge as each woman front

and back as she enters the ritual area.

High Priestess Leandra: And so we gather for another Mabon retreat of Goddesswomen. Take a moment to get there. Let us attune ourselves to the same vibration. (Ring chime three times.) Feel the surroundings. Sense the energy that is present. Become aware of your breath, and of the breath of the women next to you.

Tonight we will cast a circle to bring our energies into alignment and create a sacred space between the worlds. The circle is a container made of

elemental, psychic and sacred energies that holds magical energy. It’s our temple where we will make magic this weekend.

One by one, we will cast the circle, hand to heart. Look at your hands and point both of your thumbs to the left. I will begin and we’ll move clockwise around the circle.

With your left hand, take the right hand of the woman next to you and bring it to your heart as you say: “Hand to hand, heart to heart, I cast the circle.”

 

High Priestess Priscilla: And now, close your eyes and in your mind’s eye, see the circle as a living, shimmering line of blue white light. Push it

outwards; help the circle expand and grow to surround this whole room, the whole house, the grounds, creating a safe container for our magick.

The circle is cast. We are between the worlds. May all that we do this

weekend be for the good of all beings everywhere, without exception.

 

High Priestess Leandra: Let us will sing

There Is No Time” by Veronica Appalonia three times:

There is no time but now

There is no place but here

In the sacred we do stand

In a circle hand in hand.

 

High Priestess Diane: Let’s start by putting our names into the circle. A way that I was taught was to list the women you descend from. (I am Diane, daughter of ______, granddaughter of ________.)

High Priestess Priscilla: Now let’s go around again and put into the circle the names of those who are with us in spirit, those we bring here with us, those we honor, heal and bless.

High Priestess Leandra: Let us anoint one another. (With oil – draw a spiral

on the forehead of the woman to her left, speak, then pass along the oil.) May this protect you from all harmful and unwanted energies. Blessed be.

(Anointing goes around the circle.)

 

High Priestess Priscilla: Next we’ll call the Elements. Some traditionally begin in the east, others the north. But, because this is Mabon and the equinox, and because west is the direction for fall, and this is the start of the quarter of the year associated with water, we will start by calling west first tonight.

Calling West will be Morrigan. (Morrigan speaks and lights the Blue candle.)

All: Welcome Water

Calling North will be Taneka. (Taneka speaks and lights the Green candle.)

All: Welcome Earth

Calling East will be Debra. (Debra speaks and lights the Yellow candle.)

All: Welcome Air

Calling South will be Janet Silverdragon. (Janet speaks and lights the Red candle.)

All: Welcome Fire

Calling Center will be Kathy. (Kathy speaks and lights the Center candle

All: Welcome Spirit

High Priestess Diane: (Mix salt into water using whatever words she prefers. Sprinkle each woman with a few drops of the salt water, saying, “Thou art Goddess.”)

High Priestess Priscilla: Monday will mark the autumn equinox. For a moment, day and night are equal. After that, we enter the dark half of the year, the time of darkness when the Crone rules, when we claim our power during the long nights.

High Priestess Diane calls Hecate.

All: Welcome, Hecate.

High Priestess Leandra calls Erishkegal.

All: Welcome, Erishkegal.

High Priestess Priscilla calls Baba Yaga.

All: Welcome, Baba Yaga.

High Priestess Leandra: We will now read together

The Charge of the Goddess

(Traditional by Doreen Valiente, as adapted by Starhawk)

Listen to the words of the Great Mother, Who of old was called emis,

Astarte, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Diana, Arionrhod, Brigid,

and by many other names:

Whenever you have need of anything, once a month, and better it be when the moon is full, you shall assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of Me Who is Queen of all the Wise.

You shall be free from slavery, and as a sign that you be free you shall be

naked in your rites.

Sing, feast, dance, make music and love, all in My Presence, for Mine is the ecstasy of the spirit and Mine also is joy on earth; For My law is love is unto all beings.

Mine is the secret that opens the door of youth, and Mine is the cup of wine of life that is the cauldron of Cerridwen, that is the holy grail of immortality.

