What a month!
Of course it's been the time of year to dance with the IRS, but I didn't expect to be going to three visitations—one of them being my own sister. There's that old cliche about 'death and taxes' being the only certainty in life, and dear gods, I've had my fill for awhile, now, thank you very much (are ya listening, universe)!
'They' also say that it's an ill wind that blows no good. Well, it's my philosophy to try to find some good in every situation, no matter what. For one thing, I got to see my daughter, and it's been a long time since Christmas. For another, this has given me time to reflect, and contemplate exactly what I want to be doing out in the pottery studio.
I left work in March to make my art full time. I'd been thinking about it for several months, and when they didn't renew my contract I took it as a sign to get out in the studio and do arty things. So far, so good. I have a new—smaller—kiln, and it's been kept busy since it's arrival ten days ago.
I've been beavering away, making test pieces and trying out new glaze combinations, and researching different decorating techniques. However, I've got this 'thing' that everything I make has to mean something. I guess it's the storyteller in me. I'm not one who can just randomly decorate something; the colors and symbols have to tell a tale. I don't want to be just another mug maker or plate painter, because life is richer than that.
I recalled my meeting with Taffy Thomas, and his 'tale coat,' a fantastic piece of work that has so many stories woven into it. To see Taffy in full garb, captivating children of all ages with his impromptu performance at a folk festival is one of the highlights of my life. Stories are meant to be told.
Once again, my mind turned back to the spirit houses of the dead that I saw when we went to Alaska all those years ago, and to the ongon—places or objects where Siberian shaman believe that their spirit helpers live. I thought about the death masks, and masks that embodied the spirits, and of the Kachinas and their likenesses. We humans seem to need a place to put disembodied beings!
When I got my hands back into the clay on Friday, I asked the clay what it wanted to be. It was fairly silent, so I putzed around making phone holders and wine bottle cork toppers. I even started three fairy houses. It wasn't until teatime that a mask finally jumped out of the clay, followed by the start of another one.
As Elton John once sang, The Bitch is Back. I believe I see where I'm going, at least for the time being. There are spirit houses to construct—and yes, they can still be fairy houses, for what are fairies if not nature spirits? There are masks to make, leafy 'green man' creations that may be a home of some kind to the dryads and other nature spirits. There are tiles and murals to create.
More than that, though, there are stories to be told, stories of the Wild Hunt, of the cycles of birth and life and death. There are creation stories, stories of the love affair between the Sun and the Moon, stories of the crystal in Uktena's forehead, and of Cerridwen's cauldron of poems. There are so many wonderful stories to share over and over again, stories of spirits and guides and deities, but also stories about the ancestors, and of the people who no longer walk this earth. These stories need to be told, lest they be forgotten. These spirits need a place where they can come to visit. Perhaps I can provide that in the clay that comes out of my kiln.