Quilting and "Craft"

Janis Maria Cortese

Last night I attended the first session of a first-time quilter's class. While I was there listening to the teachers tell us the little tricks that make quilting easier and buying all the neat gadgets that you use, something very fundamental struck me, to the point that I was unable to speak for a few minutes until I had acknowledged this movement in my mind.

Let me describe something to you, and you try to guess what I'm talking about. The characteristics are as follows:

  1. done by a group of women together, which is frequently called a circle.
  2. handed down from mother to daughter, in a VERY hands-on fashion.
  3. uses specialized tools that other people don't understand and usually don't recognize.
  4. requires strict adherence to ritual preparation of materials.
  5. can be monotonous and repetitive - PERFECT for meditation.
  6. can be decorative as well as practical, and frequently both.
  7. can be done entirely by hand, OR with the aid of techie stuff.
  8. causes things to come into being that other people usually call "magic."

Sound like Wicca? Well, it's not, at least not the "standard" type, if there is any such thing. I'm talking about the quilting class. Have you ever wondered WHY so many WOMEN do it, and so few men (apologies to male Witches out there; I discovered these things through feminism)? What else has been so "religiously" handed down through generations aside from crafting skills, and how many women do you know who have a love affair with that old afghan that their grandmother made and wouldn't part with it for the world? Sound familiar now? I mean, REALLY. This *can't* be coincidence!

I will follow the Craft in the barest sense of the word - a CRAFT, some talent which can be used for practical and beautiful purposes, and has all the trappings of a "true" ritual. (And believe me, you'd better adhere to the rules hard and fast. You must use EXACTLY the required seam allowance, and you'd better treat your cloth before you start sewing, or whatever you end up with might as well be a drop cloth.) And when you're done, you have something. You have something to which you can point and say, "That's where the last five weeks have gone." You can follow a pattern established by another woman, or you can create your own, or you can follow a pattern and personalize it with your choice of materials.

I mean, they're called QUILTING CIRCLES and SEWING CIRCLES, people? How much more of a HINT do you need?!?!?!

Howzaboutit? Anyone else interested in a coven of Crafters who literally craft? I feel it deeply enough that I can finally call myself Wiccan/Witch and have it feel right.

However, I'd rather not do this by myself. I realize that many people would rather follow Wicca in a different way, but if this way feels so wonderful to me, it MIGHT be good for others, too. I'm not saying that you need to do this the same way *I* do it; just give it a try and see how it feels. If you like, try consecrating your materials before starting. Make something (I'm not just talking quilts, here, but ALL kinds of crafts) with a Pagan theme. After I finish here, I'd LOVE to make a four-pane quilt with a full moon, a chalice, a blade, and a tree in the panes.

Any feedback on this? I can't tell you how strongly I feel this and how amazed I am at that strength. If I really allowed myself to absorb this, I think I'd be in tears. Maybe I'm just typing this to get it on "paper"; I don't know. But I've never felt this way - this sublime - about anything connected with Paganism/Wicca before.


Janis C.

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