By Maria Wattier
She is a POMEGRANATE
FILLED with the sweet, tart, juicy essence of LIFE
DEMANDS time to be still
SIMMERS in the moment
RELISHES ordinary pleasures
SAVORS the passage of time
She is a PARADOX
FIERCE as a bolt of lightning
TENDER as the skin on a baby’s neck
She has NO TOLERANCE for fools or folly
But HOLDS compassion deep in her heart
For human frailty and foibles
She is ELEGANT with an eye for fashion
But it is of her own design
She practices EMPTINESS
And REFLECTS on the FULLNESS of an abundant life
She practices HOSPITALITY
To guests, ideas, notions, perspectives, the judgments of others,
insights and advice
She has RELINQUISHED defensiveness and tolerates little
from overly defended people
She CELEBRATES interruptions
Is IMMERSED in spirit and grounded in the ordinary
She has a SPACIOUSNESS within big enough to hold the tensions of life and the pain of the world
She DANCES in the field between solitude and relationship
She has an abiding FAITH in that which animates all of life
She soaks in JOY each day
Lives an AUTHENTIC life
EMBRACES hard work and children
FACES challenges with PANACHE
She befriends the DARKNESS
Welcomes SILENCE and SOLITUDE
Wakens at DAWN
She is GRACEFUL and GRACE-FILLED,
Knowing each encounter holds the seeds of SYNCHRONICITY and GUIDANCE
She WATCHES for and attracts those signs of guidance
She is in a continual process of EMPTYING, ELIMINATING, SIMPLYFYING and IDENTIFYING essence
She watches as her body softens and becomes TRANSLUCENT knowing she is turning into LIGHT
She SMILES knowingly
She is a TRUTH SEEKER
She draws WISDOM from DREAMS, IMAGINATION, METAPHOR and CURIOSITY
She is a miner for the ALCHEMICAL GOLD of transformation.
She is FUNNY and able to laugh at herself
She stands courageously on THRESHOLDS,
COURAGEOUS even when afraid
She has called out all the VOICES that do not ring with her essence
She makes no assumptions.
She understands the POWER of words
She is IMPECCABLE with her words
Grounded in REALTIY
IMMERSED in Spirit
She celebrates the FEMININE
Calls on her MUSE, the ARTIST within, the POET with pen in hand
She is AWAKE to beauty and frailty
OPEN to change
PROTECTIVE of those without a voice
AWARE of her own power
Stands FIRMLY in it
And WILLING to use it
She is both WILD and CHILD LIKE
Multidimensional, complex and SIMPLE
SHE IS PARADOX
She is as FOCUSED as a laser beam
And SCATTERED as the leaves in fall
SHE IS PARADOX
She does not tolerate WHINING and kvetching in herself or others
And yet is able to LISTEN to legitimate pain and suffering with deep compassion
She knows the difference
She is in AWE of the Divine in all things ordinary and extraordinary
The line between the two as blurred as the FOG
She is a VISIONARY
Sees METAPHOR in all of NATURE
She is a poet, artist, writer, activist, chef, designer, gardener, partner, mother, wife, sister, daughter, grandmother
She holds EQUINIMITY as a precious well-earned gift.
She is the CRONE
Maria Wattier, 72 lives with her husband of 50 years in Bend, Oregon. She has 2 children and 4 grandchildren
If you would like to submit a 300 word essay on “What Crone Means to Me” please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org before February 5, 2020
By Maggie Fenton
We have many dreary, gray winter days here in Ohio and I find myself humming the tune to this old hymn frequently even when there is no snow on the ground. The remaining lyrics don’t mean to me what they did in my earlier years but I find wisdom there nonetheless. It is a reminder that the most important and in truth, the only gift we have to give someone is our self. So, on my walks, I ponder what this means to me at this point in my life in this place.
I’m grateful for the small gifts of “self” that come from friends and family in the way of emails, FB posts and texts. It lets me know that they’ve read or seen something and thought of me—a gift. I have a friend, Jim, in Canada that I’ve never met face-to-face. He and I met through a Great Lakes group almost two decades ago; we had each lost our beloved spouses; we each had traveled by boat in the North Channel, the body of water above Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. We compared notes on anchorages, hikes, moose sightings, favorite harbors and so on. Our conversations helped ease my grieving by letting me know someone else was in the same boat. Jim learned that I liked puns so he sends them often—some real groaners. He has also befriended my partner, Mike, and they collectively give me a hard time. Jim reached out all those years ago and gave me the best gift—himself.
