THE CHANGE OF LIFE: A Right Of Passage

If you are a female in the United States, the chances are high that you'll live long enough to go through menopause, commonly known as "The Change." Happily, you will have at your disposal an increasing array of more healthful options for managing the physical changes often encountered by women, most often in their mid forties to mid fifties, (although the age can vary according to a range of variables.) You may also benefit psychologically as more people question the stereotype that equates attractiveness with youthful qualities. However, unquestionably, there is a vast sea of women in America dreaming of appearing young indefinitely, recoiling at the idea of aging.

The menopausal passage, however, beckons us to look at our eventual withering and dying, and becomes doubly charged in a culture that clings to youth. If we hold fast to outmoded identifications, our development as women, as persons, is arrested. Opportunities for true fulfillment and wise eldership are jeopardized. Trying to get through The Change of Life without change is unrealistic -and potentially damaging to the female psyche. Unaware that the menopause might be regarded as a soulful time out to restore, regroup, re-evaluate, women are left instead to the troublesome task of tolerating, appeasing or resisting the natural cycles life brings us. Even more agonizing is the anxiety that as feminine beings, we may no longer be viable, no longer attractive nor worth loving. In worst case scenarios, entire lives threaten to become disrupted by the onslaught of an unwanted passage we shudder at, go into denial about, and are completely unprepared to deal with.

Since thousands of American women are in fact distressed by a host of menopausal -and post menopausal - related ills, it may appear that our fears are grounded: that midlife change is simply horrendous! Often loved ones, friends and associates stress out as well, over a woman's times of change, even emotionally or physically abandoning her, compounding her anguish. Feeling abandoned, she may then withdraw, even isolate, hiding out in shame or apprehension. Labeled as a failure, crazy, pathetic or just plain "bitchy" and difficult, any women may believe she is less deserving of loving kindness and compassion -inviting more hurt.

The belief that we are potentially helpless victims of female physiology is widespread. As long as we think that menopause and the change of life is primarily a biological event, and one to control or put up with, we omit its soulful possibilities for growth. American women will continue to suffer. And just imagine what could happen if the rumors bear out that by the year 2010, there may be fifty million women on earth at least fifty years old. Will the hardships borne of ignorance of the spiritual nature of our time of change dominate the passage, or will we awaken to claim our right of initiation into Selfhood? Claim the opportunity to become Women Of Wisdom -the "WOW" generation?!

Fortunately, a grassroots movement to rekindle the rites of passage into "cronehood" exists. Horribly misunderstood, the concept or archetype of Crone relates to the word "crown," and represents the Wise Woman who looks within to her true Beauty, gathers her energies, holds her "wise blood." Crone is a name for a woman fully in her power, a force of loving counsel, compassion, earthy spirituality.

In the past, we have feared, avoided or attacked the crone or "hag," now we may resurrect her by acknowledging her roots in the Greek word for "holy woman" or "sacred grove." What an awesome force we women over fifty might be in shaping the planetary shifts we sense taking place, so in need of loving wisdom: If we continue to wake up!

Ancient counsel reveals that The Change can be a time of great transformation, an alchemical process that burns away the dross and purifies a woman's path. As the menopausal initiate courageously descends into the primal Womb to be reborn or redefined, she is stripped of what is false or outmoded. She rediscovers what is essential to her life. Completing her passage, the woman emerges from her process like a butterfly emerging from its sacred cocoon. Having claimed her right to rite of passage, she returns to her family and community with zest and zeal to creatively share her discoveries. She may be celebrated with a special ceremony, singly or with other friends who've completed this part of their Journey in a "croning" ceremony.

How does a woman wishing to make her menopausal years a soul passage find the way to do so in a modern world that has forgotten how? She can begin with her prayer for trust and guidance. Then, as she begins to pay attention to her Dream and expect good things, the ways will show up: meeting kindred spirits, a book, a special women's circle, a workshop, a prophetic dream.

The ways are endless and the paths there for every woman who desires her fullness of Feminine life. May our flame burn bright. (828 words)

Marcia Singer, MSW, CHT (American Bd of Hypnotherapy) directs the Foundation For Intimacy. For information about "midwiving midlife," expressive arts/ counseling, her Women of Wisdom (WOW) monthly circles for women, and N-Gender (co-ed) call (818) 623-6434 or use our contact page.


Bolen, Jean Shinoda "Goddess in Older Women", HarperCollins, 2001
"The Wise Woman Archetype", tape, Sounds True Rec'g, 1991
Husain, Shahrukh "The Goddess", Duncan Baird/Time--Life, 1997 (pg 32-5)
Noble, Vicki "MotherPeace", HarperCollins, S.F., 1981
Shakti Woman, HarperCollins, S.F., 1991

CIRCULATING THE WISE BLOOD: Empowering Women Over 50 To Become Wisdom Carriers

The merger of the Consciousness Movement with Feminism in the United States has given rise to the notion that aging for women can be more than a dread fate (decree) in which you dry up, lose all sex appeal and value. It's given us hope that we might not just wither away, unnoticed, unappreciated, with no real power or use. In the proliferation of women's spirituality circles around the country, there is a growing sense of promise that a woman over fifty might not only be of service to her world, but might be seen as beautiful in her own right and deserving of respect for her particular experience.

As conscious feminism continues to flourish, more and more older women are demanding their due. And as we face increasing challenges with work, finances, health or relationships - we are beginning to meet more widely in circles of our own. We are looking to redefine what it means to age, and what it means to be fulfilled as a feminine force and presence.

Even going so far as to claim to be the future leaders and saviours of humankind. Of planet Earth. And claiming to be 50 million members strong.

Regardless of personal beliefs about whether a seventy-five year old female is worth more or less to her society and how much exactly, the majority of women -and men - in consciousness circles would argue that she ought to be considered more worthy than she has been recently. We want to shift away from our youth obsessed and consumer driven mass culture that abhors the aging process and ignores, castigates or avoids old persons in general. We want to believe that as we age, we will still have a good life to look forward to, and a worthwhile contribution to make to our communities. We don't want to fear the end of our lives...

Women's circles are alive and well in the U.S. Women's circles especially supporting or celebrating the "crone" years - the third and fourth seasons of life - are less common, yet interest is growing.

The notion that there are 50 million of us women on the planet over fifty years of age is compelling: what might we produce if they were indeed, holding our "wise blood"? If we were standing in our power, convinced of our Goddess Nature, fearless in our wildish soul skins, expressing our love with conviction? Our soft and our tough love?

There are growing numbers of women's circles all over the country. There is a rebirth of interest in Goddess-based spirituality (the Feminine Aspect of Deity). Shall we educate ourselves to revere the cyclical nature of life, and expect to become wise, compassionate and joyful spirits as we age? Can we look forward to realizing a special destiny inherent in our blueprints, a destiny that makes a gift of our individual lives, and if lived out long and well, a wondrous legacy to future generations?

As attractive as the notion is, especially to us women over fifty, making that vision a waking, living reality is entirely an other matter.