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Few 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.
croning ceremony honors a woman's passage into the third phase of life. Often celebrated at age 50, ceremonies range from
spontaneous cronings at birthday parties to pre-planned ceremonial rites of passage. Some ceremonies are personal, others
are shared, some are convened by an ongoing group for new crones, and others are large rituals at women's conferences and
Being initiated into the ancient sisterhood of wise old women involves response-ability. We have an opportunity
to personally reclaim the once-honored designation of crone, to take a special name, and to make commitments to ourselves,
our communities, and the earth. Intention is primary and that is what we declare, our intention to be true to ourselves, to
walk our talk, to become a link between the crones of the ancient and recent past and the women of the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
age can I be croned? Although traditions vary, it's generally accepted that age 49 (one’s 50th year) is the minimum.
Many women wait to be croned until they’re 56 or 60. In my experience, each decade, starting with the 5th, brings its
own challenges and blessings, resulting in newly harvested wisdom.
Do I have to be post-menopausal? No. Today some
women still bleed in their 60s and others experience menopause after an operation in their 30s. We honor this rite as a woman's
(blood) mystery, but the timing depends more on age (see above) and personal readiness than biological factors.
does the actual croning? Again, traditions vary. Typically initiations are conducted by those already initiated. If initiated
crones are not available, women who deeply appreciate and acknowledge what it means to be a crone can conduct/priestess the
Who can participate? Croning Ceremonies often take place in women's circles, gatherings, and conferences.
Private ceremonies can include crones only, women only, or women, children, and men. While those conducting the ceremony and
performing the actual croning should be women, all participants can honor the new crone and engage in other aspects of the
Can I be croned more than once? Can I be croned for the first time at 70 instead of 50? Claiming our wisdom
is a constant process: One can never be croned too many times, and it’s never too late. I’ve been croned in a
personal ceremony, with circle sisters on a weekend retreat, and with new and previously initiated crones in gatherings of
100-300 women. Each ceremony is a unique celebration, an opportunity to reaffirm old commitments and make new ones.
I be croned in a group ceremony before I have my personal ceremony? Yes; there is no order in which to be croned. Participating
in large group cronings will often spark ideas for a personal ceremony and vice versa.
Do I have to have a crone name?
Many women take this opportunity to rename themselves or take a special name, but it is not a requirement.
Do I have
to make commitments? Croning is a significant step, a recognition of wisdom gained through years lived. Although not required,
I strongly encourage the new crone to act on her wisdom by making a three-fold commitment to healing--herself, her community
(however she defines it), and the earth. This can be simple or elaborate, general or specific.
Guidelines for a Personal Croning Ceremony
ritual can follow a celebratory meal (save the dessert until after the ceremony)
It can take half an hour to two hours
depending on the size of the group and how many people speak, give gifts, etc.
Use the ritual structure of your tradition
(or contact me for a general outline); the working is the croning
Select songs and chants that feature old women, crones
crone goddesses, ancestresses, crones of ancient times
Decide what will symbolize the initiation--a flower or star
garland crown, a crone staff, a cloak or shawl, a ribbon or flower lei, a special gourd
Decide what will be used to
represent the passage (a birthing into cronehood)--a gateway, threshold, curtain, a woman’s legs (she stands on a chair)
people will be present who don’t understand the significance of the ceremony or of reclaiming the once-revered designation
of crone, give a brief explanation
Everyone participates in honoring the new crone--written or verbal blessings, stories
of her wisdom, poetry, song, chant, drumming, dancing (building toward the moment of croning)
The new crone crosses
the threshold, emerges between the legs, parts the curtain
Once on the other side she can be anointed with Hecate oil,
rose petal water, rattled, wanded with lavender
The priestess asks for her crone name (if she is going to take one)
Then the priestess says some appropriate words and blessings as she presents the new crone with her
symbol of initiation (placing the crown on her head, the cloak/shawl around her body, the staff or gourd in her hand)
Other symbols and gifts can be presented to the new crone
The new crone speaks her
wisdom, gratitude, expands on her commitments
End the ritual in the traditional manner
Celebrate with food and
Enjoy the afterglow.