November 19, 2013

A Spinning Prayer

I'm having trouble putting together all the wall shrines I want to for the women of the Purple Thread, having limited materials and no money to buy more, but I do want to make a start on cultus for them. I mentioned dyeing some purple wool to make a start on actual purple thread for them, and have started spinning that.

I'm also trying to start practicing evening ritual as well as morning ritual ("logical" morning and evening, as my wife would say; that is, when I get up and go to bed, rather than by the clock, since I tend towards very broken and variable sleeping patterns). As with starting a morning practice, I began with a simple lustral rite, washing my face and hands at the Ocean altar, while I considered what else to do. Last night, as I was having trouble getting to sleep, I stepped into my ritual room to spin purple thread, to settle my mind.

SJ Tucker's La Sirene,¹ the first and simplest part, started running through my head, and I wished for something similar I could use for this. And then, even though I am no Sooj and no poet or songwriter, I went ahead and wrote myself one.

For those who don't know how spinning works on a drop spindle (or anything else), you spin a length, dropping the spindle as you go, then stop to wind the thread onto the shaft (or arms, for a Turkish, which is what I'm using for the Purple Thread; winding on a Turkish has a pattern and a meditative quality that winding on other kinds does not), and do it again. So this prayer has both sections for the drop and sections for the wind-on.

I imagine that once I finish the Purple Thread, I will continue to use this prayer while I spin for ritual uses. I'll nearly always be spinning something that will be used in a ritual item, especially since I typically keep several spinning projects going at a time. My other spinning project for ritual use at the moment is midnight blue silk thread to be used in weaving an amulet bag.

The prayer:

I pray to Arachne
Who rues what she did
And weaves forever
I spin for Arachne of the Purple Thread

The Purple Thread winds on and on
The Purple Thread winds on

I pray to Erigone
Beloved of the Vine
Who mourns and sorrows
I spin for Erigone of the Purple Thread

The Purple Thread winds on and on
The Purple Thread winds on

I pray to Ariadne
Mistress of the Labyrinth
Who died and rose again
I spin for Ariadne of the Purple Thread

The Purple Thread winds on and on
The Purple Thread winds on

I pray to Helen
Lady of Sorrows
Who stands for the Silenced
I spin for Helen of the Purple Thread

The Purple Thread winds on and on
The Purple Thread winds on

I pray to Medea
Witch and Priestess
Betrayed and Vengeful
I spin for Medea of the Purple Thread

The Purple Thread winds on and on
The Purple Thread winds on

I pray to Circe
Sorceress and Goddess
Ever powerful
I spin for Circe of the Purple Thread

The Purple Thread winds on and on
The Purple Thread winds on

So spinning this prayer at least once through will now be part of my evening rituals. Once I have the shrines built, I'll be adding burning a stick of incense to one of them each morning, progressing through them in the same order as in the prayer, with the seventh day of the week being a day for them all collectively. I'll probably use a variant on the verses of this prayer with the incense.

A few words on Turkish spindles:

Most varieties of drop spindles have one (or sometimes two) round whorls, at the top, bottom, or middle of the shaft, which give the spindle the weight and momentum they need to keep a spin going. The spun thread is then wound onto the shaft, like this:

A Turkish spindle, on the other hand, has two crosspieces which slot into each other and a shaft that then goes through the central hole in them to hold them together. (Sorry, no picture. It's full of thread, which makes it hard to show in pieces.) The thread then winds around the arms in a specific pattern. You can wind it all higgledy-piggledy, but it makes a much tidier little ball (called a turtle) and much easier to draw the thread from, if you use the pattern, plus it's beautiful and meditative to do.

Turkish with shaft in. Turkish with shaft removed, so you can see the four-pointed star pattern clearly.

When you're done, or the spindle is full, you pull the arms free, and you're left with a center-pull ball. Very tidy.

I had never used a Turkish spindle, but was thinking about them after seeing some really beautiful ones on Ravelry. Someone on one of the boards offered to send me a Jenkins Kuchulu (a very tiny spindle, weighing only 8g; I have a huge affection for tiny, lightweight spindles, as I love to spin very fine thread) to try out, and when I fell in love with it, she told me to keep it, as a gift. Honestly, I cried, I was so touched. Jenkins spindles are hand-made, and not many of them are made at a time. They can't be ordered. When they have a batch, they make a post, and people who want them literally have to enter a lottery to buy one. And they aren't cheap. With our financial situation at the moment, it would have been a long time before I could buy my own. So this spindle is very precious to me.

¹ Yes, La Sirene is an epithet for one of the African Diaspora goddesses, often known as Mami Watu. Yes, Sooj is white. Yes, there are problems with white pagans appropriating African and African Diaspora goddesses. I love that song, though.