I am the gracious Goddess. I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal, and beyond death I give peace and freedom and reunion with those that have gone before.

Nor do I demand sacrifice, for behold, I am the Mother of all things and My love is poured out upon the earth.

Hear the words of the Star Goddess, the dust of Whose feet are the hosts of Heaven, whose body encircles the universe:

I Who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mysteries of the waters,

I call upon your soul to arise and come unto me.

For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe.

From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return.

Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.

Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.

For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am That which is attained at the end of desire.

High Priestess Diane: Blessed Be.

All: Blessed be.

High Priestess Priscilla: Please be seated. Lynn, please stand. Are you ready to cross the threshold, take your place in the Council of Crones?

Lynn: I am.

High Priestess Priscilla: Do you bring a Goddess ally?

Lynn: I do.

High Priestess Priscilla: Please call your ally now.

Lynn: I call the Norns.

All: Welcome, Norns.

High Priestess Priscilla: Your sisters bestow on you this shawl, symbol of your hard-earned wisdom.

Lynn takes her seat between HP Diane and HP Leandra who wrap her in her shawl.

High Priestess Priscilla: We present you with this crone staff.

High Priestess Diane: We present you with this crown.

High Priestess Leandra: And now Marcy will lead us in singing “She Is Crone”

She Is Crone

She is teacher and experience.

She is wisdom. She is Crone.

She is teacher and experience.

She is wisdom. She is Crone.

She stirs the cauldron of all knowledge.

She is the bringer of death and rebirth.

She stirs the cauldron of all knowledge.

She is the bringer of death and rebirth.

She is teacher and experience.

She is wisdom. She is Crone.

She is teacher and experience.

She is wisdom. She is Crone.

In the darkness the time of Samhain,

In the dreamtime she sits and stirs.

In the darkness the time of Samhain,

In the dreamtime she sits and stirs, sits and stirs.

She is teacher and experience.

She is wisdom. She is Crone.

She is teacher and experience.

She is wisdom. She is Crone.

She will lead you to your dark mind

And at the crossroads she’ll be your guide.

She will lead you to your dark mind

And at the crossroads she’ll be your guide.

She is teacher and experience.

She is wisdom. She is Crone.

She is teacher and experience.

She is wisdom. She is Crone.

She is Crone. She is Crone. She is Crone. REPEAT

At the crossroads, with the cauldron

of all knowledge, she sits and stirs.

At the crossroads, with the cauldron

of all knowledge, she sits and stirs, sits and stirs.

She is Crone. She is Crone. She is Crone.

She is Crone …

High Priestess Priscilla: The earth is ripe with the bounty of the second

harvest, the harvest of fruit and wine. Our blessings are many. Two seasons of growth have led to this abundance. There may never be more than there

is now. This is a season for celebrating the plenty that work and time have wrought. It is a season for feasting with sisters.

Tomorrow, we will prepare a feast to nourish our bodies as well as our

spirits. Our cooking will express our love and devotion. It is our ritual and our deep magic.

Among the foods we will make is applesauce. Each of you has brought an apple or two. The Maidens will collect them now. Apples are a traditional fruit of Mabon. They are a symbol of the harvest season and have long been associated with magic and wisdom. The collected apples will be placed under the altar, to be taken to the kitchen tomorrow. Volunteers to assist Lynn, our traditional applesauce maker, will be welcome!

And now, let us raise a little energy to celebrate being here, now, together.

(Women take up instruments, drum and dance riotously.) Send off energy. Ground.

High Priestess Priscilla: This is the time for announcements …

(Pass the talking stick.)

Now we are free to do as we wish for the rest of the evening.

SATURDAY

At the Start of the Feast

High Priestess Diane: I want to thank each of you for the role you played in this sacred ritual – the creation of the feast to celebrate the second harvest.

Raises the little bowl with a spoonful of applesauce and says, “This applesauce, made from all our apples, represents our magic of our gathering this weekend. May you never hunger.”

All: Nor you.

Linda: Raises her glass and says, “We can thirst for many things: love,

comfort, wisdom, the waters of life, more time. May you never thirst.”

