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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A Council of Crones

Even wise women need wise women. Life likes to mix things up. Including messages. People are complex critters. If only they could be as straightforward as taming feral cats! To navigate life I have my council of crones.

I am that most fortunate of women who has collected and maintained connections with smart, savvy, talentd, empathic and compassionate women who are scattered across many continents. They come from varied life and professional experience.  Not all have grey hair yet. But what they share is the wisdom of the cailleach. Each has been to the brink, eyeballed the abyss, didn't blink, and come back to tell the tale.

When I got married last year I didn't have traditional bridesmaids. I had a Company of Good Women. All embody the wisdom of the cailleach and crone in some aspect. They all are a living and breathing Wise Woman - at least most days and weeks. Even Wise Women have off days.

There is my bestie who spent many years of pacifist activism against South Africa's apartheid. She councils being gentle as a dove, but wise as a serpent. There is  my ex-college roomie artist/craftswomen who's just one of life's enhancers; she is one of the fun makers from not a lot.  Morag, who created my unconventional bridal attire from the flimsiest of specs, is also a very gifted healer and shaman in the making. Jo has years of professional experience in social work and therapy; she's also one of the funniest persons I know. Maybe it's her Coronation Street accent!

Some of us are mothers. Some of us are not. All of us have been daughters.  We have nurtured the ailing, addicted, sad, injured and outright crazy.  (I've been some of all of these at some point in my life.) Loved ones have died and been mourned and grieved over. 

What I have in common with all of them is that we laugh a lot. Really big, hearty, up through the vagina and out through the belly button laughs.

There are other woman friends, some of whom I have yet to meet face-to-face, others that I only get to visit by the miracle of the internet and wireless technology. All of them show me a piece of the whole picture. I value each and every one of them. I know I can call on their wisdom when I am grappling with a trouble, when the life skein is too knotty for me to unravel on my own. They offer me virtual hugs, wise words, and jolt of java clarity.

So this is my love note to all you lovely wise women, my Company of Good Women, as well as others -  Alyce, Cari, Dawn, Jenny, Joan, Liz, Pat, Siobhán - who are scattered around the globe. You are my world wide council of crones.

I have known some of these women forty years, thirty years, twenty-five years, a decade or less. But they have all turned up at critical times in my life. They are not only wisdom, they give me context and continuity. They embody hope, these survivors in a world run on misogyny, putting one foot in front of the other.

Sometimes we may have wept, but we have also laughed together and enhanced each other's lives, which has spread out into wider communities. This is a reason to be profoundly grateful and hopeful in an uncertain world.

This was a birthday present to one of the Crone Council back in 2009. But it has a element of truth for us all.


Women of a Certain Age

 For Pen


We laugh as we could weep -

heartily, lustily, a rattling

chortled up from our wombs

heaving as we lean into each other

our bellies slackened, slashed at,

softened, as we, too.


Nine o’clock in late August,

an in between – fading – light

not completely wound down -

There are still horizons.

Nor are we yet done.

Of that we can be certain.


This is the pleasure and privilege

of long friendship marching

lightly into the darkening.

Men may have their war stories,

but women can tell a few -

vexed or vainglorious -

as we pursue our peace of mind.



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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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