Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Benefits of Taboo

When we think of taboos, we often think in terms of what they prevent us from doing/having, or what they protect us from. Since instituting the spinning taboos that I keep, I've discovered that taboos can also give us things. Today when unwinding my spindle before starting a new week if spinning, I was amazed at the difference between what I can do now, and what I could do when I first started. The daily spinning has not only given me discipline, but a useful skill, and the wool I cleared from my spindle will go into some hand knitted mittens of my own design, then for sale. The taboo mandates that I don't spin at the weekends, or on festival days (unless roving has been set aside for spinning as an offering with other spinners), and this gives me a set time off from it. The more I spin and keep these taboos, the more I learn of Frîja and my foremothers. It's taken many years for me to get from being the tomboy that always fought with the boys with no interest in the fiberarts or goddesses. There was a time when I only ever offered to male gods. But then there was that one pivotal day on a frozen lake in Germany when everything changed. A week or so from now, that moment that changed so much will be commemorated in ink on my skin in a tattoo big enough to be a half sleeve. In a lot of ways, this feels like it's going to be an initiation of sorts, and perhaps it is?

To what though, only time will tell.


Anonymous said...

I've noticed similarly that having a taboo acts like a deadline, and I'm becoming more productive in spinning and crocheting as a result (even despite grad school).

Mine aren't as strict as yours (my only taboo so far is to have my current projects done by Perchta's day, Jan. 5), but I'm working up to it once I've successfully passed the "beginner" level and have a better idea about what should be done.

Birka said...

Hey there :),

I think Perchta's day is a great day to have a deadline for, however for me, that would never have worked as I tend to need constant practice to get good at something and some vague deadline works less well than a weekly one. It's just a personal thing, but also one that gives me a taste of the obligation that was involved in the lives of women when it came to spinning and why the taboos were so meaningful.

But at the end of the day, it's down to what deals you decide to cut, just so long as you keep them, then there's no problem :).

If you screw up though...on Friday I had one last length to spin up, I had 10 minutes left to do it in and had already been spinning for an hour ( my own fault entirely). As soon as 9pm struck, I couldn't keep my spindle going, the yarn broke repeatedly, the spindle broke, and in the end, I had to just accept defeat and give up because it was clear that nothing I did would circumvent those difficulties and that it would be offensive to the deity I am honouring to push it.