October 9-12, 2003
CRONES COUNSEL XI West
Returning, Remembering, Renewing
The Boise Gathering was the second Crones Counsel Gathering held in 2003. It was an exciting year in the history of Crones Counsel as women had the opportunity to travel east to Kingsport, Tennessee in June or west to Boise to enjoy the company of a second group of wise women. Crones Counsel had been in Boise in 1996, so for many of the 100 women who attended it was a return to a place of fond memories. For other women, it felt as if Crones Counsel had come full circle, as if one cycle in the herstory of Crones Counsel became complete. For other women, it was the beginning of an entire new journey.
The First Evening
We were welcomed the first evening by a drumbeat and a story “and the voices of the women .… the old-faces ….were heard …. in trust, listen to your heart…reach out.” The return, the remembering, the renewing had begun. Later in the evening, after we understood what a “snippet” was, and where the bathrooms were, Clans were formed. We found out that we had a Crone from the Horse Clan who had been jailed for attempted murder. The Snake Clan hissed “snake power, women power, goddess power,” and the Bear Clan became the Bare-Breasted Clan right before our very eyes. One clan group informed us that “Crones Can Fly Higher than Eagles.” Was there ever any doubt?
Storytelling: The Heart of Every Gathering
The next morning we found out about “furniture disease” at storytelling. Ramona Adams explained it for us: Furniture disease is when your chest drops in your drawers.” We were let in on the fact that the bags under our eyes were really our boobs. We learned about “rosebuds, roses, and rosehips,” “walking each other back home,” and “snow geese” who show up to let us know all is well on the other side of earth-life.
In each storytelling session, we remembered how great it is to sit listening and laughing and crying with a bunch of old Crones. We heard from poets, authors, filmmakers, artists, thanatologists, and grandmothers. We realized again, as we do every year, that the women who come to Crones Counsel have a way of inspiring us to reach places we have never reached before. During storytelling, our hearts and souls were opened wide to the mysterious power of hearing another woman speak of her life.
The Saturday Night Follies were magnificent. They always are. The evening began with a grand dinner in the ballroom. Once we were sufficiently full and fat and happy with an abundance of good food and drink we found our way into the meeting room. I remember tears streaming down my face as a woman signed a Beth Nielsen Chapman song. Poetry, drama, horseplay, frivolity – it was all there. This year a beautiful woman came all the way from Australia. She sang for us. Every bone, every cell, every tickle on the wing of prayer, was enlivened, awakened, and renewed. We all fell in love.
Honoring the Elders
The Honoring the Elders Ceremony in Boise held some special moments. As I was standing with the 50 year-olds out in the hallway quietly waiting to enter sacred space, my attention became focused on what was happening with the 70 year olds. In single file, they too were waiting. One tall regal Crone put her hands on the shoulders of the Crone in front of her and began silently blessing her. Soon hands were laid on each woman in the line and the blessing was passed along. I cried.
Once in the Honoring room, I began to look to see just who was there. I was so pleased to see the two 90-year-old women, five or six 80 year olds, and a whole section of 70 and 60 year olds. As the music flooded into my soul, I knew I had returned to the place I love – being in the presence of radically alive, respected, creative, earth-centered, salty old women. When it was mistakenly stated that 60-year-old women’s passion is waning, a rebellion broke out. A whole cadre of golden women waving black roses stood up in protest and collective affirmation of the spirit of Crone who was most certainly alive and well in Boise 2003.
The Honoring Ceremony moved right into the Giveaway where woman advanced by age to the table to choose an item gifted by another Crone. Again the music by Beth Nielsen Chapman (“All for the Love” and “There’s a Light”) resounded in the room and my heart was filled with gratitude for Crones Counsel. The Boise Gathering came to a close. “And the voices of the women …. the old faces …. were heard.”
It was a glorious Gathering. It was another fabulous dance with the Crone.
– Susan Ann Stauffer