W is for Women’s Work – Pagan Blog Project 2013

Two Witches Live Here
One Has a Kind Heart
The Other Can See Your Memories

The above is a sign that does not hang on our door… but could.
Right. So, moving right along. Not all that long ago, I wrote a post wherein I wondered aloud if all the Traditional Women’s Work stuff that my wife and I do is feeding my Lady Of The Hearth in some way.
We do a LOT of Things at our place.

My wife does leatherwork – both decorative stuff with hand-tools and colourful thread, and repairs and custom work using most of our flock of antique Singers (at least half of which are hand/treddle powered rather than, or in addition to, electric-run) and her shiny new-to-her Landis sole-stitcher.
I do a lot of fibre-work – felting (soap but also as a type of cloth for jewelry and other accessories), knitting, hand-spinning (using a drop spindle that my wife made for me), sewing (repairs, alterations, upcycling & bespoke couture[1]), and – soon – a little bit of weaving.
On top of that, my wife Knows From Carpentry (and can pretty-much fix anything, by the looks of things) and – as you know bob – I do a LOT of home-canning using local (Ottawa-valley loca, but also straight-up neighbourhood local) fruits and veggies, make most of our day-to-day bread, am an intuitive cook, make a lot of our home-use soaps on my stove, and make the vast majority of our candles (particularly the ones I use for ritual) from Ontario-sourced beeswax.
I’m really fucking proud of this, if it isn’t obvious already. 😉
But what I mean is that we do a LOT of “domestic stuff” at home[2]. We do a lot of DIY, and most of our DIY falls under the heading of “traditional women’s work”, and we really like it that way. My wife has never been so happy as she is now that she spends all day sewing (and, okay, sewing leather, which is part of it, but mostly it’s just… sewing: it makes her happy).
And that doesn’t mean that I’m not also really happy that she has the skills to frame out a house, build a kitchen and fix plumbing, or that I have the beginnings of a clue (only the beginnings, but they’re there) of how to gut a fish or butcher (although not, at this point, slaughter) a chicken[3]. It just means that she and I are really happy to be doing so much Women’s Work together, being Domestic together, and I wonder:
Is that pride and joy in these old, old skills feeding my Mattaer, my Lady of Hearth and Home and Nurturing and Kitchen?
Is the work of our hands, which has been the work of our mothers’ hands, our grandmothers’ hands, and back and back and back… is this pleasing our ancestors[4]?
And, yes, I work magic in the work that I do. Pour love and trust and joy and security into the clothes that I sew, the balms that I brew, the stocks that I blend, the bread that I bake, the soaps that I cure and then felt, the candles I pour. I suspect my wife does the same in her own particular way. (Isn’t that how folk-magic goes?)
But this isn’t straight-up about magic.
This is about deity, about the re-linking of ourselves, our work, our creativity with our ancestors, with the gods of our home and place.
I think it’s working. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] By-which I mean making clothes from scratch, often hand-stiched (which, apparently, makes it haute couture?) and made-to-measure.
[2] And we can do this because (a) my wife’s leatherwork is also her livelihood – it’s her job; and (b) part of that job provides a reliable bi-weekly paycheque (in exchange for 8 hours a day of churning out leather goods in a specific location) that lets both of us (just barely) do our DIY-simplicity stuff and (try to) generate other, smaller patch-work incomes and “negabucks” from what we do at home.
[3] Meaning: I’m glad we also have and continue to acquire skills that are frequently understood as “traditional men’s work” (although the chicken-slaughter, at least… I’m used to that being girl stuff).
[4] I’m going to go out on a limb and answer with a confident Yes on this one, actually. My weaving grandmother really liked that I had the same kind of creative streak as she does, and I doubt that has stopped since she died. My other-side-of-the-family grandparents were farmers, and I think they would approve of our thriftiness and resourcefulness and the skills that we’re building that don’t require tools that run on electricity or, well, petrolium. My wife’s mother was a seamstress (professionally, not like me where I just do it for our own clothes) and I think she is proud of her daughter for taking so well to the craft. I think her Welsh grandmother is, too. 🙂


One response to “W is for Women’s Work – Pagan Blog Project 2013

  1. Pingback: H is for Handicrafts (Clan Tartan Edition) – Pagan Blog Project 2014 | Urban Meliad

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