blog description

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Crone Pathway

In the still of winter woods
Two deer
Pause to listen
Silver wings invisible
Yet strong

In the shelter of tall tree
One dark bird
Watches west, north, east, south

At the edge, liminal
They stop to ponder
The path best to follow

The BIRD is part of the TREE
The TREE is part of the EARTH
The EARTH is part of us

Why do we forget?

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Triple Goddesses

I’m not sure when I heard the story the first time. I know it was in primary school- maybe 2nd grade?

“The reason we have winter is that Demeter’s daughter, Persephone, was taken to the underworld and forced to stay there half a year. While she was gone, her mother wouldn’t make things grow – so they don’t grow in Fall or Winter. Then she would return, and Demeter would be so happy that she would make flowers bloom, and it would be Spring again!”

Such a simple story, a lovely way to explain the seasons to girls and boys - a creation myth.

Recently I heard a different version:

The maiden, Persephone, is dancing in a meadow, celebrating the beauty and bounty of a warm day. The dark god, Hephaestus, kidnaps the maiden and takes her from the world. Above them Demeter is frantic, panicked, inconsolable. She rends her clothes, tears her hair, and madly races from here to there, crying, moaning, screaming for her daughter. Removed from this scene, overlooking the earth from a distance, Demeter’s mother, Hecate, watches as her daughter mourns. She does not interfere with events. She does not try to distract Demeter, nor offer her platitudes and false comfort. Hecate is the wise woman, who knows that life is unfolding as it must, as it will.

In this telling the humanity of the women and the presence of Hecate dominate the plot. This isn’t about Spring; this is the three stages of womanhood. Persephone plays like a child, marries like a queen, and separates from her mother willingly in the end. The Maiden attracts a man and shares his fate and fortune. Demeter nurtures life and loves with an intensity that forces all other concerns into the periphery. The Mother works to feed the world, and sacrifices everything for her offspring. Hecate, the wise Crone, watches the cycle, knowing that life is change until it ends. The Grandmother can care for her children without struggling to keep the world from turning.

This story was told by a woman to a circle of women. She is a mother and a farmer – Demeter personified, which made the experience resonate deeply in my heart and mind. I hope to enter Cronehood knowing it is a blessed time of life, not to be trivialized. Life needs the wisdom of those who know that the cycles come around – even if they do not say it. The silence of Hecate is a sacred space in the universe.

Sage and Crone, Sage and Crone,

Wisdom’s gift shall be our own.

Crone and Sage, Crone and Sage,

Wisdom is the gift of age.

-- Anon

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

When Life hands you lemons . . .

A Crone Henge Guest post
by Ginger Simpson

When life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt and call me over!! Doesn't that look like something the pictured lady would say?

This has been quite a month. This year was supposed to start out on a better note, but so far, not much improvement over 2011. We started a trip to California by car, thinking we'd save money if we took our new Kia Rio. We got as far as Oklahoma and decided to come home. No bra in the world could support that rough ride. *lol* Of course, we had "tire" troubles that helped with the decision to discontinue our travels, but it was probably for the best.

We came home to find our basement leaked and our bedroom flooded. Not a bad flood, but enough to have to take up the carpeting and dry it, replace an entire wall, and, as soon as the ground dries, do some landscape improvements that will keep the water from seeping inside.

Of course, the cost of the short trip, the bedroom fiasco, and recovering from shell shock at seeing our W-2 forms for last year wasn't enough... I went to the eye doctor for new glasses, but discovered the new lenses that were inserted during my cataract surgery in December 2010 had formed a film over them. Oh joy, lucky me. So, after two visits for laser surgery, I'm good to go. Just waiting for the next bomb to drop.

Kelly (hubby) decided he wanted to retire, so now I'm stuck with him...literally, like a piece of gum on my shoe. I love him tons, but absence does make the heart grow fonder. Along with dealing with his presence every minute of the day and night, he thinks he doesn't need to wear his sleep apnea mask anymore, even though it was prescribed because of high blood pressure, fatigue, and snoring that wakes the dead. We recently found that he's been over-medicated, taking two beta blockers at once, which might be a factor in his being tired all the time. I don't really relish sleeping with someone who looks like Jacques Cousteau, but come on. If you need the mask, you need the mask. Who cares if it's worn off your mustache and kills my sex drive. *lol*

They have medications for everything now days. How did we ever survive this far? Things to wake you up, put you to sleep, make you pee, quit peeing, curb your appetite, increase your metabolism, check your sugar. Isn't medicine just amazing. Of course you have to watch out for the side affects written in small letters on the literature or speed-read through the commercials. Instead of restless legs you can end up with a gambling problem or driving while you sleep. Most drugs seem to take on some part of your body. If a disease doesn't kill you, your medicine might. I'm still trying to figure out why taking a medicine for penile dysfunction causes side-by-side tub bathing.

Okay, enough of the dismal stuff. The cartoon and the quote featured above makes me chuckle. If I could drink along with the medications I take, I might just follow the advice, but... dang!
I'm alcohol free these days. I remember the good old days of Bud Light and Country Line Dancing. Oh to go back and relive it again. My boogie could use a little boot-scootin' but I fear my tush is beyond pushin'.

