The vision you didn’t know you had

As published in Sybil Magazine, September 2015

As published in Sybil Magazine, September 2015

(#9 of a series of 12 articles on ‘Unlocking Your Sacred Power’)

What does the word ‘vision’ mean to you? Usually a vision paints a picture of a positive, inspiring future – one that motivates and supports us to be and do our very best. But there’s another kind of vision – the kind we don’t know we have. These visions are shared with almost everyone around us – our parents, teachers, friends, the media, and our colleagues at work. Like the air we breathe they’re so pervasive that we rarely give them a second thought. But these invisible visions can sometimes sabotage our future.

Take our vision of aging.   In western culture the dominant story of aging teaches that we are at the pinnacle of life when we are young. In our 20s and 30s we are at the height of our powers – our beauty, strength, intelligence, focus and productivity. It’s the time we’re most sure of our selves, our capacities and our future. It’s the time we believe in and go for our dreams.

As we move into our 40s and 50s we move into a story of gradual loss, degeneration and decline. We try to preserve our youth and ‘forget’ to celebrate milestone birthdays. As women, we often notice a new ‘invisibility’ creeping in as we struggle to keep the weight off and the wrinkles away.

Then, at or around 65, we retire. For some it’s a welcome time, a time of reward for a life of hard work and dedication. A time to slow down and savor life, to enjoy family and friends, to devote to hobbies or take the trips we’ve longed for. But the general assumption behind the cycle of aging in our culture is that of decline and diminishment. As we age we lose our value as productive workers and are ‘put out to pasture’ to make way for younger, more energetic colleagues.

Illness and death do visit everyone eventually. But research has shown us that the health and potential of our elder years may be drastically influenced by the vision and purpose we hold. When we expect decline, lack of value, and a growing isolation from the mainstream of life as we age, that is what we come to experience. That is the story we live into.

It’s up to us. We can allow ourselves to be defined and limited by cultural assumptions of uselessness, defeat and decline. Or, we can rewrite the story of aging. We can choose to own the unique perspective of our later years and to value this time as the harvest of our life’s experience. We can be role models, embodying wisdom in action. We can choose to act on behalf of what matters to us and to future generations. And in so doing we can live into the vision of becoming a generation of true elders who can change the tide of history.

Today I turn sixty

Our culture's view of the Crone.

Our culture’s view of the Crone.

Today I turn sixty.

My breath catches as I say these words.  It catches on decades of being told, and believing, that sixty was “old”, the “beginning of the end”, of irrelevance and dismissal.

In the weeks leading up to my birthday I wondered whether to ignore it or pretend it was just another day.  But the crone is emerging – in both me and in our culture – and her message is loud and insistent.

She stands for something our world needs.  She stands for turning outmoded myths on their heads.  She stands for gaining value and relevance as we age.  She stands for teaching our young women to find their own inner crones.  She stands for the emergence of the soul and of wisdom as an operating principle in our lives, and in the larger currents in our world.

She is one who can travel into the darkness and find light therein.  She breaks mirrors and dares to define herself.   She transmutes suffering – her own and that of others – into insight, awareness, and compassion.  And yet she will lash out when what she cherishes is desecrated.

I have had few positive feminine role models for aging so I cross this threshold gingerly.  Rooting into the archetype of the wise crone to guide me, she is my mentor, my guide, my support.  I call too on my sisters, my younger ‘sage-sisters’ and my older ‘elder sisters’ because we are breaking the molds together, creating a world and culture where experience, wisdom and insight matters.  We are keeping each other honest, real and courageous.

I am also choosing this portal, the day of my sixtieth birthday, to celebrate my ‘coming of age’ by announcing the next form of my business. Wisdom Leadership Studio was birthed in the initiatory flames of the crone goddess in the months preceding this day.  I hope that you will visit, sign up for my newsletter if you’d like to receive inspiration and wisdom resources in the weeks and months to come.  But most of all, I hope that whatever your age and gender, you will take time to listen to the crone within YOUR heart. The world needs her.

Many blessings,
Marilyn