blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Dance

In the tradition of the Cailleach, oh great Bone Mother, who gathers and breathes into the hollow bones, I offer this journey. In the time before time, Death was not separate from the Great Cycle that also included Life. Life and Death danced, and found one another exquisite...

Death is courting me

and I am entranced

Cold winds bend

the brown grasses

in his world

silver crescent moon


in the red sky

High upon a hilltop

he stands

his ragged scarecrow cloak

flapping about him


with his hollow eyes

When I embrace him

he is love, agony, passion,

and insubstantial bones

He caresses my face

with the fine branches

of his fingers

and I tell him

he is bare

and beautiful




my eyes are full of him

and we dance

without bounds

in the blue-black void

scythe and crystal sword

marking time

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

“But you'll get your days and nights mixed up!”

Or, How my love affair with books and writing began.

As per usual, I'm the new kid on the block. I'm thrilled to be joining this group even if I do admit to feeling a bit reluctant to claim my crone status. This has been a familiar refrain in my life - “But what comes next? Are we there yet?”

I have a ton of ideas for my first blog post and now I need to hone in on one topic. But which one gets kicked out first from my premenopausal ADD brain? Yes, I know anyone could get lost in there. I do it several times a day. As I decided long ago: “I know I'm out of my mind. There was so much stuff in there already, there was no room left for me.”

Focus . . . Mostly, when I thought about this post, I kept digressing to “what I did on my summer vacation.” But I never remember having to write on this topic. Remind me to ask my big sister the English teacher about that one. Have her college students ever gotten that assignment? Why does Charlie Brown always have to write about this?

Sorry, there I go, again. I'm dragging you along for the ride in my thought processes and I can't even offer you a road map. OK. I'm going to talk about writing and summer. And I did read quite a few books this summer. For as long as I can remember, books have always defined summer for me.

How so? Well, my favorite memories of summer almost all include books.I grew up in the suburbs, a tail end baby boomer (Yeah, there's the baby reference, again. I'll officially claim my crone status when I turn fifty next spring). I do remember life without cell phones, computers, VCRs (er, DVRs), and video games. And my memories of summer are almost all about long days -- and nights -- spent reading.

My sister and I lived in a house that my Dad planned and (I'm reciting the official family history) helped build with a builder named Charlie Weigand and his two men. Technology came our way because my Daddy is a very handy man. He learned quite a few trades growing up, including auto mechanics from an uncle. He was an electrical draftsman by profession, and had installed both the electricity and plumbing in our house. Unlike Tim Taylor (insert caveman grunt here) or Cliff Huxtable, he could actually fix things when they broke (and do it right the first time).

Back to the technology reference. Many times Dad would go fix something for a relative, one of the neighbors, a church member or a guy he worked with, and he'd come home with a cast off appliance as payment. Sometimes it was a slightly older model (discarded for a newer one) or just needed a simple fix, and he could do it.

We got our first color TV that way. It was a huge monster, in a solid wood cabinet the size of small compact car. Our first dryer, as well as our first air conditioner (another hefty cube of metal), came home that way.

Before we got the air conditioner, Dad's ingenious plan was to install a huge window fan in a window of the storage room on the second floor. The motor made a low humming noise that vibrated throughout the house. Like crickets and peepers, it became a soothing, nocturnal summer noise for me.

Nighttime meant a trip upstairs (“it's time to climb the golden staircase,” he'd tell us), to the only full bath in the house. Coming downstairs after a bath, I loved feeling the delicious coolness on my just-washed skin as the fan pulled the cool air in through the downstairs screen windows, up the stairs and out through the window.

We slept in a bedroom on the first floor (before big sister got fed up with nosy little sister and moved into an upstairs room on her own). This was where I was introduced to the wonder and joy of words. Mom and Dad took turns reading to us at night. We'd pile onto one of the twin beds we slept in, and the one book that bound us together as a family was Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie. It's the one book that my Dad really enjoyed reading, too.

What little girl hasn't wanted to be Laura? I know I did. I was obsessed for several years with all things Prairie. Growing up in Lancaster county Pennsylvania, with the Amish several cornfields over, it was fairly easy for me to acquire the requisite sun bonnet. My grandmother sewed me long cotton nightgowns. (I never did learn to sleep in t-shirts). And my mother fashioned our beautiful halloween costumes (including princess ones for me when that stage hit). Thinking back, I have to give a lot of credit to Laura with (first) my love of all things “old” and (second) my love of books and words and writing.

