“…and so I run fast over the wild lands of returning paths,
destiny chasing my heels, I enter
changing woman weaving house
where the possibilities of all worlds are everywhere;
weaving the integrity of emeralds, sacred lovers,
tenderness in tents and the souls of the thousand white elks
and so I weave, dear stone fruit:
to intuit fire I
am moon water I
am white shell
weaving clouds into winds, tides for the fishermen,
lyric of hearth and the seed of the eagleman;
creating and spinning the threads on wheels
under the constant beat of the only sound there is:
~ Lubomira Kourteva
There is abundance of tales, lore and myth across many cultures, connecting spinning and weaving to the divine and to the threads of fate that lead us toward various destinations, and to each other. There is also the famous concept of The Web of Wyrd, which reminds us that it is our own actions every day that weave the yarn for the day after; a web marrying fate with destiny. Wyrd is not just referring to our individual life paths but to the universe itself; a vast spider’s web where everything is interconnected, multifaceted and all future possibilities are available to us, as we weave our cloths of life.
Weaving is the foundation of all cloths, fabrics and designs, and it all begins with spinning. Silk, wool, feelings, connections, values, and life experiences – all sit in our laps as we nurture them, comfort them and untangle them gently with our hands. Little by little, one by one, we gather all parts and spin the wheel. Thread by thread, woven together, we create cloths of protection, shelter, beauty and trust. One, two, three until limitless possibilities, until always.
Spinning is a mesmerizing art. The wheel turns and so does the cyclical time revolve to pull the linear times of thread. By spinning, weaving and unraveling, we master time itself and it is the spindle that becomes our core; the foundation of our values and morals. In a way, it refines our character. Spinning also brings its unique cosmic twist into the raw materials of nature, giving them strength, wisdom, meaning and continuity. When we view life with a greater awareness, we can perceive the links in-between and weave them into our ongoing stories, coming to a fuller understanding of their true essence, and of ourselves.
Spinning is not a mindless act; it has deep wisdom. It requires immense dedication, patience, constant attention and brings order of chaos. In fact, this is how the world began: by the Earth spinning on its axis around the Sun. This is how we all began: by one cell spinning into two, then three and then it’s us, our blessed body and sacred heart. Spinning holds a rhythmic balance of hand and mind, reflected in the unraveling of the spinner’s thoughts leading to new insights and creative inspiration. In The Sleeping Beauty, I wrote that while fate cannot be escaped, destiny can be transformed by wisdom and awareness. But let’s talk today about another spinning tale.
“Spindle, Shuttle and Needle” Brothers Grimm, illustrated by H. J. Ford
The Tale: Spindle, Shuttle and Needle by Brothers Grimm
A girl lived with her grandmother who taught her to spin, weave and sew. As she grew older, she learned the art of perseverance, patience and wove and sewed beautifully and wholeheartedly. One day the king’s son of the land decided to go look for a wife saying that he wants a girl who would be at the same time “the poorest and the richest.” When he arrived at the poor girl’s village, he saw her standing by her window, diligently spinning. Their eyes met but he went away. As she continued spinning, the girl sang an old rhyme that her grandmother had taught her:
Spindle, spindle, please run fast,
And bring a suitor back at last.
The spindle immediately leapt up and danced off into the distance, trailing a golden thread. It found the prince and he followed it back to the girl’s house. By now she was weaving and singing:
Shuttle, shuttle, weave so fine,
Bring a suitor to be mine.
And the shuttle obeyed, running into the street and beginning to weave the most beautiful carpet ever seen. Roses and lilies adorned its sides, and down the middle hares and rabbits were frolicking against the golden background, and in between, stags and deer pranced and birds flew in the sky. Now, the girl began to sew, and sang, one last time:
Needle, needle, sharp and fine,
Prepare the house for this suitor of mine.
Quick as a flash, the needle raced round and all furniture was covered in the softest cloths, embroidered at their finest and flowered silk curtains hung from the windows. To the house rode the prince. “You are the poorest but also, the richest. Come with me and be my bride.” And they kissed.
