The Work is Looming

First I set the loom in place, the center of my working. At the right distance for the piece, I erect the World Tree, my pillar, my pitan. Between it and the Well that is my chair, I will draw the web of powers I need to snare the object of my will. I drop the thread into the Well and make the first draw, tying the end onto the horizon of origin provided by the loom. The music has already started playing, songs that call the worlds and the spirits I need.

Over the horizon I draw the thread through the heddle, the first day of creation. I coax the loop to the Tree and hang it there, marking the length. Coming back to the Well, I draw again and pass under the horizon, the first night. Through the heddle and to the Tree, testing for firm tension. Over and under the horizon, day and night, through each focused eye, I draw up the power and drape it on the Tree, dancing with the thread, coaxing it out and into shape like a spider, until the count of days and nights is done. I cut the thread free of the Well and tie it to its final horizon, its whole measure now taken. I spray it with fragrant waters and ring bells over it, celebrating its birth and announcing it to all powers gathered. I cut it free of the Tree: its life is now its own, ready to be shaped.

With love I crank it deeper into the loom. Now it must be tethered to its far horizon, its place of manifestation. Each new-cut end must be given its path, some to stay firm and others to move, the dance of active and passive powers. When each has found its way, I gather small bunches, families within the community of the working, and tie them into manifestation. Each bundle in a surgeon’s knot, because this is a healing art, and because each must remain responsive to adjustment. When all are accounted for I tighten them all, and then tighten them again, until they fairly sing to the touch, ready to dance the instant the fly lands on the web, ready to vibrate and pass down the information of the power it calls. I check them and check them again, strumming, pushing, pulling.

The first few passes of the weft are never kept. They are deliberate imperfection, existing only to complete the tuning, to bring evenness to the work when it starts in earnest. The weft, with its many textures and colors, is where the intent is revealed and then tied into place, layer by layer. It passes quickly if the foundation has been set well. The active threads rise and fall, above and below those that stand still, and the net passes through the shifting shed created by their dance. Too light a hand and your net will be too loose to hold your vision; too heavy and it will become a thick, unbreathing rug. To make the sides lie even, the trick is to always move at angles; straight lines invite excess tension that pulls the warp itself out of place.

Did I used to tie nine knots and call it a spell?

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3 thoughts on “The Work is Looming”

  1. I will come back and read this again after I’ve done some weaving (if I’m fortunate enough to get a loom this weekend, or at some point thereafter), as I know that–just as with spinning–it is almost impossible for the non-initiate/practitioner to envision these things. 🙂

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