All: Nor you.

 

After the Feast

Diane: We will now have some time to prepare for the evening’s ritual. When you hear the gong, you will have 10 minutes to gather at the foot of the stairs.

Gather in the Circle

High Priestess Leandra: (A greeting.)

The meal was in celebration of the second harvest. Tonight’s work will reflect the fact Monday is the equinox.

The Goddess moves into her crone phase as the nights begin to get longer. This begins the most powerful time of the year – the dark time, when the moon shines longer. Days grow short. There are limits and endings. The veil between this world and the next begins to grow thin. The crone knows that she will not escape this life alive. She embraces it, moment by moment by moment. Rituals of grieving are appropriate now, as well as anticipating the rebirth and joy that will come.

High Priestess Priscilla: Talks about the role of the crone. (Brownie analogy)

The Crone has many stories. Sometimes her story has become distorted, as she is shown as the ugly hag, the scary witch to scare children into good behavior. One of our tasks is to dispel the damage of the Patriarchy. We will share some of those stories now.

Diane: Hecate

Leandra: Erishkegal

Priscilla: Baba Yaga

Lynn: the Norns

High Priestess Priscilla: Going around the room, each person can speak about what she hopes will manifest in her when she reaches cronehood. Crones can look back or add wisdom as they wish.

High Priestess Diane: Now we will pass the taking stick. If you would like, you may take this opportunity to share something for which you are grateful, that which you have harvested, or that for which you mourn. If you do not wish to speak, simply pass the stick to the woman on your left.

High Priestess Lynn: I have some gifts I’d like to present. (flower essences, wisdom scrolls, Strega and cookies of the ancestors.)

High Priestess Priscilla: Let us make noise! Let us move and dance! Let us song Baba Yaga’s song, also known as Hymn to the Russian Earth, a Song for Peace!

If the people lived their lives, as

If it were a song, for singing out a light…

Provide some music for the stars to be

Dancing circles in the night.

 

Announcements

(There was a third part: Sunday’s closing. If you would like to know more,

I would be happy to share it with you personally.)

 

Now, here is another croning ceremony.

Leandra’s Croning Ceremony

Christopher: Altar Set Up, chalice, potion, oil, tools, candles

Leandra: Crown, Altar Cloth and Physical Altar

Cleansing and Clearing the Space

Smudging People and Place

Asperging Place with Salt and Water

Casting of the Circle

We cast this circle of the art to bind all forces that are not in harmony with our working and conjure forth all spirits of blessings and love.

We cast this circle to create a space beyond space and a time beyond time, a temple of Perfect Love and Perfect Trust

We cast this circle as temple where the highest will is sovereign.

So mote it be.

Calling of the Quarters

To the North,

We call upon the element of Earth

We call upon the Stag

To bring the blessings of Health and Strength

Hail and welcome.

To the East

We call upon the element of Fire

We call upon the Lion

To bring the blessings of Courage and Power

Hail and welcome.

To the South

We call upon the element of Air

We call upon the Eagle

To bring the blessings of Knowledge and Wisdom

Hail and welcome

To the West,

We call upon the element of Water

We call upon the Dolphin

To bring the blessings of Love and Peace

Hail and welcome.

Evocation of the Gods

We call upon the Two who move as one in the love of the Great Spirit, the Goddess and the God. We call upon the Great Mother Goddess and the Holy Father God to bless this passage.

Hail and welcome.

From the lands of the Nile, we call upon the Goddess Hathor

Hathor, Goddess of Love, Dance and Joy

Hathor, Cow Headed Mistress of the West

Hathor, Lady of Dendera and the House of Jubilation

We call to you. Please be present in our rite.

Hail and welcome.

We call all spirits who come in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.

Hail and welcome.

Welcome

We gather together on this eve to honor our friend and loved one

Leandra Walker

To mark the passage into her the autumn of life as she embraces the

figure of the Crone as her own life guide and teacher. Croning for women, or Saging for men, is a rite of passage, marking the change in life to chronological elderhood in our community. Our elders are

embraced and respected for their experience of life, both in and out of our magickal communities. We gather together today to declare

Leandra’s cronehood, before each other, the Gods and the world.

