The year is always turning, seasons changing, fortunes fluctuating with them. This year, I’ve been working on a series of stencil cuts that represent stations along this cycle, to use on ceramics, fabrics and paper. In doing so, I’ve been trying to distill down the essence of each movement in the mechanism, to get at what animates each turn. Sometimes we assume that we are more detached from natural rhythms than we are truly capable of being. If you are a gardener, you know we are subject to the whims of the same agricultural gods we’ve always been beholden to, that sun and rain bring life.
Just the basics; trying to assemble images that describe the wheel of life.
Someone who beautifully captures the sentiment I’m interested in achieving is illustrator Nikki McClure. Her paper cuts speak to simple experiences like planting seeds, gathering berries, going to the framer’s market, preserving the harvest and being in the company of children. While I am also interested in capturing the darker moments, if I could even approach the effectiveness of her example, I’d be pleased. Another thing I appreciate about her is that she works during nap times and after bedtimes, just like I do, getting it done despite the constant interruptions that being mom requires.
First, there was dream-time, then growth, fruition, death and decay, then it cycles over.
This exercise is also bringing me back to the 8 pagan holy days of the year, winter and summer solstice, spring and fall equinoxes, and the four festivals that mark planting, harvest, the thinning of the veil, and the return of the milk. Most of us celebrate the commercialized, capitalist versions of these, co-opted to achieve a regular flow in cash upward, toward the exploiters. But you don’t have to participate, you can reclaim these for yourself just by educating yourself on the origins of Easter, Yule and Halloween.
Winter is still a fruitful time, though seemingly bleak. Time for regeneration.
When we’re at the bottom of the wheel, I don’t believe in the ‘why me?’ attitude. Why not you? Life comes with no guarantees, is inherently dangerous and that is precisely what you signed up for when you bought the ticket. Bad things happen, it’s inevitable, but how you choose to deal with them, whether you allow them to define you or not, is your decision to make. We contain worlds, nothing is permanent, the only constant in life is change. It’s a beautiful struggle, be grateful for the opportunity to feel it.