Crones Counsel Newsletter, October 2, 2014

A Message from Susan Ann

I am still in contemplation.  My on-going inner reflection about Crones Counsel, its herstory and its traditions seems unceasing.  As our Gathering time approaches, I wonder:   Do you find yourself reflecting on all the things that happen at Counsel?   If so, what preparations do you make?  What happens in your being as you prepare to come to Counsel?

Much of my reflecting has centered on the things we hold sacred at Counsel  . . . those aspects of Counsel we have held sacred from our very beginnings.  They seem to be the structures that give heart and meaning to our Counsel.  These things, in my mind, hold the magic of Counsel.

No experts:  I remain astounded by the wisdom of Shauna Adix, Kaye Chatterton, Ramona Adams and all the other women who determined, who imagined, who brought to life,  that first Gathering.  They determined that Counsel would not bring in any paid keynote speakers or “experts” in the field of aging women.  Why?  Because each of us is an expert on our own life and experience.  They knew that it was the distillate of our own wisdom and balanced judgment that would be important for women to share with each other and they wanted to provide an “open space” in which that could happen.

Intentional use of “Counsel” and not Council:  Shauna and her cadre of golden women made a very conscious decision to use counsel and not council.  Shauna loved to play with words.  She was an incredible wordsmith.  She understood that words mattered. She understood that words carried meaning and power.  By using “counsel,” she wanted to imprint the notion that Crone women, older women, would come together to “counsel” with one another, to tell the truth about their lives, and that they would be surrounded by other women who would listen and hear and see.

The Power of Story:  Those of us who had the opportunity to know Shauna knew she was an extraordinary storyteller.   She knew how to tell a story, how to call for a story, and how to catch a story.  She knew that the art of “storying our lives”  allows us to disclose our goals and aspirations, fears, identity and self-worth, the roles we choose to play in life, the way we handle adversity and the values and beliefs that we hold dear.  In addition, she knew that, although we may not be aware of it, each of us thinks of our life as if it were a story in the making.   Aware of all this complexity, it was decided that the centerpiece of the Gathering would revolve around the telling of personal story.   This tradition has endured for 22 years.

OlderWomen_0_0The Honoring of Elder Women:   This aspect of Counsel came later.  At the first Gathering, we all experienced a wild and raucous Croning Ceremony.  For some years afterwards, women would drum and dance and proclaim themselves Crone.  I think, and I may need to be corrected, that it was Mahtowin Howe who suggested that we might want to honor our elder women and create a distinctive ceremony that would acknowledge elder women’s being and aged wisdom.   So, for the last 10 years or so, we have honored the women who are 80 years or older attending the gathering in a special ceremony.  We have, and will, continue to do this ceremony as well as an Honoring the Decades Ceremony and a “Claiming Crone” Ceremony.  Each of these events are unique, different every year, and always heart-warming.

Candles_0_0Ceremony and Ritual:  When we engage in ritual, we address our need to go deep within ourselves.  When we do ritual with other women, with clear intention and purposeful action, we feel deeply connected with each other and to the sacredness of all life.   Our Opening and Closing Ceremonies are ritualized – they are meant to create, and to open and close sacred space.  The rituals and ceremonies that occur within the Gathering are meant to celebrate the changes, the passages, and transitions in women’s lives, especially the last half of women’s lives.

Kathleen Wall and Gary Ferguson (1998) wrote that “ . . . ritual can help us learn to harness the tension and pain that inevitably rolls through our lives and to transform them into the positive emotional energy we need to gain new awareness and initiate the delicate process of growth.  Ritual carries us into the belly of the change process, encouraging us to embrace it instead of allowing us to become distracted or run away.”

Shawna Carol, composer and ritual artist sings:  “I am the Goddess, I am the mother, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.”   Crones Counsel vigorously attempts to offer ritual that generates love and pleasure.  We acknowledge the wisdom of later life by embracing the ancient mantle of Crone – the dancing force, the Spider Woman, the mist being, and the wild woman, she who takes all life back into her womb, where it is regenerated, thereby allowing earth and all her creatures to be born anew.