Anointing

I bless you with this sacred oil.

May you always be protection and nurtured upon the path of life.

Song

Kellianna sings “She is Crone”

Chalice of Wisdom Sacrament

The Chalice, the Grail, the Cauldron

All symbols of the Goddess’ Power of life and death

And brewed within this sacred vessel is the Elixir of Inspiration,

Immortality and Wisdom.

Though our rites brew strange potions of sacred herbs, the true Grail

is found within, and the true elixir is within our life force.

As Leandra drinks this brew, may the life force be kindled within her, and may the Goddess grant the key and open the gate to Immortality,

Inspiration and Wisdom.

Awen.

Community Sharing

Community members who have been asked to speak will take this time to offer story and praise of Leandra and her rise to cronehood.

Nicole

Kellianna

Mel

Sharing and Gratitude

Leandra will take this time to share and

offer gratitude to the community.

Community Chant

I Walk with the Goddess”

Lead by Kellianna

I walk with the Goddess

The Goddess she walks with me

She is the clouds up in the clear blue sky

She is the ground beneath my feet

She is the oceans and the falling rain

She is the spark that lights my way

Crowning of Leandra

In the name of the Goddess, God and Great Spirit

With the blessings of Hathor

And all those spirits, incarnate and excarnate, gathered here today

We crown Leandra with the fire of Autumn Leaves.

May she, like the Trees of the Forest, continue to grow wise

in balance with the Earth and Sky.

Proclamation of Leandra’s Cronehood

We proclaim Leandra Walker as crone, as an elder in our community. Many blessings to her on the path of life.

Devocation of the Deities

We thank and release the Two who move as one in the love of the Great Spirit, the Goddess and the God. We thanks the Great Mother Goddess and the Holy Father God

Hail and farewell.

We thank the Lady of the Nile

The Mistress of Jubilation

The Goddess Hathor

Hail and farewell.

We thank and release all spirits who come in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.

Hail and farewell.

Releasing of the Quarters

To the North

We thank and release the element of earth

And we thank and release the Stag

Thank you for the continued blessings of Health and Strength

Hail and Farewell

To the West

We thank and release the element of water

And we thank and release the Dolphin

Thank you for the continued blessings of Love and Peace

Hail and Farewell

To the South

We thank and release the element of air

And we thank and release the Eagle

Thank you for the continued blessings of Knowledge and Wisdom

Hail and farewell.

To the East

We thank and release the element of fire

And we thank and release the Lion

Thank you for the continued blessings of Courage and Power

Hail and farewell.

Releasing the Circle

We cast this circle of celebration out across the cosmos to announce this rite of passage

The circle is open but never broken

May the peace of the Goddess be ever in your heart

Merry meet, merry part and merry meet again.

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals for Witches

July, 2015

Croning: Wisdom

Merry meet!

This month is the fourth of a six-part series on croning – a feminine rite-of-passage ritual for those reclaiming the power and wisdom of the old woman, the crone. I hope it prompts you to reflect on your life and the wisdom you have to share.

While the crone is a symbol of death, she also symbolizes wisdom and power. Fifty years or more of living brings the inherent wisdom that comes with experience. She has birthed and buried, laughed and cried, danced and crawled, succeeded and struggled. She has seen Saturn return twice, and with it, a host of lessons. Her life has demanded patience, compassion and strength. It’s worn away many of the rough edges, scraped away layers of shame and fear.

Her body is no longer fertile, but her mind is strong. She has walked many paths and cultivated a deeper understanding of the mysteries. A crone claims her power and uses it wisely. As she has been cleansed, so may she cleanse, sweeping away that which is no longer needed to make room for the new.

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Since I was in high school, I have been filling notebooks and journals with quotes, lyrics, poems and inspirational messages. Several years ago, I fell in love with a beautiful, thick, leather-bound volume in a bookstore and purchased it. It sat for years, too special to be used for anything not equally special. That turned out to be a place to record the best of all the words I wanted to save. So far, it’s about 70 percent full.

