Women of wisdom. Women of worth. Women who know what they are about. Women comfortable with change. Women aware of the seasons of their lives. I have been contemplating these notions for the last couple of weeks as I have been thinking of the vision and mission of Crones Counsel.
I had a wonderful experience this month that I would like to share with each of you. In the University of Utah College of Social Work Master’s program, the students study Human Behavior in the Social Environment. As part of this course, they study the developmental changes and challenges that accompany the stages of life – infancy, toddlerhood, childhood, adolescence and all the other stages on the way to elderhood. This semester we had the opportunity to bring people into the classroom who were living each developmental stage. We were able to observe them, ask questions, and listen to what they had to say about the stage of life they were embodying.
I invited five women to come to our class on the day we were studying “old age.” The women were ages 59, 64, 73, 80, and 82. I can tell you that they rocked. They totally rocked. The students were beside themselves with admiration and inspiration. They wanted the women to stay for the afternoon. They wanted them to come again. They wanted to make a time to meet with them so they “could learn more.” The accolades came fast and furious. “They were amazing.” “I want know them better.” “I want them to teach me.”
I have carried with me, in my heart and soul, for many years now, the message extolled by Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson in their book The Cultural Creatives. They wrote: In every age, elders have one fundamental task to do for the culture. Their work is to carry the wisdom function: to speak for it, protect it, preserve it, and convey it forward for future generations. If no elders are recognized as wise, or if no elders are willing to come forward, the culture loses its wisdom function. There is literally a hole in the culture.
I saw with my own eyes, through a semester of studying human development alongside the students, a vivid affirmation of what I, too, have believed to be true: Elder people do indeed “carry the wisdom function.” After observing, questioning and listening to the representatives of each developmental stage, it was evident that older people know something about living life that younger people do not. It was evident in their bearing. It was evident in the confidence with which they spoke. It was evident in the way they encouraged and affirmed each student. It was evident in the focused attention they offered. It was evident in the grace and grit of their spirit. It was evident in each grey head of hair on those beautiful older women.
And . . . what about the notion of intergenerational bestowal? The elders on that panel were invigorated by their interaction with the students. They loved being in conversation with these younger people. One of the women commented afterwards to a male student: “I just couldn’t take my eyes off your smiling, shiny face.” Each one of them stated how happy they were to be in that setting, to sit in a room with younger people and share life. It was a moment. It was a moment in time for me. One I will cherish for a very long time.
Why do I write this in a Crones Counsel newsletter? Because I have a fervent belief that Crones Counsel women can be wise in that combination of compassion and intelligence that is the elder function. Through the many years of Crone Counsel Gatherings, we have been birthing a membrane that holds a new elder woman – the crone – the woman of purpose, power, and passion. We have been making our way toward a new way of aging and maturing most of us have never seen before. This is a powerful thing we have accomplished – we are poised and ready to seed wisdom into the culture by learning from those who are younger what is needed for the world to be safe and secure for the generations to come.
These younger people need the wisdom, balanced judgment, and examined experience gained by those who have lived longer, who have seen more, who have reflected on those things that matter most in a well-lived life. They need to see our faces. They need to hear our voices. They need to know our stories. And, yes, we need them as well. We need their youthfulness and exuberance. It is beautiful when older people, middle-aged people, and young people come together. Can we envision as a Counsel a society in which ageing matters and all ages matter?
Plans are well underway for our 2014 Gathering in November in St. George, Utah. Interest is quickening here in the southwest and new women who have not before attended a gathering are looking forward to joining with all of us. We trust that interest is building in your area as well with many more women who will decide to come and share in the luminosity of age which we will celebrating.
We have more registrants at this time than we have had at this approximate time in years past. This is a good thing. We have a venue that can support more women as well as activities that will appeal to different sensibilities. Attendees will gather in stunningly beautiful surroundings. Our desire is for women to be immersed in the landscape as well as the joy of the Gathering itself. Zion’s Canyon, Utah’s first National Park, is just around the corner from our venue. It is Utah’s most visited park and is said to be the eighth most visited park in the US. Many of you have requested that we take a tour to this venue. This can only happen if we have enough women attending the Gathering to make this a reality. Even so, it is important to note that the Canyon is available by car in November when the tourists are fewer in number; in November you may travel the length of the Canyon without riding in a tour bus.
We are, however, planning an event in Snow Canyon, weather permitting. Snow Canyon is located in the 62,000 acre Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, established to protect the federally listed desert tortoise and its habitat. This event was to be a surprise, but we thought we might tweak your enthusiasm. The site is easily accessible by foot and wheelchair.
All of this will happen alongside the storytelling, the wisdom circles, the workshops, the Crone Follies, and all the ceremonies we all have come to love! We’ll see you there!
