Illustration by Sean McCabe from Newsweek, Nov. 28, 2011
Back in September 17, 2009, when my blog “A Rolling Crone” was a year old, I wrote a post called “What is a Crone, Anyway?”
The reason I wrote it, as I said, was that several friends of mine – especially some from the Midwestern states where I grew up—objected to the word “crone” in the blog’s title because they found it offensive and insulting to women. So I did some research to find out the origins and true meaning of the word “Crone” and found a wealth of information. As I said then, it’s a topic for a PhD thesis, not a single blog post.
Many women have written eloquently about cronehood, including a woman called “ZBudapest” in an essay called “Crone Genesis”. Read it! She says, “We are one block of herstory, one savvy chain of generations, one strong and active generation that is going to continue to change the world. When we are done, being old will be fashionable, stories and movies about old people will be normal, and we will live a long time.”
It made one proud to be a crone.
Now a sharp-eyed friend of mine, Barbara McCarthy, brought to my attention the essay written by Comedienne and actress Roseanne Barr in the Nov. 28 issue of Newsweek. It originally appeared on the web site “The Daily Beast.” The subject of her essay, titled “Roseanne, the Pirate Queen” is menopause, but at the end, she considers the meaning of “crone.”
I’ve always considering Roseanne to be a wise and witty woman. (And have you noticed how much livelier Newsweek has become since its editor-in-chief’’s chair was taken over by Tina Brown—who is also editor in chief of “The Daily Beast”?)
So, although Roseanne tends to write in a more profane style than I do, I love what she has written and want to quote part of it below. Having discussed the subject of menopause-- “Menopause is the victory lap over the curse of being born a female,”--Roseanne concludes:
Ah, OK, I’m in full Crone mode now.
Depending on who’s defining the word “crone,” it can be a really wonderful gem of language. Crone got saddled with the role of synonym for hag, an old grizzled woman who’s often bitchy at best, malicious at worst: the sinister, old, gossipy type who sometimes had magical or supernatural associations. Luckily, intelligent women, and some men, have begun returning the word to its rightful definition: an experienced, mature woman who’s arrived on the north shore of the raging seas of this largely corrupt planet.
We’ve run the gauntlet and we stand, battered, bruised, and perhaps even worse, some of us, but we’re consciously here and mostly intact.
And, with a little luck, we have some time to affect things. Some sources cite Crone as the third stage of goddess formation: Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Well, I like the goddess part, but I don’t mean to insult or diminish women who aren’t mothers. In fact—after holding the world up to the light and subjecting it to a quick exam I call “Do the math!”—I’m here to say, we could use a lot more women who don’t become mothers of their own offspring, but instead Mother the world in a more expansive way—and help to alleviate some of the misery and need of countless millions of people who are here already.
But, let’s get past the idea of things we have to do, breathe a sigh of relief, and remember that there’s probably more time to do things we want to do. Form or nurture a few good and real friendships, and silently observe the world. You don’t need a young athletic body or piles of money to read some of the world’s great books; or to soak up brilliant music and art; or to grow something beautiful (and edible?) in a little garden spot. May your uterus remain relatively undisturbed during these, your glorious turban years!
Now that you’ve read Roseanne’s take on crones, (and I hope you’ll read mine, as well), please share your thoughts on this important and challenging phase of life. But only if you’ve sailed through the sea of menopause and entered the relatively calmer harbor of crone-hood.
You can leave a comment below or e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org