Crones Counsel Newsletter, November 26, 2013

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The Gathering in St. George, 2014

Thanks Giving Thoughts

Thank You

Greetings from Susan Ann

An Invitation



Healing Prayers/Intentions

Blessing of the Old One

Local Circles – Reminder

We Need Your Input 

The Gathering in St. George, 2014

The contract is signed, sealed and delivered. We will be coming together in St. George, Utah for our November 5-9, 2014 Gathering.  Many of you have emailed, commenting positively to the location.  Many of you immediately registered!   That made our socks roll up and down!  We could see that you were all thrilled to have this task confirmed. Take advantage of discounted rates and register Now.

This last week it was 76 degrees in St. George. This is the place where “summer spends the winter.” Truly. It is warm in St. George in November. It does not snow and it rarely freezes at nighttime.    So, please do not think that because it is in November, that it will be cold.  It won’t be cold.  You will be warm and cozy. We promise. It will be pleasant and stunningly beautiful.

Register as soon as possible. This will enable us to plan another grand Gathering. We encourage you to bring your friends, your co-workers, your mothers, your daughters, and even your granddaughters. There will be something for every woman who attends. Bring every one you know and let’s rise up and party! Take advantage of discounted rates and register now.

Thanks Giving Thoughts

From Native American Tradition, source unknown

We return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us. We return thanks to the rivers and streams which supply us with water. We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases. We return thanks to the corn, and to her sisters, the beans and squashes which give us life. We return thanks to the bushes and trees, which provide us with fruit. We give thanks to the wind, which moving the air, has banished diseases. We return thanks to the moon and the stars, which have given us their light when the sun was gone. We give thanks to our grandfather, HE-no, that he has protected his grandchildren, and has given to us this rain. We return thanks to the sun, that he has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye. Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit, in whom is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things for the good of his children.


By Janet Morrissey

Brother David Steindl-Rast in his book Gratefulness, the heart of Prayer, says “Surprise is the key to gratefulness.” Surprise comes all the time to us but usually we aren’t aware, so we must practice being alert. Once we see the surprise then we can recognize our opportunities. We might ask what the opportunity is here. Is it joy, happiness, patience, or a lesson to learn? Then we can act. This book is a different way of looking at gratefulness. I recommend it especially at this time of year.

Thank You

The Crones Counsel wishes to thank two members who have recently given donations to the Crones Counsel.   The generosity of these two women is remarkable.

With sincere gratitude from the entire membership of Crones Counsel, we thank both of you for your generous donations.  You have both chosen to remain anonymous, and we will honor your wishes.   But, please know:  We consider these gifts a sacred trust and we dedicate ourselves to using this money to the highest good of all. 

In sincere gratitude,

The Crones Counsel Mother Board

Greetings from Susan Ann

It is the time of year when I awaken each morning just before sunrise.   I propel myself out of bed, wrap myself in a sweater and move out the bedroom door to watch the sky change color.  Inevitably, the beauty of the landscape takes my breath away.  I tune my ears to the chatter of the birds and the gentle rustle of leaves and small animals, scurrying to meet another day themselves.   It is my favorite time of day.  And, it just so happens that this cycle of the year allows me to luxuriate in the season – the temperature is perfect and the holidays are coming.

And, often, these days, my thoughts turn to Crones Counsel.  I wonder about the best next step in our journey together.   In my mind, I begin to catalogue texts, emails, and tasks, phone calls, mission and vision.   Today, I contemplated the gifts that the women have brought to Counsel before my time.  I wondered if every morning they too arose and thought about Crones Counsel.  I imagine they did; I imagine many of them still do.   We have been carried along the last 21 years by many women who have loved this organization and who have helped keep it alive and strong.

I feel in my bones the challenge and the task of female leadership.   I think of the synergy of the women with whom I will be co-leading for the next couple of years – Carol, Joyce, Janet, and Susan.  I hear myself asking a multitude of questions that have to do with women and aging and the power of our organization.  And, then, I feel proud.   I am proud of our organization.  I am proud that we have lasted this long and that we have a mandate to last another twenty years.

I realize we have never lived in world like we are living in now.   Never before in the history of the world has there been this many older people on the planet.  For the first time in history, people aged 65 and over will soon outnumber children under the age of 5.  Throughout the world today, there are more people aged 65 and older than the entire populations of Russia, Japan, France, Germany and Australia—combined.  The United States contains more people age 65 and older than the total population of Canada.  Most curious, for me, is the fact, that as the world’s population grows steadily older, it also becomes predominantly more female. In 2008 alone, an estimated 62 million more women than men lived to age 65 and over.  For every 100 females in the 65-74 age group, we find only 86 males. Their number continues to drop to 72 in the 75-84 age group. For the old-old groups (85 and older) the sex ratio becomes even more pronounced, expanding to an astounding 49 men for every 100 women.

These figures astound me.  I begin to think intergenerational or even transgenerational.  How are we all going to live together in a world like this?  Does this longevity bonus augur an errand for older women?  Are we to begin to think more horizontally and less vertically – with caring for all others, extending a wider and wider circle of concern and empathy?  As I contemplate these questions, I think of all of you.   And, thankfully, before I become overwhelmed by my incessant questioning, I remember that I have a golden cadre of intelligent, thoughtful, empathetic and caring women with whom I can share these deep issues of my heart and mind.