Information we need
Will you be driving a car to the gathering? If so, would you be willing to transport three or four women to an off-site event? If the answer is “yes,” please contact Joyce Perata at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crones Counsel Themed Poetry no-Contest Open Slam
We have received some lovely, lovely poetry. Many of you took up your pen and paper and sent us some very beautiful poems accentuating our theme “Luminous with Age.” The poetry will be showcased in our program booklet, our PowerPoint slide shows, and we will read some of your submissions throughout the gathering. Thank you very much for what you have already offered. And for those of you who have not yet found your pen and paper, we will be more than thrilled to receive your contributions! Please send your contributions to email@example.com
Do you find it hard to leave your knitting and crocheting at home? Are you positively addicted to holding those needles and hooks in your hands?
Well, there is a large group of knittin’ kittens and crocheters in St. George, Utah, who want to attend our gathering and meet other knitters from across the country. So bring your needles and your yarn. Just think, you can gather with other knitters and crocheters during workshop times and talk patterns and needles and all the things women talk about when their hands are busy.
Did you know that Barbara Walker, the author of The Crone: Women of Age, Wisdom, and Power, now 83 years old, is also an influential knitting expert and the author of several classic encyclopedic knitting references? This book was the book that introduced many of us to the concept of Crone way back in 1988.
It was the book Shauna Adix, our Founding Mother, read that spurred her interest in the crone archetype. But before this book, in the 1960s and 1970s, Walker authored several volumes of knitting references which have become landmarks for their comprehensiveness and clarity. Her Knitting Treasury series documents over a thousand different knitting stitches. Other books considered mosaic knitting, for producing multicolored designs while knitting only one color per row, and constructing knitted garments from the top down rather than the usual bottom-up method used in Western knitting tradition. Her legacy continues with the reprinting of most of her knitting books, starting in the mid-1990s, as well as the publication of new contributions to knitting literature.
The American Humanist Association named Walker “Humanist Heroine” in 1993, and in 1995 she received the “Women Making Herstory” award from the New Jersey NOW. In The Skeptical Feminist: Discovering the Virgin, Mother, and Crone, she writes about her belief that there is no god. However, she believes that people, and women in particular, can use the image of the goddess in their day-to-day lives. She often uses the imagery of the Mother Goddess to discuss neolithic matriarchies. Her book Woman’s Rituals: A Sourcebook is an attempt to show how she puts her “meditation techniques” into practice, and is meant as a guide for other women to do the same thing.
It will be fun at our gathering to talk knitting and the Crone as we knit and talk the story of our lives. Please invite the women you know who knit and crochet. And, if any of you know Barbara, invite her to attend with us. Wouldn’t that just make your socks roll up and down if this instrumental woman in the crone movement came to the gathering she inspired?
Elizabeth, (Beth) Morris, who was involved with the Crones Counsel for many years, died Saturday, March 22, as a result of brain and brain stem injuries sustained in a fall on the preceding Wednesday morning. She was an absolutely lovely woman and very much a part of Crones Counsel for many years. She was a wise woman. She demonstrated a great sense of humor and a great wit. Her daughter, Thubten Chonyi, wrote these words about her mother:
My mom did NOT like “getting old,” and her introduction to Crones — by a dear older friend of mine in Seattle, since deceased — helped her tremendously to deal with the changes. She begged me to go with her to a gathering, and for her 70th birthday, I relented. I told her that, at 53, I wasn’t ready to embrace my crone, but that I’d support her. I joined her at the Boulder, CO gathering.
For some years I had been considering an aspiration to ordain as a Buddhist nun. The opportunity was readily available; I had helped my teacher start America’s first Tibetan Buddhist monastery for training Western students, and she strongly encouraged me to join. There are a lot of reasons to resist such a call, but one of the loudest voices in my head proclaimed, “You’re too OLD to do this.”
Well … The Crones Counsel gathering I attended as my mom’s birthday gift became a powerful catalyst for me, too. Based on the inspiration of the many vital, active, alive, and contributing women I met at Crones, I dropped my “too old” mantra and moved to the monastery about 7 months later. I ordained in 2008. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Among my mothers’ MANY gifts to me — and, of course, they are countless — this intro to Crones is one.
Although my ordination precludes me from being involved or attending another gathering, I am so grateful for what you do and often send women your way. I never know if they follow up, but if they do, I know they will find inspiration and perhaps the courage to follow their hearts. So thanks again for all you have given to my mom, to me, and to numerous women. I know that your effort is of benefit to individuals and to our world.
If any of the Crones Counsel membership desire to contact Beth’s daughter, they may do so at:
May all beings everywhere,
Plagued by sufferings of body and mind,
Obtain an ocean of happiness and joy
By virtue of my merits.
Sharon Spilman of Puamana Web Design who created our current website design left the planet in late March. She was sent from the Goddess to help us create a new website when one was solely needed. Thank you, Sharon.