Embracing the Crone:   Crones Counsel exists as a venue for re-claiming the spirit of the Crone, the wise woman.   By coming to “counsel,” we are engaging in the work of acknowledging our wise blood years, the time in which we can regain the sense that our lives are really ours, and act out of our own personhood and not merely reacting to others’ demands.  We are “women on the rise” as our poetess, Virginia Tennies, has written.   I think the crone is nowhere better described than by Clarissa Pinkola-Estés in her best-seller, Women Who Run with the Wolves. When writing about the essence of the wild woman, Pinkola-Estés says:

She is intuition, she is far-seer, she is deep listener, she is loyal heart. She encourages humans to remain multi-lingual; fluent in the languages of dreams, passion, and poetry. She whispers from night dreams, she leaves behind on the terrain of a woman’s soul a course hair and muddy footprints. . . . She has been lost and half forgotten a long, long time. She is the source, the light, the night, the dark, and daybreak. She is the smell of good mud and the back leg of a fox. The birds which tell us secrets belong to her. She is the voice that says “This way, this way.”

I want to know her.  I want to embrace her.   I desire to become her.  I have seen her face, many times, at Counsel.   I still see, in my mind’s eye, the woman who looked at me twenty-two years ago at Crones Counsel I, with such unceasing love and acceptance I almost dropped to my knees.  Her gaze, and the gaze of the other crone women with whom I mingle, keeps me coming back each year.  And, it is the deeply well-thought out structures and traditions that keep me circling and in the dance that is Crones Counsel.

I look forward to the magic will we create this year.    I can hardly wait to dance it into being with the rest of you.  And so may it be.

Poetry Fest

The poetry fest plans are well under way and in the capable hands of Kianna Bader, and Claudia Van Gerven Contact these two lovely women if you plan on participating.  The Fest will take place the second evening of our Gathering before our Meet & Greet.


By Janet Morrissey
Several years ago my friend told me about hiring an angel or, in some cases, a committee of angels.  I was most distressed at the time over a medical insurance issue with my son.  He needed his doctor to forward a clearance to the Department of Motor Vehicles clearing him to drive.  After several visits and phone calls, there seemed to be endless excuses for the delay.  While Michael was at the doctor’s office inquiring once again, I called my friend.  She said to hire an angel.  She would hire a secretary angel immediately.  The form was faxed while Michael waited.

Jean Slatter’s book, Hiring the Heavens, explains her theory and more.  She says we can create committees of angels to assist us. Often when I begin writing my article for the newsletter, I call on a writing angel for ideas.  Always an idea comes to mind.

Now that we are approaching the last month of preparations, a few details need our attention, and it’s time to hire a committee of angels. For example, a conference coordinator angel can assist all of us involved, giving us advice and guidance.  An angel promoter could help women who are undecided by giving them a nudge, or however, angels persuade someone to attend.  Of course, a financial angel will be included for the important task of spending and collecting money.  Other angels that may be hired: interior design, spiritual energy, safety, creative ideas, etc.  I invite you to form a committee of your own. Check in with your committee of angels daily or whatever works for you. With you and the angels, we will create a great Gathering for all.

Usually when we hire someone it involves a payment.  For Crones Counsel, the payment requested is for the person hiring to pay back with joy and love.  I can see the hall filled with all of you and your committee of angels, shining their luminous light onto everyone.

Another very urgent need for the Counsel to continue functioning and reporting to you our finances and keeping all our records is for two of you to come forward as the secretary and treasurer. Are you being urged to submit your name for one of these tasks?

Please listen to your heart and call or email Susan Ann at

Whatever way you request the Universe to give guidance and love, a kind thought about the Gathering and the Board’s needs would be appreciated.

Knitters and Crocheters

There will be some skilled women with needles and hooks attending this years’ Gathering.   If you want to sit with them in the afternoons to knit, bring along your projects and have at it.

Off-Site Event

This is what was written 4 days ago:  Unfortunately, we may not be able to take you up to Snow Canyon for our Honoring Ceremony. The disappointment is huge for us who have planned this event, but we know that we cannot control everything.  There have been huge rains, which resulted in flooding, and these rains have gutted the road up to the projected site.  In addition, the shuttle service was way too expensive for any budget but a millionaire’s.  But, fear not, the ceremony will still be wonderful – wherever it is held – and maybe, maybe, just maybe, something magical will present itself.  One never knows when Crone magic is afoot.

And voila!  Four days later, we found a spot!  in Snow Canyon!   It is perfect.   Perfect.  It has been booked it and we are now full speed ahead with the details.  Yay!   Yay!  There is no walk, the cars and buses will deliver us right there, there are places to sit, and it is gorgeous.  Stunning.  Indeed, magic is afoot.  So, plan on bringing clothes to layer up and layer down.  The event is in the afternoon, in daylight and sunlight, but one should be prepared.   Bring umbrellas as well……  there will be more to come on this event in the pre-gathering packet.   Yay!   Yay!   Yay!

