Spinning Seaweed

(click to enlarge)
This is the 8 of Water in Lane's Greenwitch Tarot:

If somehow you could pack up yoursorrows and given them all to me. You will lose them. I know how to use them.Give them all to me.”

Lyrics by Mimi Farina that I hear in Judy Collins’ voice. Here a wise crone sits in a cave deep in the basalt of sacred Neahkahnie Mountain on the north Oregon Coast. She is pulling kelp up out of the ocean to spin, a blending of Earth and Water magics. Like the revered lotus that grows out of the mud. Racks of already woven seaweed hang behind her. What stories they have to tell and songs to sing!

Is it the seaweed we escaped from in the 7 of Water? ["Surfacing"] What sorrows would you wish alleviated? Can you be your own wise weaver? What will you create out of the plants beings pulled from the fertile depths of your psyche? The call is to create something beautiful that maybe is also useful. A new magical cloak perhaps?


Journal Monday, 2 October 1995

           After Cath [sister] left I painted the Weaving Woman I had seen in one of my envisioning processes. I had been going down into the mountain towards the center of the earth as per Cathy’s instructions and I got down towards the middle of the mountain about half way down past the water of the sea and I came to a cave that opened out into the sea. There was an old woman there spinning seaweed that was coming up out of the sea. And she said to me that I could leave my worries about other people there with her and she would add them into her weaving. [Various people were on my mind.] So the couple of times I’ve done that since I go past her cave and leave those worries with her.  

           The painting is also one that is more of an illustration, but it felt good to document it. To get it out of my head and onto paper. So I don’t lose it for myself and can perhaps share it.

           A big piece of paper mostly black with the circle of the cave at the bottom. She sits spinning - I was frustrated at not knowing very well how to do the details of the spinning wheel. Thought of Gunvor Lane [midwife] and of course she showed up mentally soon after. The seaweed is the same as the seaweed in the "Surfacing"painting- the ribbons holding me down. And I just remembered that it first appeared in "The Call" painting - swept into wildness with the seaweed coming from below. Could also be the vines climbing on the first chair ("Defying Demons") painting tho I thought of those as wildness vines taking over the properness of the chair. There are woven blankets hanging to dry behind her. But she’s the spinner. Who’s the weaver?

            Around the edge of the cave I etched in the words from the song I’ve always loved. I associate it with Judy Collins : “If somehow you could pack up your sorrows and give them all to me. You would lose them.  I know how to use them. Give them all to me.”

Journal  3/4/04 - One of the paintings that kept calling me was the spinning wheel one which I usually dismiss as not very skilled or important. But it is very apt for these feelings and was probably an important stage in my learning not to take others’ feelings into my own body. I remember sitting on the deck and visualizing a woman down under the rocks of the mountain who could take the pains of those around me and transform them into something useful. Obviously I turned my friend's troubles over to the woman in the mountain to spin! I also woke up with the words of the Judy Collins song in my head that I’d forgotten are scratched into that painting.

If somehow you could pack up your sorrows and give them all to me.  

You will lose them, I know how to use them.

Give them all to me.”  

… Sometime in there I got the strong hit that my work right now is to paint some of those feelings [about family] – to process them through my art, both the painting and the writing. To bring them into the light with love. I’ve stored them all these years, I might as well use them. And then I got it that this is what the woman under the mountain is doing. Perhaps the painting should be called “Spinning Sorrows.” I also got it (in a manicky stoned kind of way) that she can become known as one of the goddesses of this community – I can teach about her. I thought about how all the Indians’ deities and stories aren’t necessarily ours, though they could become so. Perhaps she is new here or perhaps we will find a story about her and find that she has been here a looong time. I wondered what her name was and when I told Tom about it later he said, “Neahkahnie.”  (Duh).

