Last Sunday at her Memoir in Music and Story, Antiga the beloved Crone of Asheville gave us the gift of her rich herstory. Born Mary Lee in 1932, she took her new name, Antiga, meaning next to earth, after she left her marriage at age 47. She came out, first as a singing Pagan then as a singing lesbian and finally as a singing witch. How did the Wise One teach us yesterday at her Musical Memoir? By singing us her lessons! “I am divine. I bless my long life… I am an aged crone. Between life and death, I provide a line.”
Unapologetic about any aspect of her far-reaching self, and in spite of her blindness and other life challenges, Antiga radiated satisfaction with her life. It was a pleasure to watch and listen to her tell her story with utter undefensiveness and simple honesty. Her posture and her open face held a noble elegance as she stood tall in front of her own shroud, the winding sheet stitched together from pieces she requested from her many friends.
Between songs, she narrated and answered questions from her eager audience. “Each time of life has its work and purpose,” Antiga said; “the maiden to begin things, the mother to create, and the crone, at her ending time, to tell the community what energies must stop…And so,” she continued, “the Dark Moon Circles I host each month are for hexing as well as singing.”
Antiga’s Musical Memoir performance was both an example of and a clarion call to transformation. Standing up to share her story at the age of 84 while she is in full possession of her amazing faculties challenges the rest of us to consider doing the same. A Crone’s coming of age, proud and public, reframes everything! If a Croning ceremony signifies an entryway to old age, then this public presentation by Antiga signifies a final crowning of old age. It was above all a bold event, a memorial service offered before death by the very one who is memorialized.
May this brand new rite of passage initiated by Antiga take root in our women’s culture and inspire other crones to pass our legacy forward in our own fashion when our time comes. The coming of age which is asked of us at this time of The Great Turning is not the first one of early adulthood, but the rich one that Antiga demonstrated, the authentic and final coming of age that can be brought forth only by the experienced Crone.
(photo credit with thanks to Sue Hibbetts)