Center Altar Piece, "Community Clay" 2008
"In the beginning, there was darkness. Then Tawa the sun awoke, and with him, Spider Woman awoke from the great below. Waking, she saw how empty the world was, and she began to imagine things, and what she imagined came to be. Spider Woman spun a line to form the east, west, north, and south, and at the center, she spun stories then that wove in circles around each direction, and the lands began to arise from the stories she thought of. And from the moist warm new lands, she took clay, and made all kinds of people. To each she attached a thread of her web which came from the doorway at the top of her head. This thread was the gift of creative wisdom. And at last, she taught them how to weave."Pueblo Creation Myth
It was my great delight and privilege to return to Midland to see "COMMUNITY CLAY" at the Creative Spirit Center, and to meet and talk with the Center's amazing Director, Sarah Gorman, as well as re-connecting with the wonderful ceramic artist Kathy Space, who I collaborated with last year when we created "Hands of the Spider Woman" at the Midland Center for the Arts as part of my fellowship with the Alden Dow Creativity Center.
"The Terra Cotta masks are made from volunteers who participated in the casting process during April, community members' hand models, and their thoughts on community will be part of the show. Facing Forward mentoring program participants will also add their masks to the exhibit during June. Space Studios is partnering with Creative Spirit Center to produce this exhibit. The inter-woven hands of community members symbolize a loom: an engine of interwoven and independent fibers, coming together in continually creative patterns of relationship. It is also a symbol of connection, collaboration, community, communion, sustainability and hope."Kathy Space (2008)
When participants were going through the casting process Sarah told me she asked them to each find his or her essential face, under the personae and daily identifications of our lives - the "face you wore before you were born". I loved also the living metaphor of the "thread" woven between the hands of all participants. At the center, were the hands of the Weaver, faceless. And the thread finally went through the door, disappearing into the greater community of being we all belong to. I cannot say well how grateful I am for the way they, and their community, have matured and realized the idea that began last year. Thank you....................
Right Wall with "Thread" leaving through the door.
This experience gives me further incentive to finish this summer my book "Hands of the Spider Woman", which I hope will be available to sell (as a hard cover book) in September. Here are, in closing, a few more thoughts about the creation myth of Spider Woman. In Pueblo Indian traditions, Spider Woman, who is also called "Thought Woman" (Tse Che Nako) or "Creation Thought Woman" - created the world by thinking of stories, and this is the same creative power she passed on to all of her descendants, each connected. Within these myths, Spider Woman is, in fact, Mother Earth. The Navajo revere Grandmother Spider Woman because she taught them the sacred art of weaving.
To this day, spider webs are rubbed into the hands of baby girls, so they will become good weavers. Navajo rugs often have Spiderwoman’s Cross woven into the pattern as a symbol of balance - the union of the 4 directions. The fifth direction is the unifying force at the center.
To “walk in beauty” is to be aware of a “moving point of balance” as we walk through the circles of our lives and relationships. And Spider Woman has a way of getting around.
Ecologists speak of the great Web of life upon Gaia, the living Earth, while contemporary physicists speak of entanglement theory and demonstrate the possibility that everything, including water*, is responsive and participates in some form of consciousness. Quantum theory indeed suggests that we live in a thought universe, a universe that is ultimately a unified field. Which is a bit of what the Hopi have been saying for over 1,000 years. Personally, I have the feeling Spider Woman is working very hard now to make us pay attention. We’re all weavers as well, weaving the world into being with the stories we tell.
Each of us is holding a thread, a lineage, that goes back in time and extends far into the future, a weave we participate in with our thoughts, our dreams, and the manifest creative work of our hands. I have found that Spider Woman delights in all things connected, co-creative, collaborative, cooperative, communicative - all those “co” words. And, personally, I kind of think Syncronicities, which fascinate me so much (as anyone who reads this blog can see).......are kind of Her way of saying "Hello".
*For fascinating reading, read "The Secret Life of Water", research of the Japanese scientist Emoto, who exposed water samples to different psychic environments, and then took photographs of the crystals each sample produced.
Forgive me if I throw one more in. Here's what I looked up to see in downtown Midland as I parked to get a coffee before heading out to see the show on the walls of the Creative Spirit Center! Honest, you can't make this up!