Grey Heron Nights 2: Old Crane Woman crosses the threshold

She’s still there, Old Crane Woman. Still there, down by the river. A river doesn’t let you go easily, says Old Crane Woman. A river keeps you close.

When you stand by a river, Old Crane Woman says, maybe sometimes you’ll be thinking about crossing it. If a river is a threshold, maybe sometimes you’ll want to be stepping over it. But Old Crane Woman has this to say: choose your crossing place well. Will you choose a bridge, to cross over the river? Then choose your bridge well. Will this bridge hold you? Will it hold the weight of the baggage you carry? Will the cross-beams crack, or will you step over so lightly that you’ll leave no trace of your passing? Will your feet dance across the bridge, or will they drag? Will you burn that bridge behind you, or will you leave it? Will you leave it for the others who some day might walk for a while in your footsteps? Sometimes, Old Crane Woman says, bridges are for burning. Sometimes, they’re not.

Old Crane Woman is standing by the ford; it’s the kind of crossing place she likes best. Look at it there, under the pink-and-blue hues of a mackerel sky.

Old Crane Woman knows this ford; it runs red with the blood of the dead. Her sister lives here: the bean nighe. You might catch a glimpse of her if you sneak down alone, at the liminal times of dawn and dusk. Washing the linen of those who are soon to die. If you catch her there, and ask her politely, she’ll tell you what you want to know. She’ll tell you, for sure, what she sees. But you’d better be sure you want to hear it. Choose your crossings carefully, Old Crane Woman says. And never look back at the  Washerwoman at the Ford.

Old Crane Woman has crossed over the threshold. The land is the journey, Old Crane Woman says. The source, and the destination. And all the steps in between. Until you find yourself back where you started, there by the river, again.

Old Crane Woman’s building her nest. From the scraps of cloth which weave together this land. And a scrap of linen gathered from the blood-red ford.




9 thoughts on “Grey Heron Nights 2: Old Crane Woman crosses the threshold

  1. Ooh, wonderful. I especially love “the land is the journey”. That sentence has flared in my heart and I just know I will spend the day thinking deep about it. I love the photo too.

    It is so great to read stories from women who know about folk like the bean nighe. I learned about her when I was young but do you think anyone else in this far south country knew about her or wanted to discuss such things? This is why I love the internet 🙂


    1. ‘The land is the journey’ is perhaps one of the best descriptions of my new book, ‘If Women Rose Rooted’. There’s a revisioning of the Hero’s Journey as the Eco-Heroine’s Journey, a journey back to place and belonging. And yes, the internet is a remarkable source of nourishment if you don’t resort to junk food 🙂 I love it too. The bean nighe is no junk food, for sure …


  2. The stone on my desk from the blood-red ford.
    The stone making me say: “I wish I could speak stone.”
    Is it telling me it is time to cross the threshold
    to the land that is journey, source and destination?


  3. Dear Sharon, I cannot thank you enough for your beautiful writings – I wait with such eager anticipation for your next posting… Thank you, From My heart and Soul – I feel so recognised and connected by you and your words and ancient truths.. Thank you, Jane x

    Sent from my iPhone



  4. “some bridges are for burning…” I love this. It can be a hard and wondrous thing to set a bridge alight but it’s a sure fire way to keep our feet moving. [pun not intended, but gratefully received ;)]

    everything about this series makes me want to grin like an eejit and hug myself…you know, in the way you do when you realize you’re not alone after all.


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