Weavers of Life

Ariadne, the spider, dared to  compare her weaving with that of Athena.

Ariadne dared to compare her weaving with that of Athena, and was turned into a spider.

In Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ audio book, she talks about the weaver, an archetype of all cultures because in even the oldest human tribes, women made cloth by weaving, knitting, crocheting, or in other ways. Archaeologists have found impressions of fabrics in ancient shards of pottery, and images of nearly all cultures show women spinning and weaving. At least one goddess of each pantheon is the patron of weavers, among other crafts.

The Sumerian goddess of weaving and life was Uttu. In ancient Egypt, the goddess of Upper Egypt, Neith, was the weaver of life; her name comes from the root of the words for being and weaving. Amaterasu, the Japanese sun goddess, was insulted by her brother while she was among her maidens, weaving, and Saule, the Baltic sun goddess wove sunbeams. Queen Penelope, wife of Odysseus, worked at her weaving every day, unraveling it at night as a ruse to delay the suitors who wished to marry her to take over the kingdom, and the suitors clearly did not pay enough attention to her and her women’s work to see what was going on, even after 20 years. Athena, Greek goddess of all craftwork, turned Ariadne into a spider for daring to weave as well as the goddess–and brag about it. Arianrhod was a Celtic weaver of fate. The Scandinavian name for the three stars of Orion’s belt is “Frigg’s Distaff”, the stick on which unspun materials such as wool was carried so that the spinner could make thread of it–hence the phrase, now nearly obsolete, the distaff side of the family–the wife’s side. Spider Woman of the Hopi wove the road of life, and gave birth to twin sons and daughters who created the physical world.

Dr. Estés asks, “Did you know, you were born as the first, and the last and the best and the only one of your kind, and that eccentricity is the first sign of giftedness? These are two of the crone truths I have to offer you.”
Estés stresses the part that the stories only suggest: when the weaving is done, the weaver knots the warp threads, and takes the fabric from the loom for its purpose–a blanket, a skirt, a rug, decorative braid. Then she starts another piece. I imaigine that the flowing robes of the greeks and romans had much to do with making clothing that did not require cutting of the cloth, but only sewing pieces to gether. A skilled weaver can make double cloth, or a tube of fabric, such as the seamless robe that Jesus was said to wear.

No matter what level of self awareness we gain, we need to do something with it, to express it in love for our friends and families, in creative work, be it cooking, gardening, buisiness-building, art, music or dance. An obstacle, a predator of the mind, is the idea of perfection in our weavings, our awareness, our growth. If we think we must be perfecdt before we can move into takking the weaving off the loom and using it, we are stuck within ourselves. The natural predator says, “It isn’t good enough. you must rip it apart and make it better.” But that is not the truth. The truth is that we are good enough, and as we grow and change, we are good enough, and as we gain skills and insight far beyond our earlier understanding, even when we gain the level of wisdom that makes us dangerous old women, we are good enough.

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2 Responses to Weavers of Life

  1. Sharon says:

    Such wisdom and deep insight. Thanks for sharing.