It was not that long ago I brought my first small loom home and marvelled at how long it took me to be ready to learn the ancient craft of my ancestors.
Mostly it had to do with patience and timing, as right now I am at a time in my life where our children are mostly grown and I have time to be patient and slow with things of great importance.
The first shawl I made was one for myself and little did I know how important that first altar cloth would be, nor the stole and the ancestral cloak that came after.
It was not until I made a sacred shawl for a dear sister who was coming through one of the most sacred and transformative times in her life that the idea to make her a "Selkie Shawl" came to mind. Since I was unable to be close to her and sit for long afternoons over cups of tea as we usually would when one of us was going through something big and powerful, I decided to throw all my love and all my joy at her finding her way back to her own selkie skin into the creation of a shawl that held the colours of the ocean where she lived, of the stones and sand and of course the colours of the selkie skin.
If you are not familiar with the old Celtic tale of the Selkie woman I highly recommend reading it, for the story is easily found with a quick google search.
The shawl quickly started to pull in the energies and ancestors of my dear friend and Japanese wool found its way into the shall marking a nod to her ancestors and opened up a new understanding for me about the Japanese way of weaving called Saori which means weaving from the heart, and encompasses the beauty of natural flaws and unique patterns that come when we let go of "trying" and allow the magic to flow in. Saori is a zen word--Sao which means beautiful and Ori which means weaving-Beautiful weaving.
The process of making these shawls or whatever sacred piece that I am working on is truly nothing short of magic, Every-time.
I can never predict what might want to come through or how things will turn out when I first begin, but I know this, on both ends strange and wonderful synrocities start to happen the moment we agree to begin the work.
And then there was the seaweed selkie shawl.....
This sacred medicine shawl has everything to do with this womans destiny calling and sacred path as a herbalist, woman and mother. Some of you may have heard of her, especially if you are from Vancouver Canada and buy herbal products from a beautiful organic herbal company called Harmonic arts.
Angela Willard has been interested in seaweed and its amazing medicinal properties for woman's reproductive systems for well over a decade now, so it was no surprise when I picked up a soft skien of yard and read that it was made from seaweed I thought immediately of her!
The yarn is called Sea Silk and it is made here in Canada on the east coast by a lovely company called Hand Maiden.
Seasilk is a combination of silk and a product called Seacell which is a brown algae known as Knotted Wrack and commonly found in the Fjords of Iceland.
This yarn is some of the softest stuff I have ever laid my hands on and was divine for weaving! This however was just the start of the synchronicities and magic that unfolded as this piece began to come into form...
Angela being the kindred spirit that she is, was all in from the start and together we started weaving magic...
So while Angela was busily packing up a box of seaweed that she hand harvested for me to weave into her piece and she was also finding new depths of inspiration for her own work around bringing the beauty and medicine of seaweed out and into the world as she has started to do so many moons ago.....
As I eagerly awaited the box of seaweed, I knew that I was going to need to spin some of my own fibre to be able to create new colours and textures to match those of the seaweed world.
So I researched and ordered myself a spinning wheel, and found out that there are so many different kinds of seaweed it was mind blowing. All the while images of the deep ocean and the story of the selkie woman for whom I had already played with a few months prior, started to weave me....
I mentioned this to Angela and her reply was kind of mind blowing ..
She spoke about the herbal world and how right now mushrooms are all the fad for adaptogens, and how she had always been drawn to the softness of seaweed, to the female element of it, to the briny smell of the ocean, the slippery aspect of seaweed, and all of the medicinal properties seaweed offers us as women for our health and healing, but is often overlooked by the herbal medicine world in favour of some of the more sexier things such as mushrooms.
In that moment I felt more then ever that her work needed to get out and into the world and she in turn was inspired to continue writing her on-line offering course, which as soon as she is done will absolutely be linked here for anyone interested in all of the amazing herbal ways of the seaweed world! Check her instagram though @seaweed_gardens
In the meantime, my spinning wheel was delivered to my house and I spent days smoothing it with beeswax and adding my ancestral symbols to the wheel, so that while I was spinning, magic and ancestral blessings were also going into the fibre.
My loom also has sacred symbols carved onto it and in this way, I feel the ancient connection to my ancestors and those for whom I am spinning and weaving for....
After that, the shawl I think must have woven itself, for I was in a ma flurry of soaking seaweed and my kitchen table was a mess of yarn and seaweed and the room was full of the scents of the ocean...
The shawl contains all the colours of the seaweed spectrum, and there are many!!
Red and pink and a thousand gem shades of green, from dark black to purple and even dark shades of blue, they all were there and all were woven into the shawl...
I will not say much more, as some things require being kept close to the heart and I have already shared so much of the process, but if you have come over here to read this blog wondering what the process of having one of these sacred pieces woven for you, this hopefully will give you some idea.
Each one is different and holds the full essence of who you are and who your ancestors were as well, even if you have no idea about them.
I have woven horse hair and clooties, my own hair and others hair, I have woven seaweed of course, but also torn up pieces of precious quilts and fabrics that carry great meaning. Pretty much anything can be woven or sewn onto one of the sacred pieces and I believe that the sky is the limit!
I have yarn made of nettles and birch tree fibres, there is rose yarn and dandelion yarn, and yarn from Iceland and Scotland, from India and even Japan, because humans the whole world over have always spun, and woven, it is in our DNA and woven into the fabric of our ancestral lineage.
Once the shawl has been created a ceremony is written up, something different for each shawl, and made unique by the person it was made for, and so the magic continues on weaving and growing...