Crone in Corrogue: Wild Wisdom of the Elder Years

Glorying in the elder years, a time of spirituality, service and some serious sacred activism

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Bee Smith

Bee Smith

Bee Smith has enjoyed a long relationship with SageWoman as a contributor, columnist and blogger. She lives in the Republic of Ireland, teaches creative writing and is a member of the Irish Art Council's Writers in Prisons panel. She is the author of "Brigid's Way: Celtic Reflections on the Divine Feminine."    

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Mabon Musings

Autumn, or fall, equinox marks the anniversary of my moving to Ireland sixteen years ago. This was my third country move and each Mabon I fall into a contemplative mood regarding my peripatetic life. The first move was at age three months. Reading an article this morning by Mary Condren in Celtic Threads I had a bit of an 'Ah ha!' moment. 

Even as a child I felt outside in my homeland. In fact, as an eleven or twelve year old, I penned (with Quink and quill made from a seagull feather), a gnomic little poem called 'The Exile.' I felt suffocated in my native country, surreally out of place, not belonging. Logically, this didn't make sense. In my mother's lineage- Dutch adventurers and English Quakers - family had made their home in North America since early colonial days. Louisa May Alcott, author of Eight Cousins, is an eighth cousin according to ancestry.com.

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Ride the Wild Eclipse Weather

Eclipses are said to be a closing of one door and an opening of a window. At this past full moon on 6th September I did some Tarot queries using Joanna Colbert Powell's Gaian Tarot. The results were a bit counter-intuitive. A full moon is a culmination, but all the cards were pointing to beginnings and letting go so the new could happen. So eclipse season ain't over yet. Nope! The weather happening globally is the narrative set by the eclipse.

Fire and water are duking it out all over the USA. Here in Ireland, after a relatively dry (for us) winter, spring and summer, Lunasadh has brought the monsoon season upon us. In our boggy, heavy clay laden west of Ireland the water tends to pool. There is only so much land can hold and then it just lies on top. In winter we have these naturally occurring lakes called turloughs that evaporate in summer. Well, the turloughs are arriving early! And our car engine was killed when some local flooding on our lane turned out to be deeper than estimated.

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Feeling Eclipsed?

The August 2017 eclipse season is upon us. Astrologer's view eclipses as doors closing (sometimes with a slam) and new windows of opportunity. During a solar and lunar eclipse season we encounter a period of shadow. Something is hidden. Then something is revealed. Weather can turn capricious. This summer I have had a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Well, this  month I suspect we will hear multiple thumps on the ground of our being. 

Which may fill you with fear. And I say, in the Northern Irish vernacular, "Catch yerself on!" Which is a less elegant, but more bracing, way of rephrasing Hemingway's "Courage is grace under pressure."

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Thanks for this lovely, cogent piece on the phenomenon known as the eclipse. I always find them fascinating and this one will be e
  • Bee Smith
    Bee Smith says #
    If you live within the pathway of even partial visibility it will feel all the more potent still!
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    I do, in central MA.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    We are going Eclipse crazy over here!
  • Bee Smith
    Bee Smith says #
    I rather gathered that. And they are particularly poten when they are visible from your location. I know that from personal experi

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What is your Lammas Harvest?

It is traditional to bake a Lammas loaf at this time of year, although many may wait to celebrate next weekend, closer to the cross-quarter day.  But there are harvests and harvests. Lammas or Lunasa as we have it in Ireland, is the time when there is a pause in the silage making and hay cutting. There are plenty of festivals around the country and in yesteryear this would be the time for fairs and all that they include - drinking, fighting, wooing, some horse trading.

