A Story of a Boy, Two Women, A Man and a Spinning Wheel

(This yarn is spun from actual circumstances and events)

A boy of about 7 years old crouches in a window well, shivering and afraid. He peeks out at the cold gray cobblestone street of a European village in about the mid-1400’s. He is in fear for his life. Suddenly he hears an army of boots running his direction and he curls up even smaller in an effort to hide from what he knows is coming. The boots get louder as they near him. He stays small and quiet, frozen in his fright. Even his breath has stopped. Moments later, yet what seemed an eternity to him, the boots pass by and start to get quieter as they move away in the opposite direction. Relief comes over the little boy as he begins to realize he did not get caught.

Caught? Yes, the army of men in boots were chasing after him. He is so very hungry, and although he knows it is wrong, he stole a loaf of bread. Sadly, he dropped the loaf and lost it in the chase and now he is even more exhausted and hungry. Just as he thinks he might curl up and go to sleep in the window-well shelter he crawled into, he hears a fierce dog. He looks up and out of his hiding spot and sees a vicious barking dog glaring down at him, teeth bared. His scent has betrayed him, he has been discovered.

The boy is dragged out of his hole and taken to the stocks in the center of town. For several days he is the “laughing stock” of the village, locked up within a wooden structure within which his head and hands were captured and immobilized. He is beginning to fade in and out of consciousness as the community taunts him and throws raw and rotten eggs in his face. The stench is sickening but, perhaps licking the small amount of protein from his lips is the only thing that is keeping him alive. He continues to cling to a life that has been so very cruel to him, leaving him orphaned and on the streets, self-sufficient and alone.

The poor boy is no longer able to hold himself up and his head hangs in the stocks, the coarse wood rubbing his skinny neck raw and bleeding. He is not sure he can continue any longer. The thought of being hungry is no longer even a concern. Just as he is ready for it all to end a beautiful horse drawn carriage pulls out through a gate near him, and he wonders if this is heaven. There are whispers in the crowd. Apparently the woman in the carriage is the owner of the estate from which he stole the loaf of bread. They are wondering what punishment she will bestow upon him. She steps down from the carriage and walks toward the boy in the stocks. She demands to know who put him there and why. Within a moment she demands the boy be released and taken to the nurse within her home. The boy collapses in relief, and yet so very close to death the outcome is not certain.

Days later the boy opens his eyes again to see the nurse sponging the wounds on his neck and bandaging them with herbs and tinctures. The nurse runs to get the woman head of the household to come and see that he is alive. The woman holds his hand and thanks him for coming to save her! What? The boy is so confused. She saved him, didn’t she? She explains that he is the answer to her prayer. For many years she has asked for a child, and yet circumstances left her barren and then later without a husband. He is the child she has been waiting for.

The boy grows plump and healthy, he loves to play outdoors in her lovely orchard and help grow vegetables and herbs with the nurse and gardeners. He loves to do all that he can to help his adoptive mother. He is especially captivated by the textile studio and loves to spend time spinning yarns and weaving linen, wool and silken cloths. This is where he truly feels at home. This is where he releases the tension of his past traumas and spins them into health and beauty. He grows old in that home and lives to care for the woman in her old age. He truly did come to save her, as she did him.

….fast forward to around the year 2011…

A woman nearing 50 is suffering from a “pain in the neck”. She has been diagnosed by the doctors of her day with hyperthyroidism from nodules on her thyroid. She works for several years to resolve the health issues and exhaustion by combining the prescribed solutions (irradiation of her thyroid and thyroid meds.) with herbs and essential oils. Progress is made and yet, she still doesn’t feel quite right. There is an energy component that she can’t quite get to the source of. She has always had health issues in the throat area. At 7 years old she had her tonsils out due to a recurring and severe case of tonsillitis. And even though they had been removed, as she neared her adulthood at 18 she again ended up sick for several weeks and in the hospital with a severe sore throat and high fevers. Throughout her life, sore throats and losing her voice would always show up just as she struggled to express her creative talents or her autonomy. She didn’t really realize that pattern until recently as she thumbed through her old journals and started to see how it had re-occurred over time.

One evening as the soft ache in her throat got her attention she again wondered about that pattern. What was that energy pattern in her neck and where did it come from? So, she went out to her hot tub (time machine, as she laughingly calls it) and decided to reflect on that question and request some guidance from the stars. Going deep into meditation she found herself journeying back to a time and place beyond her earthly history. That is when she was shown the story of the little starving orphan boy who stole the loaf of bread, and the life of comfort he grew to live and love with his adoptive mother.