I have several nieces and know other young women who feel like family who live miles away who stay in touch electronically. They share their lives, pictures of their children and sometimes their sorrows with me. We text each other during basketball games, groaning about the play or the refs or celebrating victory. It’s all gift.
I hear from you, dear Crones, my Tribe, on FB and in emails, sometimes texts. What an amazing gift you are! You make me laugh, cry, protest, raise heck with the congress, think and anticipate the next Crones Counsel gathering.
These gifts of self. As you go through your own gray days of winter, whether actual or metaphorical, think about how you are getting those gifts and how you are giving them.
We circle, we drum, we chant, we presence, we tell the truth, and we witness each other as women gaining wisdom through the grist, grit, and valor of our own lives.
I am honored to share a bit about our circle.
We have a young 30-year-old who meets with us, we have lots of 60- and 70-year-olds, several 80-year-olds, and yes, one or two in their 9th decade. Each woman is a glorious face and each woman is empowered to speak, to lead, to question and to learn.
Our circle meets monthly at a Center for Spiritual Living. It is a warm and radiant place. Before that, for a couple of years, we met at the Green Valley Spa which was also a lovely venue.
Our circle embraces some 10 to 30 women at any gather round. We are not a closed group; Women do ask, however, before they bring in a new woman. The circle is sacred to each of us.
It began in 2014 after I had midwifed the Crones Counsel – Luminous with Age – here in St. George. Several of our women had attended that Gathering and, in addition, I had been teaching several courses through the Institute for Continued Living at Dixie University (Age-ing to Sage-ing, Women’s Ways of Knowing, Seasons of a Woman’s Life, Elder Tales, and a course entitled, “In the Ever After”) and many of the women were very curious about the circles of women I would reference. Several women one day said: “We want a circle like what you speak about.” I was surprised. “Really?” They replied: “Yes.”
I was taken aback and I was incredibly excited. I missed my Salt Lake Crone Circle. I missed circling—period. I said to the women, “Okay, okay, I’ll do it. But, if we do it, we are going to dive deep, right? We’re going to truth tell, right? We’re going to take off the masks, right?” They said: “Yes, we’re ready. Bring it on.”
So, we are coming up on our 6th year. There is a core group of women who never miss. The two hours we spend together are inspiring and uplifting. We have an altar to keep the group centered and focused created by the women facilitating that month. The facilitation of the group rotates; two women volunteer to facilitate for the next month. There is an opening which consists of a thought or prompt to get us going, then we each “check-in” with no cross talk, no questions, until every woman has spoken. No advice is given. However, a woman may ask for feedback during her check-in and then, when each has spoken and time allows, we then have time to go back and address “what is working” that particular woman. It is glorious as the wells of emotion have been opened and we share freely what we have experienced in the check-in with each other. These women are trustworthy. There is no need to worry about confidentiality or harm. The love between us just grows deeper and deeper.
I am inspired by these women. They dropped into the process like they’d been doing this sort of thing for years. And, actually, many of them had been doing just that. A fellow here in St. George taught a course called, “Love Class” and many of us were recipients of his tutelage and his own unique way of circling and so the love was already there between many of the women.
For me, a circle of women is life-saving. I do not do well if I am not sitting in a benign and beneficent space with women who genuinely care and who are awake to the fullness of women and the lives we lead. There is joy and laughter in the group. There is sorrow and tears. There is diversity. There is wisdom. Yes, there is wisdom. Most of us have come a long way and we’re hoping for graciousness in the last leg of our journeys. We know that together we will triumph. Ageing is a glorious landscape if there are wisening women travelers who know your story and who know what makes you tick, who will dance with joy at your triumphs and drink your tears with gusto.
As Clarissa Pinkola Estes would say:
And so may it be for you,
And so may it be for me,
And so it may for all of us.
Amen and amen, and a little woman too.
My sincerest thanks go to the women I circle with, to the women who have guided me, and to all the women who will read these words, I say: “Sit in a circle of women and the world will break open.”
Portland Fun Fact
Portland got its name by the toss of a coin. Two city founders couldn’t agree on a name. One was from Boston, Massachusetts the other Portland, Maine.
Portland is home to many beautiful gardens. One, the Grotto, National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, is 62 acres of beauty and peace set both at the foot of and atop a 110 ft. cliff. The lower garden is free. For a small fee one can access the upper garden with its many statues, expansive views and labyrinth. Get more information about the Portland Gathering.