Transformation and Initiation into becoming an Elder by Ann Moir-Bussy

When I use the word “Elder” what pictures come into your mind? I’d love to see your variety of images, for so often, the word is equated with old age or getting old, implying quite often that it is about degeneration, from the many experiences of witnessing that in others, and maybe experiencing that ourselves. Nothing could be further from reality.

Finding the words to write about the phase of our life journey after mid-life, can only come from living it, experiencing it, and sharing that story. As I reach the gift of years – 82 this week, I want to share with you the beauty, the mystery, the adventure, the healing, the letting go, the pain and fear, and the tasks of the transformation and initiation into becoming an elder. Chinese philosopher, Lao Tsu once said, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things FLOW naturally forward in whatever way they like”.

An elder is not a state, it is about giving -giving back to those who follow us what we have learned, through our stories. Let us interchange the word Elder with Crone – the woman who is crowning her life and her wisdom.

I titled this Transformation and Initiation – why these words?

What is transformation?  Transformation or changing, remaking, reshaping into something new. We’ve experienced this often throughout our life – from baby to toddler, to child, to adolescent to adult. And with each transformation came physical and inner changes as we adapted and had to let go of the previous way of being. Have you ever noticed how sometimes we resist that transition, and how some people change physically but refuse to accept the next step or embrace the new inner story that is developing.

And then we have initiation, often defined as a response to an inner calling, requiring that you embrace personal challenges heroically and experience a genuine rebirth to a new way of being.

So, this Transformation and Initiation to becoming an Elder or a Crone is a journey of remaking, shaping into something new. It doesn’t just happen. It is a process – a process of finding out what is true for you and living it in the world – in other words, discovering your own personal authority.  Are you in your 60’s or 70’s? What is your story or are you still living and working the way someone else dictated you should live and work?  And then initiation – rebirthing or giving birth to a new way of being, and this requires us going WITHIN and embracing your own wise woman within.

A wise woman whose writing influenced me a lot was Marion Woodman, who once queried: Can you imagine reaching the age of 70 and not lived your own life? You have spent the years doing what others wanted or expected you to do, pleasing others, but now at 70 – do you really know who you are? You have not learned to live and speak from your own reality; you are unaware of your own creativity.

Are we at 60 or 70 still living out the ROLE others placed on us or that we assumed, rather than living from our own SOUL? Or maybe, the work is still demanding, silencing our true voice and we forget that ‘Crone energy is energy that has been distilled through the years of attempting to speak straight from our own reality. One day we are surprised by our own voice coming straight from the ground in our own body” (Woodman & Dickinson, 1996:140).

Becoming an elder is about giving. Now is the time to remember – all that you learned, earned, the way you lived and experienced life, and gather those years as chapters in YOUR book – your stories, and become a storyteller. Remember your story so you can tell it, pass it on and draw beauty from it for others.

An elder – a Crone, is a woman who has been wounded and scarred, and those very wounds gave her something in return. There is a usefulness to scarred tissue as they are a testimony to having strived and struggled.

 Are you familiar with the story of the Velveteen rabbit who grew from being beautiful and new to worn, torn and afraid, till he learned the secret of becoming real?  He became friends with another toy in the playroom – a Skin horse who one day confided in him: “Real isn’t how you are made”, said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand”.

­So, as we begin this journey of exploration to becoming an Elder (Crone) in these columns over the next months, I invite you to embrace this journey and to remember what all elder women and Crones will tell you:

You have been born gifted and you will never ever lead an ordinary life… you will never lead a normal life – because the good news is you are one of a kind. So, stop trying to be normal and tidy and become a storyteller.

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Ann Moir-Bussy

Ann is a highly experienced counselor of over 30 years, a transformative life coach and empowerment leader, enabling professional women in their journey of transformation and initiation to becoming an elder who leads from the soul.

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