October 19, 2013

Notes All the Way Down

Cotton boll breakthrough! I went back to what the person who had told me about spinning from cotton bolls said, which was that you just sort of held it loosely, and the fiber just spun off the seeds, leaving you with nothing but a handful of seeds. I thought that's what I had been doing, but I wasn't getting those results. Then I realized that what I was doing was fluffing it out and holding it more like a cloud of wool, with the seeds spread out, which made them greater obstacles (pronounce it like they do in "Oh Brother Where Art Thou"; it's more fun). So I tried bunching the boll back up, loosely, but all together, and tucking it into my palm, then letting the thread come out between my first two fingers. My fingers don't hold onto anything, but they keep the seeds from hanging up in the thread, and hold them back, like a wall. It works beautifully! Easier, better thread, and it's bringing me closer to getting the knack of the magic trick.

Today I lit the tenth candle in my set for <a href=>Forty Days of Ritual to Keep Abortion Legal. I've decided to do a full forty days -- if other people are doing it, keeping on doing so a couple of days after they stop can't exactly hurt -- and have a circle of stacks of votive around my little altar cauldron, ten stacks of four candles. But now it's ten stacks of three candles, which is good. Every day, after I lustrate and do my bit of tarot study, I add the burned-out little foil cup to the stack of them under the altar, grab the next candle off the stack, anoint it with oil, and call upon Athene as Giver and Keeper of the Laws, and Artemis as Protector of Pregnant Women, to help us keep abortion legal, and let no one be forced to give birth against their will. Then I put it in the cauldron and light it.

Last night was the full moon, of course, which meant it was time for me to pour out my usual round of libations. I made offering to Hekate, Artemis, Okeanos and Tethys, Athene, Dionysos and Ariadne, Hermes, and Hestia. After sprinkling the barley and pouring out the wine, I added honey for Ariadne ("And for the Mistress of the Labyrinth, honey"). Then I pulled out the little copper tripod chafing dish I use as an indoor firebowl. I keep a bed of Epsom salts laid in it, and pour in jest enough rubbing alcohol to cover that, and light it. It produces very little smoke, making it quite safe to use indoors, and is hot enough to burn small light things, such as paper. This was the first time I attempted to burn cotton in it: the waste cotton and seeds from my spinning attempts. It worked ok, I guess. I didn't want to let the fire burn too long, and I put it out to soon and had alcohol-soaked blackened seeds left at the end, but offering made and lesson learned.

Two days ago we had a truly horrible day. I can't even talk about most of it, but the worst bit was running out of gas in the middle of a long, uphill, high-speed bridge. I managed to coast over to the far right lane, and Kate got out and pushed, and some nice man who must have been sent by Hermes came along and stopped his car behind ours and got out and pushed, too. But we were still in a traffic lane. They got us something like 60ft, uphill, to the first turnoff, and I hauled the wheel around and got us into it… only to discover that it was even more sharply uphill, and there was a very high curb. So we were still stuck in the way of other people. But there was, at least, room enough for the people trying to actually make that turn to get around us. An awful lot of them honked and cussed at us, though. What the hell were we supposed to do? We literally could not move the car any further. We tried several times.

Fortunately, I still have AAA, and I called them and they sent someone on an emergency rush, since we were blocking traffic, and he was there and gave us some gas in maybe fifteen minutes. But it was a really stressful fifteen minutes.

As tired as I was when we got home after that, I had come to the conclusion that I really, really needed some ecstatic time with Dionysos. I'd been needing it for a long time, probably a couple of months. I really ought to do that ritual regularly, it's good for me, leaves the inside of my head feeling clean. I don't know why I don't do it regularly. I think some of it is having had a relative in a twelve step program growing up, and getting that "dependence on alcohol is dangerous, you can't need it for anything" message drilled into my skull. And then got the same message from my last therapist, who was big on the twelve steps, and was kind of appalled that I semi-regularly used wine ritually, and that wine was a vital part of a ritual that was important to me. She suggested I use some of the non-alcoholic "wine" they make for Jews and Catholics and soforth who can't have alcohol, and was displeased when I said that would not work for me, that the intoxication was important to the ritual. (It is for me. I know there are Dionysians out there who drink non-alcoholic wine for ritual and have no problems with doing so. It does not work for me. I don't have to drink a lot, but at least two or three fluids ounces, well-watered, is a requirement. I need that slightly floaty feeling to use as a stepping stone to the ecstasy and divine madness.) All that leaves me feeling that if I need wine, or if I use it ritually on a regular, repeating basis, I am somehow failing, somehow taking a step towards being an alcoholic. Argh.

I should just pick one night a month, and do it then, no matter what. More if I really need it, but at least once a month. I just… yesterday, I got some bad news, that I had expected would really depress and upset me, but I'd spent time dancing with Dionysos, and while I was disappointed, I was not as depressed as I would have been the day before. That's what it does for me.

I have a piece in the upcoming Bibliotheca Alexandrina anthology Crossing the River -- Eeee! I'm going to be published! -- about the sacred madness of Dionysian ecstasy, the journey that it takes me on, and how it affects me. It will be out in December, and when it is, I may post excerpts from my piece and talk about it more in depth here.

And finally, a poem:

The whole thing starts with a single
knot and needles. A word and pen. Tie a loop
in nothing. Look at it. Cast on, repeat

the procedure till you have a line
that you can work with.
It’s a pattern made of relation alone,

my patience, my rhythm, till empty bights
create a fabric that can be worn,
if you’re lucky and practised. It’s never too late

to pick up dropped stitches, each hole a clue
to something that might be bothering you,
though I link mine with ribbons and pretend

I meant them to happen...

See, now? That's the way I want to see knitting, or weaving, or spinning, or whatever fiber art, used as a metaphor: Deeply, with an understand of how the craft works, and an incorporation of the intricacies of process. Cliches like "weaving a spell" or "spinning a tale" come from times when most people either did those things, or watched them done frequently. They knew what spinning and weaving really were. Today, people use them offhandedly, without understanding. I think even those facile expressions gain a new dimension when you stop to think about how spinning and weaving actually work, and what that means.