Mining the wisdom of the ‘crone’

Senior woman contemplatingCrone.  What an awful word.  And yet I’ve been thinking about her this week, and how I might tap into my own inner crone to see if she has any wisdom that might inform both my writing and my day job these days.

Some definitions of the word suggest that it refers to an old woman who is ugly, thin, withered, cranky.  Wikipedia’s entry on the crone says she’s “…disagreeable, malicious, or sinister…”—a  folkloric character.  But it also suggests that crones are magical, and that they are the archetypical wise woman.

Some years ago I spent a lot of time reading and listening to Clarissa Pinkola Estes (who famously wrote Women Who Run with Wolves) and her stories about the archetypal crone, or as she sees her, the wise old woman.  She conceptualized the three stages of a woman’s life as maiden, mother, crone, implying that if we live long enough, we’ll all enter that final stage.  The crone.  But Dr. Estes doesn’t see it as so bad.  In fact, listening to her tell stories about crones often made me look forward to the day when some of the following might be a part of my life.

  • Not caring what anyone else thinks about what I do…
  • …but tempering that lack of care with the wisdom to know when not to hurt others…
  • …coupled with the accumulated years of decisions, choices, and knowledge that when mixed together and applied judiciously result in wisdom.

And so, I’m thinking about how much wisdom I might have accumulated at this point in my life.  Do I have enough wisdom to be able to stand back and let my younger colleagues make their own mistakes, to let them take the view that older is not better, to let them believe that their considerable erudition is a match for wisdom?  Do I have enough wisdom to apply it to my writing?  Can I mine those choices, that knowledge (of myself and others), those decisions?

The website Crones Counsel says this about the crone:  “Crone women fly directly into the face of ageism and sexism. They refuse to be put down. They do not walk meekly on the road to old age. They are keen to assert their presence if not their influence.”[1]

I guess the part of this that I have had the most difficulty with in recent years is asserting presence without asserting influence.  I’m not sure what happened this week, but I seem to have had an epiphany.  I seem to no longer feel the need to influence external factors.  Perhaps that will serve me well in my interior life where my writing lives before it gets out onto the page /computer screen.

Crones Counsel also says: “…a Crone is an older woman who has learned to walk in her own truth, in her own way, having gained her strength by acknowledging the power and wisdom of the totality of her experience. She is “a wise old woman.”[2]

I’m going to do as they suggest and celebrate the place I am in my life.  It’s time to let go of a few things so that I can embrace my own truth.

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