"Anyone that doesn't agree with leggings as pants can physically fight me.
And I'm going to win because I have a full range of motion due to the fact that I am wearing leggings as pants."

Friday, August 31, 2007

We Daughters of Daughters

"The moon loved them.
Not because they were beautiful,
or because they were perfect,
or because they were perky,
but because they were her darling daughters."
-Rebecca Wells

Every year around Christmastime, Jeff and the kids and I draw names and each person makes one ornament specifically tailored to that person and who they are. The idea is for every kid to build up their own set of Christmas ornaments. One year, when our oldest daughter seemed so close to actually becoming a woman, I decided to make a moon goddess ornament for her. It's based on an ancient carving, the Venus of Laussel, that is approximately 20,000 years old.

I have since made many of these, although not as ornaments- just the figures, for lots of family members, Jeff's ex-wife, my favorite college professor... for those turning 18 and those turning 50. The most recent one was for my cousin Aurora, pictured above at her baby shower.

I have the women write down all the maiden names of all of their female ancestors. I basically ask them, who are the women who survived long enough to give birth to someone that eventually led to you. These women represent the womb that we all came from. Then I have them write down the names of anyone who makes them feel at home, comforted or safe, who make them feel unconditionally accepted. These people can be either male or female. Then, at the end, each person adds her own name. The idea is to come up with a list that represents the feminine intuitive wisdom of the person I'm doing the goddess for.

2007 08 31 007

In our culture, we value the masculine in so many ways, with achievement and striving and doing. And when I say masculine, I don't mean male; I'm referring to the yang side of yin and yang. Every person should have a healthy balance of yin and yang within themselves.

But mostly, our culture misses out on the appreciation of the feminine... of the caves and the safety, of simply being and accepting... the gestation period before bringing out to the light of day. I guess I'm trying to fill that void with these figures. They don't represent actual physical pregnancy (or any one specific person, for that matter), so much as the symbolic gestation that all creative acts require. They represent our intuition, the inherent genius that we all possess when we are still enough to notice it.

After the written list is complete, we burn the paper and mix it into the clay. Some women knead the clay for a couple minutes, others for almost an hour. Some cry as they do it. Aurora did. I really think that it's part of the process to physically incorporate something symbolic into the material. Then when they finally hold the figure in their hands, it means so much more to them. And these figures feel very good to hold in your hand, to rub your fingers along their spines or the curves of their hips. They're a bit like worry stones, if any of you ever had one of those.

It just means so much to me that the women who receive these seem to love them so much.

I love making them.

Added Note- Making these was my first real experience working with clay of any kind. And the main reason that I describe the process here is to encourage others to make these for themselves or for friends. I use Sculpey polymer clay so I can cook them in my home oven, but if you have access to a kiln, I'm sure regular clay would work beautifully. Just be sure to be extra careful when burning the piece of paper with the names on it. I use tongs and burn it in a large, ceramic or metal bowl.


Breanna said...

What a lovely post, and great idea. Beautiful.

Cami said...

I love these! A meaningful gift, beautifully executed. All the thought that goes into the sculptures makes them so special. I'm passing on the Nice Award to you, come by my blog for the "official" stuff!

dig this chick said...

Great and thoughtful idea. I love the idea of building up your own collection of ornaments...all specifically for you...not a universal snowman from Target.

Marmite Breath said...

This gave me chills. I love this idea so much.

Maggieliz said...

This is just wonderful - so amazing, and such a loving gift. Brilliant.

Holly Days Closet said...

I just found your blog and came across this post of yours and WOW I love this I have been looking for something to do on new moon I think I know mine won't be as beautiful as yours but I'm going to give it a try. Thank you so much for inspiring me. I look forward to getting to know you more through your blog.