When a God Spins

One of the reasons I took up spinning was that I felt a religious imperative to do so after this year’s nine nights. Spinning and weaving gods are all over, in so many cultures. And yet, I haven’t ever read a good consideration of why it’s so important that we know who the fiber artists in any pantheon are or what it might say about people’s theology and understanding of how the sacred works and how fate works for fate to be something that’s spun and then woven.

I have been thinking about it, though. I’m not claiming my thoughts are coherent or right, but here are some of them.

First, yarn is an energy storage system. I hadn’t ever realized what I was looking at before, because my yarns have always, before now, been factory-made and stabilized before I got them, so I wasn’t ever forced to think about it. But yarn is an energy storage system. You take fibers and you twist them and, in the twisting, you put energy into the yarn that you can later access (even if “later” is just the two second in the future in which the twist will climb up the freshly-drafted fiber).

But you can also see this by tying a weight of any sort to the end of any string and setting that weight to spinning. At some point, enough energy builds up in the twisted yarn that the yarn can set the weight spinning in the other direction.

So, when you’re spinning yarn, you’re putting energy into fiber by twisting it and then transforming it into something new.

What, then, are we being told when we’re told that the Norns spin the fates of people? Are we, then, the medium the energy/fate is being twisted into?

I tend to dwell a lot on what happens after we die. But, if we look at it this way, nothing happens. We just untwist and go back to our component parts. Without the energy of the twist, there’s no yarn. There’s just fiber. Without the energy of fate, there’s just this pile of carbon.

Except that spinners are constantly reusing old fiber. And, if not spinners, birds pluck fiber up and put it in nests.

I don’t know. I think it suggests a varied and impossible to guess at afterlife.

I keep thinking how male gods, especially God, have these rich philosophical lives. They compose and recite poetry. They argue theology with prophets. They write books.

And we’re accustomed to viewing female gods only through the stories of those male gods.

What do female gods think about the nature of the universe? How do they understand how things work? What does their sacred text we should set our minds to contemplating look like?

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