My goal at this stage of life is to move closer to my true self. To shake off the shackles of past regrets and sorrows; to challenge what the world expects of me as a woman in her 60’s; to let go of concern about what people might think of my antics. I am free now, after all. I can try different jobs, since my value as a person is no longer defined by what I do or how much I earn. Maybe I’ll work on a lavender farm, or in a bookstore, or in a shop that sells crystals and beads. Maybe I’ll learn something new and start a small business. Maybe I’ll dress in wild outfits, let my hair grow out, keep my own hours.
I have so many choices now, but I can’t decide what word best describes me as I embark on this path of elderhood. The ones available for an older woman have her ugly, grumpy, or wicked: Crone, Sorceress, Hellcat, Shrew, Virago, Hag, Beldam. There are others, such as Wise Woman or Wisdom Keeper, but they seem presumptuous. I have learned some things along the way, but age is not an automatic granter of wisdom.
I see myself as like one of the witches in Macbeth, stirring a cauldron of magic potions to cast a spell: “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble. Cool it with a baboon’s blood, Then the charm is firm and good.” Well, not quite like one of those witches, since they are described in Macbeth as withered and wild unearthly beings bent on harm. My magic, my stirring of the pot and conjuring will be done for the good of others. Mixing herbs into teas and salves for healing and health. Weaving stories out of gossamer threads of thoughts and dreams to amuse, comfort, and cause readers to say yes that’s how it is. Spinning straw into gold. Speaking out and performing deeds that reap good in the world.
I settle on conjurer for the word that best describes me as I go forward from here. There is a power to it, an energy. It is the power women have always had and that men have always known and feared. Why else would words like Sorceress, Witch, Siren and all the others have come down through the ages? I plan to make the most of it.
Lee Stevens is conjuring and enjoying life in Hendersonville, NC