Quilting and the Craft
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Quilting and “CRAFT”

Janis Maria Cortese

Newsgroups: alt.pagan

Organization: University of California, Irvine


Last night I attended the first session of a  first-time quilter’s class.  While I was there
 listening to the teachers tell us the little tricks that make quilting easier and buying 
all the neat gadgets that you use, something very fundamental struck me, to the point 
that I was unable to speak for a few minutes until I had acknowledged this movement 
in my mind.  Let me describe something to you, and you try to guess what I am 
talking about.  The characteristics are as follows:

1) Done by a group of women together, which is frequently called a circle.

2) Handed down from mother to daughter, in a VERY hands-on fashion.

3) Uses specialized tools that other people don’t understand and usually do not recognize.

4) Requires strict adherence to ritual preparation of materials.

5) Can be monotonous and repetitive—PERFECT for meditation.

6) Can be decorative as well as practical, and frequently both.

7) Can be done entirely by hand, OR with the aid of techie stuff.

8)  Causes things to come into being that other people usually call “Magic.”

 Sound like Wicca?  

            Well, it is not, at least not the “standard” type, if there is any such thing.  I am 
talking about the quilting class.  Have you ever wondered WHY so many WOMEN do it, 
and so few men (apologies to male Witches out there; I discovered these things through
feminism)?  What else has been so “religiously” handed down through generations aside 
from crafting skills, and how many women do you know who have a love affair with that 
old afghan that their grandmother made and wouldn’t part with it for the world?  Sound 
familiar now?  I mean, REALLY.  This can’t be coincidence!  I will follow the Craft in the 
barest sense of the word -- a CRAFT, some talent which can be used for practical and 
beautiful purposes, and has all the trappings of a “true” ritual.  (And believe me, you’d 
better adhere to the rules hard and fast.  You must use EXACTLY the required seam 
allowance, and you’d better treat your cloth before you start sewing, or whatever you 
end up with might as well be a drop-cloth.)  And when you are done, you have something.  
You have some-thing to which you can point and say, “That’s where the last five weeks 
have gone.”  You can follow a pattern established by another woman, you can create 
your own, or you can follow a pattern and personalize it with your choice of materials.

I mean, they are called QUILTING CIRCLES and SEWING CIRCLES, people.

How much more of a HINT do you need?!?!?! Howzaboutit?  Anyone else interested in 
a coven of Crafters who literally craft?  I feel it deeply enough that I can finally call 
myself Wiccan/Witch and have it feel right.  However, I’d rather not do this by myself.  
I realize that many people would rather follow Wicca in a different way, but if this way 
feels so wonderful to me, it MIGHT be good for others, too.  I’m not saying that you need
 to do this the same way I do it; just give it a try and see how it feels.  If you like, try 
consecrating your materials before starting.  Make something (I’m not just talking 
quilts, here, but ALL kinds of crafts) with a Pagan theme.  After I finish here, I’d LOVE 
to make a four-pane quilt with a full moon, a chalice, a blade, and a tree in the panes.  
Any feedback on this?  I can’t tell you how strongly I feel this and how amazed I am at 
that strength.  If I really allowed myself to absorb this, I think I’d be in tears.  Maybe 
I’m just typing this to get it on “paper”; I don’t know.  But I’ve never felt this way—this 
sublime—about anything connected with Paganism/Wicca before.





Janis C.



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