I am not sure where I have been. I searched online to find out if there was such a thing as a Spirit Ball and discovered there are thousands to choose from.
Apparently, Spirit or, as they’re sometimes called, Witch’s balls have been popular since the 18th Century – first in England and then in New England. For well over three centuries hollow glass spheres have been hung in windows to ward off witch’s spells, evil spirits and ill fortune. Hanging these decorative glass balls in the window or on the porch is thought to tantalize the mischievous spirits which may be threatening a home’s tranquility.
The wayward spirit is mesmerized by the ball’s reflective beauty. When the spirit touches the sphere it is absorbed and trapped in the web-like strands of glass thus protecting your home and family!
My notion of making a spirit ball was quite different to this. I thought of a spirit ball as being something which holds, at its core, some ‘essence’, some attribute that make an entity what it fundamentally is, and which, by necessity, adds character and without which identity is lost.
So! A ball, made with an unlocked lock inside it, given to a healer, represents that which, at essence, is what they do. Their identity is somehow lost when they do not help unlock that which is held within. While they hold the ball they know what it is that they must do!
Temari balls are a form of folk art that originated in China and were introduced to Japan in the 7th century. The carefully hand-embroidered balls often made from the thread of old kimonos were created by parents or grandparents and given to children on New Year’s day as special gift. According to Wikipedia the balls would sometimes contain secret handwritten wish for the child, or else contained some kind of noise-making object like a bell.
The idea of making balls which are made using material from the clothes of loved ones and which contain secret handwritten wishes, bells, memories and other surprises appeals. I am cursing that I have not kept more pieces of clothing from those loved ones who have died.
My descansos ball has none of the amazing precision seen here. At one time that would have bothered me. But today I feel no need to replicate this form of art. What I am most interested in, as I forage for ideas, is the use of color, the notion of using diverse scraps and the concept of making many balls.
This is timely for, having placed the open lock in my descansos ball, I sense the time has come to complete it and then see what material speaks to me and asks to be shaped into balls. After all, Baba clearly has not done with me. My tasks are by no means completed.
Flickr user NanaAkua photographed an amazing collection of geometric spheres created by her 88-year-old grandmother who began to master the art in her 60s. She has since created hundreds of them, nearly 500 of which you can see right here.
He looked at his own Soul
with a Telescope. What seemed
all irregular, he saw and
shewed to be beautiful
Constellations: and he added
to the Consciousness hidden
worlds within worlds
Working with the rope is a bit like seeing through a telescope. What I see, as I work, are fragments.
I remember, for example, the way I played and contemplate how that contributed to the constellation that is me.
Carl Jung describes in his Memories, Dreams, Reflections how he went outdoors and almost each day would gather from a lake a series of stones to stack. Stacking stones led to desire. He built a village made of stones, complete with cottages, castle, and cathedral. It was only much later that he recognized the significance of this daily habit. He speaks of how, “when we are old, we are drawn back, both from within and from without, to the memories of youth.”
Yesterday I sought chalk.
Chalk, tied in, will remind me of hours spent in the ‘Nanny’s old room’ teaching an assorted collection of dolls and my teddy. It was in there that I created a world of phantasy that defined who I would become.
Late, late last night, when the whole world slept
Along to the garden of dreams I crept.
And I pulled the bell of an old, old house
Where the moon dipped down like a little white mouse.
I tapped the door and I tossed my head:
“Are you in, little girl? Are you in?” I said.
And while I waited and shook with cold
Through the door tripped Me” – just two years old.
I came to Baba Yaga seeking a fire stick and she sneered and told me, in no uncertain terms, that it was me that let the fire go out and that I would have to spend a lot of time making Descansos!
With that she flew off in her cauldron, leaving me to ponder the task of making endless lines of rope
So late, late, as night fell, I searched and found the photo of two year old me.
I kissed her, gave her a hug and made sure to tell her how precious she was/is.
Since Baba insists, I will go on making the rope, along with all the other tasks this feisty old crone has set.
I will wind and twist my strands of material and ever so respectfully, cover the things I uncover.
So here lies my two year old self, the one with sharply forged intuition, carefully wrapped and tucked within my ball for safe keeping. Like Vasalisa’s doll she will be with me and guide me as I obey Baba Yaga’s commands.