Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Jan 19, 2006

Personal/Political Thursday-Sun, DP, Gandhi

Sun! Blue sky!

I've been thinking I need one of those light therapy boxes, it's been so cloudy and gray for so long and my mood has been very, very low.

Of course that could be because I had to have a major eye exam on Monday and nearly 3 hours in the dental chair yesterday, with my dentist wrestling an old crown that needs replacing. Those sorts of things tend to get me pretty anxious and depressed. Actually, I used to be truly phobic in regard to the dentist - but over the years, my dentist has been very patient and helpful with that, so anxious and depressed is an improvement.

In any case, with the sun shining and the blue showing and the major part of the crown stuff mood is much improved. I'm looking forward to getting back to some creative knitting and fiber work very soon. And bookselling....

On the politics front - last Sunday I attended a meeting with several people in regard to the three Federal executions scheduled in May. This meeting brought together local, state and national activists, most of whom I've worked with before. Abe (from Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty) drove over from Ohio and it was good to see him again, though, as always, the reason for our getting together is lamentable.

There are many reasons I oppose the death penalty, moral and practical reasons, but the bottom line for me is that I truly believe we cannot hope to create a non-violent society as long as our collective response to murder is to commit another homicide. As for execution vigils, I believe that even those who believe the death penalty is moral have an obligation to pause and reflect, to mark the moment with solemnity. We must all bear witness since it is an act of killing that is done in our names.

I've been thinking today about violence and about non-violent conflict resolution and about how violence is so much a part of our lives, that we entertain ourselves with violence. I was thinking about how powerful an active non-violence can be. And how difficult. Power-over, brute force, verbal or physical....those are the easy ways, but the kind of energy we expend depletes us and sometimes leaves us feeling ashamed, even if we win. But resolving a conflict creatively and with compassion, going for the win-win resolution....ah, that is more difficult, but empowering and energizing I think.

So this thinking about non-violence reminded me of a little book I got a while back: The Gandhian Philosophy of the Spinning Wheel by Mohit Chakrabarti. I had to order it from India, through a listing at Advanced Book Exchange. I looked through it, then put it on my shelf and simply forgot about it until now. I think I will try to delve into it a bit more this week.

For Gandhi, the spinning wheel was a powerful symbol of non-violence, and the act of spinning a fundamental practice, with immense spiritual and social significance. The philosophy is bound up in events and conditions of Gandhi's time and place, and sometimes the book travels a complex path, but it's awfully compelling to me as a spinner interested in the issues of violence and non-violence.

I just found this page which has quotes from Gandhi on the spinning wheel and spinning. Just scroll down to Charkha (Spinning Wheel). I think my favorite one is:

"My heart is drawn backwards and forwards between spinning wheel and books."

Or maybe:

"The music of the spinning wheel will be as balm to your soul."

Gandhi spun cotton on a very portable wheel called a Charkha. One of these days I think I'd like to get one and learn to spin cotton - I think it will be quite challenging! There's a good page on Charkha spinning in the Gandhian way, and I've seen several places that offer Charkhas for sale. Both The Woolery offers an Indian Charkha and Journey Wheel offers pricey but beautifully handcrafted Charkhas.

Meanwhile, I've spun half the peach roving - just a lightly spun bulky single. I really want to make a shawl from my handspun, something like the gorgeous shawl Adrian at Hello Yarn created. Be sure to click on the links to the close-up pictures.

I'm also spinning some Blue-Faced Leicester roving dyed at Winderwood Farms in shades of red and pink:
This one I'm spinning as a two-ply. This is the first time I've spun Blue-Faced, it's soft and very pleasant feeling. A balm, indeed.



At 1/20/06, 12:27 AM, Anonymous Peggy said...

Been reading about Gandhi and cotton in a different way recently. The book, Big Cotton: How a humble fiber created fortunes, wrecked civilizations, and put America on the Map. by Stephen Yafa. Fascinating book. Cotton was the oil of its day, and the country that controlled it controlled just about everything since everyone wanted it. The Brits, when they conquered India, forbid the production of the material that had been India's main export for 1000s of years... so Gandhi's spinning was truly a revolutionary act.

My friend at the LYS was showing me how to knit on double pointed needles today. She also owns that book you mentioned and she loves it.


At 1/23/06, 2:00 AM, Blogger Luscious Gracious said...

Well said! When I (or anyone that I know) spin, I cannot help but smile. Every muscle relaxes. I am one with myself and the universe. What a significant and truly inspired symbol of peace is the spinning wheel. Thank you, 'Zann, for putting it in perspective again. Now, let's put spinning in the hands of people everywhere, and see where the simple act leads their hearts.
Knit (and spin) on,


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