She could relate so much to the boy, the pain caused in his neck in the stockade, as though he lived within her. She could understand how he processed his trauma in the textile studio, She could understand why she was so passionate about learning to knit as a young child at about the same time she suffered from her tonsillitis (and the taunts and teasing of her older brother). She knew why she turned to her passion for fiber arts throughout her life to resolve and deal with challenging issues that arose.

Close to seven more years passed and as the thyroid healed she made some life changes to slow down a bit, find some balance. As a part of that life balance she made an effort to go back to connecting with her art as more of a therapeutic process for herself. Building a business around teaching and selling her art had led to burnout, always striving to produce enough to sell and filling up her teaching calendar to the maximum. It was time to take a step back and reassess her life.

As part of this stepping back and slowing down she felt inspired to buy a used spinning wheel just to learn something new and fun. This was something she had always been curious about, but had never had the time or money to pursue. Her intention was to utilize it for a moving meditation practice. At first it was a struggle. Not at all the meditation and relaxation she had hoped for. But several YouTube videos later and with some of her inborn patience she was soon spinning out of control! A friend of hers who also spins yarn mentioned to her that the “fiber tells you what it wants to be”. She loved that thought. As she spun and meditated the stories that the yarn wanted to tell started coming through loud and clear. She would sit down with an intention to hold a prayer and/or seek an answer to an issue, and soon she would have insight to the solution (a spin-solution!) The fibers represented the past; the traumas, the trials and the triumphs. As she drafted the fibers together she held them in a loose “hug”, they came together through the orifice of the wheel and wound onto the bobbin in beautiful skeins which held her prayers of potential and peaceful resolution.

Her passion for spinning continued to grow over the next year and as she created more and more “yarns” she learned more and gained much knowledge. This led to her exploring wheels that allowed for more of what she was trying to create. Some spinning wheels have larger bobbins, faster ratios, larger orifices, double or single treadles, and on and on. She was able to purchase used wheels at pretty reasonable prices and soon found herself looking to purchase her third wheel! She was able to acquire a “King Bee” by Spinolution (sounds like an abbreviation for spin-solution!) from a male spinner. A gay Social Worker employed with the Department of Children and Families for his State Department, he left a safe and balanced (comfortable with his masculine and feminine selves) impression in the initial phone conversation leading to the coordination and meeting to sell his spinning wheel. She would never purchase an item from a stranger over the internet if she didn’t get that vibe. The agreed upon meeting location was a public coffee shop where they soon struck up conversation about their spinning and love of fiber. He shared that although he had only had this wheel for a bit over a year, purchased new, he was selling it in order to upgrade to a faster wheel that would produce a yarn with less “spring” and “energy” as he also liked to weave and firmer yarn would work better on the loom. She was relieved that there was nothing wrong with this wheel and as she like a bouncy, “energetic” yarn for knitting this would be just right. He also shared that with his job he traveled a lot and this wheel was perfect for folding up and traveling with. She could imagine that with his line of work a lot of tension could be released in the evenings through his spinning. He mentioned too that he had ADHD and spinning allowed him to keep his body moving which helped him to focus his mind. She could also understand and relate to that!

King Bee by SpinolutionAs she spent her first full day of spinning she sensed a much different energy from this wheel than her previous two. (Yes, they all have a different personality!) She sat down with the intention of reflecting upon the 16-hour weekend workshop she had just attended. The workshop with about twenty other women was focused on community building as a path to resolving racial inequalities and violence. She had bought this wheel because of the double treadle, and because of the rocking motion that allowed and the balanced use of both sides of her body she found it very soothing. She began spinning the soft medium brown Shetland wool that the man she had bought the wheel from had included in the sale. The fine single-ply was more even and consistent than she had been able to accomplish before. Was it the wool? Or the wheel? Or the woman?

One of the issues that had been brought to her attention in the weekend workshop was that black and brown boys are being jailed and/or killed to “protect” white communities. This took the veil off an illusion for her. If she truly wanted to be a part of a large and diverse community that appreciated and protected all of the members, like the woman in the story of the starving little boy, she needed to find within herself a voice that would stand up against that, to say loud and clear that she did not want that abuse to continue “in her name”.