I urge you to take some time and reflect on the wisdom you have gained, the principles and beliefs that have guided and sustained you. Then, perhaps a way to share some of that knowledge will present itself.

During the months I was preparing to accept the mantle of crone, I reread every entry in that book. I typed up the two dozen or so that have served me the best, printed out multiple copies, cut them up, rolled each individual one and tied them with with ribbon. I put them all into a cauldron. During my croning, I let each person draw three in the hopes the wisdom would serve them as well as it had served me.

Here are a few to get you thinking:

Essentially, all healing is the release from fear. –unknown

Each relationship you have with another person reflects the relationship you have with yourself. –Alice Denille

If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself; if you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation. –Lao Tzu

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass … it’s about learning to dance in the rain. –Vivian Green

Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know. –Pema Chodron

Once in a while, we are given moments of real grace.

Sometimes, during my early-morning meditation, a place within me opens and parts of myself let go that I did not even know were holding on. In these moments I feel all the hard places in my heart and body yield to a great softness carried on my breath, and I am filled with compassion for the part of me that is always trying, always organizing, problem solving, anticipating. And my mind stops and simply follows my breath. A great faith washes through me, a knowing that everything that needs to get done will get done.

My shoulders drop an inch, the small but familiar ache in my chest eases, and the moment stretches. There is enough: enough time, enough energy, enough of all that is needed. A great tenderness for myself and the world opens inside me, and I know I belong to this time, to these people, to this earth, and to something that is both within and larger than all of it, something that sustains and holds us all.

I do not want to be anywhere else. I am filled with commitment and compassion for myself and the world. –Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The magic begins in you. –Scott Cunningham

Don’t seek,

don’t search,

don’t ask,

don’t knock,

don’t demand

relax,

It you relax,

it comes.

If you relax,

it is there.

If you relax,

you start vibrating with it.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. –Lao Tzu

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Next month Ill share two croning rituals along with some references. Well wrap up in September with any other details that did not fit into previous columns as well as any questions you may want answered.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

June, 2015

Croning Part 3

Merry meet! 

This month is the third of a six-part series on croning – a feminine rite-of-passage ritual for those reclaiming the power and wisdom of the old woman, the crone. It touches on some of the symbols of the crone you can consider incorporating into your ritual.

Croning : Symbols

Amethyst:

amethyst

This is often considered the gem of the crone because it is associated with spirituality and wisdom. Everyone who attended the weekend event at which I croned was given a small piece of amethyst and the instruction to give it to me with a personal message. I was given an etched champagne glass to collect them in.

Braid / stole / shawl: A wearable symbol of the level of crone is a stole or braid, that is placed over her shoulders. It can be round woven from ribbons representing the elements, or it can be of colors that have meaning for the crone. Charms, beads and crystals can also be added. I chose a black shawl as the garment I wished bestowed upon me because old women of all nationalities have worn shawls.

Cauldron: This customary witch’s tool is associated with the crone goddesses Cerridwen, the Celtic Keeper of the Cauldron; Hecate, Greek Goddess of magic and the underworld; and Kali, the Indian Goddess of destruction and rebirth. It is a symbol of germination, transmutation and transformation. It is the merging of the Great Goddess and the Great Mother. Crones stir their wisdom in the cauldron. I used mine to hold wisdom scrolls (to be described next month).

Crown:

crown

The placing of a crown on the head symbolizes rising to a higher rank – in this case, the rank of crone. It can be made by the crone from dried flowers, branches or other materials that are available as well as meaningful. Mine was made for me by two dear crones.

Owl: The owl – the bird of magic, darkness, prophecy and wisdom –is considered to be the totem of the crone.

Staff:

Staff

A staff is another symbol of initiation into cronehood. I chose to make a ceremonial one modeled after a medicine stick I had seen. The skull of a grandmother goat was a gift from a fire witch and farmer. Leather laces were strung through three holes to which I attached a variety of charms, amulets and other meaningful objects that previously had been on my altars or tucked in various places. It is both personal and powerful, and remains a work in progress. Staffs need not be elaborate. They can even be disguised as walking sticks.

