PHOTO ESSAY: Crones Counsel, the Follies! — and more

Crone symbolPlease note the phrase”luminous with age,” the theme of this year’s counsel, as it will make a surprise appearance at the end of this post! Also note, BTW: the spelling “counsel,” rather than “council” is deliberate. Crones counsel each other.

I spent a good part of the morning going through the photos Joan and I took at this year’s Crones Counsel, and I will begin this second and final post on the Counsel with a pic of Joan, taken at the ceremony in Snow Canyon.

Joan ecstatic

Yes, Joan actually was in (mildly) ecstatic mood! Was it the extraordinary land that held us in her embrace? Was it the heart of the women beating in tune with our drums? Was it all the cronings we offered each other? Or was it the elders in their 80s and 90s, the dear ones among us who walk in beauty and grace us all with their presence, grit, and care for all of life?

Here’s Susan Ann, the current “Crone Mother” of Crones Counsel, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit that hosts annual nomadic events, dressed in blue and hugging.

Susan Ann at outdoor ceremonyLook again. The young woman in dressed in brown above is one of Susan Ann’s spiritual daughters. There were a number of young women at the Counsel — daughters, daughters-in-law, granddaughters, friends of older crones. One of them, Julie, now 46, told me she’s been coming since she was 35! At first with her Mom, but now she’s here under her own steam, and in fact, hosted the 22nd annual Crone Follies, after our banquet that same evening. Unfortunately, I did not think to take a picture of Julie in her hilarious evening gown.

Before I get to the main event, the Follies themselves, I want to introduce you to the Raven, she who called to me in a dream, back in 1989, indeed, She cawed, CAWED to me, standing on the back of my shoulders, claws digging in, ‘WAKE UP, WAKE UP! IT’S TIME! IT’S TIME!”

Here’s the altar that greeted us, when we walked into the conference center.

raven raven 2

I was thrilled to see Raven so honored. For it was that dream — that Big Dream, I would say now — that powered the entire herstory of Crone Chronicles (1989-2001), from which spun out Crones Counsel in 1992, still going strong, indeed, I’d say stronger than ever. I have not attended the Counsel for a few years, and was not just surprised, but thrilled, to experience the ripening it has been undergoing since then. Susan Ann and the current board members truly know how to bring the numinous character of Crone front and center. It appears that Crones Counsel has undergone a regeneration, a settling into its sacred root in Mother Earth, originally noted during the very first Crones Counsel, back in 1993, when the late Ella Nelson Eagle, bless her beautiful soul, strutted about the stage in the very first Follies with only her underwear on, a port for chemo in her chest, one breast missing, and holding her prosthetic breast on a platter. Ella embodied Inanna/Persephone, deep in Erishkagil/Pluto’s lair. No one in the audience that night was without tears.

So yes, the butterfly, which also graced the Raven’s table, is an apt metaphor for the current iteration of Crones Counsel in its 22nd year.


Right across from the Raven’s table was the Red Tent, which apparently held a central place at the 20th Crones Counsel in Salt Lake City, which I did not attend. This year it functioned as a welcome refuge for silence, meditation, and quiet conversation.

red tent

Okay, onward, to the Saturday evening Follies themselves. The room had been set up as a sort of three concentric ring circus, seats on three sides, with the front reserved for performance. Here’s the program. I bet Enid wrote it out, it just feels like her. I hear they didn’t get a chance to type it up, what with frantic rehearsals beforehand and all . . .

Follies program

Okay, here’s where I get to kvetch a bit. Granny B had warned us earlier that day that her act would be subdued this year, that we shouldn’t get our hopes up. After all, how could she top last year’s “Granny B’s pole dance”? Damn! Wish I had been there, because yes, Granny B was subdued this year; as she said, “Granny B needed to reflect” a bit, though, there were moments when she just couldn’t help but wildly gyrate:

Granny BeeBTW: Granny B, aka Betty Brown, brought with her this year her tale of how she survived and thrived on a year-long solo global pilgrimage during her 70th year, and believe me, this little book is filled with fascinating stories and great tips on how to travel to far off places while keeping your sanity, enjoying your wild nature, and spending about what you’d spend if you lived at home (tip: she rented out her condo in Atlanta).

Highly recommended! I’ll keep There and Back: An Elder’s Solo Global Pilgrimage as a reference book for when I launch that around-the-world exopermaculture tour.


Okay, back to the Follies. One performance that I and everybody else hugely enjoyed was Pat Hanson — here she is talking with another crone the next day —

Pat Hansen

— waxing hilarious on her intimate and saucy relationship with Siri on her iphone 6. Pat, by the way, also has a new book out, Invisible Grandparenting,

Unknown-3which she wrote out of her own experience. And, we are happy to discover from her story during the morning storytime, she is no longer invisible as a grandparent, and in fact has a beautiful new granddaughter whose every developmental step is lovingly noted.

The most thrilling performance, at least to this crone’s eyes — or am I still a cronette, at nearly 72? At this gathering, women speak of themselves as “93 and 3/4” or “78 and 364/365ths” i.e., age is not just honored and celebrated, it is “to die for,” the rest of us eating our hearts out in envy of the older ones — okay, back on track: the most thrilling performance was the one led by Marsha (in white, talking with Enid) —

Marsha African dancingwho, later, led us all in her specialty, African tribal dancing — but here they all are, many crones and cronettes, all gyrating to the tune of “Older Ladies” — including Joan!

Aha! Check the photo above again, and you’ll see Julie to the right in her “revealing” evening gown! Glad I inadvertently caught that.

older ladies 2 older ladies 3 older ladies 4

The next day, after our beautiful closing ceremony, Crone Mother Susan Ann was abruptly surprised by a dozen roses and a banner, “Miss Luminosity 2014”. At first her face scrunched, she was so embarrassed to be singled out from the other board members who had worked equally hard to pull this gathering off; but I, who happened to be standing next to her, just sadi, sotto voce, “SMILE! . . . SMILE!” She soon relaxed, and graciously received our offering. Indeed, afterwards, it didn’t take much for me to persuade her to pose in her rainment. Yes!

Susan Ann Miss Luminosity 2014Thank you Susan Ann, and all the others both board and volunteer, who put together this wondrous, heart-warming, hilarious, and sacred ceremonial five-day event. Hope to see you next year (Mt. Shasta? not sure yet) and maybe I’ll even bring all five of my sisters! What a reunion that would be, now that our dear Lady Renee mother is gone. BTW: all six sisters plus Lady Renee were in attendance for one evening a few Crones Counsels ago, when it was held in Seattle, during our family reunion for Mom’s 90th birthday. Oh wow, so that makes it six years ago because she died at 96. Ommigoddess! Was that the last Crones Counsel I attended? If so, I hope not to miss another one.


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0 Responses to PHOTO ESSAY: Crones Counsel, the Follies! — and more

  1. mARTa Q says:

    Excellent article Ann! Thanks for taking me back to this GRAND adventure. Absolutely loved it.

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