Ramona Shepherd Adams flew away on June 21, 2104. Ramona will be deeply missed this year and for many years to come. She has been a cultural centerpiece of our Gatherings for 22 years. One of the five Founding Members of Crones Counsel, Ramona attended every Gathering, always bringing her laughter, her charm, her wit, and her blessing.
She was the wind beneath the wings of Shauna Adix, our First Crone Mother, who flew away in 1998. Stalwart friends and confidants, they were the best of friends. Ramona intuited Shauna’s greatness and nurtured it as she has done with so many, many women . . . As she did with her eight children, her own career, and Crones Counsel itself. Their reunion will be nothing short of glorious.
Although we will miss her terribly, we sense that she was also, in myriad ways, the wind beneath all of our wings. With deep gratitude for her life and for her friendship we send her off with the (somewhat changed) words of a song Bette Midler made famous . . .
Fly, fly, fly high against the sky,
so high you touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you,
thank God for you, the wind beneath our wings.
Ramona, your legacy will linger with us. We will never forget you. Never.
Our next Gathering is only three months away. Time continues its dance; the inexorable diurnal round of day and night persists within the seasonal round. As Summer Solstice came and went, so did those everlastingly long summer days I so love. The headiness of the warm sun-lit days and the long hours before evening starshine allowed me to think I have all the time in the world to accomplish my planning and scheming. But alas! The time of the harvest is upon us and it is time for the even more serious engagement with plans for our 2014 celebration.
My experiences of the last two months have led me to ask: Just what does Crones Counsel look like to the women who come? What do women feel about our gathering? I had the great pleasure in June to study with Clarissa Pinkola Estes (author of Women Who Run with Wolves and a plethora of other equally splendid work). I was surrounded in story and myth and dreams and deep soul work. Women (and a few men) came from all over the globe. The 5-day intensive was warm and real and loving and comfortable and deeply soul-satisfying.
In July, I attended another Gathering (entitled Being a Balanced Mystic in Changing Times), in Salt Lake City, that was largely modeled after the structure of Crones Counsel. It too was warm and loving and surprisingly provocative and, at times, for me, disconcerting as my predispositions to certain ideas became challenged.
Later, with a dear friend, I was able to sit satsang, chanting, meditating, and reflecting on the meaning of the transmission of the guru and I was able to experience yet another way of gaining wisdom/“highest truth.”
All of these experiences aroused my imagination and set me to contemplating how Crones Counsel “looks” and “feels,” asking myself what the take-away experience consists of for the women who come to Crones Counsel. What are they looking for? Why do they come? Do they get what they desire? What arises from the depths of each woman as if newly born but which had actually been there all the time? What seed story in each of us is re-awakened as we enter the sacred space of Crones Counsel? Do we find ourselves surprised and enchanted by the uniqueness of our individual story? Do we relish the notion that each woman’s journey weaves the tapestry of her own gifted life? This inner relentless inquiry is on-going. Why do we claim Crone? Towards what purpose do we claim and activate the archetype of Crone? For what purpose do we gather?
And so it goes. My heart is so grateful for the twenty-two years of Crones Counsel and for the many women who have crossed my path. I know what it has given me. It has enlarged my perspective, given me a window to an expanded life, introduced me to women whom I consider mentors and soul-sisters, enriched every endeavor I have undertaken, and given me a map for the aging journey. I sometimes imagine that I would have just jumped off a cliff years ago if I did not understand the journey of women that takes us from Maiden, to Mother, to Maga, and, finally, Crone.
We are living in rapidly changing times when the fabric of the world seems to be unraveling around us. And, and, yet, surely the beginning is in the end. Many things within us and within the world are being begun anew with revived creativity, hope and vision. Crones Counsel can be a venue of awakening in chaotic times.
