I am in the process of preparing for my Croning. I emailed the following invitation to several friends and family members, and it explains much of what is happening, for anyone who is interested:
This is an invitation which needs some introduction:
On March 25th of 2008, after weeks of severe pain, I began my last cycle of menstrual bleeding. Four days later, the 29th, was the last day I bled (so far -- knock on wood!)
A year and a day is a frequently used time interval in magical and spiritual work of many paths, including my own. Interestingly, it is also the interval used in medicine to define menopause: when it has been a year since one's last menstrual period, a woman has officially reached menopause.
Before that, a woman whose cycles are becoming more irregular due to aging-related hormonal changes is said to be perimenopausal -- in the process. The perimenopausal interval might last a long time. For me, it has taken years -- about ten, give or take. My perimenopausal years have been neither easy nor kind. Lee and I desired children but were unable to conceive. Beginning in 1998, I was hospitalized every two years through 2006. Most of those hospitalizations were for gynecological problems -- cysts on my ovaries. Surgeries to remove the cysts resulted in major, life-threatening complications: a pulmonary embolism in 2002, and a severe bleed and internal hematoma in 2006.
The removal of my right ovary in 2002 was the last nail in the coffin of my fertility, and very hard to take. It has taken years of work to come to terms with our childlessness and my infertility. Also, during these years and since, I have had many encounters with and lessons concerning death. I took an extended sabbatical from my public work as a priestess. I was being trained and tempered to a purpose that, for a while, I could not discern.
Menopause is a relatively unique phenomenon among species, and many have puzzled over why human beings have evolved such that our females cease to be fertile considerably before their programmed time to die, and so have such a relatively limited interval of years for childbearing. Apparently there was an evolutionary advantage to freeing up 40 and 50 year old women from bearing children. Apparently it better served the survival of their genes for these experienced women to turn their energies to caring for other people's kids -- perhaps especially adult kids, including their own now-adult offspring who were beginning to bear children. There was and is a place for the experienced woman, the Wise Woman, the Crone. It is to this task that I am now called.
So, for the past few years I have turned from mourning my loss of fertility and lack of children, to an increasingly positive anticipation of my menopause (with the hearty endorsement of my gynecologist). I now look forward to my menopause, not only because it will finally bring an end to the repeated, worrisome ovarian cysts and prolonged episodes of severe, intractable gynecologic pain that I have endured for years. I look forward to that year-and-a-day marker because for me, it has come to mean my official ascendance to my Cronehood and the role of experienced woman -- Wise Woman -- for which I have worked to prepare myself all of my life. I had no children of my own because I am needed for other work.
I almost made it to that year-and-a-day marker in 2008 -- March 25th was the 323rd day since my previous period began. I hope I make it this year. If I continue without menses, I plan to enter into a period of seclusion or solitary journey on the evening of Hekate's Sickle on March 24th, through the Dark Moon on the 26th and Artemis' Bow on the 28th, emerging sometime on Sunday March 29th (a year and a day after I last bled) as a Crone. It would be nice if someone were there (wherever that might be -- location to be determined) to meet me.
I had toyed with the idea of having my group Croning Rite on April Fool's Day. But in truth, I want it to be on my birthday, Saturday April 18th. I would like very much for my Croning to be celebrated then, in a gathering of friends and members of the Pagan community. This is no small event for me -- I have work to do, and I would have it blessed with the wisdom, endurance, power, and will of the Crone Goddess.
So I ask those of you who will, to please reserve Sunday March 29th (if you wish to meet me as I emerge from my solitary journey into my Cronehood), and the evening of Saturday April 18th to celebrate with me my Croning Rite and my 58th birthday. If anyone would like to help make this Croning happen, or if anyone has a suggestion, please let me know. I hope to be asking some of you to help.
May the Triple Goddess bless us all.
I am honored and relieved that my friends Diane and Isidora will be planning my Croning, with the input of some of the Crones of our community. My older sister Verna, herself a Crone, sent me a gift of a deep purple "Samhain" shawl and a bright red cowl, both of which she knitted herself. They are soft, lacey, fuzzy, cosy things!
I plan to make a worked silver crown of the Crone's Triple Goddess symbol. And I'm still trying to decide where to hold my private retreat. Can anyone suggest a good place for viewing the sunrise and probably another for viewing the sunset? They should be within an hour or two of Portland Oregon, more-or-less in nature, and within an easy walk of a place for the small (21') RV I am inheriting from my father.
Any suggestions gratefully appreciated!