Journal Monday, 3/8/04

Very interesting Mixed Group last night. Haven’t met for a while – over a month at least. Before Christmas even?? Anyway a push from Barbara McLaughlin at  Maia Holliday got us to volunteer our house. A long cozy day made it hard to think about. Tom had a massage/cranial sacral with new young Catherine and came home bleary and spacey. Ideas floated through but nothing landed so we decided to wing it. Altar went down as people were arriving and calling the directions became invoking things on the altar – giving them meaning to the group and discovering the purpose behind their call to be on it. Seemingly randomly, I do altars by wandering and reaching for whatever calls to me of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. 

In the North in front of me was my Motherstone/Gaia rock. I touched her lovingly and spoke of new-to-me, Pachamama – Incan name for Gaia. Also called in ancestors of this place. Craig Mackie, after expressing his newness to this, beautifully called in East. Touching the eagle feather, he invited East to fly in with the wings (on the wings?) of Eagle. And rattling the gourd (again, South American, I just realized) he called in sound and stories. In the South Maia spoke on an imaginary telephone, “Hello, South! We sure could use some sun. Everything’s growing and needs you. And I gotta work tomorrow and it sure would be nice.” She did a good job too as I bask here in the bright, hot sun, getting ready to climb the  mountain. In the West I had placed a crystal bowl with healing waters from the Imbolc Ceremony which included Lourdes Water and I had added some from Hot Springs, Montana brought by B & B. Tom (I think) called in West. Julianne brought in above and Tom the below. (I forgot to mention to the group that Lorraine and Terry were also present by virtue of their beeswax candles!)

Next I found myself telling the story of my painting of the Woman in the Mountain who can take our sorrows and use them to good purpose, making something beautiful. I spoke of her wish to come alive to us. Earlier Tom had named her Neahkahnie - last night he added Mama to it. Feels a little long. Perhaps she is Neahmama. That led us to stories about the power of the Mountain. Maia living up among the trees above 101, Tom’s and my house fire. Tom’s sense of lava tubes…  

Eventually I led us via visualization into the Mountain itself. After a longish period of silence, I brought us back. Maia had received a story about the sea as a maiden in love with the mountain and their efforts to be with each other. She was the crashing waves on his rocky toes. He tumbling bits of rocks down into her depths. My own beach rock on the altar suddenly had a new sense. Tom spoke of the history of the lava and upheaval and erosion – 15 million years. He said that in his visualization the Mountain urged him to manifest Spirit – it is time. I got a thank you from Spinning Wheel Lady and an urging to bring the painting down into the circle. So I did. Others spoke of their images. Craig’s had been interrupted by my bringing us back from the visualization journey – always a danger and responsibility.  

           Somewhere in there talk of water came up and we were inspired to drink ceremoniously from the [Neahkahnie/James Road] spring water we gather. That felt lovely.

        Then Craig brought up his dream of starting a community garden and his and Rex’s commitment via the Master Gardener Program to do that. We brainstormed places a bit. Then Maia described her dream of a spirit garden on the old school property in Wheeler. I suggested we put energy into those two visions. So we did some conjuring that felt very powerful. It will be fun to see what manifests.  And would be neat to know how everyone actually saw/did their particular brand of conjuring.  

Notes 6/24/04 – Seaweed gets mentioned a lot in my painting notes as metaphor and symbol. Not one I’ve kept consciously active since then. But it strikes me now as the Cancerian part of myself calling to me. The plants (earth) of the water – the most Neptunian waters, the deepest ones. But that which appears on shore as well. I saw it then as a drag, a danger. Right now I’m seeing it as a link. A connection.

All in all this painting continues to deepen for me. Am working on bringing this goddess to life – Neahkahnie Mama. Story, mask, aspecting (taking on the persona of)…. And in answer to the question at the end of the original writing about it, “Who is the weaver?”  I’d say perhaps it is myself – my job to weave the cloth (make it up out of whole cloth?) from the strands she spins. Who brings her the seaweed? All of us through our sorrows. It is about weaving community and tribe via the creation of myth. That feels very exciting. It may be the most important work I am doing right now!