As the Wheel of the Year turns toward the end of the harvests and the nights become longer I sense an inner calling from the depths of my soul. Aware of how the natural environment is showing signs of changes, I am constantly observing how life adapts to the seasonal shifts in the environment.
As an artist and a gardener, I am conscious of the natural world’s messages. It does not matter where I am, geographically. I am focused on the subtle and not-so-subtle shifts happening in my natural environment. It has taken me decades of witnessing, experiencing and research to find my own way through the seasons, through any given cycle. My art has been a reflection of this journey.
At every seasonal turn, there are specific forms of artistic expression I have created as a way to mark the turning of time. In the Autumn, when the harvests are being gathered, I think of all that I have gathered in the past growing season. I ponder what has come into fruition? What has not? What were the seeds of my intentions? How did I nurture those seeds? Where was I neglectful? Where did the pruning and weeding happen? Which areas showed signs of the detritus and dis-eased needing to be healed?
Thoughtful reflection helps me to gain perspective, to grow, and to change course if need be. I find that living seasonally has produced a deeper, more profound sense of gratitude and abundance in my life. During the lean times, and more profoundly, through those devastating times of sudden and total loss, I am better at and more quickly able to recognize the blessings that remain steadfast. My resilience is exercised as a result.
In my little art studio, the beads are all laid out in tidy rows. All my other supplies are lined up beside them. I take time to light a candle, specifically chosen for the occasion, as I breathe deeply and set my intentions. A small, simple ceremony that infuses my art with sacredness, significance, and purpose.
Making beaded spiders is one of my favorite projects. I make small batches of them at certain times of the year. I find the autumn to be especially powerful for this ceremony of creation. Of course, it fits in perfectly with the whole spidery, spooky, fun of the Halloween theme. In total, there were 13 unique new spiders added to the collection this year.
Each spider was created under either September’s new moon or the waxing moon at the gate of the Autumnal Equinox. It is done in recognition of our sacred earth’s celestial dance in the cosmos. As we step through the threshold of the harvest season, we honor it as a time to pause and breathe deeply, to find our balance, and strengthen our soul amidst the chaos of Life and Death.
This opportunity for reflection prepares us for our descent into the quickening of nights as we head towards nature’s inevitable sleep of winter. Celebrating the seasons helps us to remember our place in the Web of Life, providing a wider awareness of ourselves and our experiences in the world, increasing our possibilities for a gratifying restoration of harmony, balance, and wholeness.
Spiders symbolize the activation of our creativity, gathering prosperity, surrounding us with protection in our sacred spaces, a repairing, strengthening and a weaving of our webs of relationships, the spinning of our webs of communication and mastery of our language and intentions. The artfulness of the arachnids and the skillful actions of their hunt are examples of the abundance of the gifts these web-spinners share with us when we remember to invite the wisdom, guidance, and assistance of nature into our daily lives.
The making of my beaded spiders reminds me to pause and breathe deeply as I gather my wits for the way forward. They continue to remind me of all their gifts as I hang them from my windows, wear them as earrings, pins, and necklaces. Their tiny feet are sealed with beeswax to keep fabrics from snagging on them.
I love each spider. I immerse myself in the process of designing them. I savor putting them all together in an artful, meaningful way. I use specific gemstones within the designs. This provides even more meaning for me, as the artist, and for these gifts to be passed forward to those future keepers of my little beaded arachnids. I celebrate their uniqueness and individual beauty as each one is completed.
All the gemstones are chosen for their special properties, adding to the spider’s symbolism. Larger, round gemstone beads are used as the head and/or belly of the spider. The semi-precious stones range in color, shape, and size. They come from everywhere minerals are found. There is turquoise for the sky and speaking our truth. Carnelian for creativity and loving relationships. Lapis lazuli, worn by the ancient Pharaohs of Egypt are included for clear, powerful communications. Black, gold and silver obsidian are for protection. You get the idea. Each gemstone offers another way to remind ourselves of the gifts we are offered from nature.
I consider these sacred little ceremonies of reflection and my pauses for creative ritual beautiful ways to honor the harvest season. It makes the entrance to winter a pleasure and a delight. When we stop to remember our connections, with our selves, others, nature…we are healthier, happier and more engaged with our lives and our world.
Nature, itself is Creativity in Action. Art, relationships and nature are some of the most amazing trans-formative opportunities available to humanity. This is the Web of Life’s cycles spinning, spiraling through the Uni-Verse. This is what Life is about.
(Photo & Beaded GrandMother Spider by CShepard – http://www.cshepardarts.com)