Waning moon: As the moon decreases in size going from full to new, it is known as the waning moon and is associated with the crone. It’s a time of intuition and divination.

Next month I’ll prompt you to reflect on your life and the wisdom you have to share. My croning ritual will be a large part of the August column, along with some ideas for your own and some references. We’ll wrap up in September with any questions you may have as well as some details that did not fit into previous columns.

Merry part. And merry meet again…

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

May, 2015

Croning Part 2

Croning : when, where and with whom

cameo
Merry meet!
This month is the second of a six-part series on croning – a feminine rite-of-passage ritual for those reclaiming the power and wisdom of the old woman, the crone. It touches on when, where and with whom to celebrate.
Croning can be a done alone or before a group. That group can include only women, a community such as a grove or a coven, or family and friends. It can include a formal circle, a picnic or a restaurant dinner. In other words, it can be be anything the crone wishes.
The crone rules the dark of the year (from Mabon to Yule or even up until mid-January). It’s her time of power. It’s also the time of death. The crone creates the ending so the maiden can begin again. The waning moon (from full to new) is also a time of gathering darkness, hence it is also the crone’s time. Planning a ceremony to coincide with those energies would be a natural choice.
Other dates that might be significant include a birthday, the anniversary of the day you committed to your path, or the day you initiated an ending. You could also hold a croning by yourself at the stroke of astrological Samhain or with hundreds of witnesses as part of a pagan festival.
I had to choose between croning during an annual Mabon weekend retreat with about 20 magical women, primarily witches, or to have it at Samhain so that I could also invite some family and friends – including men – who would not be part of the retreat.
As much as I wanted to be able to share my croning with a few very special non pagans in my life, I chose the Mabon weekend because that clan comes from far and wide I knew the chances of them all gathering again six weeks later were slim. Choosing the Mabon retreat also meant a lot of the logistics were already taken care of.
I recently participated in a handfasting where about a quarter of the attendees were witches. We set up the altar, cast a small circle, called the quarters and performed the sacred rite while family and friends watched. Something similar could be arranged for a croning ceremony, or you could choose to include everyone in the circle.
If you have a mixed group, you might want to give more details, instructions and explanations before and during the ceremony so that everyone understands what is occurring and what is expected of them. Consider providing an outline along with the words to any responses, chants or songs.
Two crones worked with me as I moved through the process of discussions, decisions and doings. We met a couple of times over breakfast to talk about accepting the mantle of pagan elder and the work I would would perform in preparation. Then I was told that everything else was out of my hands.
More years than not, I’ve planned the weekend’s worth of rituals, sometimes alone, sometimes with others. I had begun to plan my croning ritual, and had even picked up a book on the topic. It was surrendered along with the Mabon ritual from the previous year … and part of my training was to practice letting go. It was not an easy lesson.
I spent time creating a Facebook page called Cauldron of Care (which you are invited to join) and another called Council of Crones (which has yet to be perfected). With the help of a carpenter, I made a staff. While it’s common to gift the crone, this crone wanted to gift, so I worked to make wisdom scrolls and flower essences, and wrapped the most awesome old witch cameo pins to give to my sister crones.
I was asked two more questions: was there a symbol of cronehood I wished to be presented with (I chose a shawl, which a friend was making as a gift), and which of the crone Goddesses I wished to call (I chose the Norns).
You might well have the opportunity to plan more of your own ritual. You can find books and websites with a wide variety. You are free to pick and choose parts of them, incorporating as many components as are important and meaningful to you into your own ritual. What you want could determine where the event is held: a room at a restaurant, a rented hall, a living room or a place in nature – keeping in mind any challenges your guest may have.
Next month I’ll write about crone symbols. July will prompt you to reflect on your life and the wisdom you have to share. My croning ritual will be a large part of the August column, along with some ideas for your own and some references. We’ll wrap up in September with any questions you may have as well as some details that did not fit into previous columns.
Merry part. And merry meet again.

SpellCrafting: Spells and Rituals

April, 2015

Croning : Are you a Crone?

crone

Merry meet!

