Croning: A Woman’s Maturity Celebration
When you become a crone, the curtain lifts on the third act of your life, the glorious finale.
Celebrate the leaving of your fertile life-giving phase (regardless of whether you were physically a mother) and the coming of your age of wisdom.
Bulgarians Revere the Mature Female
In western countries, society often views old women with disdain, but here in Bulgaria where I now live, babi (literally ‘grandmothers’) are revered. are proud to be old, to have achieved crone status, and they form a kind of inner circle of the village society. They have the right to interrogate passers-by, to criticise local bigwigs, to reprimand wrong-doers. Any request from a baba must be fulfilled.
When to Celebrate
You can have your party at the biological milestone – the menopause – or earlier or later, perhaps to coincide with another life event such as divorce, retirement, the birth of the first grandchild, or simply when you feel that the time is right. However, don’t rush into this phase prematurely.
With hindsight, I realise that I was far too young for my own croning ritual. Since I had no children and no plans or desire to become parent, the whole ‘mother’ phase felt irrelevant to me. I decided to skip ahead and become a crone at the age of 35.
I didn’t have the wisdom of a crone—but at the time, I didn’t understand my lack. Nor did I grasp that we cannot speed up life phases by pressing a fast-forward button.
The few crone-aged women I knew had no interest in celebrating my premature event with me, so I invited female friends of my own age group. They joined because they liked a party, but they didn’t understand the concept of croning, let alone why I wanted to rush into it. So basically we had a women-only party, pleasant but spiritually unsatisfying.
Looking back, I feel I should have waited until I was at least 50. At that age, I had gained enough life experience and real wisdom to wear the crone’s crown.
Perhaps I will have another croning ritual one day – and become a baba here in Bulgaria.
Who to Invite
Perhaps your mature women friends—the ones who have already achieved crone status—will throw a party for you to welcome you into their world. If they don’t, do it yourself.
This is strictly a party for crones, that is for mature women who are old, wise, knowledgeable and experienced (and hopefully aren’t too modest to claim these attributes). Younger women probably won’t be able to appreciate the ritual, may be too inhibited to have real fun, and won’t have the wisdom to be your guides in this coming phase of your life. Definitely don’t invite any men: they’d feel threatened by so much concentrated powerful womanhood.
Try to get at least three women to celebrate with you. You may like to assemble eight or twelve women with you, so that you have the traditional numbers of a witches’ coven (9 or 13), and have a coven for a day.
Each guest contributes a piece of ‘wisdom’ e.g. tips about herbs and healing, about feng shui or magic. They can be told orally, but it’s nice to also have them written down so you can collect them in a ring binder.
Have a Party
Creativity, entertainment, spontaneity and improvisation work well here, so don’t over-organise. Visualise a group of old witches giggling and having fun—that’s the kind of party you want.
Treat yourself to sumptuous foods. (Never mind the calories! You’re a crone now and don’t need to follow society’s ideas of slim female beauty.) Potluck meals or picnic-style food work well. A full-bodied red wine and mature cheese are fitting. To get the ‘witches having fun’ vibe, you could serve a hearty soup in a cauldron. Chocolate fondue works in a cauldron, too.
Choose a dress which makes you feel fabulous, confident and eccentric. It should be comfortable, and it should make you look great (by your own standards, not anyone else’s).
Make your own gown, commission a seamstress, accept your friend’s offer to make it, buy it from a charity shop, rummage through jumble sales, raid your fancy dress box, whatever! Paint it with swirls, five-pointed starts, ankhs or butterflies, add fringing, feathers, Indian mirrors, holographic sequins… Crazy is great!
Designing the Ritual
In my book, Your Rites of Passage: Create Rituals for Your Life’s Events, I share a detailed suggestion for a croning ritual, a blueprint you can adapt to your personal taste and needs.
You can also invent your own rites, keeping in mind the purpose and the importance of having fun.
Begin the ritual by thanking the Goddess (or the feminine aspect of the God you follow) for the conclusion of the previous life phase, for the fact that you’ve lived long enough to become a crone, for the wisdom you’ve acquired, for the responsibilities you’ve concluded, for the burdens you can set down, and for the freedom to make your own choices.
Commit to using your wisdom wisely (for the benefit of others and yourself) and to increasing your wisdom (whether that’s by learning, studying, training, experimenting, listening, or observing).
Request the wisdom to use your knowledge wisely, the courage to claim your life, forge your own path and do what you know is right, the strength to ignore mockery and gossip and to say ‘no’ to people who try to press you into their services.
What’s Your View?
Have you had a croning ritual for entering the third age? Are you planning one? If you could have absolute freedom for creating your personal croning event, what would you include? Tell us about it in the comments below.
You can view Rayne's author page on Amazon and view her book on Rayne's site and find her website here: https://www.raynehall.com/ (Note: I earn commission from advertisers for some links. This helps support my blog at no extra cost to those who read my posts.)