Seasonal Salon

Cronehood: The Winter of Life

Ah! My Old Ones
It is time
We must surrender to the gathering darkness
Yield to me; rest in me.
For I am Hecate, Queen of the Underworld.
To the slowing rhythm of a poignant lament,
I invite you to surrender to the depths of night, of death,
That you may know once more
The healing light of rebirth.

As we move into the winter of our lives…the Waning Moon Cycle…we are reminded that while all of the cycles of our lives ebb and flow, wax, reach fullness, and wane, all phases of each cycle are to be honored. So it is with the Waning Moon Cycle: we flow into that rhythm which is natural and life-giving. We experience an increasing energy, the connections inherent in the waxing of the cycle, then move into a fullness when we relish the sense of well-being, of serenity, of completeness that fills us while we surrender to the waning phase as we surrender to the separateness that leads us into darkness in which we deepen our sense of self.

Through this, the final cycle, the winter of our lives, our greatest challenge is the inner struggle for a sense of integrity; we struggle between hope and despair. As our lives wane, we reflect on our losses and on what we’ve accomplished; we wonder about who we are and how we’ve loved. This struggle inevitably reveals a need to tie up the loose ends of the fabric of our lives, to finish old business. What this means is releasing those resentments and fears, releasing the yearnings, the “if-onlys”.

Finishing the unfinished necessarily leads us through a process of forgiveness. As we search for integrity, we begin to see that the degree to which we judge another is the degree to which we judge ourselves. We begin to discover that the degree to which we push away from ourselves is the degree to which we push others away from us. This process of forgiveness ultimately leads us to a place of compassion—for ourselves and for others. In forgiving, we let go of those resentments; we enter into our own heart, feeling the pain that lies within—ours and the other’s, and then we release that pain.

*****

Integrity. Integration. Wholeness. Mindfulness. Community. Interdependence. These create the weft of the fabric, this tapestry of aging…of the life we continue to weave. The warp of the fabric must be our spirituality—a most personal aspect of who we are and are ever becoming.

From the perspective of Goddess thealogy and magic, wholeness has to do with interconnections among the Maiden, the Mother, the Crone. This is manifested in Goddess sociology as fluid interactions among women of all these age groups. Similarly, Goddess psychology can be understood as harmony and flow among these aspects within each woman. Patriarchy has divided these aspects, forcing them into separate worlds. As a result, we are alienated from ourselves and from each other. Socially, women of different ages seldom interact with one another. Birth and Death are seen in opposition, rather than as a cyclical movement of Birth into Life into Death into Rebirth…on the Wheel.

The Crone—the most powerful of Goddess’ aspects, seen in many myths as the old woman—is the part of ourselves that has indeed been most wounded. As we honor ourselves through this waning cycle, we remember that when the image of Crone was recognized as a valid one, the elder woman commanded respect; her advice was sought; her community revered her. Reclamation of Crone is of absolute necessity for the healing of our culture.

Ultimately, integrity has everything to do with one’s spirituality, for to be whole is to be fully integrated spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. We are in pure relationship with ourselves. Faced irrevocably with the waning of our lives, we move into a spiritual re/awakening or deepening, one that evolves from our own deep search into the core of our selves. Deepening and honoring the sacred is an ongoing process, for some a constant act of becoming. Many are able to see that, in fact, we are not the body; rather we are consciousness in a continual state of creation.

In our search, we look to our foremothers—many, many generations past, for models to guide us through our aging and support our reclaiming of the sacred, and we remember…We remember the crones of the matriarchal community who were women past the age of menopause. Like their younger sisters whose magic blood was withheld during the making of the miraculous child, the old women, described as the wisest of the tribe, were seen to withhold their blood—the source of their wisdom. We remember the ancient times when to be an elder was to be wise and respected, to be revered, and to be a spiritual leader. We take these images with us, for having achieved a sense of integrity, we gracefully enter into the fullness of this final cycle. We realize, more and more clearly now, that none of us will live forever, so the issue becomes just how we live now, how we can feel more free, alive, joy/filled; how we maintain the love, compassion, and forgiveness that heals the isolation that could lead us into the darkness of stress and illness and suffering.

Being open to healing and preparing for death are the same. To be open to healing is to be open to life—in this and every moment. This is the challenge: to live life fully and consciously, without denying death—to live in the face of death!


Excerpted from Coming Full Circle, Honoring the Rhythms of Relationships, Third Side Press, 1995.

Category: Winter Solstice 2009