Cronnie Wisdom

Crone is "a phase in which you can be more authentic, more capable of making a difference in your family and in the greater world. Life gives you experience, and when you draw from it, that's true wisdom. By the time a woman is in her crone years, she is in an amazing position to be an influence. To change things for the better, to bring what she knows into a situation, to be able to say, 'Enough is enough.' You don't have to just go along with things, which is often a part of the middle years. You're often something of a loose cannon."
Jean Shinoda Bolen

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Wise Crone Speaking Out!

“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.” Mahatma Gandhi

East of the Sun, West of the Moon, Kay Neilsen illustration.

The wise crone is the one who knows when to speak and when to be silent.  Her words can be sharp as arrows or soft as feathers. She has an uncanny ability to know which are needed, for she is the one who helps lead us to the truth and awakens us from our dream like existence.  In folk tales the crone is the one who tells the hero or heroine how to succeed. In "East of the Sun and West of the Moon"  a foolish young woman goes off to rescue her princely lover.  A very unlikely hero she is, for it was her fault that he was cast away. 

Throughout this story the young woman comes upon three old women...

When she had rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, and cried until she was tired, she set out on her way, and walked many, many days, until she came to a high cliff. An old woman sat under it, and played with a golden apple which she tossed about. The girl asked her if she knew the way to the prince, who lived with his stepmother in the castle east of the sun and west of the moon, and who was to marry the princess with a nose three yards long.

"How did you come to know about him?" asked the old woman. "Maybe you are the girl who should have had him?"
Yes, she was.
"So, so; it's you, is it?" said the old woman. 

"Well, all I know about him is, that he lives in the castle east of the sun and west of the moon, and that you'll get there too late or never; but still you may borrow my horse, and you can ride him to my next neighbor. Maybe she'll be able to tell you; and when you get there just give the horse a switch under the left ear, and beg him to be off home. And you can take this golden apple along with you."
And later...

So she got on the horse, and rode a long, long time, until she came to another cliff, under which sat another old woman, with a golden carding comb. The girl asked her if she knew the way to the castle that lay east of the sun and west of the moon, and she answered, like the first old woman, that she knew nothing about it, except that it was east of the sun and west of the moon.

"And you'll get there too late or never; but you can borrow my horse to my next neighbor; maybe she'll tell you all about it; and when you get there, just switch the horse under the left ear, and beg him to be off for home."

This old woman gave her the golden carding comb; she might find some use for it, she said. 

And one final time (for everything in fairy tales comes in threes)...

At last she came to another great cliff, under which sat another old woman, spinning with a golden spinning wheel. She asked her, as well, if she knew the way to the prince, and where the castle was that lay east of the sun and west of the moon. But it was the same thing over again.
 "Perhaps you are the one who should have had the prince?" said the old woman.
Yes, that she was.
But she didn't know the way any better than the other two. She knew it was east of the sun and west of the moon, but that was all.

"And you'll get there too late or never; but I'll lend you my horse, and then I think you'd best ride to the east wind and ask him; maybe he knows his way around those parts, and can blow you there. When you get to him, just give the horse a switch under the left ear, and he'll trot home by himself."

She too gave her her golden spinning wheel. "Maybe you'll find a use for it," said the old woman.

The old women find the youth worthy of help and they guide and lead her on her journey. They simply speak the truth, but it is the girl herself who proved wise enough to listen, and in doing so she was ultimately able to rescue the prince.
But speaking our truth is not so easy today.  The western world prizes youth and often silences the wisdom of the elder. Women continue to be told to "be nice,"  "be quiet,"  and "know our place."  In some cultures that message is loud and clear and in others it's softer but no less prevalent.  There are derogatory words women are called for being bossy, outspoken or aggressive. But the crone lives outside of this realm. She knows when to be in silence and she knows when to speak out. She pays no never mind to cultural expectations and relishes in the unexpected.  She knows that her power lies in that very moment of awakening that comes when the hero is able to see reality in a new way.

Those of us who are walking the path of the wise woman, often seek out role models who have come before us.  One was Hildegard of Bingen, a woman whose very life struggle was to speak her truth and to be heard by those who were more than ready to dismiss her.

Revd Prof June Boyce-Tillman tells the story of Hildegard of Bingen's life in this video.  She shares that Hildegard was silent for half her life, and only spoke her truth as she truly became the wise woman.  Boyce-Tilman describes it as a "taking in and a giving the breath of God."

And so we are left with the unanswered question of when to speak and when to hold our silence.  The wise crone no longer sees the question.  She waits and speaks her words of truth in service to others.  She doesn't seek to be understood and she no longer fears the opinions of others.  She waits and when the time is right...she is there!

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