As she spun her soft brown wool that day, getting familiar with the energy of this new wheel she realized she was getting yet another piece of the larger answer for her. She had also been reflecting on the “mask” she wears. What does she need to reveal about her true self. What does she keep hidden and why? Her answer was that she hides behind the mask of self-sufficiency. Like the little boy in the story she attempts to do it all alone. Yes, she is married and has family, but to ask even them for assistance or for help opens her up to too much that is out of her control. Asking makes her too vulnerable and open to rejection, ridicule or taunting (laughing stock!) So, she carries the weight of doing everything on her own. If she does reach out and get assistance from others she wonders if she will pass on the accolades and recognition to someone else if the effort is a success. Will she get the credit she deserves for the idea, the work and the creation? She realizes this was the downfall of her previous business. She was not able to allow herself to hire help or ask for assistance when the load was too great. She was destined to fail with that modus operandi. She knows the boy needed the help of others. She knows she must also be open and vulnerable enough to recognize when she needs help and have faith that she will find the safe and trusting community (if she helps to build it) that she can rely and depend upon when it is needed. She also realizes that like the story the woman and the boy save each other, and that her community needs her skills as much as she needs theirs.

She realizes that now is the time to spin a new story that breaks apart the old illusions and allows the chaos and the masks to fall. Now is the time to build a community that will pull together, unite and protect all of the members, aware that this is what will save us all. She knows that now is the time to become aware that what heals the boy’s abuse is also what heals the women’s suffering and relieve the man’s stress and will heal the trauma response of the entire world.

She knows that now is the time to realize that she is an important character in this story.

Because…

She is me and this is my beautiful yarn that is holding my prayers of potential and peaceful resolution.

Hand spun merino and silk artyarn by Pamela Penney

 

Spinning Out Of Control

I have been spending a lot of time at my spinning wheel recently.  It is a perfect way to spend a cold afternoon.  And here in Chicago we have been having a string of super cold days.  Right now the temperature is 16 degrees F and that is up several degrees from this morning.   I have also needed the quiet meditation I get while spinning.  As I shared here earlier this week, I usually choose a topic or situation to think about or meditate upon while I am spinning.  It is a bit like an extended prayer.  As I add the energy into the fibers I add the energy of my blessings out into the world to spin a yarn….

Yesterday the news cycle was filled with the vile hateful words of our current U.S. president.  He spoke of the immigrants from “shit-hole countries”.  Haiti, Africa and in the past he has referred to Mexico and Puerto Rico among other places and their people in this demeaning and nasty manner.  This is our leadership here.  This is our “role-model in charge”.

I had stepped away from this blog for a while this past year.  Not wanting to add to the noise of the dissent against this administration.  Not wanting to add anything to the negative energy around our current situation.  Not feeling it was going to make any difference anyway.  But, I can be silent no more.

So, as I sat at the spinning wheel yesterday  I questioned how will “They” (his supporters) spin his words?  Because you know they will.  They always do.  And it disgusts me. Especially this weekend as we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. who once said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

King also once said,Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  So, to honor Dr. King on the weekend we remember as a nation to honor his wisdom and work, I will be silent no more.

 

This is my yarn spun yesterday and titled, “Spinning Out of Control”.  I spun a merino single from a roving that I had dyed a long time ago in shades of teal blue with small areas of a deep purplish.  I then plied it with a cotton in that same shade of purple as a core-spun.  I added coils and “twisted-lashes” with the wool.  Our current President is spinning out of control.  And those who have the power, access and authority to act sit back and do nothing, while our country suffers.  I will PERSIST. I will continue to work to create the change I want to see in the world.  I will no longer remain silent….unless silent meditation is the best action I can take in the moment.  And sometimes it is the only thing I can do.

 

A New Beginning

It’s finally here. I can feel it. It is palpable. I felt it in such an amazing wave on Saturday at the Women’s March in Chicago where I walked with friends and strangers. Over 250,000. The peace and love and optimism in the crowd was medicine. And that medicine spread out to even those who could not attend. I had lunch with a friend after the march and the waitress thanked us for being there for HER!  And that is why I marched. For all of my SISTERS. And their children. And for RESPECT (which goes both ways and is earned, not demanded) And their access to affordable health care. And their right to choose the best options for their own bodies. And for protections to our natural resources. And for funding and support for our Humanities and Arts. And for the right to worship. And the right not to. And for the right to free speech. And especially for the right to gather in peaceful demonstrations, to express the beliefs and issues we find important as individuals and as a collective.

