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  • Writer's picturestephanieraffelock

The Crone’s Rosary


My friend Susan returned from retreat and showed me the rosary that she had made; read to me the prayers that she had written and prayed. It ignited in me a deep inspiration and realization that I might make a rosary too.

Rosaries were a part of my childhood. My grandmother Julia sat on her knees in the garden praying the rosary, nimble fingers rolling each bead, her lips formed in silent recitation of the prayers she knew by heart. She sat this way on the ground, snap peas filling the lap of her apron, a basket of freshly picked vegetables on the ground next to her. This and other images filled me:

Old women in the musty smelling church, their heads wrapped in babushkas, rosaries dangling from gnarled fingers, faces tilted toward the altar as they pray each bead in earnest.

Little girls in white dresses and heavy wool coats, fighting the cold as they hold rosaries and Sunday Missals on the day of their first communion.

In my childhood, rosaries were serious sacred. Objects filled with intent. Talisman of comfort and surrender.

This idea of making a rosary and creating its prayers spoke to my heart, which continues to grow a wider and broader theological brush stroke than the rigors of school girl prayers. I trust that the Divine guides me to dig into my being and find my own unique way to converse and praise.

One morning shortly after Susan had shared her rosary with me, I was sitting in meditation when the spark of inspiration burst into flame. Approaching my 62nd birthday, what I needed to mark this passage was a crone’s rosary. I hold the term crone in the original form in which it was intended–that of a crown, the crowning of the wise, old woman. I want to be her.  I want to appreciate the overview that age and experience affords you.  I aspire to the wisdom and wonder that lives in me and asks that I honor it.

In my vision, I saw the stem of the rosary with the symbol of the mother of the universe. The five beads on the stem would represent “gratitude,” because gratitude is the fullness that I desire to live and is the doorway to all of my prayers.

The first ten beads would represent “reclamation,” reclamation being the theme of this decade of my sixties–a time to reclaim and reframe what is broken and cherish it still.

“Transformation” would be the second ten prayers, as so much of my crone is about gathering and sorting, understanding a life that is still unfolding, and much more willingly so, in transformation.

The third set of prayers represents “intuition.” Having spent a good deal of life not trusting my gut, giving in to people and events that didn’t always serve me– now is a time for this crone to honor her intuition. Trusting the intuition of making the rosary and trusting my own direct connection with all of creation is cause to celebrate.

The final ten beads are prayers of alchemy. What that means to me is that I have been changed by Grace. Alchemy represents an integration of the transformations of life, and at this stage I am starting to see all of it as gold.

The prayer of gratitude separates each section of prayers.

My first pass at writing my prayers, while descriptive and sweet, proved cumbersome. It took a few times praying the prayers to find the appropriate rhythm and edits. And it may be that as time moves on, the prayers will change again. I see faith is a living, breathing, fluid thing, intimate to the one who carries it.

So, this is how the Crone’s Rosary came to be. On my birthday, I sat with Susan in her beautiful crafts room where she has created a vibration of praise through creativity, and she and I read the prayers aloud for each section of the rosary as I strung together the beads that I had gathered. It was a perfect way to mark my 62nd year. The morning after, I prayed my Crone’s Rosary for the first time, celebrating spirit, inspiration and creativity.


GRATITUDE: Holy Mother of the Universe Wisdom of the cosmos, I sing my heart in praise of all Creation We are One.

RECLAMATION: May God’s breath reclaim and reframe my broken pieces Holding them in healing To be given again From the womb of this sacred heart Rebirthed in acceptance and peace I am at peace

TRANSFORMATION: As transformation unfolds Petal by petal, a gentle infinity Embracing this story, this path, this life In the eternal embrace of God’s Love I am born again in the light of this sacred dance

INTUITION: Giving thanks for the waters of intuition For the Divine gift, asking to be felt In the holy expression of creativity Embracing suffering and compassion Dark and light I give thanks for vision

ALCHEMY: The hand of Grace stirs all creation May I be awake, authentic and true Arising in the light of an open heart Illuminating the path I walk Giving way to wisdom Giving way to praise

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