As I watch the sunset this evening, I am sure these questions will cross my mind again.  My gratitude for all of you and my gratitude for the enduring legacy of our Crones Counsel will be there as well as the sun disappears for another day.

Your Crone Mother

Susan Ann

An Invitation  

By Janet Morrissey, Mother Board member

During one of the storytelling sessions at Crones Counsel in Salt Lake City, a woman touched my shoulder and said, “It is very hard work.” I was surprised because I didn’t know this woman nor did I know exactly what she meant.  We had just listened to a former board member tell us how hard it was being a board member but that it was all worthwhile.  So, I dismissed the comment. But when it happened again a half hour later, I sat up and took notice. Once more a similar message, “It is hard work, but there are many rewards too. You would be good on the board.”

I turned to my friend, Rosemary and asked her what she thought this meant.  “This woman doesn’t know me.  What does this mean?”

My friend got up and searched for an application on a table with information about the Crones Counsel Organization.  We discussed the requirements but we both discounted applying. However, at the break, I went in search of the woman who had spoken to me.  She was standing near the refreshment table. I learned that her name was Arlene.  I was curious about her remarks and asked, “Why me?”

“Arlene, why did you approach me?”

“I don’t know.  Something directed me to you.  I felt like I was having an out-of- body experience.  I have never done this before.”

“You don’t know me or what I do.”

“I know but I just moved toward you and don’t know why,” Her blue eyes twinkling as she smiled invitingly.

I wondered if this was the something I was searching for to take the place of the Holistic Renewal Center closing where I was a founding director. I had put out into the Universe that I wanted to work with women of all ages.  Since I had been at the Gathering, I had seen and heard from younger women who were invited to participate in a special Red Tent Celebration.  I discovered that one of the present board members was eager to bring in the inter-generational concept, but she didn’t think the Board would support her. I definitely could do that.

So why did I need more confirmation?  I knew it was a big commitment. I had talked with several women to get their advice and opinions.  All were encouraging  . . . but, still, I wasn’t sure.

The next morning I attended a meditation session.  The long, grey-haired pony-tail meditation leader asked me if I would like to meditate on getting an answer to this situation.  I agreed.  I needed some clarification.  I couldn’t seem to come to a decisive answer.

I settled in trying to calm and rid my mind of all the “monkey talk.”  Rarely do I experience a visual scene, but almost immediately, I saw myself rising up into beautiful white cumulus clouds and, passing above them, I found a brown, sandstone castle.  As I moved toward the castle, it turned into a cathedral and then into the small church in Rockdale, my home town.

I could see the double doors from the bottom of the steps but they weren’t the brown painted ones.  No, they were shiny golden doors, very beautiful and tall.  However, they were locked.  I thought . . .  that’s my answer—can’t get in.  Suddenly, I rose up and flowed through them until I was inside the sanctuary.  I knelt down and a priest came forward in his entire garb.  My mind wanted him to be a woman and I tried to change the image, but no luck.  He anointed me on my shoulders by placing his hand upon them.  Then he placed the sign of the cross on my forehead.  No one spoke.

I rose up again into the clouds and landed outside the Church.  Everything looked exactly like I remembered.  There was the Darguzie’s house across from the Church and down the lane is the small white cottage I loved.  On the corner was Shep’s Tavern, Michalonis’ Store and my Aunt Mary’s house.  Two doors down was our house.

Entering through the front door, I saw my mom near the ironing board and my sister nearby.  I didn’t speak nor did they. I flowed out through the back door and to the left I saw the apple tree where we played marbles.  I sat down on the concrete steps, watching my dad weed his peony beds.

He came and sat beside me.

“Well, Dad what should I do?”

“It will be hard but you can to do this.”

So there was my answer.  I came out of the meditation and felt peaceful and sure.  As I left the mediation, I saw Arlene, who seemed to appear out of nowhere and everywhere.  I told her I needed an application because I had given the first one away.  I was sure now  . . . and I would apply.

I am now a member of the board.  I am energized and excited.  I look forward to working hard.  And, I know, indeed, that the rewards will be many.

Considering becoming a mother board member? Crones Counsel Board Application Form


By Janet Morrissey

Why do I return year after year to Crones Counsel?

Alice Yee is amazingly spry for being 94 years old.  Her recreational accomplishments are unusually risky but welcoming to hear.  The first time I heard her speak was at the annual Crones’ Counsel Gathering held in the fall of 2012.  She told the group of women about her fly-fishing adventure and how she got a “big one” caught on her line.  She needed help pulling it in.  She called her Crone friend to assist. Alice yelled for her to get the net as she wrestled with the fish and finally they succeeded. All of us who were listening to this story sat wide -eyed with mouths open in awe and admiration.