Boy, am I glad I'm a romance author with a good imagination. Writing is my escape from days like these. I can be Scarlett O'Hara or Rhett Butler, and no one can tell I'm really a senior citizen with a bad attitude. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn! Love saying that.
If you'd like to sample my work, please visit my website, or either one of my blogs ...

Ginger Simpson

Saturday, February 18, 2012

One Owl is a Party

Searching for cool t-shirts before Christmas—a favorite gift in our family—I stumbled upon a site which sold graphic work of all sorts which was created by many different artists. It’s sort of internet coop , one where a person with talent can realize some profit. 
One afternoon when I should have been doing anything other than paging their catalog ,  I came upon a t-shirt which brought me up short.
“One Owl is a Party.
Two Owls is Crazy Talk.”
I stopped clicking, and began to think about what that phrase might possibly mean. It was clearly a riff on the “One… is a Party; two is crazy talk” phrase, although the original of that has long since evaporated from my mind.  It was easier to think about owls than to ponder this for long—so I did. 
Such interesting birds! They've been around for some 5 million years.  To paraphrase “A Hard Day’s Night” , they’ve been “looming large in humanity’s legend”  for a long time, helping with the rodent problems we create. They also appear as symbols in almost every earthly culture as omens of doom/death/despair, those winged, claw-footed Goddesses from The Dark Side.
My mother-in-law, an angry Scorpio, was fascinated by owls. She had shelves full of owl knick-knacks and ornaments, mugs, throws, pictures, books and so on. She also--rather like a Thurber character--kept a brain-addled, flightless owl. He lived for years in a cage atop her dryer. When my husband had gone to college and our new baby and I couldn’t, I lived in my in-law’s improved basement for several months. On moonlit nights, awake with the baby, I’d hear the poor guy make shivery sad little shrieks. It was all of Nature that was left to him.
Where we live now, there are old silver maples. At times, a great horned owl comes to hang out just beside my bedroom window. He shouts imprecations at another owl who is trespassing. I hear them having it out:
“Who ha.  Who ha. Who ha. Who WHO!”
Do you remember, after all that back story, the “One owl…two owls….” thing that started this?  The very night I’d seen the tee, “my” great horned came to sit in the tree and start his call and response duo with an owl in the oak on the next block.  I lay in bed, listening, hoping to find a key to that mysterious slogan.
Two hours later, I gave up. It has to be a very private joke, perhaps for real Ornithologists. The best I could do is this: For me, one owl “singing” reliably brings a Halloween shiver, but hearing two of them carrying on one of those Gary Larson “You and What Army?” conversations brings me an over-the-top moment of happiness. It’s such a gift to hear birds going about their business exactly as they have for a million years in the midst of an urban backyard.

Friday, February 10, 2012


~~I've edited this a bit, because my dear old friend Joy never typed for a living, plus R.A. makes it hard on her fingers. Joy's Crow is a wonderful story, and just one of the many she could tell about "exotic" animals she's raised in her country home in western Massachusetts. Enjoy! ~~J. Waldron

Joy's Crow

This spring my daughter called asking me if i would like a baby crow to care for a crow. It's been here for several months now and has grown from a fat hand full of feathers and beak to a sleek teenager, heavy on the arm squawker. It stays at night in a dog crate cage, high up on the outside porch wall. It spends days on the porch. Tree branches are woven into spaces for perches. A large dog water bowl is the "pool."

It is a very messy bird. Probably not any worse than any other bird. I can now see the allure of a cute, small parakeet with tiny little droppings, small seed hulls floating around, sweet little chirps, 3 ounces of pretty feathers. NO! This is not like that. Massive amounts of food are consumed, dragged around, sampled spit out, begged for, rearranged dipped tipped rolled played with inspected, shook, dragged. No sweet little chirps, but hilarious dialogues of thrills, near human words, caws, chipples, purrs, murmurs, squaks, going on for five minutes, loud, medium, sometimes fot, energetic, slightly musical sometimes..
When it ws tiny, I let it perch on chairs, walk around the house, interact with our two dogs and the cat who initially showed great interest, especially Jack the Cat, until it began following him. Now pained they've all got "It's following me again" expressions.
"Make it stop! Why are you squatting there with your beak open? I do not understand and lately--hey! share that roast beef with me!" Yes, it's all about food.

When the crow first came I googled crows and got a raft of information. A fairly hardy bird. Crows live in clans. Each group has it's own language, are bright live in the wild for 12 or so years. They eat meat and veggies and lots of grasshoppers. They store food for later use and, unlike squirrels, they can find their stashes. Youngster stay in the group for two years, learning the tricks of survival.

Crow's not going anywhere--and is that a tuna on rye for lunch? He is also, according to our dogs, part of their pack.. He can browse undisturbed, but no other crow can grace the ground. Outsiders are chased off--sport and duty of dogs!

