February cold rainbows glint in mooncaught snow. My birthday. This is
the face of an aging woman who looks at me, clear-eyed, from my mirror.
This is a face which has known some weathers: smiles line the mouth
and eyes, worries are gathered between the brows, and forty-six winters
glitter silver lights (like the rainbows in the snow under the full
moon) from my crown. Forty-six is surely not old yet. But just as surely
getting old. Old woman. Getting to be an old woman.
Now my monthly bleeding is precious. Dear. Soon I will go without
it. The anxious wait for blood to signal that I am not pregnant turns
on its head and becomes an anxious wait for blood to show that I am
still fertile. This companion of more than thirty years is preparing
to leave; I feel her restless stirrings, the way her attention wanders,
how irregular shes become. I know my life will be different when
she is gone.
Different? How? Without my monthly bloody show will I be a woman?
Is this not what made me a woman when I thought I was but a girl? All
I know of myself as woman is the ripening of the egg, the building of
the nest, the giving unto/into life.
Great granddaughter, it is time to prepare for your journey.
I am Grandmother Growth. I, my plant friends, and my stories have come
to guide you on your menopausal journey, your metamorphosis to Crone,
woman of wholeness.
Crone? Old woman! Change? The Change! Menopause! When my ovaries abandon
me to the ravages of old age: brittle bones! uncertain heart! withered
sexuality! wrinkles! grey hair! No!
I bring you the ancient womens mystery stories. Take the
time to listen to me. Slow down. Take time off so you can hear the old,
old memories beginning to chant in your bones, drum in your heart, pulse
in your veins, transform your energy.
The Crone reaches out her hand. The air crackles with heat and power,
a sudden sweat starts up along your sides, between your thighs, around
your neck, along your spine. The sensation is intense.
Open your hands; release your expectations. Take my hand. Let
me awaken memories of wise old women, crazy old women, peaceful, joyous,
strong, invisible old women, whose trail you can find and walk, whose
songs you can hear and sing. Journey with me into Change, sing with
me the forgotten melodies, come with me along this old, old trail. Come.
baby Crone, come.
Modern western doctors and the media tell me Im on my way over
the hill; that I should prepare for the inevitable downhill slide. Your
ovaries are calling it quits, they tell me. Soon youll
be a useless old woman. Your bones will break, your heart will fail,
and all because youre lacking estrogen. Of course, we can supply
you with it . . . for a price. And any price is worth paying for your
share of estrogen. It may cost you your breasts and your uterus, but
at least youll still be a woman.
Grandmother, what is happening? Everything seems so strange. I thought
I was comfortable with myself in many forms, but I dont know who
I am anymore. What is overcoming me? What am I becoming?
Sweet child, the wise woman achieves menopause, it does not
overcome her. Through the gate of menopause the wise woman steps into
her final glory, her crowning as Crone. Daughter, sister, listen well:
the time and place in which you live seeks to deny you your last crown.
Few leaders and healers of your day honor the Crone. Instead, they try
to beguile you with the flowery wreath of the Maiden or the Mothers
lush harvest headdress, telling you that growth into your deep maturity,
into your Cronehood, is not worthwhile, not desirable; you must stay
young. They hope to scare you away from this powerful Change, to convince
you its a deficiency state, of all things. Come with me and learn
the true nature of your metamorphosis to Crone, woman of wholeness.
Grandmother Growth, if I go with you, if I sing with you, if I ally
with your plant friends, will it be an easy journey?
Not even I can promise you that, granddaughter. The journey
of each woman into and through menopause is unique. If you encounter
harsh weather or unexpected setbacks . . . well, that is the truth of
Ovary, ovary, talk to me. What are you doing? Are you tired? Out of
juice? energy? eggs? Ovary, ovary, both of you, say something for yourselves.
Are we still in this together?
Woman, it is well that you sit in silence and hark to our words.
Here in your ovaries there are memories. In the womb of your mother
we gathered these memories, memories passed down from mother egg to
daughter egg for hundreds of thousands of years. It is true that our
stock of eggs grows low. This is as it should be, for our store of memories
Just as we have released ripened eggs each month, flooding your
system with hormones so you could conceive and gestate, now we begin
to release memories and the hormones needed to gestate memories. Take
the time to ripen and swell these memories and you can give birth to
the past (which, incidentally, changes the future).
With our help, you have held out the hand of giving life for
many years. Let it rest now. Come to know the hand of giving death.
Grasp the hand of Grandmother Growth, grasp the fact of your own death.
And, thus anchored in reality, give death to yourself as Maiden, give
death to yourself as Mother, and birth yourself as Crone, woman of wholeness,
who enfolds and holds within herself Maiden, Mother, and Crone, life
Grandmother Growth suddenly appears, and drops a quartz crystal into
my upturned palm.
Now, great granddaughter. Take my hand. Yes, release the crystal,
let it roll into the stream. Let go of yourself as Maiden. Take my hand.
Her gaze holds my eyes, which are suddenly wet with tears. Some-thing
small and cool slides into my palm. Take my hand. I glance
down quickly to see light shimmering in my hand.
Let go of the moonstone, too. Nest it into the earth at the
base of this tree. Let go of yourself as Mother. Take the hand of Grandmother
Growth and open your eyes, wide. Look here. What do you see?
Yes, this is the face of an aging woman who looks at me, clear-eyed
from my mirror. A woman walking toward herself as Crone. A woman humming
the long-forgotten songs of menopause. An aging woman with many questions.
February cold rainbows glint in mooncaught snow. My birthday. For
years I have dreamt about and researched menopause.
It is time to share.
It is time to share what I have uncovered, discovered, recovered.
I offer, through these words, the guidance of my own heart and inner
wisdom as well as the results of my studies.
Take my hand.
Yes, take my hand, and walk a ways with me, and share my excitement
at the Menopausal Years.
Laughing Rock Farm
8 February 1992