This story holds an important wisdom. And no, it’s not to spin a wheel and do some magic tricks to get a man. The girl was a practical, hard-working, kind soul but wasn’t obsessed with practical, material matters only. She didn’t win the prince because of her magical spindle, shutter and needle; these were the expressions of her core values, mind and heart. We are not meant to be in love with riches just for their own sake. When she needed to decorate her pathway, she did this with her own artistry, dedication and effort. But she was also perfectly content to live the humble life that she had, which was actually extremely rich in its essence.
There is a beautiful balance of both the material and the inner world. She takes ordinary materials and tools, and makes beauty and romance arise from them. She is not a slave to her decisions or circumstance; she makes conscious choices with what she has in her hands and spirit. Happy and content not to be rich in the traditional sense, she is actually the richest of them all in her abilities, purity of heart and sound mind.
Life’s Paths, Purpose & Apprenticeship
We journey through life in continual moving adjustments, along the threads, much of which are potentials rather than predetermined designs. And yet the paths we take and weave ourselves, constantly try to align themselves to our overall purpose or fate. In other words, we can never stray too far from our what is meant for us; from our purpose or calling or soul’s fate. No matter how many twists and turns we make, the path meant to lead us towards fulfilling our calling will always reshape itself in response to the choices that we make in life.
We live in a very fast paced world where it’s all about instant validation and people are so stressed when they don’t know what their calling or purpose is. It’s the human race, racing. We rarely have time to reflect, learn, research and make mistake, try again, and then mistake again … and then try again. Because there is wisdom in mistakes and each one takes us one step closer, as long as we actually learn from it. Life isn’t some “aha” moment from a Hollywood movie scene, where suddenly there are a whole bunch of sound effects and there we are, all in sparkles, finally found our calling. Okay, so what’s next?
To me living a purposeful life or living our “calling” is a life’s work; it’s found in the steps every day. Maybe your calling is to inspire people and the only way to do that is to go through a life of struggles or failures, where you learn self-motivation and perseverance. Maybe your calling is to have the hands that will hold those who need love in their life – and that means you’ll learn nurturing, compassion and kindness, time and time again, through the situations you’ll face.
To me purpose is about “being”. Just be. It’s the creative force within you; it is allowing life to breathe through you, molding you into what you were always meant to be. Purpose is about constantly and endlessly becoming – and not about the “doing” as much.
The tales of weaving remind us the forgotten value of apprenticeship. Developing a vision for our life takes time, a long time. It is an ongoing process where no little daily thing is without its meaning and purpose for the overall design. It is also about accepting failures and knowing that things take time, which was actually my first lesson back in grad school. In the tale “The Black Bull of Norroway” the girl spends seven long years apprenticed to a blacksmith. She had to do that because it was her impatience that separated her from the prince in the first place; and so they lost each other in the enchanted forest. He looked all over for her, as did she, but the spell was done. And so she stepped off the path a little bit – for seven years – to learn patience through the work. Obviously they found each other at the end because this is what was meant to be from the start; this was their fate as the tale said. And there are many more tales like that.
The tales’ messages are clear. Sometimes we step off, learn a few more skills, and if we learn them properly, these experiences will lead us back to where we wanted to be. There is value in the learning, in the waiting, in the thinking we are not progressing. The humility in apprenticeship, in the weaving, deserves to be treasured. And sometimes the greatest progress is made precisely during these quiet seemingly ordinary moments.
We are weavers and spinners each day, weaving and spinning threads into meaning and pattern, pulling silks from our hearts and shaping it into being through our lips, hands and feet.
We are all weavers and spinners; creating under the constant beat of our heart. Every day we make a choice on the kind of person we want to be and the values we hold ourselves to; it’s a choice on what we want to weave. We make decisions on even the words we choose to speak; for good or bad, for encouragement or harm, for support or selfishness. These define our character. And it is our character that then defines the pathway we’ll walk by our very own feet. Every day is a new day, and our soothing hands will be re-stitched by the bright light of morning sun. Today is not too late, tomorrow is also not too late. Choose love. Or not. But whatever you choose, make it a conscious decision. This is your life, your story, your creation, your yarn. Some things will happen and others will not but our best chance is to create, nurture and cultivate the environment needed for an experience to bloom, for a rose to grow. And something will grow, always.
The cover photo is from my personal archives; from the time I travelled across Bulgaria, my native land.
Much Love & Peace
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