In six months I’ll be 70 – a veritable Crone.
I’m hoping by the time I reach my 70th birthday I’ll be ready to celebrate and honour seven decades of glorious life adventure on Planet Earth. But I’m not quite there yet.
Becoming a Crone
I’m in transition to a new stage of life and a new stage of consciousness (which don’t always go together). It definitely feels like a threshold and my biggest life transition since mid-life crisis. At around age 42 I stepped off the proverbial cliff, let go of just about everything I’d created and began to live my dream of being a writer. A wonderful and challenging life adventure followed and took me first to the North West Highlands of Scotland and then to the far side of the world, to Aotearoa – New Zealand, where I lived until three years ago.
For the last three years I’ve been diving deep into loss, death, human frailty and healing. There’s been much beauty and wisdom in this and it has also challenged me to the core. The losses have included the death of my dearest closest friend, closely followed by the death of my brother who was my last family member, I’ve missed the physical presence of my New Zealand whanau (friends and community), and experienced a significant lessening of my energy.
But now, after sitting with death, I’m reaping the harvest of this adventure in authentic living. Creatively, I’m completing and integrating as I slide gracefully and disgracefully towards becoming an Elder, a Crone, perhaps a Sage.
Watching the Old Self Disappearing
As in any transition I’ve been practicing letting go of my old identity and learning to be with what is, and to pay attention to what’s emerging, without attachment or judgment. (Easier said than done!) I’ve always been an active person: a networker, a community builder, a workshop leader and change agent; always going, doing, joining, participating, innovating. It’s been strange to watch those parts of me disappearing like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. I’ve learned to listen ever more deeply to what soul is calling me to. I appreciate that, although I may appear to be still or silent, in fact I’ve been making myself a cauldron for the alchemy of transformation and there’s been so much to hold in the inner world, everything else has felt like a distraction.
I’ve known without a doubt that the healing work I’ve been called to do, here on my hill in Wales, with my roots going deep into my homeland and connecting with my Ancestors, is not only personal but for the good of the whole. The call to be internal, deep, contemplative, accepting, has been compelling and very fulfilling. I’ve been mending the holes in my own soul and also contributing to a much bigger collective and essential healing and wholing process.
To get to a place of integration and new beginnings I’ve had to go by the way of disintegration. To arrive at fulfilment and gratitude I’ve sat with death and loss. To find unconditional love and compassion I’ve gone by the way of judgment and suffering. It seems to me this is part of the rite of passage to elderhood. Maybe to grow into being a woman who can inhabit my nearly seventy-year-old body with gratitude and fulfilment, while at the same time awakening to a more inclusive and compassionate world view, is what it means to become an elder; someone who can serve life with wisdom.
I’ve dropped my lifelong restlessness and need for adventure. I’ve given up seeking and yet I am always sustained and nourished by the steady flow of inspiration which stimulates my writing. And I’m daily astonished by the way life simply shows up at my door with all sorts of possibilities in response to my intentions.
There is definitely a harvest being gathered in and a phoenix arising yet one of the hardest aspects of approaching 70 for me, is chasing away the spectre of how our culture views older women. I looked up the etymology of Crone and found “an ugly old woman”. And also “a ritual rite of passage into an era of wisdom, freedom, and personal power”.
Well I know which one I choose, but despite nearly 50 years of active participation in the women’s liberation movement, and knowing all the issues, I still look at myself in the mirror or on the video screen and wonder, “Who are you?” There is a definite mismatch between how I feel inside and how I look on the outside and it’s always a shock to see this older woman masquerading as me! It’s another layer of conditioning and cultural stereotyping to let go of while at the same time paying attention to how I can maintain my physical wellbeing and vitality.
As a baby boomer I’m part of the first generation of women who have had the collective opportunity to free ourselves from gender stereotypes and re-invent ourselves as authentic and creative beings. That’s exciting, and I’m sure together we will find magnificent ways to express being Crones. But I think we can only do that as we share the uncomfortable aspects of getting older as well as the harvest. I don’t find it very helpful to be told the new 70 is the old 50. I find it much more helpful to be able to talk honestly about my experience – that’s what creates change for me.
Rites of Passage
When I think back to my transition in my early 40s, and this one now, I think perhaps these big rites of passage have to be done alone, outside the culture, in the wilderness, where we can connect with our deepest and highest authenticity. I know we are all different but it seems to me authentic transformation is counter-cultural; it carries us into radical aloneness where we can re-weave the world into greater unity away from the demands of the crazy turning of the outer world.
Global communities like the Silver Tent are so important and supportive. Even as I sit alone on my hill I know I am always connected with a massive global movement of women (and men) transitioning to a new stage of consciousness. My positive symbol for the Crone is a soul weaver. We older women have a very important role to play in weaving the fabric of a whole new world.
In the last few weeks I’ve felt the stirring and quickening of the birthing process. Yes, Crones can give birth! Life has started to move and has gathered me up. I have never felt more clear about why I’m here on Earth. The creative work I do is a continual helix of breathing in inspiration and putting out my own unique perspective on life. I feel so privileged. I’d love to hear from other women who are going through similar rites of passage.
Rose Diamond writes about the Soul Journey and holds monthly Soul Sanctuary Circles to explore the process of transition, awakening and transformation.
Also by Rose The Soul Journey 1
Rose’s website Tribe in Transition