(I'm not a musician.) I was taught as a child that I must not 'blow my own trumpet' as in talking about myself – especially not to say anything good about myself. I was also taught that much of what I could say about myself was nonsense and I needn't expect anyone to believe it. If I myself believed it, I must be insane. If not, I was obviously a liar. Telling my story, therefore, became a very confronting task. I am now in my late seventies, as I begin this blog, and it is only a preparation – things I write on the way to writing the memoir. Nevertheless, everything posted here is copyright and must not be reproduced without written permission from the author (usually me).

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The Grandmother, or Elder, Cycle

Grandmother or Elder?

This week the Wisdom Circle, still working with Brooke Medicine Eagl
e's questions, considered the Grandmother / Elder stage of life. Not all of us are actually grandmothers; some of the group chose lives without children.

I myself have step-grandchildren. While I am fond of them and they of me, they live interstate; I seldom see them and we have little interaction.


Elder or Crone?

The question arose, what is the difference between Elder and Crone? We used to be familiar with the concepts of Maiden, Mother and Crone, but nowadays many women include the role of Elder before the Crone stage.

One of the group, Dede, explained that she sees it in terms of the symbolism of a rose. First there is the bud, the Maiden stage. Then the rose opens to fullness, the stage of Motherhood or Maturity. Then the rose grows older and scatters its petals on the earth, as the Elder scatters her wisdom. Finally the rose shrinks and transforms into the rose-hip, holding the seeds for new birth, equivalent to the Crone stage when one becomes more still and goes inward.

This makes beautiful sense to me!

******************

These are my own answers to the questions raised:

What are your beliefs about ageing and what 
a woman's role is expected to be in her later years?

I don't know that I have beliefs so much as observations. There is such a variety of ways to age! I suppose I believe in a certain slowing down after the age of 60, and again in the late seventies, because this is what I have experienced and other women have said things which confirm it. But I also know that our minds affect our bodies in ways we are only beginning to understand. (I’ve recently become very interested in brain plasticity.) So I don’t know that the slowing down is inevitable; perhaps it can be countered. At present I am working on reversing it!

On the other hand, the things we associate with ageing are not necessarily bad things. It may be a blessing to take life at a slower pace! Perhaps we finally get to smell those roses that people keep talking about.

Was menopause a signpost and/or a gateway on your path to ageing?

It was bit of a nuisance when I was going through it. However, I had it easy compared to some. My Mum told me she ‘sailed through menopause’ without noticing it much, and I was the same. Only two hot flushes (mind you, they were memorable!) and only a few episodes of flooding. Then it was nice not to have periods any more, and to dispense with contraception. It felt like new freedom. At that time I read the words of many older women who said it was an entry into one’s full power as a woman, and one’s full wisdom, and I embraced that idea. Perhaps it was both signpost and gateway. I think the crucial question is, what does it point to or open to?

[Someone in the group suggested it means ‘men on pause’, with sexuality becoming less urgent, and that being with oneself would be welcome. I had the opposite experience and have heard of many others like me, with a post-menopausal surge of new eroticism and a delight in the freedom to express it without worrying about childbirth. It's now, decades later, in widowhood, that I enjoy learning how to be with me.]

What belief do you hold about menopause?

It marks the end of the reproductive years.  That’s it, full stop. 

From whom did you acquire these beliefs and attitudes ---- Mother – sisters – friends – older women – society?

Probably from my mother and the other women in my family, on both sides. Everyone seemed to be pretty sensible about it, and not scared of it. 

In what way are these messages brought home to you and reinforced –  at school – through the media – at work? 

I don't think my attitudes were reinforced by these groups. I think school, the media and society sensationalised it a lot more than my family did.

– through women's groups?

The women’s groups I belong to now, like those I belonged to then, don’t regard older women as has-beens, or defective in any way. Far from it. So this reinforces the intelligent attitudes I was brought up with.

What are the greatest feminine aspects you display in your unfolding path?

I’m good at caring for people when that is necessary, in both practical and emotional ways.  I’ve learned about unconditional love, compassion and nurturing, and I find new ways to apply them. 

If you have children or young people and can influence their learning in any way, what are the important values you can teach them about the feminine aspect?

(I don't get much opportunity for this, but if I did) That feminine strength doesn’t have to be like the masculine. We can be strong and tough without being aggressive, power-hungry or unfeeling.

What aspect of the feminine are you connected with at this time of life?

I see in myself aspects of all the great Goddess archetypes, so I suppose I would have to say wholeness – even though I don't express them all in equal measure.

What are the greatest feminine aspects you wish to display in your unfolding path now?

Love. Wisdom. Strength. Intuition. I don't think these are particularly feminine, but I might perhaps express them in a feminine way, with tolerance and gentleness.

Thank your teachers.

I thanked Brooke Medicine Eagle, and all my sisters in the Wisdom Circle.
                            

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