Tag Archives: Aging

An Old Woman’s Rant – two truths relearned

The last two weeks have been filled with emotional highs and lows for me, and last night I crashed from all this … our souls can carry much more than our bodies.  But I relearned a few important core facts about life.  We relearn these things throughout our lives if we take the time to live life fully and with great attention. These lessons I relearned are important lessons, important enough to share here. I am not going to share what happened these last few weeks, as the details are not universal as much as personal, and would likely be of little interest to you.  But I do what to share with you the outcomes – what I have relearned. I hope they help you as they have helped me.

First, I relearned that life is bloody short.  I do not care if you live to be 16 or 101, life is short and it goes by so damn fast.  So very fast.  Too fast, in fact. We get caught up in the details, you know, and that somehow speeds things up: getting stuff done, earning a living, taking the kids to various activities, making dinner, getting gas, and fulfilling various obligations that keep us too busy to breath sometimes. The small things piss us off and blur the magic and mystery of life. 

What is worse, is the fact that we allow these things to take us away from LIVING.  We forget to stop and say “I love you,” or “you have helped make me what I am, and I thank you,” or “I am glad to have the chance to hold your hand.”  Honestly, when was the last time you told everyone you love that you loved them?  When was the last time you held the hand of your friends and lovers and sat feeling their skin next to yours and realized … there is always magic in THIS!  This is what life is about.

This leads to the second thing I relearned these last few weeks: I fall in love easily.  I do and you know what, that is just fine.  There is nothing wrong in this, even if the rest of the world tells me otherwise.  I fall in love with men, with women, with moments, with creation, with music, with life.  And I fall hard.  I do.  I also tell people I love them often and I was told this might be inappropriate – that my hugs, my confessions, my moments of intimacy of thought and soul and truth are somehow inappropriate – not good table manners. I felt stunted for a moment.  

Oh my, no one wants to be inappropriate – well, not really.  I do not want to offend or cause harm, confuse or whatever. But then I relearned this: bullshit!  I call bullshit on this attitude.  What a crock of shit this is.  If it is truly not appropriate to reach out to those you love, then life is shit, and we have nothing. Honestly. 

Now I admit that I might be strange in my culture. I do love deeply and I do love fast. Why not? Honestly, I love people for their amazing uniqueness, the good and the bad.  I click more with some people than others, but if you “click” and the person impacts your life, well you better stand up, say think you, confuses your love and stand by them.  So many people will fall away, by circumstance and death.  We have a responsibility to those we love.

So when I say I love you, and I do say it freely and often, I really mean it.  I do.  Those who know me well, know this about me.  I love without bounds in that sense.  I love deeply because I know no other way to love and appreciate others.  This is NOT a bad thing and I will not (at least for the moment) feel bad that I am this way. I get hurt a lot because of it, but would not change that either.  It is a price for great living and living truthfully and deeply.  The joy and the hurt, that is okay.

I also love on “my time,” which means I might fall in love after a moment, or after weeks, years, whatever.  Love is a strange beast, but it does not diminish the love felt or realized. People always want to put a timeline on love.  You should wait before you say you love. You should question wither the love you think you feel is real. But why?  How artificial is that? And I am talking about all types of love as lovers take all forms: friends, sexual, mentors … all forms, all life.

I also love freely.  My heart is not bound by strange customs and other laws, traditions and artificial rules we place on affection and love. You might call me a free spirit, and so I am.

So those are my two truths realized and relearned.  If you say I love you, if I hug you, if I spend time with you or share secrets of the universe and intimacy and laughter, and sadness – I will do so fully and without an apology.  Life is really very, very short and we have such little time to live out loud and with feeling. 

Find that folks, because that is really where the “capital” lies.

Mahalo,

R

Circle of Life – Telling a Story

Today I this came across my Facebook page, and I found it touching.  So much so that I wanted to share it.  Cailleach, as the image of the old crone is more than a crone but she walks the circle of life each year, maiden to mother to crone.  Which is why this is super appropriate for us here at Cailleach.  This is Live Painting Show: A Woman’s Life. Originally published on Aug, 12, 2014. Drawing and painting by Stonehouse (석가), Video Editing by Yirigun (이리건), B.G.M by Silent partner – ‘Big screen.’ I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

A Welcome …. An Offer of Hospitality

Champion des dames Vaudoises by Serein. Public Domain.

Welcome to Cailleach’s Chair, the meeting place for the Cult of Cailleach.

Why have I gathered us all here?

This is a complicated question, but let me start by saying this: I do not wish to grow old … not in our Western culture as it is today. To grow old today is to be forgotten, discarded, and marginalized. How sad it is to be old today; a lifetime of knowledge forgotten. A lifetime of know-how ignored. This is true for all of us, men and women, but it is especially true for women.

So, I stand here today and I declare proudly, I will not go “gently into that good night,” or “grow old gracefully.”  When I was younger, I used to announce such silliness out of my inexperience of life and lack of practical wisdom:

“I will grow old gracefully!” I proudly declared, drinking as I did from the cool-aid.  “I’m not going to be one of those old ladies who try to be twenty-one their entire life,” said I with my perky boobs standing tall and my taunt skin glistering with a new summer tan. “I will accept what was given to me, wrinkles and all.”

I was an idiot, and cool-aid is not nearly as tasty as mead.

Truthfully, parts of the above declaration is true: I do not want to be 21 again, goddess help me …. No. I do want to accept my place in the great cycle of life.  But in truth, our society has a different spin on the phrases: “go gently into that good night,” and “grow old gracefully,” and I find the spin offensive. These phrases, in practice, no longer mean accepting and honoring the great cycle of life; rather, in practice older people, middle age onward, are asked to disappear quietly, allowing the younger generation to stand tall, while the older generation is shuffled away from their jobs (old faces don’t sell), and hidden away into retirement communities or, for those of us with little money, state-run institutions. I’ve seen it, more often than not; and unlike dear Hamlet, I have no interest in shuffling off “this mortal coil.”   Besides, this model is not sustainable, nor is it helpful to our world, culture, species, or younger generations.

It is time to take back and to re-embrace a better way of doing things. What that better way is, I am not sure, which is one of the functions of this blog: to discover a more sustainable model. As I grow older, I have no desire to be the discarded “hag.”  Nope.  It is time to reclaim the magical, mystical, powerful crone/hag: the Cailleach.

Cailleach Bheare is the celtic image of the old mother, the hag, the magical crone, who is revered as a mythical being in Ireland (Caolainn or the Hag of Beare), Northern Ireland (Cailleach Bherri), Britain (Black Annis), Scotland (Cailleach Mor), and the Isle of Man (Cailleach my Groamagh).  In essence, she is known as a mountain mother, but is also given the title of the queen of the Limerick fairies, and is understood as the mother to the gods (she has the name Boi when she was the wife of Lugh – Irish god of Light).  And, as you might guess, she controls the weather in the winter months as she too is in her declining years.  Interesting enough, she is not always old, but passes yearly through the cycle of age, from youth to old age, representing both renewal and death, the journey from ignorance and deep wisdom.  She returns yearly on Samhain, October 31st to you and me, and will leave with the warming weather, placing her staff under a holly bush before turning to stone herself, hibernating and regenerating for the next round of life … the next year.

“Barley Saturday, Waiting for the Parade” by Ceridwen, From geograph.org.uk: CC BY-SA 2.0.

I will write more on this image as the blog progresses, but it is enough to point out her usefulness as an alternative image to age, especially female aging, compared to the one we have now: the quiet old woman complacently taking her place in a rocking chair, lap ready for brief visits from her grandchildren*. Not that there is anything wrong with having a grandchild on your lap, but surely the middle-aged and older generation has more to offer the world than a lap to rest in. Cailleach moved mountains because she had the knowledge, the wisdom to figure out how to do such a feat.  Let’s tap that wisdom … please!

This blog is about sustainability and wisdom. It’s about what we have to offer in the way of wisdom regarding these topics from an older persons point of view, middle-aged to the crone. And the focus is on women writers, but this does not mean that posts from guest male writers will not appear on these pages.  Although I would like to create a space for women to be able to share their understanding regarding sustainability, sustainability itself is not a one sided affair.  Feminism, in all its facets, must inherently include the masculine element, or the movement  is doomed before it begins.  But the voices of older women are easily lost in our world, and so I would like to make this space the space of Cailleach – in somewhat the tradition of the Cult of Cailleach, which has a long tradition in different parts of the Celtic world.  The cult consisted of older women who gathered together to under the cloak of nature, magic, and wisdom.

So, I welcome you to the 21st century Cult of Cailleach.  Take a seat, feel free to drape my yellow robe about you if you are cold, and stay a while for the magic about to unfold.

______

*I say this, but also offer a nod of homage to the great Golden Girls, who were not complacent!

Research based on the following:

  • Coulter, Charles Russell, and Patricia Turner. 2000. Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. Pp. 112-114.
  • Matthews, Caitlin, John Matthews, and Caitlin Matthews. 2003. Walkers between the worlds: the Western mysteries from Shaman to Magus. Rochester, Vt: Inner Traditions International.
  • O’Brien, Lora. 2005. Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books.