photogrid_1484963966407The positive energy for the Women’s March came in early December when a friend of mine who lives out east sent me a message that she wanted to know if I would make a pussyhat for her and her daughter, as they would be going to the March in D.C. Of course! I also made one for myself as I knew I would be Marching in Chicago and one for my daughter who would be in Minnesota.  And then I just kept going. I put a message out on Facebook which led to many more requests for the pussyhat. I loved the grassroots enthusiasm of that project. Women using traditional women’s skills and craft to make a statement. A statement of unity, feminism, and “can do” spirit. It is exactly the call out that I expressed in my RESISTANCE post that I will continue to use my talents and actions as my voice to support what I believe in and act against what I oppose. I also spent an afternoon knitting with a friend of mine and wished I’d had the time to participate in more of the pussyhat knitting meet-ups that were occurring around the Chicago area. I ended up using up all of the pink yarn I could purchase or scrounge from my own stash and made 20 hats in total. One friend asked if I was making them all “by Hand”. Yes, that is how I get things done…ONE STITCH AT A TIME (SAVES!) Each one was given away with a tag that stated: “In appreciation of this gift please consider a donation to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood. Several of the hats traveled to our nations capital (I saw a photo on Facebook of my friend’s husband wearing her hat on the bus ride Friday and it made my day!) Many stayed in Chicago and I saw some at the March and almost all of them in social media posts. Some even stayed “home”, but helped those wearing them feel they were a part of the historic event.  My favorite was seeing the text from my daughter in Minnesota with her pussyhat on and the message, “hat made it to the MN rally”. I had wished we could have been marching together, sharing this historic event. And then when she sent that text message I realized we were. UNITED.

So now we march forward. When I wrote this post RESISTANCE right after the election I felt at that time like this was the best or only answer to holding our elected officials accountable and to protecting the rights of ALL citizens. But after a couple of months reflection I have come personally to the conclusion that Carl Jung was right when he stated “what you resist persists”. And when I wrote my post on resistance I discussed the options that were put forth in the Dutch Resistance Museum, Resist? Adapt? Collaborate? or Persecute?  In their displays the option of collaboration meant collaborating with those you disagree with for the sake of “moving forward”, to keep the peace and make progress even if not in the direction you would like to see it go. But today I offer another option. The option I am choosing to move forward with. One of Collaboration with those who do hold your vision for the future. With those who do cherish the hard-fought battles for Civil Liberties we have established as a nation. With those who do believe in the scientific studies that have proven that what has been done by corporations and big business in the name of economic development and prosperity for a few, is actually harmful to our resources and to our WHOLE.

And I see that action coming together in my small circles and my larger community. And for the skeptics who say the Women’s March was a one day effort and we will all go back to our kitchens and computer screens and televisions (and our knitting!) and our privileged lives, I say “what YOU resist, PERSISTS!”  ***We will persist*** You obviously were not one of the Millions who attended the March on Saturday January 21, 2017. Because you would know the joy and enthusiasm and HOPE that is medicine. It is the drug of CHOICE, for me. And I am NOT ALONE, as you can see the Women’s March website has already transformed to 10 actions for the first 100 days. The first action: “Write a postcard to your Senators about what matters most to you – and how you’re going to continue to fight for it in the days, weeks and months ahead”. Get ready, I make beautiful postcards. Really great postcards. The best postcards ever. And I am ready to use them.

1.26.2017 UPDATE: And now this from my favorite local coffee shop BUZZ CAFE. The collaborations begin!

Resistance

Exactly two years ago I was traveling Europe through Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam.  On November 16, 2014 I went through the VerzetsMuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum). It was an enlightening experience. The permanent exhibit space is laid out in a chronological path through time from the 1930’s to 1950’s with a focus on the 1940-45 years during WWII and the Netherlands occupation by Nazi Germany. From the Museum Website: “The Resistance is not about heroes and villains, but ordinary people who found themselves in a time of scarcity and oppression (with) dilemmas and had to make choices.”

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Concerns of the 1930’s -Display from the VerzetsMuseum, Amsterdam.

The displays are made up of everyday artifacts from the daily lives of the Dutch people during that time. The exhibit lays out a story of difficult choices that had to be made in the face of fear of retaliation, hunger and scarcity, and societal pressure. I walked into the Museum believing I would be one who would resist Nazism at all costs. I walked through the exhibit with a realization and a new understanding of what that would truly cost an individual. I was also surprised to find that many of the same issues facing society in the 1930’s could describe the current climate we are still experiencing. Issues regarding the separation of church and state, issues of racism, issues of severe economic differences between the haves/have-nots. Issues of what it means to be patriotic. Issues of what certain choices can mean in the long story of history. How decisions to resist, adapt, ignore or collaborate all play out over time when faced with policies that oppress any segment of society; be that a certain race, religious faith, gender or even a free press.