Pre-Gathering Information

Pre-Gathering information for our November Gathering, November 5 – 9 (what to bring, information on weather and transportation, etc.) will arrive in your email the 4th week in October, around the 20th.   For those of you who do not have email, the information will be sent by snail mail.

Urgent Need: Treasurer and Secretary ASAP

Our Treasurer, Joyce Perata, is facing surgery and radiation treatment for a returning rare tumor in her brain.  There is much going on for her right now with getting second opinions because the neurosurgeon and oncologist are not in agreement on how to proceed. Whichever direction this takes recovery will be slow making it imperative we make a call to our membership for a successor of the treasurer position.  Most likely surgery will be done fairly soon.   It is highly unlikely that she will able to attend the Gathering this year but welcomes loving thoughts and well wishes.

Joyce has been asking us for a good while now to relieve her of her duties.  It is now imperative that this happens.  We need, immediately, someone who is able to reconcile a bank account and track monies.  A woman book keeper or accountant would be ideal.  Duties entail tracking cash inflows and outflows, making deposits and recording where the money is spent, organizing the paper work to get information to our CPA at end of year, and create reports for the board twice a year to show our cash flow.  A woman confident with spreadsheets would be very helpful

If you have flair for numbers and like number details, you can learn.  Joyce is willing to teach you all the ropes and be your side-by whenever you need her (heath allowing).   You must have a computer to handle QuickBooks.  Joyce has detailed instruction for the year-end report to our CPA.   She has templates that can be used for reports; the wheel does not need to be reinvented.

We have been without a secretary for an entire year.  We cannot continue this way.   We urgently need women to lean in and step up, so we can continue to make Crones Counsel happen.

Please, if you have skills in these areas, have attended at least two gatherings, and want to help create the future of Crones Counsel, join us.  Please.  This is an urgent message from the Mother Board. Please contact any one of the Counsel Mothers if you think this something you could do. Contact Us!

Using the Crones Counsel Participant Lists

The Counsel Mothers are taking action to protect the Crones Counsel participant lists from unethical and illegal use. Just recently (and in the past) Pat Hanson, one of our Crones, used the Crones Counsel email list for sending emails regarding her work with the Invisible Grandparents. While this may be of interest to Crones Counsel participants it is unethical, inappropriate and illegal use of a distribution list. The Counsel Mothers wrote to Pat with a request to stop using this list and apologize to the Crones Counsel. She agreed. See her letter of apology below. The Counsel Mothers are in the process of contacting others who have used this list inappropriately. We pledge to continue to protect your contact information. This is one of the reasons that the list is supplied as a hard copy, not in electronic format.

Dear Crones Counsel Board & Members

Please accept my deep and sincere apologies for thoughtlessly violating your policies regarding privacy by using e-mail lists of members for my own purposes to advance my book and workshop. I will never do this again, and am very, very sorry. I have already deleted the “Crones National List” from my data base and i-contact lists. I was out of control with “shameless self-promotion” this time and one year ago I think, when the book first came out and I made those lists from previous gathering directories. I never wanted to jeopardize anyone’s privacy … or break rules I’d barely (as has been my style up until now) listened to.

You may use me as an example in the future as you explain these policies and those for storytelling to members. I am thrilled that you are holding an Artisan’s Fair the first night where members can showcase their work. Someplace on the website might do this also; by listing only products that offer a portion of their sale to Crones Counsel, as I did last year at an optional reception I sponsored.

Again, I regret this grievous error, beg your forgiveness, and thank you for correcting me. My behavior needed changing. I very much am looking forward to Utah.

Remember … good happens!

Pat Hanson

P. O. Box 253
Aromas, CA 95004

Celebrate the Seasons

The autumn equinox fell on Tuesday, September 23 when the day and night were of equal lengths.  It is the time to say good-bye to summer and welcome the coming of the dark time of winter.  Donna Henes (Celestially Auspicious Occasions, 1996) writes:

“Autumn ushers in the dark season.  The season of diminished light.  From now until the Vernal Equinox, six months hence, the nights are longer than the days.   Shade and chill prevail.  The year, the season, the sun, are slowing down, growing cold, getting old.  The insidious forces of death sweep in and overshadow the vibrant life force.  The air and land, once alive with teeming species, are becoming empty and mute.

