June 19 – 22, 2003
CRONES COUNSEL XI East – Weaving the Fabric of the Future
Leap and the Net Will Appear
For many years, many women dreamed and envisioned Crones Counsel traveling east to make the Gathering more accessible to women living in that part of the country. All previous gatherings had been conducted in the western states. As glorious as Asilomar was it was time for change. The Crone women extended the possibilities for Crones Counsel to not only expand and hold a clear vision, but incorporated a conscious intent to “weave the fabric of the future.” Inspired with a vision of evolutionary revolution that coincides with the profound realization that the women living on the planet today are the seed-carriers of the future, it was time to leap out into the larger world with an openhearted invitation to gather in new women and new synergy.
Women were invited to bring to the gathering a small amount of thread, fabric, yarn, buttons, or other materials that could be woven into a symbolic tapestry. The warp and weft of the created tapestry would echo the values, the ethics, passions, and creative desires that crone women hold in their hearts.
The Spirit of Adventure
Fifty women showed up. From the moment each woman walked in the door, she was treated as royalty. The hotel rolled out the red carpet for the Crone women with sumptuous food, luxurious accommodations, and superior hospitality. The hotel staff were curious and fascinated, magically enticed by the unique women who call themselves Crone.
I remember registration night in the hotel restaurant. I saw women eager to meet new women, women keen to make new friends. I saw a few women enter unsure about where they were and what they were doing. I observed that other Crone women met these women with incredible generosity of spirit. It made my heart sing. That evening I met one woman who said she was not sure she could stay because she did not do things with other women. She was over 50 and this was the first gathering of women only that she had ever attended. By the end of the Gathering, she had been on stage telling jokes and helping with the audio and the lighting on stage. She had made several friends and she participated in every event. She said she only had one vacation a year but she was sure she would be back again. It was pure magic watching this woman move from reticence to full engagement with the crone energy.
I will never forget the women the night of the Follies. You would have thought these grown women were little girls in that auditorium waiting for the show to start. The seats in the auditorium had a unique function. You could pull a little lever and the chair would lower. A group of rabble-rousers got going on this – lowering their chairs and laughing and giggling. Soon most of the women in the room were in on the frivolity. Laughing uproariously and with the kind of creative cooperation that only Crone women can muster, without any talking, there were synchronized waves of popping heads moving throughout the auditorium. There was so much laughter the hotel staff could not resist sticking their heads in to see what was going on. They could not believe their eyes. Could old women really have this much fun? It was sheer magic.
The storytelling in Kingsport was incredibly tender and intimate. The stories of sisters lost and found, sisters estranged and healed, daughters and sons who rebelled and stayed away or rebelled and finally came back, the stories of courage, the stories of losing one’s way in the world and the stories of triumph all drew a glimmering, radiant net around that small group of women.
During these events individual women would place their thread or ribbon on the small frame for the tapestry that was being created. The tapestry seemed to reveal the stories, the thoughts and the lives of the weavers who gave shape and form to the creation. It became a spontaneous playful work of art.
No one who attended Kingsport will ever forget the woman who told about losing all of her hair at a young age by a prescribed medication. She shared with us that she had worn a wig for over thirty years. Never had she been out among people without her wig, which was always hot and heavy on her head. Standing in front of all of us, she took off her wig and stood there overcome with emotion as she experienced the love and respect of 50 powerful crone women. She became “real” she said; she was free to sit unencumbered, cool and comfortable for once in a public place. This was powerful magic.
Several Crone women did a ritual one evening about the “bawdy” aspect of the Crone archetype. After that, the drums came out and the dancing began. It was wild. It was hot. The doors were opened for fresh air. Alas! There was a wedding dinner going on in the room across the hall. Never mind that. Soon the little children who were at the wedding found themselves magically drawn across the hall with the Crone women dancing and drumming while their parents looked on with gracious indulgence. It was the epitome of magic at play and everybody knew it.
At the Honoring of the Elders Ceremony, the honored elder women were escorted around the outside and the inside of the circle of crones. They were then taken to chairs around the altar and blessed in various ways by the crone women. At the conclusion of the ceremony, each woman was given a hand-knit purple shawl made by one of the Crone women for those special honored elder crone women.
A fellow named William Benback said: “An idea can turn into dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.” Well, there was plenty of talent at Kingsport. Kingsport was a great adventure for the small group of women who chose to show up. There was no dust left behind. Rather, what was left behind was a gift from Crones Counsel to a local women’s shelter. The high level of creativity, on-the-spot cooperation, generosity and intimacy were the hallmarks of this Gathering. It manifested as a great beginning for the next ten years of Crones Counsel Gatherings. The first tiny step was made in “weaving the fabric of the future.” The Gathering was proof positive that vision is moved along not only by big groups of women but also by the magic of a small group of Crones willing to take a bold leap to create the kind of future in which we could all want to live.
It was a great and magical Gathering. The future of Crones Counsel continues to unveil itself. The face of the Crone becomes ever more transparent and elder women have found one safe and secure place in which they may continue to give birth to themselves. The tapestry made at the Kingsport Gathering now exists as a tapestry of love, of peace, of grace, of beauty and will be part of the archival materials of Crones Counsel.
I see the wise woman.
She carries a blanket of compassion. She wears a robe of wisdom.
Around her throat flutters a veil of shifting shapes. From her shoulders,
a mantle of power flows. A story band encircles her forehead.
She stitches a quilt; she spins fibers into yarn;
she knits; she sews; she weaves.
She ties the threads of our lives together.
She forms a web of spiraling threads.
(Healer and Herbalist Susan Weed from her book Healing Wise)
That is MAGIC.
– Susan Ann Stauffer