Night time and reading. They just always went together for me. Especially in the summer. That was also where the biggest battles of my adolescent years were fought. This was the problem of getting so engrossed in a book that you read 'til the wee hours of the morning and sleep in 'til noon or later. “You're getting your days and nights mixed up! You won't be able to get up for school when it starts again!,” was my mother's daily summer refrain.

And so it goes. Because now I lecture my teenage daughter nightly to turn off her computer. So after our nightly mother-daughter power exchange, and the computer is finally shut down, I turn out my own light (after I read for a bit until I'm sleepy). I often wake for my 4 am trip to the bathroom and stop in her room to ease her glasses off, retrieve a book or the Nintendo DS from under her and turn out the light.

(And an aside about my now retired mother. Middle of the night insomnia plagues her regularly, so she now leads a mostly nocturnal existence – reading the wee hours away. So make that three generations of readers with goofy internal clocks).

Katie and I came to the Little House books a bit later. Instead, it was Harry Potter who first forged our reading bond. She now reads the same copies of books my sister and I knew and loved. She was mildly surprised when I pulled several off her bookshelves recently and reacquainted myself with some old and much loved friends.

I can't imagine a summer without that – late nights with really good books.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


With Your hand

You bade me lay back

With Your touch

You calmed me

From my feet to my heart

And the Great Mother with Her sword

Clove me in two

And pulled from me

Age-old poisons:

Distraction, hesitation, doubt

My Fathers sealed me again

With the new throat my Mother had given me.

Ripe grows the time

To step into a warrior skin

For my blood sings

With the song of the ancestors

Kali has placed Her foot upon my chest

She has walked upon my forehead

With Her jumping skirt of bones

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why Crone Henge?

Well, here we are, ladies--gray ladies, ladies with time travel privileges, about to add our nickel to the blogosphere.

Why Crone Henge? Well, most of us are Crones, exhausted by life, but not entirely--and we have a few things we'd like to say. After all, per Jimi Hendrix, we've been experienced, aged like single malt in a old sherry cask. The "henge" part is a bit trickey, as it comes from the Anglo-Saxon word hangen, or the gallow's tree, but it also vaguely carries a sense of something handmade, an object, sometimes made of earth or stone. In this case our henge is made of words. But I shouldn't run from the literal "gallows," either, for it was on just such an instrument that Odin did his best work.

We Crones want to talk about things we know--we, after all, ARE THE WOMEN, the ones who were there, the ones who have traveled from the middle of the last century and remember life before the computer, the cell phone, and the internet--before mandatory car seats and long before kids had no bedtimes. We've got pictures of our own human past to transmit.

We are all writers, and most of us have a strong interest in history, not just for the sake of names and dates and story-telling, but for the way history can help us understand our present, and how it might even give us a glimpse into our grandchildren's future. We'll ponder questions like "what is progress?" and further try to figure out if "progress" is what we imagine it to be, or if "progress" is just one of those jive words. Perhaps "change" is a better way to describe Crone Henge's driver. Change is the only constant in life, and we Crones have rung through plenty.

So, we'll be telling stories, sharing poetry or pictures, essays or prose, whatever seems appropriate. We'll discuss what is formally called "material history." How did folks actually live--for instance--in a medieval village--or, in an almost equally alien setting, in rural Pennsylvania during the 1920s?

What did those people know and what did they believe? This is the past which informs (and infects) our present in various ways, and is therefore worth talking about.

We'll also be telling tales which revolve around The Mysteries: magic, UFOs, crop circles, the theory of Atlantis, shapeshifters, vampires, the transmigration of souls, reincarnation and time travel. Our aim here is to break the boundaries of the dominant paradigm. We shall track down the creepy things that go bump in the night and drag them out from under our beds. Such phenomena are a bona fide piece of the puzzle of human experience and history, from the earliest civilizations to our "modern" today. Crones are traditionally experts in this lore. It just plain comes with the territory when the yard adjacent to yours is the cemetary.

So, Ladies: Onward, into the Fog!

--Juliet Waldron