The Crone: A Spiritual Perspective of Menopause
By Dr. Susan Gregg
An article from the spring issue of Creations Magazine
As I explored my own femininity, I found that I had no problem with the spiritual stages of the maiden or the mother but I avoided thinking about old age and the crone stage. I remember the first time I heard the word crone. I immediately had a vision of a very old woman with a hooked nose and a hairy wart on her chin. There was absolutely no room in that vision for the dignity, wisdom and grace actually embodied in that stage of our evolution.
When I was a young girl my Father sat me down one day and told me my Mother would be a little crazy for the next few years, so be nice to her. Those were the only words ever spoken in my family about menopause. As I approached menopause I could feel my body going through changes and I knew I was entering another phase of my life. After some inner exploration I realized I equated menopause with a time of emotional instability and physical discomfort. I realized that view was prevalent in our society, even the medical community used the disease model when they treated menopause. Women in countries where this prejudice didn’t exist seemed to have fewer uncomfortable symptoms during menopause.
In the Native American tradition menopause is viewed as a passage, an extraordinary journey into wisdom, beauty and grace that comes only with age. When viewed from this perspective menopause becomes something to celebrate. When we stop bleeding monthly we aren’t losing our womanhood, we are holding on to our power, we are retaining our wisdom.
Once we enter this stage of our life we can no longer swallow our truth, we can no longer ignore our wants and needs, our bodies won’t let us. The fire of our being rises to the surfaces and pushes us to proclaim our truth. Menopause signals a time of change and change we must. As we move into the crone energy, we can no longer ignore our inner world it takes on a new meaning and a degree of importance. The crone is the wise woman, the one that sees beyond the surface into the depths. She is deeply connected to her spiritual essence and to the wisdom that resides there. The crone has a deep internal beauty that only comes with age, a gentleness and acceptance that comes from knowing and loving herself. The mother must put other’s needs first, she must put aside her own wants and needs to provide for her family. The crone must put herself first, she must learn to listen to her own inner wisdom and above all else honor that wisdom.
Becoming the crone can be a hard transition. It is a time when the spiritual becomes our primary focus. It is a time to go within. Any unresolved issues come roaring up to the surface of our consciousness. When we make a commitment to ourselves and our inner growth, the transition becomes easier, because we know what we need to do and how to do it.
For many people in our society, aging is shameful- something to be avoided at any cost. Youth is highly regarded while our aged are often locked away in nursing homes. They certainly aren’t honored for their wisdom. Menopause, the arrival of wrinkles and the sagging of our breasts are all events to be celebrated not viewed with horror or fixed by a surgeon’s blade.
These are signs that we are getting older, that we are moving into a time of being the trusted elders of our society, when our wisdom can provide comfort and strength.
As I have studied women¹s faces, I have come to realize that I like the deep grooves that give an old woman¹s face character. Some women develop a gentleness and beauty which seem to radiate from within, while others look tired and worn out. As I looked at older woman, I could see the passage of time imprinted on their bodies. Their bodies carried the truth they could no longer lie to themselves or to the world about how they felt about themselves. If they loved themselves and treated themselves with dignity and respect, it showed clearly in their bodies and in their faces. If they had spent most of their life ignoring themselves that showed as well. That frightened me. What would my face and body show?
At that point I made a choice. I decided to face my unexplored demons, to redouble my inner exploration. I wanted to be an old woman whose face showed kindness, love and wisdom. Menopause brought me that gift. If you want to read more about menopause, you might try Lynn Andrews’ book Woman at the Edge of Two Worlds, or Christiane Northrup’s book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. Dr. Northrup uses a holistic approach to women’s issues as a whole.
I enjoy ceremonies, because I find they add a depth and a richness to my life. When you approach this phase of your life, you might consider having a party, inviting your friends and celebrating becoming the crone. Create a ceremony to claim your power, wisdom and strength. Take time for yourself each day to go within it makes the process so much easier. Love yourself and explore the gifts of this new phase of your life. Celebrate all of the changes in your life and in your body. No matter where you are in your process, embrace it, embrace yourself, love your process. It is yours and yours alone, so you may as well enjoy it!