6/11/11

Musings on Spinning

Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous (10 days old)
Moon Sign: Scorpio
Weather: Partially cloudy, seasonably warm & cool front just passed in the last few hours
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As I have gotten more involved with the ancient craft of spinning, I have been attempting to find out old legends, stories, and wisdom regarding it. This has proven frustratingly elusive. I suspect that this class of legends have passed out of the folk memory with the exception of a few that were written down (like the Fates spinning out a man's life as a thread or Frigga spinning the clouds). I believe that with the advent of modern machine oriented textile production, the old stories were lost. And that is something that makes me sad.

The more I use my spindle and distaff, the more I feel a connection to my female ancestors. The more I find I feel a connection with the Goddess. I have been spinning a lot lately. The fiber I have been using isn't long enough to merit using my distaff, but one of my small collection of distaffs has a prized place upon my altar. It is in part a tool of my age old domestic craft and in part a sacred object. (I'm very much a kitchen witch in that respect.) My spindles are either busily in use or waiting for use. They're not still long enough to gather dust.

And I feel that work is sacred. Not what people uphold as the dreaded four letter connotation - that soul crushing, mind numbing thing which has all the feel of slavery in it's grip upon mankind is most definitely not what I view as sacred. Indeed, that I believe could be argued as profanity. No, work is the life sustaining tasks we engage in. The things we do out of love and necessity for the sake of ourselves, our families, and that which we believe in. The man who has a job he feels proud of and feels that he is contributing to his life and the lives of others... that man is engaged in the holy form of work. The one who is just dragging himself through the day for a paycheck, he is suffering a perversion of that first form of work.

I suppose all of that makes one question where my 'hobby' of spinning fits into this. I have several reasons why I spin. First, I spin because I enjoy it and it soothes me. As a person who suffers with anxiety on a daily basis, it is vital that I have something that helps me keep my mind at ease. With out it, I can scarcely function, let alone be a good mother and wife. Secondly, I spin because I feel a sacred connection to my ancestors and the Goddess. To engage in a task so intimately connected with the lives of those who founded my line and so sacred that the Goddess herself engaged in it... it is an act of worship and meditation to do so. Thirdly, I spin because I then can make useful and helpful things from my efforts. I can take raw fiber and eventually have hats and scarves for my husband and children.

Sure, I suppose I could go and buy all of my yarn at the local WalMart. There's lots of lovely colors and synthetic yarn is a lot easier to care for. At the same time, however, I can't shake the feeling that it is ecologically more responsible for me to spin. I am not depending upon the labor of some person who is being exploited to run a dangerous piece of equipment in a fiber mill in some third-world country. I'm not adding to the coffers of businesses that poison the earth with their chemical byproducts in producing the raw material for those synthetic fibers used in those mills.

Oh, I still will get some of that synthetic yarn, but I am gradually moving away from my dependency upon it. I am doing my best to start using more recycled yarn. I am beginning to comb the second hand shops for sweaters and similar items to frog and fashion into new things. I have been collecting bits and pieces of yarn that are left overs from other projects I have done to use in things like scarves and baby blankets. The more I do along these thrifty lines, the more I feel better about what I am doing. And still I spin.

When I am happy, I spin. When I am sad or fearful, I spin. When I am inspired, I spin. When I am devoid of even a remote flash of inspiration, I spin. With each turn of the spindle, each twist of the fiber, and each moment of time I am spinning, I pray. I wonder if my prayers are the same as my ancestresses.

I pray for peace of mind. I pray for the health and well being of my loved ones. I pray for justice for the wronged. I pray for health for the world and for all people of the world to know at least one good night's sleep. I pray for blessings to be infused into my work to bring well being to the person who eventually receives or wears what I make. I pray that those who bring evil into the world are opposed and eventually put to rights.

I also secretly pray for more fiber to spin, at times. I pray that my spindles won't break. I pray that I will continue to improve in my efforts to learn this craft. I pray that I actually master the knitting techniques I have been stumbling and struggling with. I pray that the materials I am using will prove strong enough to be used for any future project, be it weaving, knitting, crochet, or some other textile art form.

It's a whole lot for a twirling stick with some fiber wrapped around it. Perhaps, just perhaps, I will get glimmers of what my ancestresses thought of and did as they spun. I know one thing, I am going to continue to pray and spin for a long time.

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