This month begins the first of a six-part series on croning – a feminine a rite of passage ritual for those reclaiming the power and wisdom of the old woman, the crone.

Crone is one of triple Goddesses, the third stage, the wise elder.

Two characteristics generally used to determine cronehood are reaching menopause and having moved through your second Saturn return, a sort of cosmic transition, which generally happens by your 58th birthday. (You can enter your birth day, month and year and learn your dates at www.astrocal.co.uk/saturn-return.php.)

Saturn return marks the time when the planet that rules lessons, responsibilities and limitations returns to the same point it was when you were born. The first time it happens is in your late 20s. It comes back around again in your late 50s (A good reason to have mid-life crises.) and then again in your late 80s. Each time, the entire influence lasts almost three years.

Known as “the teaching planet,” Saturn comes to let you review your life and account for your choices. You may feel smacked down, put through the meat grinder and tested. During this time you may come face to face with all sorts of situations you probably would rather avoid.

When my second return came, I found myself becoming very aware that I was aging and that ageism exists. Our society is obsessed with youth, often dismissing women as they mature. To crone was a way I found to celebrate those decades, and to raise awareness around the issues of aging while challenging the image of old hag. To me, it was an honor to accept the title of crone.

A crone is no longer a mother raising children. She knows the value of time, and takes some to care for herself. Her creativity flowers. She is weathered and realistic, but she still dreams. She may be slower, but she’s steady.

Those who only see she is becoming “old” miss the ripeness that comes with experiences and the wisdom gleaned from them. She may have a sense of empowerment and a willingness, even an urge, to pass along her knowledge. While society seems to place little value on her wisdom, I believe the world is in need of it.

At this stage, a woman is moving into the greatest time of her life and a croning marks that. It celebrates older women, for they have always been the keepers of the mysteries. Nowhere else in my life was that milestone recognized or honored as it was among my magical family. I viewed my croning as my acceptance of my passage into elderhood. I embraced my life for getting me to where I am, and embraced myself for arriving.

I first wanted to crone at Mabon in 2013. My second Saturn return had come; it was more than a decade since my last flow; I was a grandmother. To pull it together in time would have rushed the process, so I did not announce my intention. Little did I know the events, challenges, losses and changes that would occur beginning that very Mabon afternoon and continuing to pummel me for months. It was clear I still had work to do around the issues of surrender and trust. The more my spiritual self was tested, the higher it soared. Come that next year I knew I was ready; I felt deserving.

I had a wonderful sense of having come into my own, of realizing I have a voice and I have power – and that I’m not afraid to use them. One of the items I placed on the altar during my ritual was a drawing of a woman with wild botanical hair and these words by an unknown author: “A wild young woman can be tamed by time and circumstance but a wild old woman is untamable by any force.” I was now a wild old woman and proud of it.

If you found yourself nodding a few times as you read this, perhaps you, too, are a crone. If you would like to honor that with a ceremony, my columns in the coming months may help.

 Next we will begin to explore the ritual of croning: what, when, where and who to invite.

In June we will talk about the symbols of the crone. July will prompt you to reflect on your life and the wisdom you have to share. My croning ritual will be a large part of the August column, along with some ideas for your own. We’ll wrap up in September with any questions you may have as well as some details that did not fit into previous columns.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

Tink About it

November, 2014

Crown the Crone!

Last month I turned 46. That’s when people start saying things like “oops, you are on the wrong side of 40 now” or “50 is coming soon”. Often disguised as a joke, but every so often with a serious tone of voice. It was the same when I turned 40. To be honest I didn’t really care, on the contrary: I gave a big party to celebrate it and had a great time! If someone says ‘you are getting old’ I always reply with ‘I hope so!’ Of course getting older isn’t all fun and games, but I refuse to give in to the negative stereotype of ‘the older woman’. People (but especially women) are tricked into being afraid to grow older. ‘Old’ being the synonym of obsolete, outdated, ugly, or worse. Commercials and adverts are trying to make us hate our aging body and be ashamed of wrinkles and grey hair. I still embrace my inner child, but growing older brings a lot of good things too. My mother often sighed: “oooh, to be young again and know what I know now…” Understandable, but I wouldn’t want to go back to when I was younger. I had a wonderful time then and horrible times too, but together it made me into what I am now. Over time I’ve learned to accept myself with all my virtues and vices. Still a work in progress though, but that’s okay. I’m slowly shifting into a new phase, and I hope I’ll be a proud and dashing crone one day!

