“The pine stays green in winter … wisdom in hardship.” Norman Douglas
The season of the winter solstice is, perhaps, the most contemplative time of year for me. Here, in this latitude, the days are noticeably shorter and I treasure the available light. Gray days are the norm and sunny ones are a gift that draw me outside, no matter the temperature for a walk in the woods or around the fields, looking for winter magic. I gather things for wreath making: branches of pine, arborvitae, holly, boxwood, dried grasses, pinecones, milkweed pods, bird’s nests. This year, I found a chrysalis on the arborvitae branch. The wreath will hang outside until spring and maybe I’ll be able to discover what creature, besides me, decided to cocoon through a cold, Ohio winter.
As Norman Douglas wrote, I believe wisdom can be found in hardship; winter brings those of us in the north a seasonal hardship which we sometimes struggle to endure especially as we get older. No frivolous shoes for us as we venture forth in sturdy boots and layers of warmth, looking more like a bundle of blankets than the svelte beautiful crones we see in the images shared online. Creaky bones and stiff muscles rebel at the beginning of outdoor forays and some days, it takes a long time to find our stride. I know some of our sister Crones cross country or downhill ski. I cross country occasionally but have grown to love my snowshoes and traipse around on them most snowy days. Some of us manage to escape for warmer climes for some or all of the winter but early wintry storms as they had in Colorado this year or late, spring storms .. somehow the most cruel .. remind us that we are not, really, in charge and that there will always be natural phenomena to endure.
Enduring whatever weather comes our way is one of the ways to stay ‘green’ in the face of hardship. As we Crones know through hard-earned experience, there are may other hardships to be endured as we age. The list of hardships is varied and long but we seem to find ways to survive most and grow stronger and greener because of them.
In this dark time, I invite you to shine your Crone light in the dark and stay ‘green.’
In the 1980’s I was part of a northern California festival for women and girls over ten.
Unlike Crones Counsel the group consisted mainly of women 20 through 50. A large part of the focus was on ceremonies honoring Maidens, Mothers and Crones. To claim the title of Crone one had to have reached the ripe old age of 50! Looking back, I doubt being on the menopausal roller coaster gave me much wisdom.
The night before being Croned we were taken on a trail walk before moonrise. No lights, an exercise in trusting our senses and intuition.
The ritual, led by a wise Priestess, was solemn and powerful as we agreed to accept Cronehood and its responsibilities. Afterward we joined the group dancing around the fire, some of us bravely going skyclad.
The next day our leader invited Crones to the Maiden’s Coming of Age ritual honoring the girl’s new, or approaching, womanhood. As she told about her own menses and asked each Crone to do the same, I began to understand how unique the same biological act is to each of us.
When we finished, she sat beside a Maiden and asked how she felt about menses, then encouraged each of them to talk with a Crone.
One shy Maiden cuddled next to me and whispered that her aunt was just like mine, practical but not very comforting.
That day I learned whatever I am going through, a woman has walked that path before, another is on it now and others will walk it in their turn. As Crone I strive to use what wisdom I have to help others by listening, pausing before I speak and being kind. You may never know the difference a few words can make. This is what being a Crone means to me.
We are as leaves
to fall one by one
and decay with the others
on common ground
shared by our generation
The past that we bring with us
lays like a blanket of debris
covering the topsoil of history.
As the green blood
of plant life
recedes to its roots,
our distant memories
seem to show up
in colorful brilliance
like Autumn leaves
before they fade and drop
only to be stepped on.
Children come out to play
in the fallen leaves,
jumping for joy
in their shapes of crunchy lightness.
may rake and burn them
in such a hurry
to get them out of the way
and off their property.
We too go from bud to fruit
then fall and rest in winter’s cold, deep sleep;
latent with Spring, blooming in Summer.
As youth we go off to class
and grow mature within
life’s educational experiences.
Now Autumn has come round again.
We have already graduated
as Seniors in this school called Earth.
This new season brings walks and talks
and serenity in sunsets.
We are here to contribute completely
to the great cycle of life
on this planetary home as we know it.
We hope to leave gracefully
our remains as nourishment
to those living here
and those yet to arrive.