Tuesday, August 1, 2017


…the word saga has been translated out of its original meaning, which was ‘She-Who-Speaks,’ that is, an oracular priestess, such as were formerly associated with sacred poetry. The literal meaning of saga was ‘female sage.’ The written sagas of Scandinavia were originally sacred histories kept by female sagas or ‘sayers,’ who knew how to write them in runic script."
”Barbara G. Walker, The Crone: Woman of Age, Wisdom, and Power  **
Travelling across the country this summer gave me a lot of time to think about things as the road rolled ahead of me, the terrain changing as I went.  Sometimes I think of my life like that, a road that unfolds before me and behind me, with various pit stops along the way.  As I age I increasingly find there is no longer anywhere to "get to", no where I am particularly rushing toward or away from.  The road has all kinds of eddies and side roads and chance encounters, and increasingly, that's what I notice and savor.   This summer I did, inspite of many difficulties that came up, a lot of internal healing, an intention I see I began the trip with.  Ask and ye shall receive.....but that's another story........what I did do this summer was give myself a personal "rite of passage".  I am a Saga now.

I've never liked the term "Crone" as it's used to speak of women in the third phase of life, although I like, of course, the meanings that have been re-associated with it as women seek to reclaim feminine power  (Maiden, Mother, Crone).  But part of my dislike of the word has to do with the meanings that were associated with it in the past. 

Here's what wikipedia has to say about the word:
"The crone is a stock character in folklore and fairy tale, an old woman who is usually disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing. She is marginalized by her exclusion from the reproductive cycle, and her proximity to death places her in contact with occult wisdom. As a character type, the crone shares characteristics with the hag.  The word "crone" is a less common synonym for "old woman," and is more likely to appear in reference to traditional narratives than in contemporary everyday usage.The word became further specialized as the third aspect of the Triple Goddess popularized by Robert Graves and subsequently in some forms of neopaganism."  
"Saga" is a Scandinavian word that means "a long, ancestral or heroic story".  I've been thinking that I prefer to use this word to "crone".  A long, wise story, woven into the threads of many stories.  I like that much better.  It re-empowers the grandmothers, the old women who, in a patriarchal and monetary culture that defines a woman's worth by her beauty and sexual appeal...........it defines old women for what their real value really is:  people who've lived long lives,  who know things, who have accomplished things, who have wisdom and depth.  

According to mythologist Barbara Walker, Saga also means "She Who Speaks". Similar to the masculine "Sage", a Saga is a wise old woman, a female mentor and teacher. Similar, but not, to my mind, quite the same in it's meanings, and that is because of the context of "story" that imbues the word and its origins.   She-Who-Speaks is the potent teller of story, because she embodies a long, interwoven, generational, story - a Saga.  In pre-literate cultures, the Saga and the Sage held a thread that was woven through many lives into the past, and her/his long  memory was the precious gift that kept the stories and myths that comprised the knowledge of a people  alive.  

So the next time I attend a "croning"  party for a woman, I'll say:  "You've become a Saga".   

1 comment:

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Love that word! I was never a fan of crone, either. It sounded like something distasteful. But Saga.... beautiful ring to it!