Dancing Like a Crone in the Age of the GoddessAdd to favorites
What is in a title or one that is considered an insult? Many things come to mind when I think of the word, Crone and little did I know that it’s a derogatory name given to women over forty. Its companion is the hag and the insult is based on appearance, age, obviously gender and attitude. The preferred definition of the Crone is a wise woman, respective to the ideologies and idiosyncrasies of her feminine self. Who came up with the name, Crone anyways? It seems that the Crone is the third aspect of the Goddess, the curse of death or the fear of the mother’s curse. The Virgin who is pure and inexperienced, is the direct opposite of the Crone who for all intense and purposes, is the destroyer of life…hum…or in my way of thinking the head priestess that has seen it all, lived it all and has the mind set to teach her learned ways.
The three aspects of the Goddess are Virgin, Mother and Crone, but if we add in the Child then we have life’s seasonal changes or the four phases of the feminine image. Cycles, vestiges or rotations are the unspoken language of a primordial history seen within trees, rocks and the land itself. Our image as women survives on our remnants of rituals, ceremony and chronicles of how we lived through out history. This means our life cycles are a testament to the younger generations, what they have to look forward to in life, changes they want to make but a blue print of where they have come from. The Crone becomes not only a wise woman but the symbol and definition of accomplishments and the perseverance to keep alive the vivacity of cultures, ancient dance forms and the esthetics of defined movement. Since the Crone defines the grass roots of generations, it seems only fitting that she is placed in a revered position in society…but are we loosing her to subcultures that take and duplicate the styles of belly dance, eventually changing the movements to fit their position and viewpoint in society. In the long run, this is a tough question to answer because we have to first assume something has been lost or changed to a point of being unrecognizable.
Within Egyptian folklore, the Crone is in a way symbolized by Ma’at, the Goddess of Justice. Her main “job” is to keep balance in all matters of creation; birth, death and rebirth. You can consider her like a triple Goddess with Bastet representing the Virgin, Isis representing the Mother and Sehkmet representing the Crone. All three are bound by the concepts of order, truth, and justice which can make the Goddess Ma’at seem more of an ideology than an actual Goddess. Since Ma’at looks into the heart of those passing into the afterlife, we can assume that she see’s the true essence of each individual. Belly dance in a similar way, looks into the influences of how each dancer weighs in their choices. I call this the trickle effect because in this instance, not only does the end justify the means but it defines it.
The feminine image can be likened to the four seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter which is the mirror opposite of the Crone, who beckons the closing stages of each cycle. Each aspect of human experiences can be weighed with life lessons which can make the heart light with joy or heavy with guilt. Belly dance symbolizes this concept, because within the elements of our choreographies and stories, how we feel in the moment of dance brings it all to life. Perhaps this is where the risk comes in, because in order to bring belly dance to life, performers have to work within the details of their own fears, phobias and insecurities. This can be what is unrecognizable, the style of clothing, the movement to music, the music itself and the venue merging an individuals reality and fantasies together. The combination of varied aspects of the mind, emotions and body can open the door, revealing hidden secrets. It is inevitable that the changes in belly dance have to do with the challenges each generation faces. Maybe what is unrecognizable are the issues, expressed in dance and not so much the rudiments of belly dance itself.
The Crone is a necessary aspect of our dance form because without her we wouldn’t have the desire for introspection which is vital to a dancer’s growth in choreography. The best choreographers are like the best script writers or authors because experience is the best sustenance that keeps creativity abundant and alive. The end of each cycle is the most exciting because how each dancer or character is developed within their experiences , leads audiences or viewers into the story being told or performed. We have to put a little bit of our own experiences into the mix in order to understand each character or performer. It’s this connection, the desire to compare our experiences with the story or performance that allows for the Crone to come in and relate our similarities within the cycles of life. We are all intertwined to each other, the only difference depends on what season we are alive in and how much of the Crone we allow in our lives. I hate sad endings myself, but since I know we have similarities to the Moon, I wonder if the end is just the beginning of another cycle within the eternal circle of life.
When I teach beginner students, I feel like the Crone especially with my age; the priestess who has lived almost the full circle. Have I kept my fires burning, is my temple the example of lessons learned, this I can’t answer yet. Menopause is my Crone experience at the moment but I notice that I am constantly comparing myself to the youthful Goddess, the concept of ageless knowledge that can no longer sustain my mind frame. The youthful Goddess as invigorating as she may be, cannot give answers to questions that she, herself has not experienced. Just because I understand what the Crone is, doesn’t make it any easier admitting to myself I am her. The wise woman always seemed to be a white haired woman with wrinkled skin, commanding her audience and teaching with a vivacity of the ages. This mindset has elements of human folly because the Goddess concept is within our grasp now, it’s not in folklore or fairytales but alive within each woman who searches for her true calling in life. So the wise woman can be looking at us everytime we go to workshops, learn, laugh and find similarities with each other. The introspection of who we are as a community is our testament to every cycle of the Goddess and this means the Crone, wise woman or triple Goddess is apart of us, our dance and our stories as women. The river of life sustains us all and even though many of us walk along beside her, sometimes it’s important to take the plunge and swim within the essence of where we come from so we know who we are.
“God may be in the details, but the Goddess is in the questions. Once we begin to ask them, there’s no turning back.” Gloria Steinem
For now, I am sitting back getting to know a new season, the cycle of the Crone. I dance inside my heart with every phase of my Goddess experience. Perhaps this is the one aspect of the Crone, she merges into all of her experiences becoming a testament to her life. The dance of the Crone can be called, the divine feminine. The cycle of the Crone can be called, the exuberance of life.
Within this experience I am finding that the darkest moments have the undertone of the luminous self, the temple is within sight and my fires are burning. I have within me the vivacity of all the seasons, leading me to believe I am really one aspect of the eternal circle of life. As Diane Mariechild states, “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.” The Crone is not the end, just the connection from one experience to the next. I may not be comfortable with my Crone self yet, but I can take comfort in knowing I am the forbearer of an extraordinary lineage called belly dance and the Goddess self called the feminine divine.
Trail Blazing Journey
Still taking the journey slow but enjoying my new found energy!
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