I have neem invited to an interesting ceremony. Here is what I found out about this. My comments and concerns are in red.
Frequently Asked Questions And, oh yes, I do have quite a lot of those.
At what age can I be croned? Although traditions vary, it's generally accepted that age 49 (one’s 50th year) is the minimum. Many women wait to be croned until they’re 56 or 60. In my experience, each decade, starting with the 5th, brings its own challenges and blessings, resulting in newly harvested wisdom. Why in the name of heaven would I WANT to be called a crone?!
Do I have to be post-menopausal? No. Today some women still bleed in their 60s and others experience menopause after an operation in their 30s. We honor this rite as a woman's (blood) mystery, but the timing depends more on age (see above) and personal readiness than biological factors. Jeez people do we have to talk about this?
Who does the actual croning? Do they have to have a license, are there requirements or credentials of somesort?
Again, traditions vary. Typically initiations are conducted by those already initiated. If initiated crones are not available, women who deeply appreciate and acknowledge what it means to be a crone can conduct/priestess the ceremony.
Who can participate? And how can I gracefully decline this invitation?
Ceremonies often take place in women's circles, gatherings, and conferences. Private ceremonies can include crones only, women only, or women, children, and men. While those conducting the ceremony and performing the it should be women, all participants can honor the new crone and engage in other aspects.
Can I be croned more than once? Why would you want to be croned once much less twice? I am still not getting it.
Can I be croned for the first time at 70 instead of 50? Claiming our wisdom is a constant process: One can never be croned too many times, and it’s never too late. I’ve been croned in a personal ceremony, with circle sisters on a weekend retreat, and with new and previously initiated crones in gatherings of 100-300 women. Each ceremony is a unique celebration, an opportunity to reaffirm old commitments and make new ones. That is a lot of crones.
Can I be croned in a group ceremony before I have my personal ceremony? Oh good grief.....
Yes; there is no order in which to be croned. Participating in large group cronings will often spark ideas for a personal ceremony and vice versa.
Do I have to have a crone name?
Many women take this opportunity to rename themselves or take a special name, but it is not a requirement. Some one has probably already taken Lady Morgana Willow-elf so you will have to come up with something different.
Do I have to make commitments?
Croning is a significant step, a recognition of wisdom gained through years lived. Although not required, I strongly encourage the new crone to act on her wisdom by making a three-fold commitment to healing--herself, her community (however she defines it), and the earth. This can be simple or elaborate, general or specific.
Guidelines for a Personal Ceremony Oh thank God there are guidelines
The ritual can follow a celebratory meal (save the dessert until after the ceremony)It can take half an hour to two hours HOLY CRAP! depending on the size of the group and how many people speak, please, PLEASE do not make me speak give gifts, etc.Use the ritual structure of your tradition (or contact me for a general outline);
Select songs and chants that feature old women, crones "100 bottles of beer on the wall " is my choice
Call crone goddesses, ancestresses, crones of ancient times We are all going to hell...
Decide what will symbolize the initiation--a flower or star garland crown, a crone staff, a cloak or shawl, a ribbon or flower lei, a special gourd I personally would want a wand, IF I was ever going to do this. Don't panic Erin I am not going to get croned and embarrass you in front of all of your friends by announcing that I have done so.
Decide what will be used to represent the passage (a birthing into cronehood)--a gateway, threshold, curtain, a woman’s legs (she stands on a chair) what?
If people will be present who don’t understand the significance of the ceremony or of reclaiming the once-revered designation of crone, give a brief explanation. That would be me-cowering in the back waiting for the wrath of God to strike us all.
Everyone participates in honoring the new crone--written or verbal blessings, stories of her wisdom, poetry, song, chant, drumming, dancing (building toward the moment of croning) I am NOT dancing, chanting, drumming, or rattling. Out of my comfort zone.
The new crone crosses the threshold, emerges between the legs WHAT?, parts the curtain
Once on the other side she can be anointed with Hecate oil, rose petal water, rattled, wanded with lavender Trust me, I am rattled at this point for sure
The priestess asks for her crone name (if she is going to take one) and commitments
Then the priestess says some appropriate words and blessings as she presents the new crone with her symbol of initiation (placing the crown on her head, the cloak/shawl around her body, the staff or gourd in her hand) If we have not been zapped yet this is where it will happen...
Songs, chants, drumming/rattling
Other symbols and gifts can be presented to the new crone I am guessing some lovely handmade soaps are not the type of thing one presents to a new crone. Just a guess.
The new crone speaks her wisdom, gratitude, expands on her commitments
End the ritual in the traditional manner
Celebrate with food and drink
Enjoy the afterglow ICK
This is just one of many possible ways to conduct a ceremony.
I hope I don't start giggling like an idiot during this whole thing. Clearly I am way too Midwestern to be comfortable with all of this.