Counsel has been firmly seeded and planted, it has woven and rewoven its multi-faceted tapestry, it has stretched its boundaries, and it is S S — Still Standing. This is an accomplishment each and every one of us can acknowledge and reverence. My deep instincts tell me that there is more to come, more to celebrate, more to learn and even more to do. We are still weaving the blanket and stirring the stew. I commit to that. I commit to listening with my ear to the ground and looking with my eye to the future. As to the upcoming Gathering, I commit to assisting each one of us in bringing the rich herstory of Crones Counsel to the fore. I commit to being present to the tasks ahead. And I commit to giving a hand in creating circles of women that are ever-widening and ever able to cultivate the wisdom of the Crone. I commit to gaining clarity about what and who we are and where we all want to go in this ever-changing journey we live as women. And so may it be.
A few months back we invited women to submit poetry that spoke to this years’ theme “Luminous with Age.” A good number of you have sent lovely poetry. Thank you. And, for those of you who have not yet put pen to paper, there is still time. When you have created your poetic creation, you may send it to email@example.com.
Crones Counsel can only exist with the input and energy of our membership. There are two places we need you. We must have a Secretary and a Treasurer for our Mother Board. Soon. Very soon. Like . . . right now.
Please consider joining the Mother Board and offering your unique gifts to the membership. Crones Counsel Board Application Form. You may contact any Crone Mother to have us send you an application or contact Susan Ann firstname.lastname@example.org. Now is a great time to be on board…..please, please, consider this opportunity. We’ll love you and treasure you.
Give us your heart and we’ll give you ours.
We all know that Crone is an archetypal construct. In the past, this construct has been envisioned as Maiden, Mother, and Crone. There is an abundance of writing and imagery depicting this trinity.
Today, the archetype is evolving to a quaternity. The three-fold depiction has evolved to a fourfold depiction of Maiden, Mother, Matriarch/Maga, and Crone. This is largely due to our extended longevity and the health and vitality with which we are living our longer lives.
Curiously, there is an absolute dearth of imagery depicting this evolving archetype. Many women are talking about it, writing about it, embracing it – but it appears artistic expression has not caught up with the evolving archetype. Believe me, I have searched and searched for this imagery. It is not there. The closest expression I have found is the one here depicted.
Crones Counsel artists could be at the leading edge of creative imagery. Wouldn’t it be great if we could create this art and bring this notion into visual form?
This is an opportunity for those with artistic inclination in our group. Your contributions could grace our program booklet, our display tables, and the artisan room. Please send your submissions to any Counsel Mother.
Now Lammas comes in
Our harvest begins.
We have now to endeavor to get the corn in.
We reap and we mow,
And stoutly we blow
And cut down the corn that sweetly did grow.
Traditional English Song
No one explains the “celestially auspicious occasions” like Donna Henes. She describes the halfway point of summer, August 1st or July 31st Eve, as being “like a well seasoned woman. The galloping growth of spring and sweet blush of early summer have slowed and faded in her sweltering heat. She’s slower now, stronger and surer. She’s salty and sultry and a little bit dusty. She bears the fruits if her own labors, and she wears them well. By Midsummer, Dame Nature has grown tired of her wardrobe and its dizzy picture of vibrant greens, vivid pinks, and randy reds, and profusions of pretty pastels. She now prefers the warmer, deeper richer tones more flattering to her present station . . . we can in fact become august — wise and generous and gloriously noble, each in our own chosen path. We can hone our skills as tenders of Mother Earth. We can hoe our row. We can carry our load. We can break bread together. We can feed the hungry.” (Henes, 1996 in Celestially Auspicious Occasions)
Lammas, or Lughnasadh, is a time for feasting and food. It is the time of year when the gardens are in full bloom. From root vegetables to fresh herbs, so much of what you need is right there in your own back yard or at the local farmer’s market. May we each take advantage of the gifts of the garden, and cook up a feast to celebrate the first harvest and the advance of “august” women at Lammas! Blessings to each one of you from the Mother Board.
I have been re-reading John O’Donohue’s book, Anam Cara, which has provided me with some thoughts I would like to share with you. O’Donohue wrote chapter titled, “Aging: The Beauty of the Inner Harvest” in which he stated, “Old age is a time of second childhood. You still maintain an outlook that is wholesome and hopeful and bright.”