Fall is like being sixty.  Having weathered the cycles, the rainbows and the storms, the trails and the troubles, the struggles, the teachings of a full life, it is now the season to reap what you have sown.  If you planted your seeds in the spring and tended them well—watered and weeded, pruned and staked, mulched and sprayed, propitiated and prayed, and if the weather was willing—enough, but not too much, sun, wind and rain, and if you were lucky—favored by the powers-that-be in the universe—come autumn it is prime time to harvest your crop.  This is the future you have been saving for.  In fall, you cash in and collect the fruits of your love and long labor.”

If you missed this celebration on the 23rd, it is not too late to reflect and consider what fall means to you.   How does the season of Fall converge with your decade of life?   You might ask:

What is most satisfying for me about this season?   What is most satisfying to me about my age?

What is now dying within you?  In what ways do you fear letting go? What needs your attention?  What kind of action do you need to take to usher in autumn?

You might want to go for a walk and gather some autumn leaves.   Let each leaf represent something you desire to let go, to release.

Write on each leaf or, at least, give it a name.  You may drop each leaf into a basket, saying what is written on it aloud.  Keep the basket with you throughout the season.  Look at it often and reflect.

At some point, you might want to take a leaf out into the wind, over a canyon, by a river bank, and let it go, knowing that autumn requires you to lose something in order to gain something new for your growth.

You might say as you do this:

“I am the sun setting in the west.  I am the tree letting go of the leaves.  I am the harvest taken from the land.  I am the bird swinging swiftly southward.  Spirit Keeper of the West, I will enter into the heart of autumn.  I will bravely enter my transitions.  I will adapt to what needs changing.  I will freely let go and not hang on.  Come, Spirit of Autumn, and teach me!”   (Joyce Rupp)

May Autumn lead you into deeper peace.  These reflections are offered with love and in preparation for our upcoming time together in November.  The Mother Board.

Green Committee for 2014 Crones Counsel

By Laurie Dameron
I am so looking forward to seeing you all again in beautiful St.George, Utah! Utah being my favorite spot on the planet! And I love this planet so that I have volunteered to head up a “Green Committee” for 2014 Crones Counsel!

I attended the last two counsels and had a marvelous time. But it did trouble me to see so many paper or Styrofoam cups being used for coffee and plastic cups and plastic water bottles being used. I noted that most of those products did not even end up in the recycle. Of course you can’t recycle the Styrofoam or the paper coffee cups; the coffee cups have a plastic coating.

Just a bit about Styrofoam; the basic building block of Styrofoam is Styrene, used to manufacture plastics, rubber and resins. Potential health risks from constant exposure can range from skin, eye and respiratory irritation to central nervous system problems such as headache, depression and even minor effects on kidney function and blood. Styrene is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It is also claimed to be the 5th largest creator of hazardous waste. Styrofoam contains several other chemicals; remember when they discovered the health problems and we were all cautioned about heating food in it in the microwave? Another main ingredient is petroleum. Yum, yum!

Petroleum is used for many other plastic products. With almost eight billion people on the planet we need to start conserving. Heaven forbid we run out of gas for our cars! Our annual fossil fuel footprint of bottled water consumption in the USA uses over 50 million barrels of oil; enough to run three million cars for one year!

Forty percent of bottled water is tap water. We use over 34 billion bottles a year and we pay more for water than gasoline. But the really disturbing thing is that fewer than 20% are recycled. When I was in Grand Teton National Park this year, they include some info in the literature that they pass out encouraging folks to reuse their water bottles and claiming some of the best water in their park in our country! Keep in mind that tap water is constantly tested, much more often than bottled water which is not very heavily regulated.

Finally Styrofoam takes one million plus years to decompose, plastic bags up to 1000 years and plastic bottles up to a million years. What it does do is break up into smaller and smaller pieces that choke and poison animals. It is said that hundreds of thousands sea mammals die each year due to plastic and over one million birds die each year from plastic.

The good news? More and more cities are banning plastic bags or charging a bag fee eliminating a lot of waste. Some places are even banning the small size of plastic bottled water. A lot of folks are becoming aware and carrying their reusable water bottles. Companies are using recycled plastic for all kinds of things; lumber, carpet, furniture, clothing, art, cellular phones and custom signs. But remember it takes energy to recycle too so best to reduce and reuse!

Stay tuned for November’s news on paper coffee cups and compostables! If you are interested in being on the “Green Committee” please e mail Laurie at!