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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Occupy Sacred Space

If I were not a post-menopausal crone I might put down my frayed, tired and emotional state to PMS. But maybe the entire world is feeling that way, not just me? All I can say is that I am ready to embrace Samhain, the plunging into nights as dark as pitch with pinhole bright spots in the sky and  murky dank days. I associate Samhain as the reflective time, not so much 'down time' as spiral inside time. It is bear in the cave time, slumbering snake time, disappear down some interesting badger den or hare hole time. Less do and more be.

Ironic, since a lot of what I 'do' is encourage people to 'be'. I teach creative writing. I talk with groups and guide them around this corner of sacred land that I am blessed to occupy.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, but it is partly that I am intuiting and holding the overwhelming hunger and thirst of those I meet to be. I teach in a local prison. Recently I smuggled in the goddess.

I have an ancestral object, a portable writing desk that was handmade as a Christmas gift for my great-grandmother in 1875. It has many compartments. Its such an unfamiliar sort of object that it is a good source for writing 'triggers'. I stuff it full of small items, which participants get to look at and choose to carry on with as their next writing prompt. I have a very sweet Brídeog doll made by Jude Lally. One big, beefy fellow picked her up and said. "Oh, some kind of goddess!"

Yes, she was there! Have you ever been in a space where you just feel Spirit eddy in the atmosphere and the Goddess, moving around in mysterious, unseen and powerful ways? Unconsciously, all these guys with problematic pasts leaned into it.  The most receptive came back after tea break. Then I took a deep breath and made a Big Ask.   I asked them do something that was very risky and huge and perhaps not in their self-interest, prisons being what they are, even low security ones. I asked them to create a map of their heart. They looked slightly stunned at first, but gradually, you could see the goddess relax that muscle into her safe space.

So those brave soul warriors did it and they came back the following week to write more about their heart map. Then, because there really is no privacy in prison I offered them a choice (in a place of few personal choices). To preserve confidentiality I could take those maps to transform and seed something new. I could compost it in our garden. Or I could burn it and then compost the ash. Or I could float tiny scraps down a tributory of the Shannon River. Earth, fire or water. But one guy wanted wind involved, so I took the map of his heart and tossed it into the wind before it fell and began to float downstream.

It was a release and also a ritual of pre-release, since his is looming. We all need rituals of release and ones that arise organically are often the most moving. 

Samhain is the time of letting go. The seed rests in its container until the next sowing time. But first we clear out the container. It's a new time - a container free of clutter, old seed past its best, and regret.




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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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