When I sit in the coffee shop people watching other older women, I am often drawn to two main types. First there is the older woman keen to retain an image of youth to whom ageing successfully is to be seen to be as young as possible for as long as possible by whatever means. This is the woman who is trying to tread a familiar feminine path but her feet are aching in those wretched high heels and she is longing to get home and give a sigh of relief as she chucks her bra across the bedroom.
Then there is the woman who seems a little beaten by life and has little interest in maintaining any vestiges of a false youth. This is the woman that appears to have stumbled along in the later journey and ultimately gave up trying to find a way through it all despite her sensible shoes. She is bound up in brambles and has mud and leaves in her hair. When she gets home she will eat a packet of biscuits slumped in front of the television.
The one thing these women have in common is they can both appear a bit lost. Like a rabbit dazzled in the headlights of an oncoming car they have no idea which way to turn. They have no role models on how to age in a culture where ageing and all its accompaniments is despised. Contemporary ageing has become associated with wrinkles, dementia, loss of hope, uselessness, illness, false teeth, incontinence and death – this is backed up by images, information and stereotypes portrayed in the mainstream. So who can blame anyone for wanting to hold back the years or becoming disconnected when the onslaught of the female ageing process becomes too much to handle.
It wasn’t always like this for older women in the Western world. Once they were very much revered for their wisdom, their knowledge and their healing. They were mediators in disputes, bought new life into the world and cared for the dying. The image of the Crone then was a positive one, where an older woman knew her place in the world and the part she still had left to play. Reaching the status of Crone was a joyful recognition of her position as an Elder within a community and all the respect that came with that status. She didn’t shrink from the role of a Crone but embraced it.
The embodiment of Cronedom began to fade as they burned and hung these wise old women as witches. Their status gradually changed along with the overall image of women as Christianity made its impact. No longer were younger women Goddesses but whores, no longer were older women wise but evil and all that evilness had to be destroyed. Part of this false youth movement today is very much a fear of Cronedom and what that word now entails.
Today many women might be horrified to be described as a Crone as it has such different connotations from its origins. Yet, accepting and crossing the threshold into Cronehood could be a major event. It could be celebration of all your achievements and all that you learned and experienced along the way. It can be a time to make new commitments and vows, a time where an ageing body is just as beautiful as a younger one simply because of the beauty contained within.
The word Crone was once a word of power. So, we need to once again embrace that power by dismissing more modern notions of the word and celebrating the knowledge, skills and beauty this time of life can gift us.
By this point you are probable querying what Cronedom has to do with Nature Therapy. Well, we work with women of different ages. These are women that could potentially help tread down a new path through the cycle of life into Cronedom and beyond. Women where nature is the tool for feeling emotionally and physically connected to the much bigger picture, where nature helps with soothing balms and salves, and where nature offers insights into our own unique way of being.
I am proud to take ownership of the term Crone. I have certainly earned that name after many years of living a wonderful life seeing souls into this world, and out, and caring for them in between. Hopefully those who make the decision to own their power, can really celebrate Cronedom. In this way the coming generations of ageing women have a clear path to tread – a path that will lead them through the woods and out into the fields beyond.
We are currently working on a nature based project for women to own their Cronedom and celebrate their Elder power