As I turned fifty, I created a "croning" ritual where I announced that I was taking ownership of my life.
I invited seven of the women in my Rosh Chodesh group for a "croning" ritual. I began by making my altar. On a round coffee table I laid out meaningful objects that demonstrated various milepoints and activities of my life. For instance, I put out the unfinished quilt my mother in law had been working on when she died, a model of a car my younger son had entered into a competition which he won, and a sculpture made by one of the quadriplegic CP students I did my student teaching with. In addition I asked each person coming to bring me a candlestick.
For each decade I had passed I explained what I had set out to accomplish during that decade and a significant woman who had gotten me through the decade. For my first decade I described my mission as becoming an individual and then went on to describe my Great Aunt Allie who was a pioneer in many ways. I then lit my first candle in her memory.
My second decade was maturation and establishing goals in my life. Judy had been instrumental in helping me find satisfaction and joy in doing things for others. My third decade was establishing a career and Dr. Bigge, for whom I lit a candle, who had been instrumental in shaping me into a special education teacher. My fourth decade was beginning a family. I had had a very rough time around the birth of my second child so that candle was lit for Sharon who had guided me through that crisis then became a close friend. My fifth decade was consolidating my career and family.
During each of these "decades" I read several poems which related to the theme, or were especially meaningful and spiritual.
I then got to my sixth decade and announced that this was the time I was to take my life back for myself. I had each participant make a wish for this decade or predict what I might do. After that candle was lit we had a hakafot where the women all danced around me seven times.
Not only was this ritual meaningful for all those who attended, but it was also very powerful. Within eight months I had separated from my husband and set up my own apartment for the first time. I continue to make tremendous strides towards my own independence and now, two years later, I can truly say that I still fell the strength and power I gained through my croning ceremony.