 

One of the displays struck a particular chord with me, as a textile artist.  It showed the simple everyday embroideries of Jacoba Maria Blom-Schuh of the Hague. She refused to give money to the Winter Help fund until the queen returned to the Netherlands. Because of her refusal she was imprisoned for three months. During her time in prison the SS guards gave her their socks to mend. She played ignorant and sewed them shut! In reality this was her form of further resistance to the Nazi cause. She later embroidered imagery from her time in prison onto these textile pieces (I call them artwork!) that are on display in the museum.

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The Story of Maria Schuh- Display at the VerzetsMuseum, Amsterdam

I found that reminiscing about my experience at the VerzetsMuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum) to be very cathartic today, one week following our 2016 Presidential Election. This past week the media has been filled with many differing opinions on how America will move forward following this contentious campaign season. Many questions are being brought to light. I return to my experience of walking through that museum, being offered choices and questions along the path (through time): Faced with different situations would you Resist? Adapt? Collaborate? or Persecute? You may think you know the answers, but when faced with pressure to Adapt by your family and friends and even the leadership of your country, it can be difficult to hold your ground for what you truly believe is Right. You may find that in the face of severe hunger your Will is broken. You may find that is seems more loving and unifying to Collaborate with others who hold a very different View of what they would like to see their world look like. You could find that to get what you want or Need, it is easy to turn a blind eye to the Persecution of others. Or worse, you could find you are the instigator of that abuse somehow justifying it as a means to the end you would like.

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Display of the Resistance Embroideries of Maria Schuh

This is a wake up call for me as I step into each day going forward, to be aware that my individual choices have an effect on my community and country as a Collective. I intend to take off my blinders to the plight and ideas of those who may not share my vision. To realize what I can do as I am faced with tough choices. To ask myself the tough questions:  Am I ignoring the oppression of a segment of our society, and making light of it? Am I looking to find answers that work for all of us, or just for myself?  Am I adapting to the new normal because it seems to be the peaceful thing to do, despite the concern that it could be causing others pain? These are the questions and many more that I (and All of US) will be faced with in the coming days and years. I know from walking through the Resistance Exhibit they are difficult questions to answer in the moments we are faced with them. These are difficult decisions to make. It is always easier to say in hind-site what should have been done. It is also easier to say in advance what you think you would do walking into a situation, than what you would actually do faced with the real consequences of your decisions.

One thing I know I will continue to do is use my Voice. My Voice comes in many different Forms. I will use my Words, speaking and writing freely as my U.S. Rights as a citizen allow.  I will use my Dollars, as very often speaking with the wallet is one of the most effective methods of communication. And I will primarily use my Talents and Actions (they speak louder than words!) to speak up when I see something harmful and/or hateful to others. I encourage you who would like to hold on to the good in the world and continue to make it better for All to also use your voices and your dollars and especially your talents to call out and continue to shine the light on situations that do not resonate with that vision. Make your daily actions and choices speak to the vision of the world you want to see. We are all an aspect of the Great Creator, what we envision is the first step to what we create here. We can not turn a blind eye to what we see as abusive, mean, selfish, divisive, or inhumane on an individual level or as a collective. We can not “be ignorant”, but just like Maria Schuh’s example we can all “pretend ignorance” (or use other methods) to resist wrong doing, and use A Stitch In Time (to) Save.

Please Note: I personally do not define resistance as a way to obstruct or protest any actions or ideas of the new administration just for the sake of hatred of “the other side”. It is a method of standing up for the protection and against the persecution of the Rights of All others (no “sides”).  I do not equate the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President to the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich. I am only making observations and pointing out a way of assessing personally how I choose to move forward as a citizen. History (and herstory) is only as helpful as what you learn from it.  Other than that, I tend not to look backward (unless I am reminiscing about a lovely European vacation), but aim to go forward doing my best to create a society that protects the Rights and Freedoms for ALL.

 

 

Relax.Enjoy.Create

Hot tub time machine. Tonight. Takes me downstream (no more going upstream to work out old karma, unless I want to paddle against the current). So, I go with the flow. Toward a beautiful waterfall. (I’ve had this lucid dream before. The first time I had enough faith to go over the edge, was quite an adventure. But now it’s easier. No more clinging to the rocks at the top, in fear.) When I land in the gorgeous pool at the bottom of the falls I notice more souls than ever before are there. (It is so lovely you all could join me.) It is peaceful, yet exciting. And the pool has seemed to expand to contain so many of us, without feeling crowded. AHHH. Well, back to the message….