From the Denver Crones Circle
A Journey Worth Taking by Carol Friedrich
The Colorado Crones Circle of Wise Women, the local Crones group of the Denver metro area, began, at the first of this year, a book group specifically focusing on Angeles Arrien’s book The Second Half of Life. This book describes the “Eight Gates of Wisdom” which were highlighted in an interactional exhibit at Crones Counsel XX in Salt Lake City in 2012, celebrating 20 years of Crones Counsel gatherings.
The gates, as experienced in SLC by many from our local Crones group, inspired a more in-depth reading of the book and has elicited a discussion of the meaning of each gate on our own lives. Together we are in the process of gaining more insight into our life journey as individual women. Annie Lehto is coordinating our monthly discussion as we take as much time as we need on each chapter of the book.
From the Salt Lake City Crones Circles
At the present time, there are two Crone Circles in Salt Lake City. The first group was initiated in 1993 by Shauna Adix after the first Crones Counsel gathering. The group began with about 25 women and has remained stable now with about 12 members, most of whom were members from the very beginning. This now closed group is a vital and vibrant part of each woman’s life.
Meeting once a month for two hours, they follow a distinct process that enables each woman to share what is going on in her life. Each woman reports that she receives heartfelt and deeply profound sustenance on the aging journey within this group. After the meeting, the women go to a local restaurant for lunch where the conversation is continued.
The second group was initiated after the 2012 gathering in Salt Lake. Dineh Torres attended that gathering and was so inspired with what went on that she “had to start another circle” that was open to new members. The group is now beginning to stabilize and members are beginning to feel their way through to becoming another vital and well-functioning Crone Circle.
St. George Crone Circle to begin this summer . . .
Women in St. George became acquainted with the archetype of the Crone through a course taught at the Institute of Continued Learning through Dixie University. The women attending the course were so intrigued with what they learned and experienced that they desired a Crone Circle to continue to explore the Maiden, Mother, Matriarch and Crone. The group will start with about 20 women. Hopefully, the group will coalesce and be a presence at the upcoming gathering in November.
Kudos to all of these groups and the women who attend. Please contact Janet Morrissey at firstname.lastname@example.org with updates from your local circles so that we may share the happenings of your group.
Women need to sit in circles, not because we need healing, but because we need replenishment. Women need to go deep. Sitting in circle nourishes the soul.
Below is one of Janet Morrissey’s favorite poems.
Last Night As I Was Sleeping by Antonio Machado (translated by Katie King)
Last night as I was sleeping,
–blessed vision! — I dreamt
Of a fountain that was rippling
Deep within my heart.
Tell me, what is this hidden aquifer,
Water, flowing up to me,
Spring of new life
Which never before did I drink?
Last night as I was sleeping,
–blessed vision! —I dreamt
Of a beehive that was nesting
Deep within my heart;
And the golden bees
From old bitterness weave
Pure white comb and honey sweet.
Last night as I was sleeping,
–blessed vision! —I dreamt
That a brilliant sun was burning,
Deep within my heart.
It was brilliant because it lent
The warmth of home aglow,
And it was seen because it showed the light
And because it made the teardrops flow.
Last night as I was sleeping,
–blessed vision! —I dreamt
That it was God that I had glowing
Deep within my heart.
Some of you may remember the translation of this poem by Robert Bly. He employs the expression “marvelous error” for the “blessed vision” phrase used by Katie King. I believe “blessed vision” gives a clearer concept for the reader and a more accurate interpretation.
As I read the first two lines, “Last night as I was sleeping—blessed vision,” I could see a blessed vision of all the Crones planning their trips to St. George. A vision filled with special surprises planned by the Mother Counsel and the volunteer committees. A blessed vision of women sharing their dreams and their hearts. A blessed time for all. Janet Morrissey
By Laurie Dameron
Published in the Boulder Daily Camera & the Boulder Weekly – Lots of folks seem to have jumped on the bandwagon for compostables. Putting a compost in your yard is a GREAT thing to do as it diverts organic material (your food scraps but not including the paper or corn products) from landfills decreasing the amount of methane, which BTW, is 20 times worse than CO2, that goes into the atmosphere.
But as far as the compostable products such as to-go containers, corn cups, coffee cups, etc…There is a lot of controversy.
For one thing it takes a lot of resources to make these items and energy for transporting and lots of energy to dispose of properly. So – again REDUCE and REUSE is SO much more important.
But secondly – most of these products are ending up in the landfill…creating lots of methane! I have noticed a lot of business offices here in Boulder have compostable cups available for their customers BUT THEY DON’T HAVE COMPOST BINS to collect the discarded items!
Recently I was at a big environmental event where a vendor had great organic food and was using compostable containers but there were no compost bins. I didn’t want to be rude so I offered to collect all the items to make sure it would get to a compost.
I don’t mean to sound offensive here but basically these folks are thinking they are doing a great service to the planet by offering compostables but actually making things worse as most of it is ending up in our landfills creating methane.
There are A LOT of articles out there on this topic – just google.