I began to wonder about a second childhood, and the thought came to me: What age would I like to be when I attend the Gathering at St. George? I realize that our age, our chronological age, has little significance on how we act and how we feel. Although some days my body seems to forget I am young. Meister Eckhart reminds us that our soul is eternal, and that there is a place within our soul that time does not touch. We can touch into that wild, youthful self, which is always within us, but sometimes needs to be prompted or given permission to come out and play. What age would you like to be when you attend the Gathering at St. George?
I asked myself what I would want women to experience at the Crones Gathering. I sat down and listed some words: joy, belief in self, power, perfection, love, and the list goes on. What would you like to experience for yourself?
My vision is that you will take this invitation to spend time with all of us at St. George and relive your happiest times.
When I leave the Gathering something goes with me. What have you taken as you leave our safe sanctuary? Is it a book to read? One year I purchased The Force of Character by James Hillman because of a workshop. Another year I left knowing about “Code Pink” and their belief in peace. I even painted one fingernail pink to remind me. Another time I learned about numerology and began a study of it. What will I take away this year? What will you take away?
I leave you with John O’Donohue’s “A Blessing for Old Age.”
May the light of your soul mind you,
May all of your worry and anxiousness about becoming old be transfigured.
May you be given a wisdom with the eye of your soul,
to see this beautiful time of harvesting.
May you have the commitment to harvest your life,
to heal what has hurt you,
to allow it to come closer to you and become one with you.
May you have a great dignity, may you have a sense of how free you are,
and above all may you be given the wonderful gift of meeting
the eternal light and beauty that is within you.
May you be blessed, and may you find a wonderful love in
yourself for yourself.
MORE WORKSHOPS NEEDED FOR CCXXII:
Consider facilitating a workshop about any of the following–
- What it means to do Crone work
- Caregiving while looking after yourself
- Dancing or another activity
- Good health practices
- Surviving as seniors (money, housing, etc)
- Journal, memoir or poetry writing
- Restoring family connections
- Beading or other simple crafts
- Crone ceremonies and rituals
- Challenges as grandmothers
- Living simply yet abundantly
Please contact Della Huber right away by calling 205-266-1398 or emailing
There are a lot of words that can be used to describe elder women and not all of them are flattering. They might include hag, biddy, battle-axe, shrew, and harpy. But there is a better word which we can reclaim and use to emphasize wisdom and the lessons we’ve learned throughout the first two thirds of our lives.
The word in question is Crone.
At all stages of a woman’s life, supportive men and strong women need to stand up for recognition that we are, in fact, valued human beings. This is why reclaiming a word as we age is important.
While it sounds, on the surface, that it has the same negative connotations as hag or harpy it really is a term of wisdom and admiration. There is a belief that in pre-Christian societies certain archetypes of women were honored as goddesses. These phases of a woman’s life were the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. For instance Athena, the daughter of Zeus, was a virgin goddess who embodied wisdom and learning. Without her, war would be in chaos ruled only by the anger of Ares. She represents an archetypal maiden. Mythologies from all over the world have divine mothers such as Isis, Ceres, or Gaia. But also in these ancient cultures there was a reverence for the third stage of a woman’s life: the Crone. Eventually society would marginalize the crone turning her from a wise Goddess to a feared witch.
As women in the 60s and 70s decided that they weren’t satisfied with traditional gender roles based on the way society had “always been,” the modern feminist movement was born. Those women began to take charge of their own lives and careers. Those women worked for creating a better world where the young women of today would not have to worry about their choices in life or even their value as a person.
Now these women, these early feminists, are reaching their elder years. Rather than being shuttled off into nursing homes where we are not seen and not spoken of, we want to take charge of our post-retirement lives as well. We want to reclaim the status of the Crone.
A woman in her crone years is in a position to influence others. She is the embodiment of feminine wisdom. This archetype has been repressed for far too long but women today are embracing the crone and living their values.
So why should you care about Crones, the title, or the implications?
As elders we’ve reached an age, and hopefully a status, where our voice counts. We can stand up for women of all generations. We can stand up for our own generation and change the conversation about aging in this country and around the world. We can be the example for generations to come to say no, we don’t have to feel marginalized or victimized. We are the crones, and we have reclaimed our own power.
“When you seek the truth, ask a wise woman.”
This is a funny video by Donnalou Stevens: