Why Juicy Crones?
There are two big questions here. Why crones and why juicy. Both are provocative and playful. When I retired, I realised quite quickly that I did not know how to do this part of my life. There was no route map to follow, only a looming ‘Exit’ sign. I found myself invisible in a greige world, so I went on a quest to find a colour that suited me.
The word crone refers to the post-menopausal ‘third act’ of a woman’s life, often with words such as hag or harridan hanging alongside as bad company. And yet, before the rise of our patriarchal society, crones were revered as wise-women, warriors, speakers of uncomfortable truths. Crones were powerful, carrying with them the wisdom of life. They held deep truths, insight, and healing powers.
In traditional storytelling there are three archetypes of women; maiden, mother and crone. Both maiden and mother are defined by their relationship to others. Cronehood offers the chance to give birth to self. To be defined in terms of herself, to be a wisdom-seeker. If we allow it, cronehood can be both liberating and aspirational. Crones can stand back from both the pressures and expectations on the ‘maiden’ and the hearth-restraints of the ‘mother’. There is no map, but plenty of paths to chose or indeed carve out.
As for the juicy part, well this is me thumbing my nose at the cruel and demeaning language often used of older women as ‘dried-up’, ‘past-it’, wrinkled, barren. Many of the older women I have met have been the very opposite of ‘dried up’. Beautiful, vibrant, challenging women. Outrageously funny, full of self-knowledge, courageous and free-spirited. There is no better group to be part of.
There are almost 12 million ‘crones’ in the UK, almost a fifth of the population, hardly a minority group. Together we are strong. So, to all my sister ‘Juicy Crones’, I salute your courage and celebrate your zest for life in whatever way you find fulfilment.
My subtitle ‘Free for the Strangest Adventure’ is a quotation from Virginia Wolf in ‘To the Lighthouse’. For me it represents the state of mind that enables a Crone to be juicy! This is when the magic happens.
Woman's Hour - 28th August 2020
Jay's interview with Jenni Murray on BBC Woman's Hour about adjusting to retirement, and meeting women of the same age who are having adventures and doing extraordinary things.