The Queen has her Coronation Day – but what about the Coronation Day of the Crone?!

Last week I was teaching component 5 of my Sacred Art Practitioner Training.

Basically this is ‘The Bear Component’ where all students make themselves a bear costume and Dance The She Bear. This dance comes from the ancient Greek Arkteia (or Brauronia) festival where young girls ‘danced the She Bear’ in honour of Artemis. And the constellation Ursa Major (Big Bear) in the night sky can be seen as an astral representation of the goddess Artemis.

There are many fabulous stories and myths about Ursa Major – I shared another one in the blog I wrote a week ago.

The interesting about Ursa Major is that this constellation rotates (along with the rest of the sky!) around The Pole Star (Polaris). And Polaris is the star on ‘the tip of the handle’ of the ‘saucepan’ that is Little Bear. So you could say that The Dance of the Bear is the dance of Little Bear and Big Bear in the night sky. Where Big Bear rears up on her hind legs, embarks on a great journey, walks on all fours, returns and hides in her den for hibernation (and maybe to give birth?!) until she emerges again and the cycle starts all over. And her cub (Little Bear) is never far off!

The ‘den or lair’ where Big Bear is said to hibernate in Winter is nearby star constellation Corono Borealis, “The Northern Crown”.  And that brought me to another interpretation, while deep in shamanic art work with students last week: what if the She Bear dances the life cycle of a woman, and the ‘Northern Crown’ represents the time of life where she is a Crone, or Wise Old Woman?

This is what the word ‘crone’ literally means: it comes from the word crown (corona) and refers to wisdom radiating from an old woman’s head like a crown of radiant light.

Now this could be one teaching of Big Bear our society badly needs to receive just now. I was just reading a blog yesterday where a woman wrote about all women becoming ‘invisible’ after age 50. Seen as ‘past their use by date’. A sad fate that no truly young woman ever thinks will befall her.

As it is my 48th birthday later this week (on the Spring Equinox!) I would do well to start meditating a bit on crones and crowns! I sure hope I will live long enough to savor my Crone Years. Maybe even go a bit feral with it?!

(I am no longer young-young but definitely way to young to be a crone just now. So what does that make me? A proud mother of teenagers!)

As our culture is so youth-obsessed (and to me that really indicates a great fear of death) we have lost the concept of Rites of Passage. For young boys as much as for girls and women.

The Arkteia Festival in the temple of Artemis was all about a great rite of passage: young girls (children really) making the transition to being young women. They did so in sacred space, away from everyday life, with a priestess (and possibly even male priest – pictures of men and women wearing bear masks during these rites appear on vases from that period) holding space for them.

I don’t have daughters (only a house full of sons!) but I have often intuitively felt that some blood of a girl’s first menstruation needs to be offered to the land. And that older women too would do well to make this offering to Mother Earth too, from time to time.

Therefore this blog is about putting ‘out there’ the notion that our communities need to create a Rite of Passage where the Crone receives her Crown – and is seen as an Elder, a Teacher, a Source of Wisdom for the whole community.

And it seems to me that the Coronation of the Queen could serve as a blue print for this.

And that this Ceremony/Festival could happen while bears hibernate and give birth, in other words: when Ursa Major wears her Northern Crown…

Imelda Almqvist

Imelda Almqvist is a shamanic practitioner, teacher and painter based in London, UK