Yesterday I had the honor of hosting a croning ritual for a dear friend and mentor. It was a beautiful ritual, and it was so wonderful to see her being honored by many people, and hearing the wonderful things they had to say about her. Unfortunately, I can’t show you pictures, as I did not get permission from those attending.
What is a croning, you ask? It is a rite of passage honoring a women as she moves into the crone phase of her life. The word “crone” probably brings up images of a withered, hunched old woman. In Wicca, a crone is a wise woman, someone who is revered for the knowledge and wisdom that can only be gained through age and experience.
A crone is a woman who is generally over 50, and is past childbearing age (the mother phase of life). In other words, she has likely gone through menopause. However, age and childbearing ability are not the only things to take into consideration. In our tradition, moving from mother to crone also entails a willingness to serve the community using the wisdom gained through her life.
I feel pretty strongly that our current society is worse off for lacking rites of passage. We have them in form (graduation, retirement), yet they lack true meaning and power. I remember feeling that my graduation ceremonies may have honored my accomplishment, but they did very little to prepare me for what came next.
Some people are starting to bring them back. From baby blessings where family and friends offer blessings to the new child and parents, to first moon rituals honoring a girl’s first period, to croning, part of these rituals involves other people sharing their experiences, to let the individual going through the transition know what to expect in the next phase of life. These transitions are important, and if they are not acknowledged, celebrated even, we can find ourselves feeling lost and out of sorts.
What transitions have you experienced in your life? Marriage, divorce, menstruation for girls or first shave for boys, graduation, changing careers – these are just a few ideas. Did you celebrate these transitions in some way? It doesn’t have to be a full out party, it can be a simple ritual with a few close friends, as long as it is meaningful for you.