Quilting and "CRAFT"
Janis Maria Cortese
Organization: University of California, Irvine
Last night I attended the first session of a first-time quilter's
class. While I was there listening to the teachers tell us the little
tricks that make quilting easier and buying all the neat gadgets that
you use, something very fundamental struck me, to the point that I was
unable to speak for a few minutes until I had acknowledged this
movement in my mind.
Let me describe something to you, and you try to guess what I'm
talking about. The characteristics are as follows:
1) done by a group of women together, which is frequently called a
2) handed down from mother to daughter, in a VERY hands-on fashion.
3) uses specialized tools that other people don't understand and
usually don't recognize.
4) requires strict adherence to ritual preparation of materials.
5) can be monotonous and repetitive -- PERFECT for meditation.
6) can be decorative as well as practical, and frequently both.
7) can be done entirely by hand, OR with the aid of techie stuff.
8) causes things to come into being that other people usually call
Sound like Wicca? Well, it's not, at least not the "standard" type,
if there is any such thing. I'm talking about the quilting class.
Have you ever wondered WHY so many WOMEN do it, and so few men (apolo-
gies to male Witches out there; I discovered these things through
feminism)? What else has been so "religiously" handed down through
generations aside from crafting skills, and how many women do you know
who have a love affair with that old afghan that their grandmother
made and wouldn't part with it for the world? Sound familiar now? I
mean, REALLY. This *can't* be coincidence!
I will follow the Craft in the barest sense of the word -- a CRAFT,
some talent which can be used for practical and beautiful purposes,
and has all the trappings of a "true" ritual. (And believe me, you'd
better adhere to the rules hard and fast. You must use EXACTLY the
required seam allowance, and you'd better treat your cloth before you
start sewing, or whatever you end up with might as well be a drop-
cloth.) And when you're done, you have something. You have some-
thing to which you can point and say, "That's where the last five
weeks have gone." You can follow a pattern established by another
woman, or you can create your own, or you can follow a pattern and
personalize it with your choice of materials.
I mean, they're called QUILTING CIRCLES and SEWING CIRCLES, people?
How much more of a HINT do you need?!?!?!
Howzaboutit? Anyone else interested in a coven of Crafters who
literally craft? I feel it deeply enough that I can finally call
myselef Wiccan/Witch and have it feel right.
However, I'd rather not do this by myself. I realize that many people
would rather follow Wicca in a different way, but if this way feels so
wonderful to me, it MIGHT be good for others, too. I'm not saying
that you need to do this the same way *I* do it; just give it a try
and see how it feels. If you like, try consecrating your materials
before starting. Make something (I'm not just talking quilts, here,
but ALL kinds of crafts) with a Pagan theme. After I finish here, I'd
LOVE to make a four-pane quilt with a full moon, a chalice, a blade,
and a tree in the panes.
Any feedback on this? I can't tell you how strongly I feel this and
how amazed I am at that strength. If I really allowed myself to
absorb this, I think I'd be in tears. Maybe I'm just typing this to
get it on "paper"; I don't know. But I've never felt this way -- this
sublime -- about anything connected with Paganism/Wicca before.
THIS CAN'T BE COINCIDENCE!!!!!!!
Next: Sophia and Gnosticism (Terry J. McCombs)