I ask, What have you got for me tonight?  I hear it LOUD. Repeated. “Relax, Enjoy, Create”…”Relax, Enjoy, Create”…”Relax, Enjoy, Create”.  Then, “R.E.-create”… “recreate”…”recreation”…”RE-creation”… “Get it?”  Yeah I get it.

Now let me explain so that you can “get it too”. My thoughts the last few days have been on setting my new moon intentions for November. I scanned through my journal from the last few months and a word jumped out at me. “Productive”.  As in, “I wasn’t very productive today” or “I really accomplished a lot. It felt good to be productive”.  But a month ago I made a major life shift for myself, on purpose. And it is giving me an opportunity to take a new look at what it means for me to be “productive”. So, that is what I am setting as my intention. Re-define what it means to be productive. (Does floating

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My new studio

in a hot tub, talking to the stars counts as “productive”. Well, yes I think so. I just need to get used to thinking of it that way!)

I moved my art studio/gallery out of a public location (the last 13 years) into the privacy of my home. I moved from a 800 square foot space to a 7 ft. x 12 ft. space. Yet It feels more expansive as I can look out continuous windows on three sides from a second floor space. I call it my treehouse. I am adjusting. I am settling in and getting ready to get “productive” again, but in a new way.

So, today I also “played” in my new studio space in a way that was relaxing, enjoyable and creative.  I salvaged a pile of old cashmere sweaters that I had washed, and cut apart. By stitching them together, I RE-created a new “up-cycled” cashmere afghan, throw blanket. This is a technique I have used a lot in the past. But, it has been awhile (because of the studio move) since I’ve had time to enjoy creating and have fun. Soon I plan to get several of these cashmere blankets posted to my Etsy Shop. They would make a lovely holiday gift for someone. Something to snuggle up in and Relax, and Enjoy! Something a Stitch In Time Saved!

 

 

Susanna, The Elders and Our Times

In my journal in early August 2016 I wrote: “look up the Story of Susanna in the Bible, the Book of Daniel”.  I believe that each Full Moon is brings to Light for each of us new lessons from our Shadows. But we must listen and pay attention. I think this current Full Moon is bringing clarity and allowing me to harvest the reasons I was drawn to this story just a couple of months ago in the darkness of the early August New Moon.

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Susanna and the Elders, Artemisia Gentileschi, 1610.

As an artist I initially was drawn to some very interesting information about the work of art (shown above) created in 1610 by a female artist, Artemisia Gentileschi who created at age seventeen this painting of Susanna in the Garden. Interesting that this painting was at times attributed to her father and was created after her painting instructor was taken to trial for raping her as a teenager. (So, when did our “rape culture” begin???)  (More about the artist and her work HERE)

Then I dove into the biblical story, which is a story that I do not recall learning as a youth in my Presbyterian Sunday School classes.  I’m not sure if it was because the story of a woman being unjustly accused of adultery was not “age appropriate” subject matter.  Or perhaps it was not included in the version of the Bible endorsed by “our” church at that time. (Evaluating the credibility and choosing which stories to include, which lessons to learn on a collective basis is an interesting aspect of all religions).  I believe all the biblical stories (and in the case of the Susanna story the Jews recognize it as a moral tale, not part of the Tanakh)  have some lessons to teach even though I have because of personal choice, moved away from my Christian roots to an inclusive viewpoint that embraces the beliefs and divine nature of ALL.

So back in early August of this year I was called to read the book of Daniel.  I found it fascinating as I saw Daniel as a Book of “dream interpretation” and the first book on the Bible that the Angel Gabriel appears in.  The following is my short version of the tale of Susanna and the Elders, from the Book of Daniel. (For a longer version that I like, go HERE)

Susanna was a beautiful and deeply religious woman married to a very wealthy man, Joakim and daughter to Hilkiah.  (Interesting that still to this day women are feeling defined as wives, daughters and not by their individual autonomy. Some things never change? Or has the time finally arrived for this to change???) They had lovely gardens that Susanna chose to walk in each day. There were two judges who held court at the residence of Joakim who lusted after the beautiful Susanna.  One day they followed her to the garden where she decided to take a bath.  She requested her servants lock the gate so that she could be alone, unaware that the two judges were hiding and watching her. When the servants left the judges forced themselves upon her to have sex. They told her that if she didn’t comply they would take her to court for adultery saying that they saw her alone with a young man. She chose not to comply and began screaming; when her servants heard her they came running.  The men told their side of the story and Susanna was taken to court the next day.

