An interesting book is published this week, called The Wisdoms of the Menopausal Godmother by Emma Guy. I've only dipped into it, so this isn't a review, but it has got me thinking about what being a witch of a certain age means to me.
I have to say I’m content at being long past the menopause, but I've never been particularly happy about being cast in the traditional image of the crone. For me, it has too many negative connotations even if modern pagans have tried to reclaim it, offering croning ceremonies to celebrate female maturity. Don't get me wrong, I've been to some absolutely beautiful croning ceremonies and if anyone wants to have one, they should. It's just that I've never really wanted to be defined by the workings - or not - of my womb. I've also never liked the popular Maiden, Mother, Crone stereotypes of the three ages of woman, as invented by Robert Graves.
Nevertheless, the menopause itself is a difficult time in which anyone with a womb is affected by their changes in hormones. Hot flushes, mood swings and memory problems are just some of the problems many have to contend with. But, it doesn’t last forever. At the other side, post-menopause, there’s a lot to be said for not having to deal with monthly bleeding and cramps. That's why I'm pretty content to be long past all that, and would really like to reassure those going through it that it doesn't last forever.
I'd also recommend the website called The Menopausal Godmother, run by the author of the book I mentioned earlier. Emma Guy was diagnosed with breast cancer while still in her 40s. After a successful mastectomy, she was put into a surgical menopause and experienced all the symptoms of that too. Through her website she offers sympathy, suggestions, and words of wisdom to help others. She also runs an acupuncture clinic specialising in menopause problems and her new book, The Wisdoms of the Menopausal Godmother, is full of ideas to help others feel more positive about the changes that are happening and about the future.
The subtitle of Emma's book is No Fairytales - Straight to the point. Now, fairy tales don't always cast mature women in positive roles. There are evil queens, cruel stepmothers and, of course, plenty of wicked witches. However, there are also helpful figures from kindly grandmothers to fairy godmothers, who offer good advice and a little magic to get the protagonist through whatever difficulties they face so they can live happily ever after. Emma's website and book offer facts, not fiction, but might still help you out of the ashes and off to the ball, if that's what you want from life, whatever your age.