I was recently watching a YouTube video about why we spin in the modern age, and the presenter outlined her journey from disconnection from the source of her sustenance to connection to Nature. My journey has been somewhat different; I come from a background that is closer to the realities of Nature than she did.
I learned to spin first at a women’s Wiccan retreat. The friend who ran this retreat used a chopstick and an onion to give us the basics and mechanics of spinning, she also outlined the history of spinning. Humans have been spinning from the beginning of time, perhaps even before we were humans. Fibre has been found at dig sites all over the world despite the ephemeral nature of fabric and yarn. My instructor on that long ago day, told me to keep practicing because ‘my hands would remember’ and my hands did… eventually. It started me on a train of thought; such a long lived activity must have left traces on our genes… mustn’t it? Our race memory must contain that knowledge, the means to dress and protect ourselves, just like birds remember how to build a nest. I spin, in part, to access the need to provide for myself, the deep need to do something for myself.
There is also the matter of giving thanks to the beings that provide for us. Taking time and giving attention to the process of spinning (and everything else involved in the process) is respectful to the beings that provided the materials for this activity. While I spin, I think about where the fleece came from… increasingly the fleece comes from Eli (our one fleece sheep), but I also have fleece from friends and local growers. Other fibres I spin come from plants I grow here in my garden or silk moths raised by me and fed from our mulberry tree. I know how much work and sacrifice goes into each gram of fibre, and so I give thanks for it.
Added to these deep and amorphous (at times) thoughts is the sheer enjoyment I feel when spinning. The mastery of the skills involved, and the promise of more to learn, draws me onwards. The repetitive nature of the activity puts me in a calm and focused state, where I can think deep thoughts and retain the gist of my thinking (instead of my mind running away with me). The simple enjoyment of the activity is enough, but the sense of connection, to Nature and to the past, makes spinning a therapeutic activity, and it really should be tax deductible and classed as a mental health therapy.
All these thoughts floating through my mind as I sit here, unable to spin.