From Ballycastle's Auld Lammas Fair up in Country Antrim where you can get your dulse and yellow man (a really hard candle that might extract your fillings) down to County Kerry where they crown the goat at Puck Fair, this was the pause for revelry. Many gatherings happened at holy wells and there are numerous accounts of priests having to ban nude bathing of both sexes (together, imagine!) at these sacred sites rededicated to the Virgin Mary.  There were 'faction fights' - supposedly playful, but often they got ugly. My local holy well was contaminated by blood spilt in it at a Lunasa fairy. (All is well; it has been renovated, re-dedicated and the local priest lifted the curse on it back in August 2014.)

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  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Here is my Harvest Poem, in answer to our question. Blessed Be, Tasha My Harvest My harvest is not from a field or meadow It is n

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Lunasa Dreamtime

It is Lunasa in a week's time. Here in Ireland the hints of autumn have come early. The billberries are already plump. My husband has cut down some rye grass for me to make harvest decorations. The rowan berries are already reddening.  Everything in nature feels a bit rushing the season, early, out of sync somehow. The actual weather has been bucking previous summer trends as well.  We have had long spells without heavy rain, only soft smatterings, more extended bursts of sunshine than unusual, but also warmer and more humid spells, with lots of oppressive low cloud. Which may not be so unusual since our celestial, astrological weather is pretty maverick right now, too. But this summer season has also felt like an extended dreamtime to me.

I know that in some places readers are drowning in record rainfall. My friend in Arizona has endured 50C/120F days with only water condensers to cool them down. The hot, humid NE USA means my friend with MS is very grateful for supermarkets that are open 24/7; she has to avoid the heat of the day to do shopping since that might trigger an episode.

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The Cailleach, the Cloak and Motherlines

You might not think an academic conference would be the best place to go and drink from the well of the Cailleach, to gather her cloak of belonging about yourself, to celebrate your motherline - but actually, it is the very best place as I found over this weekend's Full Moon. Over the course of the conference (July 6-9,2017) the themes of making visible the invisible, giving voice to those who have been silenced, and naming the nameless recurred again and again for me.

I have come reeling back from NUI Galway, fresh from the Motherlines conference instigated by MIRCI (Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement.) Back in the spring I was invited by Prof. Andrea O'Reilly to speak on a keynote panel with my presentation entitled "What My Mother Taught Me." But what a wealth of thought provoking feminist presentations to stretch one spiritually, intellectually, psychologically!

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Danu, Crones and Discernment

The long days and short nights bring a whirl of external activities. Shortly before Summer Solstice, on 18th June, was the feast of the goddess Danu, for whom I have a special devotion. I consider her the local goddess since it is said that her tribe, the Tuatha dé Danaan, landed in what became known as Erin, in the mountain bounding the parish I live in. I think of Danu as the Crone of Crones, the Grandmother Goddess over all. Over a period of spiritual discernment I perceived her as matron over what I call The Age of the Crone.

Slieve Anieran, or the Iron Mountain, overlooks Ballinagleragh and Drumshambo in County Leitrim, and it is atop this mountain it is said their ships of silver and gold landed. But they burnt their boats and stayed until they disappeared into the sídh after the Second Battle of Moytura when the Milesians defeated them. The Bronze Age had truly arrived I suppose. Perhaps this was when Danu's feast day was on the wane and Solstice celebrations came to the fore. The Grand Old Woman, the gift giver, began to be less valued. New gods and goddesses came to be worshipped.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Bee Smith
    Bee Smith says #
    It is all grist to the story mill. Since it is pre-history there is neither propaganda or any written record. Just the stones and
  • Andrew
    Andrew says #
    I've always thought of the defeat of the Tuatha as the coming of the Iron Age because of the Fae hatred of iron. The Tuatha retrea
  • Bee Smith
    Bee Smith says #
    The Iron Age is a bit of a late comer at 700BC. It isn't that the Fae hate iron. They need iron to break ties irrevocably with a p
  • Andrew
    Andrew says #
    But isn't iron considered deadly to the Fae, or at least allergic to it? There is also contention as to when Celts (Milesians, be
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    This is very beautiful and I really liked the part about discernment. It made me tik, and appreciate the ability hat develops over

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