A wise and proud crone is crowned in all her glory
Crone (n): An ugly, withered, witchlike, old woman (Webster’s Dictionary).
But that’s so 16th century! Today’s crones are more likely to be full of life, green and juicy. Proud to be who and what they are and ready to celebrate their age.
And what is a crone? A woman who is in her third stage of life with what anthropologist Margaret Mead called PMZ, or postmenopausal zest for life. She is no longer the maiden or the mother and can now claim the title of Crone, the wise woman.
As my 70th birthday approached, feeling quite juicy and convinced that I’d achieved some wisdom, I decided to celebrate with a croning ceremony. Several of my friends had planned a luncheon for me, and I asked them to combine the two even though none of us had ever been to a croning ceremony and most had never heard of one. They all, being juicy crones themselves, thought it sounded like fun, and so we set about planning the big day. I invited all my friends to join us for the festivities and to be crowned a Crone along with me if they wished.
I wrote a ceremony using various sources, made 16 golden, starry crowns, used purple satin (the crone color) for the altar and crone throne and with my garden’s sacred space as a setting was all set for the big day. Fortunately, my daughter was visiting from Montana, so she could do my actual crowning.
My birthday arrived and it was a beautiful late spring morning. The garden looked quite lovely as everyone arrived full of happy anticipations and bearing gifts. Not one had ever attended a croning ceremony, but they were excited to be part of this rite of passage. I was excited, too, and feeling very blessed by my friendship with these wonderful women.
As we processed down to my garden’s sacred circle, following the music of flute and drum, I felt that we were enacting an ancient rite and should have been wearing floating garments made of stardust. When we arrived at the small circle, we began by honoring our mothers and grandmothers by name and blessing the four directions. Our musician led us in a Cherokee chant honoring the ancestors. Then three readers described the definitions and characteristics of crones: Having paid her dues, a crone’s first duty now is to nurture herself and use her wisdom to help others.
As I sat on the throne, my daughter placed my crown, quoting Proverbs 4, Verse 9: “Wisdom will set a crown of grace on your head, she will present you with a diadem.” I was filled with a sense of having a gracious blessing bestowed on me ... by the Goddess of Crones? It felt like the special touch of a heavenly feminine hand.
I then received wonderful gifts of poems, presents, laughter and love. I invited each woman who desired to be crowned to sit on the throne and receive her crown and blessing. After all had been duly anointed, we said in unison: “We bless you with good health, happiness, long life and peaceful death. We honor you as crones. Walk in wisdom, be green and juicy. Be yourselves, freely and outrageously!”
Then we all exited through an arch of upraised hands back to the deck, where a fabulous feast awaited us. Wearing our crowns proudly, we celebrated our new status as wise women.
I had hoped that the ceremony would be fun and meaningful for all of us, and it surely was. What I would like to do now is encourage and empower other women to honor their crone years and celebrate their aging process. To laugh, to reach out to others with love, to enjoy life in all its fullness, to live a life of gratitude for each and every day. My favorite bit of wisdom, learned in some hard times, is to give thanks, no matter what. To be joyful, no matter what. To accept what is. To live in the now.
Isn’t it great that you can turn 70 and feel that your best years may be ahead of you? Let’s get Webster to change that definition of crone!
Lee Hurd is a native Charlestonian who retired to Seabrook Island in 1990 after 35 years in Virginia. She is an active volunteer in many organizations and founded the S.C. Region of the Jane Austen Society.