THE CHANGE OF LIFE
A Right Of Passage
By Marcia Singer
If you are a female in the United States, the chances are high that you’ll live long enough to go through menopause, commonly known as “The Change.” Happily, you will have at your disposal an increasing array of more healthful options for managing the physical changes most often encountered by women in their mid-forties to mid-fifties, (although the age can vary). You may also benefit psychologically as more people question the stereotype that equates attractiveness with youthful qualities. However, unquestionably, there is a vast sea of women in America dreaming of appearing young indefinitely, recoiling at the idea of aging.
The menopausal passage beckons us to look at our eventual withering and dying, and becomes doubly charged in a culture that clings to youth.
If we hold fast to outmoded identifications, our development as women is arrested. Opportunities for true fulfillment and wise eldership are jeopardized. Trying to get through The Change of Life without change is unrealistic and potentially damaging to the female psyche. Unaware that menopause might be regarded as a soulful time to restore, regroup, and re-evaluate, women are left instead to the troublesome task of tolerating, appeasing or resisting the natural cycles life brings us.
Even more agonizing is the anxiety that as feminine beings, we may no longer be viable, no longer attractive nor worth loving. In worst case scenarios, entire lives threaten to become disrupted by the onslaught of an unwanted passage we shudder at, go into denial about, and are completely unprepared to deal with.
Since thousands of American women are in fact distressed by a host of menopausal- and post menopausal-related ills, it may appear our fears are grounded: that midlife change is simply horrendous! Often loved ones, friends and associates stress out as well over a woman’s times of change, even emotionally or physically abandoning her and compounding her anguish. Feeling abandoned, she may then withdraw, even isolate, hiding out in shame or apprehension. Labeled as a failure, crazy, pathetic or just plain “bitchy” and difficult, any woman may believe she is less deserving of lovingkindness and compassion, inviting more hurt.
The belief that we are potentially helpless victims of female physiology is widespread. As long as we think menopause and the change of life is primarily a biological event, and one to control or put up with, we omit its soulful possibilities for growth. American women will continue to suffer. And just imagine what could happen if the rumors bear out that by the year 2010, there may be fifty million women on earth at least fifty years old. Will the hardships borne of ignorance of the spiritual nature of our time of change dominate the passage, or will we awaken to claim our right of initiation into Selfhood? Claim the opportunity to become Women Of Wisdom — the “WOW” generation?!
Fortunately, a grassroots movement to rekindle the rites of passage into “cronehood” exists. Horribly misunderstood, the concept or archetype of Crone relates to the word “crown,” and represents the Wise Woman who looks within to her true beauty, gathers her energies, holds her “wise blood.” Crone is a name for a woman fully in her power, a force of loving counsel, compassion, and earthy spirituality.
In the past, we have feared, avoided or attacked the crone or “hag.” Now we may resurrect her by acknowledging her roots in the Greek word for “holy woman” or “sacred grove.” What an awesome force we women over fifty might be in shaping the planetary shifts we sense taking place, so in need of loving wisdom.
If we continue to wake up! Ancient counsel reveals that The Change can be a time of great transformation, an alchemical process that burns away the dross and purifies a woman’s path. As the menopausal initiate courageously descends into the primal womb to be reborn or redefined, she is stripped of what is false or outmoded. She rediscovers what is essential to her life. Completing her passage, the woman emerges from her process like a butterfly emerging from its sacred cocoon. Having claimed her right to rite of passage, she returns to her family and community with zest and zeal to creatively share her discoveries. She may be celebrated with a special ceremony, singly or with other friends who have completed this part of their Journey in a “croning” ceremony.
How does a woman wishing to make her menopausal years a soul passage find the way to do so in a modern world that has forgotten how? She can begin with a prayer for trust and guidance. Then, as she begins to pay attention to her dream and expect good things, the ways will show up: meeting kindred spirits, a book, a special women’s circle, a workshop, a prophetic dream.
The ways are endless and the paths are there for every woman who desires her fullness of feminine life. May our flame burn bright.
Marcia Singer, MSW, CHT (American Bd of Hypnotherapy) directs the Foundation For Intimacy. For information about “midwiving midlife,” expressive arts/counseling, her Women of Wisdom (WOW) monthly circles for women, and N-Gender (co-ed) call (818) 623-6434 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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