Okay. This is not my story, just the lead in.
The story takes place about two or three days after we started to let crow out. Now you have to understand that having this crow come into my life was as exciting to me as having a million dollars fall into my lap--perhaps more so. I would be so envious and excited if someone else had a crow and I didn't.
Anyway, I now have a teenager crow who for obvious reasons can't be a house pet, my husband being the obvious reason, and i do have to agree. Housekeeping is last on my list of thrills. I do not need further complications in my gradual descent toward becoming the kind of person the board of health busts.
So. I move the dog cage out to our porch, and with the door closed, have devised a much bigger cage of sorts decorated with branches,swings, plastic food cups. Enter our front door thru the chicken coop please. (Yes...sorry! Watch that bird poop!)

The crow can see us. He watches t.v., chats. I can hose off the porch,things are good, when I feed it. He does eat by himself now, but still is a baby and expects to be fed by mama crow till the end of the summer. When I feed it, I throw in a made up sound that goes like this: "walka walka." I'm thinking, crow, please associate this with food and treats, so when you are flying free, you will come back to me! This was just was a "crow" word that popped into my mind and it seems to work. It can be toned up, down, whispered , crooned, barked, put into crow songs. The crow seems to understand. My family, thankfully, just ignores me if I am crow talking. I am not asking them to do chores after all.

I know I have to let my baby outside. He has to learn to gather it's own food, fly higher than the stereo, meet the local crow population--which i have been feeding to attract--hoping our bird will be adopted into the clan, taught crow things, migrate, meet, mate, survive.

I am torn. This has been such a fun time for me--selfish--wanting to have it, yet knowing it's not an animal meant to be cooped up, yet knowing his chances of being hawk food or shot are greater than becoming 2 years old.

He finally is strong enough that I feel I can open the door. and let him go. I wait for my grandsons to share in the momentous day. I am welled up. We are ready. I say my goodbyes; we open the door. Crow leans to the open door, cocks his head, eyeballs the lawn, and goes back to playing with his toys. He wolfs down wet dog food, hops down for some floor crumbs, squats and opens his beak wide to be fed. I'll have that grape now... My grandson offers to throw him out. I say no, close the door. I'll try again tomorrow. Crow still needs me--one more day!

I do start leaving the door open and he finally goes outside, and the "walka walka" works! He comes back! I am ecstatic, but then find out he comes back every time the dogs go out, every time we go out, every time the cat sneaks out. Sometimes he comes back and messes up the porch just to get us to come out. He walks in the house behind the dogs. He visits us thru the windows when he sees us go from room to room. He greets the car when we come home, swooping 6 inches over our heads. He tells tall tales from tree branches. He comes to his perches on the porch and just yaks on and on thru the screen. He bathes daily in the dog dish, steals stuff out of my pockets. He adores Carl and hangs out with the grandkids, he screams at the postman for standing on his porch, eats my summering house plants on the deck, collects food and stuffs it in the log cracks for later. He shares his hard boiled eggs, sometimes with the dogs, sometimes running from them, squawking mine, mine, mine!..

Yes, it turns out he comes back to "Hey! Where are you? Wanna treat?" Turns out we are his clan.

Joy Gagliano

Sunday, February 5, 2012


The moon protrudes from the night sky
like the jaundiced white of an eye
or a single breast of the Goddess
but cold and windowless
for Luna wanes
the dominion of the Crone
Impervious Athena
Who would approach that stony orb now
in search of nectar?

Mother, how shall I find You
swathed in Your red sari
crouched among the bodies
of demons You have slain
All-knowing, omniscient Lotus
my every action dangles like a curse from Your waist
From the river of Your ancient womb
will you feed me the elixir of Morpheus
for my memories are tainted with gasoline
and all I can smell is saffron burning

Friday, February 3, 2012

THE WOMEN OF THE HOUSE, How a Colonial She-Merchant Built a Mansion, a Fortune and a Dynasty.

Jean Zimmerman, Harcourt Books  ISBN 13: 978-0-15-101065

In 1695 twenty-two year old Margaret Hardenbroeck arrived in the colony of New Amsterdam. Margaret wasn’t anyone’s dependent, but a factor, a representative of her uncle’s trading firm, assigned to collect money from his customers and seek buyers for his merchandise. In Holland, women, even married ones, were legal persons, able to own property, draw contracts and testify in court. After the British took over, (renaming the busy port "New York,") this equality between the sexes disappeared. The Women of the House is a well-researched and vibrantly written history which follows the fortunes of Margaret and of her descendants, who are better known by her second husband’s name: Philipse. The section devoted to Margaret and to the uniquely Dutch customs of the 17th Century colony is particularly informative and lively. The three Philipse descendants who come after their dynamic founding mother are a far more conventional story. The last of these still formidable women, Mary Philipse, rejected the suit of a young George Washington in favor of a British officer. During the Revolution, the Philipses remained loyal to the Crown. In 1783 they fled, leaving their mansions and estates behind. A fascinating read, with extensive notes and bibliography.

First published by The Historical Novel Society 2007

--Juliet Waldron