Sunday, May 20, 2018

Arriving at a title


With a certain amount of unplanned spontaneity, the quilt starts to emerge in mirror image, at least of the two female figures, the Birdheaded Snake Goddess and the Sheela-na-gig, sitting diagonally across on the opposite borderlines. It then becomes apparent that the spiral can sit at the top or bottom of the quilt, unfolding in the anticlockwise direction with a new moon below, or a waning moon above. Of course at all stages of the moon’s cycle we are living “between the worlds”, which may become more visceral as we draw closer to the end of our days living with Mother Earth. The large green leaf at the beginning edge of the spiral reflects the changing light of autumn evenings as the sun sets over the gully below, all green, with patches of light dotted throughout the bush. Living between the worlds is a name that starts to resonate for this particular quilt, with its reversal capability. So I make pockets for hanging at both ends.
 
In the Daughters of the Moon tarot by Ffiona Morgan, in the Aether Arcana as the spiritual element, the card usually referred to as the ‘hangman’ in traditonal tarot is given the title “Reversal”, and makes strong reference to the changing nature of a flowing river, or ‘a voluntary surrender, or letting go of outworn ways of thinking’, which is found by being suspended in time, made entirely vulnerable by events that have us stop and listen to the inner for the metamorphosis to occur. And our reflection in water guides us to a new pathway, to validating ourselves as a changer and reverser of destiny offered by our new insights.[1]
As a sacred space for such communion with self, the spiral facilitates the surrender and the transformation, hence the second part of the title. I’m not sure where the little meditation came from; it may have been Jean Shinoda Bolen, but it is widely used in many circles. Here is the version I printed as dedication for Jan’s quilt to her croning process. It is enclosed by the orobourous, the snake making a full circle by grabbing its tail, symbol of rebirth and new beginnings.

"Between the worlds: in the Sacred Circle of Self"
'It is a private space, created by whatever makes you feel safe and protected.
You can make it as large or as small as you need, and fill it with whatever takes your fancy at the time. Fill it with whatever nurtures, supports and loves you. It is adaptable and flexible to your needs as they change and arise. Stay in your circle until you sense your boundary is in place, ready now and always to protect and nurture you.'
 
You can create this circle at any time, just by going there in thought and spirit. A powerful way to create this sacred circle to self in a deliberate way is to call in the cardinal directions of East, North, West and South, by welcoming the full cycle of Earth’s creative process (according to a Southern Hemispheric perspective, and moving anticlockwise):
East is the dawn air, the first breath of inspiration;
North is the spark that ignites and awakens courage and determination;
West grounds us to bring inspirational dreams into form;
South is the watery womb, from which all creation springs.

There is so much more I envisaged going into his quilt, but I am finishing this quilt in the spirit of done in the spirit of the old Japanese tradition of ‘wabi sabi’, that nothing is ever perfect or ever complete. It is also complete through the circle being... 
‘…open, but unbroken. Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again’, the way we “close” a circle gathering…in readiness for the next circle.



[1] Ffiona Morgan,1991, Daughters of the moon tarot. Daughters of the Moon: Forrestville, Ca., p.28.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Other Halloween (Samhain) Goddesses


There are several other wise old women Goddesses ‘embedded’ in this quilt. They are all present in spirit at least in the quilt, and probably the little Sheela-na-gig holds them all (– and others not mentioned), all strong empowered women, encouraging personal responses that may have been exceptional and even unruly. Hecate is the oldest of the old, an ancient pre-Hellenic midwife between death and rebirth. She is a Goddess of the Underworld, keeper of the sacred well fed by underground rivers and waterfalls. She offers security in emotional knowledge gained through deep passion and emotion. She is a reflective spirit, and offers peace and tranquility by her waters for confronting and choosing alternatives to outworn ways of being in the world. She is also the challenging Goddess of the ‘trevia’, the meeting of ways at the crossroads, a liminal space for reviewing before making decisions.

The Celtic Cerridwen is also said to be keeper of the cauldron containing the sea of souls. The cauldron of the quilt is the point where the spiral turns to rise to the surface after descending. It is where the little spiral sits. Knowing all for who they really are, she is honest, trustworthy, and is a capable shape shifter (into many animals) when needed. She knows the secrets of fire, and energy in all its forms to promote change and growth with safety.


Then there is Ixchel, the Mayan Goddess of the Moon and her messengers are eagles. In her Crone aspect, she cuts away stifling thought patterns and has the wisdom to do it with care and love, learned from past struggles. This way she brings things to their natural closure. Another lovely goddess image is Spiderwoman of the Pueblo peoples (Arachne of the Greeks), who is the life weaver, continually spinning the substance and weaving into shape the world as we know it. She resonates with the seasonal wheel of the year, the wheel of fortune and karma, helping develop skills and a wisdom through which we celebrate the major landmarks born of the seeds we have planted in the past, learning to trust and understand more deeply life’s creative processes in our own lives. In her Crone aspect, like Ixchel, she also cuts the thread of time, as I’ve been reminded by cutting quite a lot of threads in time too, just while making this quilt!

