A magazine of Goddess Spirituality in the 21st Century
Author: Liz Perkins
Liz Perkins was brought up a Quaker, earned her living in health-related research for many years, and went through Priestess training in Glastonbury, UK. She now keeps a foot firmly planted in each spiritual camp. She has run a long series of workshops for women in the second half of life, and has published Journeys through Menopause, an edited collection of women’s experiences, and Exploring New Paths: emotional and spiritual growth for women at midlife. Check out her website, or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for the books.
This summer, I made a Crone’s garden. Not with plants, but with fabric. In July, I found myself on a silent retreat entitled Gardens of the Spirit, at Woodbrooke, the Quaker College in Birmingham. I’d booked it months before, attracted mainly by the silence and the working method - I forgot all about the theme until the detailed information about the programme arrived a couple of weeks before. I was not pleased – I’d spent quite a lot of time in the previous six weeks trying to create some order in my own overgrown garden and the last thing I wanted was more gardening. Or so I thought.
The course started with a plethora of postcards –we had to wander round and choose two each, which would travel through the retreat with us. Or, more accurately, let two choose us. And this one chose me. Quite obviously Crone – wise, insightful, benign, but also shrewd, a stander-of-no-nonsense. From then on, the retreat went Her way. Quite clearly, she had to have a garden. I bent the gentle suggestions of the facilitators to suit.
Having found my Crone I started to feel for what kind of garden she would have. Woodbrooke has a good art room so there was a lot to play with. I found a straightforward piece of embroidery fabric in the bottom of a box of bits and then collected lots of other things. I was intrigued that I didn't feel the garden ought to have walls. Fuzzy boundaries through fraying the fabric felt right. Being frayed at the edges feels fairly normal, to me…. Continue reading "A Crone’s Garden"
Maiden, mother, crone – it used to make a simple framework for women’s lives. We learned to tweak it to recognise and respect the place of women whose mothering phase was not occupied by childbearing, but by other forms of creativity.
As the Goddess community matures and more of us are in our 40s, 50s, and 60s, we are finding another problem with the basic triple Goddess; many of us know from bitter experience that there is no smooth shift from mother to crone, but instead, a long period of confusion.
Menopause, like puberty, gives many of us a bumpy ride. And, unlike puberty, there is no clear physical event around which we can organise our experience. Most of us only recognise our last menstrual period in retrospect, which makes it difficult to celebrate. And it takes about ten years for our hormones to settle down to their new, less dramatic, pattern. So it isn’t surprising that many of us are looking for a key image around which to crystallise this period of our lives. We are made in the image of the Goddess, so there ought to be an identifiable aspect which reflects the menopausal years, something to which we could aspire, which will guide our development… ‘The Queen’ can sound really positive – coming into our power, being in charge of our lives… but, in my experience, only on a good day.
Many of us who walk the Goddess path have come to it from other spiritual traditions, the most likely being Christianity. For some, this is a past to be left behind; some religious groups make it harder than others for those who want to move on, or we may have had difficult experiences as children. For others, the traditions in which we were brought up, or which we embraced in our earlier years, still have meaning and resonance for us, even as we recognise a new way opening up. This dilemma is not easy to resolve, and those who honour it may do so in solitude – it can, after all, feel like a very individual problem, not amenable to sharing.