Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Croning or Saging

5.jpgFew of us were welcomed into the maiden phase of life, celebrated the first flow of blood in our monthly cycles, initiated into women’s mysteries.  We likely viewed menstruation as a curse or an obstacle.  If we became mothers, we may have received special attention until we gave birth, but then the focus shifted to our children.  If we mothered projects, careers, creative endeavors, we might have been celebrated for what we produced, but seldom for ourselves.  Now, for the first time in our lives, we have an opportunity to be celebrated for who we are - crones.

Aging isn't always easy, especially when the media constantly shouts in our ears that youth equals beauty.  'Old' is something we should avoid at all costs - marketers, the media, and society seem to tell us - and if we don't ... well, maybe it's time to just step aside.  To be called a crone was an insult.  The very word implied a wrinkled, hunchbacked old woman, unwanted and unloved.  Women who had reached an advanced age were dismissed as useless hags, and there was nothing to celebrate about it at all.  Fortunately, times are changing, and more and more women are welcoming this aspect of their life.  We spend many years in the guise of the Maiden followed by a couple of decades as Mother for many of us.  But what is next?

In early cultures, the female elder was considered a wise woman.  She was the healer, the teacher, the imparter of knowledge.  She mediated disputes, she had influence over tribal leaders, and she cared for the dying as they took their final breaths.  For many women in Wicca and other Pagan religions, reaching the status of Crone is a major milestone.  These women are reclaiming the name of Crone in a positive way, and see it as a time to joyfully welcome one's position as an elder within the community.

Women everywhere are reclaiming the name of crone in a positive way and see it as a time to embrace aging with joy and dignity.  And while it's more about the act of becoming a wise woman and accepting your rightful place in the world, it's also very much about sharing your knowledge and wisdom with other women.  More women in their fifties, sixties, and even seventies are forgoing all the trappings of 'false youth' that have been a part of society for the last few decades.  It's not uncommon to see mature women with glorious manes of silver hair, when ten years ago they might have spent a small fortune to hide the gray strands.  Older women are dating younger men - after all, we live longer than they do - and they have busy, active social schedules.


Talking about men, they get old too.  The Saging Ritual celebrates the male elders of our community who wish to mark their passage to this important life stage.  We honour the time when a man reaches the point in his maturity and experience where he is taking a less active physical part, but is still contributing as a valued teacher, mentor and guide to younger members of the path.

sages17807365.jpgIt has traditionally been assumed that age is kinder to men than to women.  But research has revealed a surprising reversal: many men 40 and over are having a harder time today making a satisfying passage into the second half of their lives than are most women.  Today, particularly for men under 50, the timing marks - finishing school, first grown-up job, marriage, parenthood, empty nest, retirement, golden years - has turned out to be unpredictable.  What a man is supposed to do and when, is not as clear.  It is both exciting and disorienting, like sailing for a new world but wondering if you will drop off the edge of the old one first.

Women today are far more willing to embrace their sexuality and womanhood during the years which not too long ago were considered the time of, for lack of a better phrase, drying up.  We're finally able to take back the notion that with age comes wisdom and we're welcoming the power of our own energy.  We're living longer, we're self-sufficient, and we're willing to share our knowledge and experience with others.  We're smart and confident - and that's sexy.


Any woman or man can have a Croning or Saging ceremony, although traditionally most choose to wait until they are at least fifty years old.  This is partly because of the physical changes in the body, but also because five decades of learning is nothing to sneeze at!  In some traditions of Wicca, it is recommended that you wait until after menopause to become a Crone.  However, some women in their thirties no longer have periods and some women continue menstruating into their sixties, so the timing of your ceremony will depend on the guidelines of your particular Path.

A Croning or Saging ceremony may be performed by a High Priestess or Priest, but can also be performed by other women and men who have already attained the position of Crone and Sage.  The ceremony itself is typically performed as part of a circle, a coven's Esbat or a Sabbat gathering.  It should take place in the sunlight or on a warm spring evening, there should be flowers on the altar and a feast of fresh fruit.  But there is no set rule for how a ceremony is conducted.

  • A ritual bath or cleansing beforehand such as smudging
  • Singing and chanting - drumming, music or poetry celebrating elders
  • A guided meditation honoring the archetype of Wise Woman and Men
  • The Crone or Sage may choose a new name
  • Symbols of initiation - a staff, a special cloak, a garland or crown
  • An altar with photos of ancestors and friends who have empowered the Crone or Sage
  • A celebratory meal - fresh fruit, herbs or other favorite items of the elder  
  • A symbol of the passage - entering through a curtain or tunnel, crossing a ceremonial threshold
  • An exchange of gifts or blessings


crone5_49455896.jpgEmbrace your age, engage with life, take control of your future, and live.  Care for your body, exercise your mind, be a part of the world, stay connected with people who are supportive, and you'll discover a secret that many women over 50 who are doing these things already know: If you feel good, you look good.  And if you feel and look good, age will be the furthest thing from your mind.

Crossing the threshold into Elderhood can be a major event in a life.  It's a celebration of all that you've learned and all that you will come to know in the future.  For many, it's a time to make new commitments and vows.  If you've ever had an interest in taking a leadership position in some aspect of your life, now is a great time to do so.  This third cycle of your life is the one in which you become an Elder and you've joined a special group.  You have a lifetime of achievements behind you and decades more to look forward to.  The word Crone, Sage, Old Person, Elder or Senior should now be a word of power for you, so celebrate it.  You've earned it.


As our brother/sister (new Craft name), on this night
enters the realm of the Crone/Holly King (or Oak King),
let us all remember that our lives
are measured by the turning of the Wheel
and the spinning of the Silver Cord.
(new Craft name), we wish you long life
and happily ever after!





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