This last year her feat was to climb down a narrow ridge into Canyon De Chelly, holding on tightly to the side of the cliff while below her laid the Canyon.  She doesn’t tell these stories to brag or astonish us.  Alice shares her Crone life because the space at the Gathering is safe and each woman is invited to speak extemporaneously for five minutes.  Alice helps me to challenge myself to do things that might be a bit hard and to know that aging doesn’t need to be a factor in stopping me.  Life is a journey and we have choices.

Ramona Adams is another 90 year old, a tiny woman, whose past life included raising eight children while obtaining her PHD.  She became Vice President of Student Affairs of the University of Utah, encouraging women to become educated and providing the means to do that.  She believes in women and in herself.  She told us that her Mama said, “You’ve got a head on your shoulders, now use it.”

Ramona is one of the founding members of the Counsel, which started 21 years ago when several women were wondering what they would do when they got old.  (She was on her way then.)  As Ramona tells the story, Shauna Adix was the organizer of the group and she suggested having a conference, asking a few friends to come.   They all “threw money on the table” to get started.  One hundred thirty women from 16 states and ranging in age from 42 to 76 gathered at Jackson, Wyoming, celebrating being a Crone.

As I entered the Asilomar Grand Hall where registration was occurring, a small blue post-it-note, folded into thirds and held together by tape was given to me.  Christina Horst came toward me leaning on her cane and carrying an envelope containing hand-written messages, one for every attendee.  My message said, “You can’t know how far a frog can jump just by looking at him.” Slowly, she toured the hall, smiling and greeting the Crones.  This was something she chose to do.  That is what the Gathering is about – women expressing themselves.

These women and all 80 year old plus women are honored at the Honoring Ceremony for the Elders.  It is always a main feature. Each year the ceremony is different (but yet the same) with the older women telling us something about their lives and, in return, receiving from us a token of our appreciation. Where else are we celebrated for our aging?  This year a slide show was created depicting each woman with photos from her youthful past as well as a current picture. Each year I am honored to be in their presence.

The women are why I continue to return to the Gathering.  Many come and renew their friendship yearly and use this as their meeting place.  Each year the Gathering is held in a different location.  I meet with one of my oldest friends, Rosemary, who was in my wedding and who knows my history.  We celebrate our aging together and catch up on our lives.  Of course, this is also place to meet new women.  Last year, I met Arlene Madsen, who has served with the Counsel Board and who was instrumental in bringing me onto the MotherBoard.  She continues to reach out to me and give me encouragement.

Women support groups are important in all stages of our lives.  I am grateful for the Crones Counsel and the nourishment it provides for my aging years. Register now to take advantage of early bird rates.


By Susan Ann Stauffer

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

None of us who were over 2 or 3 years old will forget President Kennedy or November 22, 1963.   We each remember where we were, what we were doing, and what we felt.   Hauntingly, many of our children and grandchildren, experiences this same thing, at a very young age, with 9/11.  I loved “Jack.”   I loved Jacqueline.   I loved those little children.    Whatever our political beliefs, we can all concede that the world changed that day  . . .

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Healing Prayers/Intentions

A note from one of first-time attendees

So wonderful meeting you at Crones. I am so honored to meet so many incredible women who inspired me. Two years ago I went through Stage One ovarian cancer and chemotherapy resulting with no metastasis. Now I face a possible re-occurrence.

My surgery was Monday Nov 18th at 11AM at UCSF at MT Zion in San Francisco.

My intention for Monday was that the lymph node surgery is very successful, without complications and I go home Monday night.  Dr. Chan will remove the enlarged hyperactive lymph node. That the biopsy shows healthy cells. That I recover quickly and am in perfect balance with healthy cells.

Pray for me and send lots of light and love.

Love and Light,  Seraphina

Blessing of the Old One

By Joanna Powell Colbert on Nov 15, 2013 07:32 am

May the blessing of the Old One be upon you.

May you see far into the black night with keen owl eyes.

May you pad quietly through the shadowed wood, wolfhound at your side.

May you wrap the starry night around you like a cloak.

May you breathe in pain and breathe out compassion.

May you know the comfort of silence and the grace of your own company.

I bless you with a broken heart that is stitched together,

torn and unraveled, then mended once again.

I bless you with a scar on your breast

and a tattoo of green vines to encircle your heart.

I bless you with the strength to bear that which is unbearable.

I am the Old Woman.

I know how the story ends.

Go now, keep to the winding path of your life, and remember me.

At the dark of every moon, remember me.

At the crossroads of every life decision, remember me.

When you light candles for the ancestors on All Hallows Eve, remember me.

When you enter the Underworld of loss and despair, remember me.

When you abide in the tomb of darkness and the womb of awakening, remember me.

Today, tonight, and forevermore.

(From my work-in-progress, Shapeshifter: Wheel of a Woman’s Life.  ©2013 Joanna Powell Colbert.)

Local Circles – Reminder

The Mother Board is making a contact list of local groups that will be published on the Crones Counse website.  Please send the contact person’s name, email, phone and area of the country to Janet Morrissey (  Please include permission to put it on the website.

We need your input on a theme for St. George

Please take a few minutes to fill out this four question survey getting your ideas for a theme for Crones Counsel in St. George and names for the Mother Board. Click here to access this survey: