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Musings on the New Age - My Croning Ceremony

July 11, 2008
Maggie Fraser

Not long ago, at the age of 45, I was required to undergo a complete hysterectomy due to a malignant tumor in my womb. Well meaning friends and acquaintances would sometimes ask me if I was traumatized by my sudden and dramatic experience of menopause. Whether they were referring to the physical side effects or to the loss of my sense of myself as a fertile woman, I felt the whole question was quite beside the point since any menopausal symptoms I experienced were child's play relative to the physical and emotional trauma I experienced as a cancer patient. I mean no one likes to have parts of their body cut away but let's face it; the womb doesn't show and I had finished using it. I could have been a lot worse off and I saw evidence of this every time I went to the cancer hospital.

Nevertheless, once my health returned I did experience some basic symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and insomnia along with a sharp decline in my tolerance of pretentious spiritual types. One day while in the process of looking up a cure for insomnia in a book of herbal lore, I was shocked to discover that herbal infusions were only part of the answer to my problem. What I really needed to do was to learn to "own my power as a new hatched Crone" The best way to accomplish this is with a complex "Croning Ceremony" which was described in detail in the same chapter. I mentioned this to a rather earnest acquaintance of mine and she assured me that croning ceremonies were all the rage and that she and her friends could help me if I wanted to celebrate my initiation into the crone phase of life.

My first step, I realized, would be to get over my distaste for the word Croning. Crone is ugly enough. Croning isn't even a real word. It's one of those fake new age noun-to-verb transitional words like journaling. Perhaps I'll need to learn to let go of my grammatical uptightness along with my childbearing ability and my menses (another word I'd just as soon never see in print again).

My next step will be to plan the ceremony. My earnest friend says that an herbal bath is usually the first step. I will be surrounded by my all my close women friends and family who will stand in a circle around the tub to bath me and anoint me with oils as we scrub away the fertile years. Well I can see that there will be some problems here right off the bat. For one thing my bathtub is right up against the bathroom wall and I don't think my landlord will take kindly to me moving it for a Croning Ceremony, sacred life passage or not. However I don't want to be an excuse maker; we can buy a kiddie pool and Crone me in the back yard under the dark of the moon at midsummer.

There is one other tiny little problem though. Much as I love my close women friends and family we have never really moved to the levels of intimacy required for naked bathing ceremonies. As far as I know we are all content with this limitation and even though it is my special night, I hate to make my guests uncomfortable, not least my elderly mother and my teenage daughter. I think in the interests of cronely modesty we will have to settle for clothed bathing, maybe some kind of toga. I will insist that all my attendant hand-crones be similarly clothed in plain white togas girded with simple pleather thongs and crowned with circlets of woven willow wands. One of my hand-crones may have the honor of holding my willow crown while another washes my hair with lavender and motherwort and the younger, stronger hand-crones carry cauldrons of hot water out to the backyard to keep my bath temperature just right. After all, a chilly crone is a cranky crone. The others are to hold hands in a circle and hum. I hope the neighbors will not mind the humming, but hopefully it will be drowned out by the noise of their air conditioning units.

Once I have been cleansed and purified and have exercised my power as a tribal elder by bossing everyone around during the whole bathing process it will be time for the ceremony to begin in earnest. The purpose of the ceremony is to communicate to my loved ones that although my love for them is unchanging and unchanged I will need some time alone to discover and embody my newly hatched inner crone self. Rather than use the script that was provided in the herbal lore book I have decided that I can more fully express my individual journey by patching together my own script from bits and pieces of wisdom that I have gleaned from various different new age self help sources. I will pass out the script to all my guests, clearly marked to indicate when each person is to speak and what they are to say. There are certain passages marked "chorus" that we will all chant together. Usually the chorus chant is: "So Mote it Be". I'm not really sure what "So Mote it Be" means, but I know it is very Goddessy and absolutely de rigueur at all cronings.

At the grand finale of my Croning Ceremony I will engage in an interpretive dance depicting my croning in graphic spiritual choreography, through which I will be able to communicate to my loved ones my deepest feelings about my croning transition. Failing this I will recite a poem I have written specially for the occasion.

There's nothing so tiresome
as crap to a crone
So back the !@#$ off
and leave me alone

That should just about do it.

Maggie Fraser is a songwriter and artist living in Toronto.
Listen to some of "Songs of Maggie", her newly released CD - a collaboration with singer and musician Colleen Hodgson - by clicking on to Colleen's myspace page:

myspace.com/colleen hodgson





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