Reflection: all of these goddesses are (in each of) us.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Other women in the time of renewal


There are several other wise old women Goddesses ‘embedded’ in this quilt. They are all present in spirit at least in the quilt, and probably the little Sheela-na-gig holds them all (– and others not mentioned), all strong empowered women, encouraging personal responses that may have been exceptional and even unruly. Hecate is the oldest of the old, an ancient pre-Hellenic midwife between death and rebirth. She is a Goddess of the Underworld, keeper of the sacred well fed by underground rivers and waterfalls. She offers security in emotional knowledge gained through deep passion and emotion. She is a reflective spirit, and offers peace and tranquility by her waters for confronting and choosing alternatives to outworn ways of being in the world. She is also the challenging Goddess of the ‘trevia’, the meeting of ways at the crossroads, a liminal space for reviewing before making decisions.
The angophora in my own backyard, that I have the privilege to live with and under

The Celtic Cerridwen is also said to be keeper of the cauldron containing the sea of souls. The cauldron of the quilt is the point where the spiral turns to rise to the surface after descending. It is where the little spiral sits. Knowing all for who they really are, she is honest, trustworthy, and is a capable shape shifter (into many animals) when needed. She knows the secrets of fire, and energy in all its forms to promote change and growth with safety.

Then there is Ixchel, the Mayan Goddess of the Moon and her messengers are eagles. In her Crone aspect, she cuts away stifling thought patterns and has the wisdom to do it with care and love, learned from past struggles. This way she brings things to their natural closure. 

Another lovely goddess image is Spider Woman of the Pueblo peoples (Arachne of the Greeks), who is the life weaver, continually spinning the substance and weaving into shape the world as we know it. She resonates with the seasonal wheel of the year, the wheel of fortune and karma, helping develop skills and a wisdom through which we celebrate the major landmarks born of the seeds we have planted in the past, learning to trust and understand more deeply life’s creative processes in our own lives. In her Crone aspect, like Ixchel, she also cuts the thread of time, as I’ve been reminded by cutting quite a lot of threads in time too, just while making this quilt!

Reflect: so do we experience and share all of these goddesses are (in each of) us.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Hallowe'en takes us into the dark for renewal


The Inner Crone is one we can all get to know. Just like the Inner Child we have come to understand and embrace, she is the old lady who lives in us all – old and young (though they young may need to respond to a few more ‘knocks’ at the door). Old ladies are ‘real survivors, …who have been through everything already, so nothing scares them anymore….who have had their innocence challenges by ten thousand appalling assaults…and who lived through all of it.’[1] The Crone is a character from myth and folklore and has the innate wisdom gained from her experiences and is the guardian of these ‘gnowings’ held in the underworld. Crones represent a death of some kind, but she has no fear of death. In realising our Crone time there are endings, closures and dissolutions, which we begin to see as positive, and recognize the creative transformation of our energies into another radical form. As Crones we also stay in touch with our inner child by exploring openly emerging consciousness of the young. Likewise, it is important that younger women validate and revere the Crone’s experience, wisdom and power.[2] There are plenty of women around from which to take example.

The image of the Sheela-na-gig as she is known in Irish Gaelic, is that of an ancestral Crone. As the Sheela-na-gig, (Lady of the Dance) she was represented in small statues fixed near Church entries in the early Christian era of Ireland and the British Isles. In earlier pagan days she was woven from the last cut sheaf of the field, to celebrate the final gathering in of the harvest. It is interesting how this practice inter-weaves with the story of Persephone and her Kore (daughter), who goes down into the underworld with a pomegranate to “plant” the seeds for the regrowth of another new harvest by feeding the dead souls with its seeds. Needless to say, the celebration of the holy hag’s day was the bipolar of that of Brigid, who is also honoured as the Creatrix – just at different stages on Nature’s cycle.

The Wise One, or Cailleach to the Celts is a Sheela-na-gig, a dancing hag who knows the secrets of the Universe, is the Goddess of Winter as celebrated at Hallowe’en, the beginning of winter – and she overseas the transformation in nature throughout the year. She is the ‘Deep Ancestress veiled by the passage of time… hidden in lichen-covered rocks and mountain peaks’. She is the Death Goddess, who lets die what is no longer needed, while finding the seeds to retain for the next season as keeper of the essential life-force.[3] As the shape-shifting Hag she symbolises that part of ourselves that possesses deep knowledge, understanding and reasoning, helping us towards our inner 'gnowings'. This is the wisdom She gives to us. She is a spiritual teacher and guide who has learned the value of being in creative solitude with the self. She appears as the dark moon, and is reminiscent of the Sheela-na-gig, holding her vulva wide open. She is often seen as an ugly old hag of course (originally meaning, ‘holy’), but her vulva was always seen as the original cauldron of souls – an embodied lacuna, and a liminal space in which to re-turn to the source for a rebirth.

Here she is on the quilt (thanks to friend Sheila for the printing). This is a timely post for Hallowe'en in the South Hemisphere, tonight being "between the Worlds", that name I have given to the quilt for Jan's Croning. But more on that soon.



[2] Many of the ideas expressed here and below, in relation to Goddess imagery, come from Ffiona Morgan,1991, Daughters of the moon tarot. Daughters of the Moon: Forrestville, Ca.