Now, this is where I love the way the story twists back for me (and one of the reasons I believe my Guides directed me to read it).  The judges are caught in a lie because young Daniel yelled out in opposition to the charges against Susanna. He would not be a party to her death without proof of her guilt. He directed the court to separate the two judges and question them individually.  So, they did and because of a discrepancy in their individual testimonies regarding the type of “tree” the lovers were standing under as they committed their crime, the judges were caught in their lie. (I have a history of believing that the trees hold our stories and our truths.  So, this part of the story truly resonates with me.) The story indicates that Daniel was in touch with his inner divine guidance and was not willing to be complacent in her execution. He was brave enough to speak up and change the course of the narrative. (I too, believe in Divine Inner Guidance and Guidance from Above; sources outside ourselves, who we must call on to assist us).

During this 2016 Presidential Election Cycle we have been inundated with stories, lies and “he said, she said” tales. Like Daniel, I would like to shine a light on getting to the little truths and the big TRUTH. There is a part of me that wants to doubt I was given the wisdom or bravery of Daniel. But another part that Knows we all are/were.  As Daniel questioned in the trial of Susanna:  “People of Israel, how foolish can you be? Are you going to condemn an Israelite woman to death on this kind of evidence? You haven’t even tried to find out the truth.” I believe this tale teaches us that we must continue to seek to find the truth.  But, how do we “catch” the powerful and elite in their lies?  First we listen to our heavenly guides as they try to reach us though our inner knowing. Stop, listen to your gut. What feels “right”? Then we can turn to our own dreams and interpret them as Daniel did. I believe we will eventually be led to the truth and the TRUTH. It is divine. And We Are All Divine (made in the likeness of God). So we cannot be forever fooled or kept away from our Knowing of our (collective) Self. Here is my latest dream and my interpretation.

I was going to a school, a “college”, and I was “under review”.  Apparently it was getting to the end of the term and I had chosen not to attend or do the work for several of my classes.  But I had done amazing work in one class.  I had chosen to focus all of my time and energy on just one “sculpture” and it had turned out very impressive to my instructors.  So, the teachers and administrators of the school where trying to decide if I should “pass” or not based upon this one “work”. 

I was nearby listening to them mull over my situation.  Many of them were in support of passing me to the next level. But, the feeling I had from within was that I needed to do all of the required lessons.  I could not just pick and choose what interested me, what I was good at, what class and lessons were convenient and easy to attend either because of location or schedule.  And just because I had excelled in one course at the school it did not fulfill the reason I had come to the school in the first place….to learn all of the lessons. And this Knowing came from within me. My teachers and advisors were defending me. They felt I had “done enough”. But as I overheard them I knew from within I needed to do more. That I could do more. And so I spoke up and requested they hold me back until I fulfilled all of the requirements to move up to the next level. I requested that I be held back.

And here is how I relate this dream to my life: I do not get to skip over the uncomfortable lessons, like the current election and associated stories coming to light regarding the candidates. Do I avoid the media and their non-stop barrage of propaganda? Well, perhaps it is healthy to minimize it. But, when it does present itself I can go to my gut and listen for what feels true. And I can observe the sources of information like the candidates themselves and their accusers and pay attention to how it makes me feel. I can “consider the source”. I will remember everything starts from within. Every lesson is learned there, that is where the “assignments” for the lessons must be started and completed. I will BEDo I look outside myself, wring my hands and say “oh, there is nothing I can do”?  No, I must start by doing what feels right and true for me.  All of the lessons must be done, not just the easy or comfortable ones.  I will DOAnd here is probably my hardest lesson:  Do I cast judgement on those who may not agree with what I believe and feel within myself? No, that is not my “job”. I can ask my guides to give me clear messages and guide my lessons. But, how am I to know the lessons others are put in this earth school to learn? How am I to judge how they see things from their perspective?  I will honor others in their Being and DoingI will hold faith that the Truths and the TRUTH will come to Light for ALL OF US. And maybe this Full Moon will help us all harvest a bit more clarity on our current affairs and assist us in learning our collective lessons.

I think we have all heard much talk recently about the “rape culture” that we condone and live in as a society, nation and world. But, as this story from Biblical times proves, and the associated story regarding the artwork created in 1610, the rape culture has been in existence for many lifetimes. Maybe, we can hope, we are at the cusp of true awareness and change. Maybe, another full moon cycle will not be necessary for the world to wake up to what it has been foolish enough to be “duped” by. Like the story of Susanna, maybe we can get past defining women by their associations to the men in their lives. Maybe we can continue to question the powerful men who because of their positions in society are assumed innocent, rather than the women who are assumed to be guilty or at least somehow to blame. So let’s keep in mind that this story is not only about the brave young man who listens to his divine guidance and acts upon it, but also about a brave woman who knowing she is caught in a double bind (be raped or be sentenced to death) is still willing to place her outcome in her Faith in something outside of herself. She is still willing to follow the guidance she is hearing from within, knowing it could cast shame on herself and her family and lead to her own certain death.

