Embracing the age of the Crone – a view from a distance

At 60, I definitely feel myself entering into the age of the Crone. Some definitions would say you begin to cross the threshold at 50. But it was at 44, writing a journalistic exercise about looking forward to a specific birthday, that I first welcomed the vision of this aspect of later life as a woman.

I am looking forward to delving more into what this means to me over the coming months, but I thought I would start with that early vision.

Blue Crone

I’m looking forward to being 70.  After that I will consider myself to be on extra time, with nothing owed and naught to loose.  I will gleefully claim my freedom to ‘wear purple with a red hat that doesn’t suit me’[1].

At a mere 44, the milestone of my allotted ‘three score years and ten’ lies well beyond the horizon.  But already I feel the first intimations of the influence of the waning crescent moon, symbol of the Goddess in her final incarnation of ‘crone’.

Perhaps bound up with our contemporary obsession with physical appearance, our pursuit of an illusion of eternal youth, the ‘crone’ has had some very bad press.  The word invokes an image of an ugly, wizened, witch of an old woman, maybe embittered and very possibly evil.  Is it any wonder that so many women run scared of the inexorable accumulation of birthdays?

I am not soaked in the spell of paganism, claim no great knowledge of its lore.  But I willingly embrace its vision of the crone as the ultimate, most powerful manifestation of womanhood.  She personifies wisdom, compassion and completion.  Her closer relationship to death is not one of fear but a potent awareness of renewal. 

So, when I reach 70, dressed in crone’s purple, I will cherish my wrinkles and wear them with pride and relief that youth’s vanity is done. I will breathe deep, walk slow and do nothing, joyously!  I will undoubtedly ‘misbehave’ outrageously.  I’m looking forward to being 70.

[1] Quoted from “Warning” by Jenny Joseph, voted Britain’s best-loved poem by viewers of BBC TV’s Bookworm

Gina Bearne, 2002




Passion and non-attachment

Passion and non-attachment are often seen as mutually exclusive.

I think this is a false assumption; indeed, without passion, we come back to ‘detachment’ rather than non-attachment.

Passion is often viewed as fire. But could it be that this is only the youthful manifestation of passion, that passion also also resides in the still waters of a deep pool?

Mindfulness, being fully present in the moment seem to be fundamental to both passion and joy. Yet these are also an essential part of non-attachment. I aspire to living this moment utterly and with integrity, yet to be unattached to the outcome. And only by being unattached to the outcome can I inhabit this moment, for otherwise there is always at least some part of me projecting into the future and the ‘what ifs’.

The place of passion

Should we ‘follow our passion’? Should we ‘bring passion’ to everything we do?  Where does this idea of passion fit into our experience of and creation of joy?

I find myself caught between these two positions, not sure which is the truer path or whether there is a middle way.

My experience and observation suggest that, in ‘following our passion’, there can be great satisfaction, richness and intensity; however, this may also be seductive. That very intensity can become one more addictive ‘high’, increasingly compulsive and often ego-driven.

Instead of leading us to fulfilment, our talents and passions may thus easily become our curse. I know that sometimes, when I face in this direction, I become caught up in a sense of being ‘driven’ to achieve an end.  I am not convinced that this ultimately leads me towards peace or joy. Perhaps there is a fine line between passion and obsession.  One’s passions can bring one utterly into the moment, yet they can also become the stuff of illusion, drawing us to some elusive ‘goal’ that deflects us from experiencing the now.

Maybe it really is the case that it’s not what you do but the way that you do it that matters. I am beginning to realise that I find it much simpler to remain grounded and non-attached when I am not over-invested in what I do. Instead, if I try to bring my passion for life and sense of joy to the task in hand, whatever it may be, to imbue it with all the dimensions that my experience allows me to bring to it, I seem to find a rich vein of transformation. The focus is not on the doing, but on the ‘being within the doing’. Flow and engagement are essentially qualities of being, not of achievement.

Perhaps passion, in this context, is essentially a quality of authenticity, which itself must be built on a clarity as to one’s sense of meaning or higher purpose.

[to be continued]

ideaCity 2010 – brim full with joy!

When I first started to explore how we perceive joy in contemporary society, I was surprised to find how few references there were to it on the web.

I spent last week as a volunteer at ideaCity, ‘Canada’s premiere meeting of the minds’. Fifty inspiring presenters from the most diverse backgrounds spoke, unscripted, to an audience of 700. Over the three days of the conference, the word joy was used or implied frequently, sometimes unexpectedly. Continue reading “ideaCity 2010 – brim full with joy!”