Monthly Archives: September 2010

unlined

I wrote a few blogs ago about crones and crone energy. One of my questions was why the word was so scary? I didn’t get many answers, but one of the reasons I see is loss of youthful beauty. I’ve been thinking about power lately. A friend gave a talk to some high schoolers about Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. What is a heroine’s journey, I wondered? Now we can live the life of men because we can keep from having children. But all women I know, married, single, widowed, divorced, crave connection, are often connected with friends and relatives in a way men aren’t, though gay men come close. And what if our heroine has a child? Without a partner, even with one? What, then, happens to her journey? It’s no longer straightforward. There are sacrifices and guilts if pursuing a career. If single, there are struggles and compromises so immense that they can’t be overstated. And what about beauty? What does that do to a heroine’s journey, for a beautiful woman is pleasing, and there is huge power in that. What does that do to her path, to her integrity? There’s great seduction in being pretty or more, in seeing men attracted like metal to a magnet. But in a savage, warrior culture, like the streets, a beautiful woman is captured early by a man, or she’s taken against her will. Her beauty is both power and a snare in which she’s caught. Youthful beauty is also a double-edged sword because it fades. I’m thinking now of Elizabeth Taylor, the great beauty of the 20th century, encased in the brown amber of plastic surgery and botox in an attempt to look 50 when she is close to 80. What if she, the most beautiful woman of her age, had let the hair grey, the pounds accumulate, the wrinkles place themselves on her face, so that along with the wisdom and strength she often displays, the deep marks life makes would show outside as well as inside? She was afraid of looking the crone is one of my guesses. Cronedom is a foreshadow of the dark side, and I don’t mean witchcraft. I mean death. The crone so clearly is walking toward death. But why are we more fearful of those marks on women than on men? And why is beauty thought of as unlined? Is it fear of death again? I don’t understand…..

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guilty pleasures

I ‘m a sucker for articles about interesting, creative, pleasing, usually beautiful, sometimes dangerous women who become somebodies in the highest circles of culture, society, and/or politics.  Jennie Churchill, Winston Churchill’s mother is one. Eleanor of Aquitaine is another. So is Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward Harriman, who ended up becoming the doyenne of the Democartic Party. Vanity Fair recently hooked me with their profile of the dashing Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, whose life intersected with Yves Saint Laurent and all that was intellectural or artistic in France in the last half of the 20th century.  Is it the gowns, the jewels, the powerful circles in which they move, the fatal beauty or something like beauty and all it can accomplish, that attracts me? Is it that they play outside the rules nearly always? There’s a certain gumption, a certain rashness, a certain boldness, a certain luck that propels them forward and upward with great, great style. I can’t resist that style and must read about it like a dreamy teen.

What can’t you resist?

alchemy

I thought I’d print the Hyacinthe Hill poem Reaching Toward Beauty from last week’s blog. I can find very little about Ms. Hill on the internet. The poem is from the book, When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple:

You love declines. You, thinking little lines

aound my eyes are fallen lashes, try

to brush them off. I do exfoliate.

In this autumn of my being, parts of me

fly, like tossed and wintry-blasted leaves.

I don’t regret their passing. I must work

to make a clean and crystal-perfect form.

I, alchemist, and I, philosopher’s stone,

have sacrificed the fat, and froth, and fur

of youth, to walk through fire, leap in the dark,

swim inward rivers, pray at a wailing wall.

The wrinkles, sags, the graying hair are earned.

You mourn like a child over a broken doll.

Only the core of this crone was ever real……….

Wow. This is what I love about poets, their ability to seize some small formation of words and make them explode in the imagination. I tell people who ask me about writing to read poetry to internalize the beauty of language. I tell them to listen to Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac on NPR, a poem a day the man reads to us, bless him. Imagine what life might be like if the first thing we heard in the morning was a poem, if we chewed on its meaning all day, instead of what we do chew on.

It was the quest of pre-scientists in the 16th century to turn lead into gold. We are the alchemists of our lives. What brew are you making? Bitter or sweet? Forgiving or vengeful?

dichotomy

A friend and I were talking about the word “crone” the other day. When did there get to be such a dichotomy? she asked, spreading her arms wide. On one side is the kindly white-haired wise woman. On the other side is the witch hag. Thinking about myself, the truth is, I can be either. There is a stone hardness in me that was never there when I was younger. It isn’t bitterness that I am no longer what I was. It’s more of a sizing up of those around me, an unwillingness to put up with too much nonsense. Stop it, I say inside. No manipulation. Just truth. We can deal from truth, no matter how difficult. I had a friend once who made a group of woman laugh when she assured us that her husband would never leave her for a younger woman. He couldn’t go through menopause again, she explained. We roared in a bawdy, loud, oh-don’t-we know-it-way. There is a poem I love by Hyacinthe Hill. She tries to soothe her lover, who is noticing her aging. I‘ve sacrificed the fat, and froth, and fur of youth to walk through fire, swim inward rivers, pray at the wailing wall, Hill says. You mourn like a child over a broken doll. Only the core of this crone was ever real. Well….yeah.

Does the word crone scare you? Why?