A Crone Turns 40

06/15/2011 05:31 pm ET | Updated Aug 15, 2011

"One of the best things about gathering years is the right to cackle with impunity."
The Dangerous Old Woman
-- Clarissa Pinkola-Estes [1]

I was one of those kids people referred to as a "wise old soul." I realize now that such esoteric honorifics are irrelevant, as are other stalwarts, such as "soul mate" and "twin flame." Still, regardless of how other people saw me, I always felt old and somehow did manage to know things that were beyond my experience and maturity. In the generally accepted triplicity of the "Divine Feminine" -- maid, mother, crone -- I always identified more with the "crone," the elder female rich in life experience and quiet solitude, the one of whom everyone was passively afraid yet secretly sought her insight. In a couple of weeks I am turning 40, and it has me curious about a few things. When do I officially become a crone? As a middle class western woman, when do I officially earn the stripes that identify to my culture and community that I am capable of being who I have always been?

In our culture you can't be a kid and wise. You can't be young and insightful. I've always wondered what it was going to be like to actually grow into the crone persona, to have the earned knowledge to actually support it. In lieu of those, I frequently played down my intellect, not to mention my intuition and the impact it could have on my life and that of others. And it's not just me. I have known many women of all ages who dazzled and were etherically gifted, only to pretend they weren't to keep others comfortable in their presence. I made a conscious decision to come out of that broom closet at a personal level about 23 years ago at a very weathered 17, and at a professional level in my local community about 12 years ago when I began my modern shamanic practice, Soul Intent Arts. Still, regardless of my personal choices, studies, refinement in interpersonal and interfaith dialogue, and yes, maturity, I continue to find that in general discourse, people frequently just disregard my viewpoint.

When does it happen? When does the perception of a smart-ass kid become the voice of a wise woman? When will I have collected enough life points to get my Crone badge? Will it be this birthday? Will I suddenly wake up 40 years old and be respected? Is the culture of my birth suddenly going to start listening to me? At what age does it begin listening to any woman?

I don't know the answer to those questions. I do know that I am not that kid anymore, and that I am ready and willing to take on the responsibility of my growth. At this solar transition, I am finally poised to realize myself as the woman I want the world to see. I can only hope that in welcoming her in some small way it fosters the respect of crones everywhere -- both the grinning young ones and their cackling elders.