If you google ‘crone’ the first you get is this:

 

crone

 

 

The etymology is full of negative annotations: old, useless, carcass, carrion (the decaying flesh of dead animals), etc. Not a nice picture at all… but a crone is (can be) more!
Barbara G. Walters, author of ‘The Crone’, says:

 

“The crone’s title was related to the word crown, and she represented the power of the ancient tribal matriarch who made the moral and legal decisions for her subjects and descendants. It was the medieval metamorphosis of the wise woman into the witch that changed the word Crone from a compliment to an insult and established the stereotype of malevolent old womanhood that continues to haunt elder women today…”

In the pagan community the word ‘crone’ has a different meaning. The goddess and in her image a woman goes through three phases in order of age: maiden, mother, crone. So yes, a crone is an old(er) woman, but not the useless, ugly person from the dictionary. Quite the opposite: a crone is a valued member of society, a wise woman who earns respect. She is a teacher and a mentor.
Or, as Wikipedia explains it:

“The crone is a stock character in folklore and fairy tale, an old woman. In some stories, she is disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing. The Crone is also an archetypal figure, a Wise Woman. She is marginalized by her exclusion from the reproductive cycle, and her proximity to death places her in contact with occult wisdom. As a character type, the crone shares characteristics with the hag. The word “crone” is a less common synonym for “old woman”, and is more likely to appear in reference to traditional narratives than in contemporary everyday usage. The word became further specialized as the third aspect of the Triple Goddess popularized by Robert Graves and subsequently in some forms of neopaganism, particularly Wicca in which she symbolizes the Dark Goddess, the dark of the moon, the end of a cycle. In New Age and Feminist spiritual circles, a ‘Croning’ is a ritual rite of passage into an era of wisdom, freedom, and personal power.”

Does this apply to women only? No, of course not. Although society seems to judge less about aging men than it condemns aging women, it’s no secret that nowadays men are also ‘targeted’ in the same way. More and more commercials, adverts, articles and the like are focusing on men. They too are encouraged to dye their grey hair, get a facelift, lose weight and look younger in any way possible. Of course there’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself and your health and appearance, but there’s no need (or at least there shouldn’t be) to hide or be ashamed of getting older. Not for women, not for men.
The sage is the masculine form of ‘The Wise One’ and thus the male counterpart for the crone. You know me, all about balance. 😉 Some time ago when I was looking for chants I found a new couplet to Zsusanna Budapest’s song ‘We all come from the goddess”. Author/source unknown unfortunately, but the lyrics (sung in the melody of ‘Hoof and horn’) are:

cron2e

Both crone and sage are regarded as ‘pagan elders’. They have a lifetime of experience and most of them are very willing to share their knowledge. Personally I love to listen to people who have witnessed things I only know from history books. I try to listen to them, learn and pay attention. Not only in the pagan community, but also in everyday society. I feel we should value elderly people for what they are, give them the respect they deserve, hear their stories and pass them on. When we are honouring our ancestors, let’s not forget the living ones!

 

Sources and interesting links:
Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crone
book: Crones Don’t Whine by Jean Shinoda Bolen – I like this review: http://bonniesbooks.blogspot.nl/2013/08/sunday-salon-shes-crone.html
book: The Crone by Barbara G. Walker – review by Ana Rundic: http://rimstead-cours.espaceweb.usherbrooke.ca/ANG553H9/Ana%20Rundic.pdf
blog: A Rolling Crone – http://arollingcrone.blogspot.nl/2009/09/what-is-crone-anyway.html
Crones Council – http://www.cronescounsel.org/
http://www.legionofpagans.com/crones-and-more/5601/crone-to-sage
lyrics-image found on http://merrymeet.tumblr.com/