If change is to come, women must strive like Susanna to find our inner animus, our masculine energy; and like Daniel, men must embrace their inner anima, or female. I believe this is how we heal our never ending “rape culture”. Through balance we correct the imbalance. Through inner healing we re-align the Whole. Is the story of our current election a moral tale? Perhaps. Do I know the truth and the “moral of the story”? No. And maybe I never will. But I will listen to my Guidance, inner knowing and my “gut” and I will pay attention to the messages in my dreams like Daniel. I will act from my animus when I feel called to action (like writing and sharing this post) That is what I can DO that is who I AM. That is the balance I can strive to maintain. That is the Story that the Light of this Full Moon is shining on and harvesting for me.

Authors Note:  I do not profess to be a Biblical Scholar, or have complete knowledge or understanding of the Bible or any religious texts.  I ponder, share and witness the stories and information that my Guides and Angels call me to.  I share my interpretations as they relate to the current times we are experiencing as a “Collective” and as they pertain to my life from a personal perspective.  I share these insights in hopes that others can relate and find meaning for their own lives and as an attempt to heal and resolve my own stories, and those of others.  I welcome the thoughts and insights of others in the comments section below. I am open to learning more and witnessing the perspectives of others. 

Some of my additional sources and inspiration for this post:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susanna_(Book_of_Daniel)
https://www.bible.com/bible/416/sus.1
http://christianityinview.com/books/susanna.html

http://www.catholic.org/bible/book.php?id=34&bible_chapter=13
http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/susanna-apocrypha


A Piece of American Pie

To say I am frustrated and perplexed by the current election cycle would be an understatement. Although I know I’m not alone in my feelings, due to the divisiveness I don’t want to get into politics here.  What I want to get into is how to not get caught up in this chaos and lose ourselves.  And yet, I struggle to find the way to do this myself.  I write this as I attempt to step away from my social media sites and stop reading the latest breaking news reports.  For my peace of mind I must.

So, today I balanced my day off time by doing things to care and nurture myself and my family.  I changed my sheets! (I love fresh sheets on the bed) I took an afternoon nap.  And I baked a pie.  It is my annual Green Tomato Apple Pie.  It is my version of “A Stitch in Time Saves” when it comes to food.  Yes, at the end of the growing season I always have a lot of tomatoes on the the vine that just didn’t have time to ripen.  As you know I hate to let anything go to waste, so I get them (before the squirrels do) and make this sweet/tart pie.  So yummy, warm with just a dab of vanilla ice cream melting on the top!  The recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Hollyhocks & Radishes: Mrs. Chard’s Almanac Cookbook by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson.

photogrid_1476035021752

So if the 2016 election has your head spinning, your heart racing and your stomach churning too, please step back and find a way to soothe yourself and those you love.  Don’t buy into the propaganda.  Don’t get caught up in the latest hype or poll numbers.  Don’t let anybody try to scare you (the only thing to fear is the fear mongers).  I want to believe that we still have more things that unite us than issues that divide us.  I believe AMERICA IS already GREAT (we have pie!)  Now I think I’m almost ready for the Presidential Debate (I can hope they will act just a bit presidential, can’t I?)  starting in a few minutes.  And if it gets rough, at least I can soothe myself with another piece of pie!

Post Debate Edit:  This song came to mind as the second 2016 presidential debate came to an end. (Maybe Don McLean was a time traveler trying to warn us of this election?!)

“American Pie”
Don McLean

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while

But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step
I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

So bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey ‘n rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Now do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you’re in love with him
‘Cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues

I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died

I started singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey ‘n rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Now for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rollin’ stone
But that’s not how it used to be
When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me

Oh, and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned

And while Lenin read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died

We were singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey ‘n rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast
It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast

Now the halftime air was sweet perfume
While the sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance

‘Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?

We started singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey ‘n rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again
So come on, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
‘Cause fire is the devil’s only friend

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan’s spell

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

He was singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey ‘n rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play

And in the streets, the children screamed
The lovers cried and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died

And they were singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey ‘n rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

They were singing bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey ‘n rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die.