I knew that this was not going to be a talk on Going Witchy, but on entering the 3rd era of a woman's life. I applauded the idea, from a service leader I enjoy. I was glad that effort was made to include men and women wherever they are in their life cycle. 'Crone' is meant to be a positive word, meaning the older, wise woman, which has been corrupted.
I had just borrowed a book on Goddesses from the library, which explained how the ancient beliefs and myths can be empowering, yet some of their meaning has been lost.
My thoughts not in favour were often focussed around the final story, a traditional myth type tale from I think, Latin culture. For a sermon about crones, it focussed on the maiden (a giantess) and her heterosexual suitor, without whom she fell in love after 3 meetings and then had pressure to marry (a cruder phrase came to mind, borrowed from the film, the Bachelor!). The Mother was seen as a Mrs Bennet, telling her daughter to conform in order to find a husband (which obviously, she must have!). The grandmother, the old wise woman, was bearded with elderly whiskers, and muttered. She was forceful - grabbing her granddaughter with an iron fist, or stopping her path with her great feet. She gave the best advice, but did not correct her daughter (the mother) who went on thinking that her instructions to curtail her daughter’s nature to be wholly and subservient were successful. Not standing up to the middle woman meant that the Mother did not have a chance to become wiser, and that the Grandmother did not speak her truth.
I am also critical of these phases being so empowering for women. I am not aware of a male equivalent, and men are not so defined by their paternity or marital status (what a ridiculous phrase). Women's ancient power comes from fertility, meaning that we are still trapped by one biological function. And the implications for those who do not produce (or couple, whether in legal marriage or other partnership) is very hurtful. I could immediately think of several women I knew who did not fit the maiden/mother/crone model. As we have children later and remain healthy and vibrant longer, I feel the cut off point of menopause to also be erroneous. I think that Crone Age is much more of a retirement age, rather than 40s-50s. I was inspired by the healer Donna Eden, who I can only describe as ebullient, who is 65+ and claims that post menopause is a 3rd wind and you are physically and energetically as womanly and active as ever. For those who don’t have children or marry, it can feel as if a stage or two has been lost, and I don’t just mean nuns or people in the situation of the character in the recent film, the Sessions.
I think it is hard for men to relate to these phases and also it is actually disempowering for women, just as last week's mother's day can feel we're defined in our relation to that middle stage.
I'd like that Latin story to have made the Grandma the heroine, a lovely looking, lucid woman with that twinkle that older people have; a less disempowering conventional mother, and someone who did not feel a pressure to marry or be proposed to.