Another essay: A Cosmic Twist

Here’s another link to an essay of mine that was just published in Kosmos Journal: “A Cosmic Twist: The elemental art of spinning.

Look up into the clear night sky, and after a time you will perceive how the stars rotate around a central axis, as if on a great wheel. The ancients saw this rotation as the movement of a cosmic spindle, with its whorl in heaven and its shaft, the axis mundi, invisibly extending down to earth. Life and destiny were the threads spun by this spindle, the fabric of the world woven by the movement of sun and moon, stars and planets.

This image is remarkably universal. In The Republic, Plato beautifully describes the “spindle of necessity,” suspended from a rainbow-colored shaft of light, with an eightfold whorl of stars and planets, all singing in eternal harmonies, while the Kogi people of Colombia tell how the Mother Goddess set up a giant spindle to penetrate all nine layers of the just-created earth, still soft and unstable, which then solidified around it. The cosmic spider spins the world into existence in myths found all over North and South America, Africa, and Asia, and fate-spinning goddesses include the Germanic Norns, the Greek Moirae, and the Roman Parcae. In an apocryphal story, the Virgin Mary spins and weaves the veil of the Temple, which is the cosmos.

Read more about how this grand cosmic activity relates to the humble act of handspinning, over at Kosmos.

6 thoughts on “Another essay: A Cosmic Twist

  1. A wonderful essay, Lory. Thanks for the link to it, as well as to the Grimm brothers’ stories.

    I would only argue with the extent that the Queen in Rumpelstiltskin must know her “fear” — by which I assume you mean the man who is about to take her child. The Queen doesn’t come to know the little man intimately at all, and it is only sheer luck that informs her of his name. The story has always troubled me, because it seems to value cleverness and luck over any kind of skill: the cleverness to fool a king, the luck of a loyal servant learning the man’s name in time to save the Queen. No one values the person with the real skill — Rumpelstiltskin himself.

    The only time I tried spinning of any sort, I ended up with about 15 inches of what you describe as a “lumpy, unwieldy strand of thick-and-thin yarn”. The meditative state you describe, the one a spinner enters as she works, is much like what I experienced when I worked with clay — another craft that spins raw material into something beautiful and useful.

    1. Spinning is a definite challenge at first. I don’t know that there is anyone who gets it right away — I gave up after my first attempt! There is certainly a relationship with the spinning of the potter’s wheel, crafting another kind of material with intentionality and love.

      Interesting comments about Rumpelstiltskin, I will ponder on those. I find that fairy tales have immeasurable depths to explore and can be seen from many point of view. That’s why I keep reading and rereading them.

  2. I love how you’ve taken strands from science, myth, history and philosophy and spun them together into this beautiful essay.

  3. A wonderful essay, Lori! I’m always amazed at your skill at pulling together disparate or related threads and spinning them into a cohesive whole, rich with texture and meaning. I will carry these associations into my own spinning.

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