Crone: A woman with wisdom, compassion, humour, courage, and vitality. One who has a sense of truly being herself. A juicy crone is one who lives with zest, passions, and soul.
~ Jean Shinoda Bolen from “Crones Don’t Whine: Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Crones”

Crony: A close friend, especially of long-standing; a pal.
~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary

August 19, 2015

The word crone, for me, conjures up visions of a very old wise woman, bent over, grey hair, living alone, imparting words of wisdom through obscure riddles to those who seek her counsel. Talk about stereotyping! In spite of what could rightly be described as my pejorative view of crones, I am gradually coming to re-think the meaning of the word and look at it in a new way. There must be modern day crones. But who are they and what do they look like?

Two things prompted this line of thinking: a short book I read on the wisdom of crones (Jean Shinoda Bolen) and two older women I encounter from time to time at the pool in the mornings. Although I really do not know them, I have come to admire them and enjoy our brief exchanges in the early mornings. Regardless of the weather or time of year they are at the athletic centre – in the pool doing their own version of pool exercises; on the stationery bike; doing weights – whatever. They are always there. Moving slowly but moving. One has assured me she is much older than I am.

Both women appear to be comfortable with who they are. Anyone who has the opportunity to speak with either of these women is struck by their ability to speak plainly. When the water temperature is colder than any of us like, they are sure to let the lifeguard or athletic centre director (if he is there) know about it. Neither woman engages in much small talk but they do take time to listen. Both will often talk to the lifeguards and find out how they are doing and in so doing have clearly garnered the respect and affection of the much younger lifeguards.

What does it mean to be a crone?  Everyone likely has their own definition but I like to think it means a woman who has acquired enough life experience to be able to see everything in perspective. Jean Bolen describes crones as the following:

  • a keen observer of human nature;
  • one who will fiercely protect those she holds dear;
  • a trust in life lessons;
  • is mastering the art of letting go;
  • a zest for life;
  • speaks her truth;
  • a sense of curiosity and wonder about what will happen next.

Who are the crones in our lives? They are in our midst even though we may not recognize them. And I like to think that women of a particular age have acquired elements of what it means to be a crone. They are the ones who are centred and wise, ones who do what needs to be done with little fanfare, who accept what is but act to change what needs to be changed. Perhaps each of us is an emerging crone as we navigate our inner journey. We may be single; or grandmothers; or engaged in daily work; or like to wear high heels; or have unusual interests. Some of us even run! And we are comfortable in our own skin (age spots and all).

But one thing I feel sure of is that modern day crones have cronies. For many this term connotes images of the old boys club of back rooms and patronage. Perhaps the term doesn’t matter so much as the nature of relationships among and between women. There are many terms we use: pal; women friends; soul mate; and of course – running buddies. That wonderful company of women in our lives who understand without having to say much; who can support; laugh and cry with you; withhold judgment; and give you that nudge when you need it rather than want it.  When I think of my community of women friends, I realize many are very wise (and kind and fun!).

All I know is that if I am going to be a crone I hope I will be juicy – squeezing every last bit of fun out of life and doing it in my own way; flouting convention from time to time; stopping to listen when I really need to; and reminding the athletic director to turn up the heat in the pool.


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