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Croning Ceremony Celebrates the Wisdom of Age

Spiritual Eldering: Integration in Motion
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The Necromantic Ritual Book
CRONING: What Would it Take?
Crone: Wise, Empowered, Self-Defined
Croning Ceremonies
If you want to live longer, be happy, healthy and successful,
Fantastic Lifeforce
Aging well: a lesson from centenarians
Conscious Choices For Aging With Grace
Aging With Grace
Herbs And Aging
Successful aging: abilities, strategies and understandings among elderly
Women Speak Out Against Aging
Croning Ceremony Celebrates the Wisdom of Age
A Croning Ritual
The Charge of the Crone
The Pleasures of Middle Age
Croning Ritual/Entering the Wise Age
Successful Aging:
Successful aging: THE SECOND 50
Live Long Live Free
Healthy Aging
Graceful Aging Starts When You Are 45!
Antidotes to limiting beliefs about aging
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When dying becomes a gift
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Comfort me with your quanta;
Life After Life ... Death is merely a changing room.
Doorways of the Soul: Transformation of Energy
Aging What Can We Do About It?
Aging Well with the Alexander Technique
Aging Gracefully Through Vastu Shastra
Aging is a Mistake
Better Aging
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Aging is a Woman's Issue
The Crone: Getting ready for the unavoidable
What Happens After We Die?
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Red Hats and Archetypes
Older Women Unite! Gray Is Gorgeous

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Croning Ceremony Celebrates the Wisdom of Age
USA Today

Clad in purple, surrounded by memorabilia, Linda Sanda stood in her Urbandale, Iowa, dining room and talked about turning 50.

About 40 close friends, co-workers and family members came to mark the occasion. But there were no mocking black balloons or teasing "You're Over the Hill'' banners.

This was a croning ceremony, designed to invoke spiritual reflection, dignity and wisdom.

An ancient rite of passage to honor older women, croning ceremonies had become nearly extinct. But they are making a comeback. And they're going mainstream.

With the oldest baby boomers turning 50 this year, many women are evaluating what it means to stand on the threshold of old age. For some women, croning ceremonies serve as an ideal way to make a statement about that passage.

"I see so many people fighting the aging process,'' says Sandra Bury, another Des Moines-area woman who went through the ritual. "I wanted to celebrate that to become old is a gift. I didn't want to be afraid of it.''

The rising interest in croning ceremonies also reflects a larger movement to reassert the value of older women, says Edna Ward of Boston, editor of Celebrating Ourselves, A Crone Ritual Book (Astarte Shell Press, $6).

In ancient times, she says, old women were known as crones. They held power and enjoyed status as "the healers, the mediators, the wise of the communities.''

Gradually, that power and recognition were lost. In modern times, the old woman has become nearly invisible, pushed aside and forgotten.

"We don't listen to her. We shut her up,'' Ward says. Only a few groups - blacks, Native Americans, Asians - honor old women in this country, she notes.

To recapture the value of becoming a crone, the Feminist Spiritual Community of Portland, Maine, began holding crone rituals in the early 1980s. "Since the patriarchy isn't going to value old women, we celebrate ourselves. It's becoming quite widespread,'' says Ward, now 67 and a member of the Portland group. She had her croning ceremony in 1990.

More recently, the Crones Council was formed, drawing women from all over the USA. Last year, about 300 women attended Crones Council III in Scottsdale, Ariz., says Ann Kreilkamp, 53, a member of the council and editor of The Crone Chronicles - A Journal of Conscious Aging. As a result, crone groups are forming all over the country.

Circulation of Kreilkamp's journal also testifies to the growing interest. Started six years ago with 100 copies sent to friends, The Crone Chronicles now has 10,000 subscribers. The quarterly journal, published in Kelly, Wyo., dedicates itself to "re-activating the archetype of the Crone within contemporary Western culture.''

The magazine typically prints one crone ritual every issue, she adds. But nothing about the ceremony is prescribed. Many women write their own, though books of crone rituals are now available. And there is no preferred setting. The rituals can be done at home, in a church or outdoors. They can last 10 minutes or go on for days and include lavish feasting. Women often wear purple, the color associated with old age and wisdom.

There is also no set time to hold a crone ceremony. Some women wait until after menopause or when they turn 56 - a significant point in the astrological world.

In all cases, the rite of passage carries individual meaning. For Linda Sanda, the ceremony acknowledged the troubled waters she had crossed in her life. For Sandra Bury, 61, who had hercroning at 56, it was a celebration of old age. For Maureen Barton-Wicks, 53, of Des Moines, it was a way to publicly commit her life to God and acknowledge her wisdom.

"I wanted to say to the world, `I'm proud of who I am, and I claim the crone in me,' '' Barton-Wicks says.

For these three women, preparation was intense. Each spent months reading, writing and reviewing events in her life. Bury, a Des Moines school counselor, says the power of the croning ceremony was more in writing it than going through it.

For Barton-Wicks, reliving various events "was horrendous,'' she recalls. What's more, it was hard work. She revised her ceremony seven times before she was satisfied.

Barton-Wicks had her croning during the regular Sunday service at her church. No meal or celebration followed. "To me, it's a sacred ceremony. It's not a birthday party. That was enough for me,'' she says.

Bury's ceremony, held at the church with a few relatives and friends, took about 15 minutes and didn't cost anything. A former harp teacher, Bury wrote a chant that everyone sang. She brought objects from home that had been important in her life.

Sanda, who directs community education programs for the West Des Moines public schools, wanted a celebration in addition to a ceremony. She sent invitations and had a buffet supper in her home.

She had been a nun for 13 years, and she says she struggled for years with feelings of inadequacy, uncertainty about her relationship with God and the desire to marry and have children. Now she's married to a former priest and the mother of two. She says the croning ceremony felt like a coming out after years of trauma.

What does a woman gain from a croning ceremony?

Five years after Bury had hers, she feels vigorous and joyful about her age. "Right now, I'm thinking about what my next careers will be. I hear people talk about feeling burned out. But I'm just getting started,'' she says.

Two years after Barton-Wicks' ceremony, she is studying to be a minister. "I'm allowing myself to be led by spirit, rather than ego. And today, I appreciate my fears. They're only trying to protect me,'' she says. As a bonus, she says, "I no longer feel life is too short or I am too old.''

Since Sanda's ceremony a year ago, life has been richer and more joyful. "I've had some real healing experiences. I still get mad at things. I have a teen-age son who's challenging. But I know he can teach me.''

And what's even more important, she says: "Instead of feeling as though I'm fighting life, I feel as though I'm one with life.''

This is a site about my journeying toward aging.
To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.
~ Henri Frederic Amiel ~