Category Archives: Spiritual Life


I was expecting interviews with rootworkers and those who utilize their services. I was expecting more discussion of regional differences and an attempt to strongly substantiate the practices. The author’s intent was to elevate Rootwork beyond narrow stereotypes and association with evil. McQuillar defines Rootwork as “folk magick that uses the elements of nature to create change in ourselves, others, or our environment. It is an African-American form of shamanism that makes use of herbs, stones, rocks, and other organic material to heal the body or the mind, or to solve a problem.”
McQuillar, Tayannah Lee (2010-05-20). Rootwork (p. 3). Fireside. Kindle Edition.

The knowledge came with the surviving Africans during the slave trade and mixed with like minded knowledge and traditions of Native Americans. Its strong hold and practices developed in America where largely in the South, particularly in areas McQuillar offers as being impacted by Catholicism, i.e. Louisiana. I’ll add to this by offering in areas where the African population significantly outnumbered whites. Although McQuillar points out that Whites were also known to use African/African American Rootworkers as well and notes some famous Rootworkers.

Overall, it was a very quick read. The book is straightforward and to the point and includes some practices for those who wish to partake of Rootwork Magick. Nothing quite took hold for ideas for quilts but to continue on the path I started Sacred Symbols of the Dogon: The Key to Advanced Science in the Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics by Laird Scranton.


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Filed under African American, culture, Kindle, Rootwork, Spiritual Life

the ARTIST’S RULE…nurturing your creative soul with monastic wisdom by Christine Valters Paintner; Sorin Books, Notre Dame, Indiana, 2011 Kindle PC edition.

The winter is approaching all too soon for me. My quilt construction studio is packed into storage and going into the other studio has to be tempered against the weather and my health. To help me maintain perspective, it is a great time for me to get cozy with myself and make another leap in my emotional, artistic, intellectual, spiritual journey. I selected this book after stumbling over it at Amazon. I look upon this aspect of my journey as going back in to excavate with a more open heart and mind.

The seed of the book begins with the author sharing her infatuation with “Hildegard of Bingen, the twelfth-century Benedictine abbess who was an artist, visionary, musician, theologian, preacher, spiritual director, and healer.” Valters Paintner has a background in the expressive arts. It was this passage in the first chapter that comforted me: “The inner monastery is a quality of consciousness you bring to everything you do, including creating. It is the crucible for your transformation, and everything you need to be whole is right there within you already.” This has been a long held belief for me, but the reality of living it out is many times a unconscious disconnect when I allow daily disappointments, hurdles, struggles, etc. become too far reaching into defining who and how I exist.

I started week one today which involved sacred reading (lectio divina) and mediation. She offers the possibility of incorporating a movement response such as walking and being open to the environment.

The book is a 12 week practice of reading, meditation, response, and reflection. The responses are written and visual ones.

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Daughters of the Stone by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, completed

This is the first multi-generational novel I read that was set in Puerto Rico.  The author condensed a lot into her characters and at times I felt it was rushed in order to cover a lot of ground and at times I thought she relied on the familiarities of broad history to create the personalities of her characters.  But overall, I enjoyed being swept across time and the magic of their lives and gifts.  It is a coming of age story for each of the 5 generations of women.  It starts somewhere in West Africa with a village raid in 1800’s  and sweeps across to Puerto Rico to New York and back to Puerto Rico and coming full circle to West Africa.  It is a story of the responsibilities of the gifts we inherit and the victories and consequences of using them.  I recommended it to my 21 year old daughter to read during Kwanzaa.  She, however, selected a book by Walter Mosely.

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Filed under african american women, African Diaspora reading challenge, Daughters of the Stone, Embroidery, Immigrant Experience, Library book, plantation life, Puerto Rico, Spiritual Life, Story Telling

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Women Who Run With Wolves is a long standing re-read and has been since its publication.  Last year I purchased one of her audio stories on relaxing prior to falling asleep. Estes has a soothing quality to her voice that allows me complete immersion into her stories.  A few months ago I checked out from the library  (not sure why the link function is not working).  I realized that once again I had fallen into the pattern of spending on fiber/art supplies/books as a way of compensating for the frustration and anger over not moving last year and Estes’ The Gift of Story: A Wise Tale About What Is Enough was what I needed for ushering in a more positive mind set.  I really do have more than what I need to for art making…I just need to cultivate the discipline and routine that has been missing since the winter.  I’ve actually been using my materials versus hoarding them or “saving” them for that perfect space to work in.  The Gift of Story is one that I really do want to invest in when the time is right but for now the story was told and incorporated into my daily functioning and that is truly the best thing.

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Art is a Way of Knowing by Pat B. Allen, Shambhala Publications, 1995, 204 pages

In short summary the main assertion of this book is art, the process and the art itself, informs us about who we are.  But my short summary does not reflect how well the author has broken the process down to allow the reader to enter into her words.

I needed to read this book.  Out of powerlessness, frustration, and anger I’ve been avoiding these issues and although I’m only a few pages into this book, it is making me face and articulate my own frustrations around not being engaged in quiltmaking.

I came across this title on the blog of  Thelma Smith, ,and found it at my library.  It is one that I would like to add to my permanent shelves.

Here is a link to the author:

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The Dance by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I love both poems, The Invitation and The Dance, by this author but resisted reading her books out of general skeptical view of self-help books but finally checked it out from the library, no harm, no foul, I could always drop it in the return box easily if Ifound it to be a chore to read.

This book was pleasant to read like sitting over lunch with a fairly new friend.  Oriah is writing about her own spiritual life and presents an honest peak for the reader into not only her aha moments but into the moments she saw herself as falling short of her own defined path.  This is what I call a keeping it real approach to spiritual development and one that made me feel comfortable as a reader while reflecting on my own spiritual growth. 

At the end of each chapter she does offer the reader some suggestions for spiritual meditations but she leaves the responsibility of growth with the reader as I believe it works best.  She is not offering a cookie cutter recipe to improvement.

Here are some passages that I liked: (from 1st edition published by HarperSanFrancisco 2001)

I am less interested in people’s articulated spiritual beliefs or political philosophies and more interested in whether or not they are true to themselves even when it costs them something, whether or not they can be kind when it is easier to be indifferent, whether or not they can remember that to be human is to be flawed and spectacular and deeply compassionate. (p. 15)

I do not seek perfection. I simply seek to remember who and what I am everyday.  I seek the people and places and practices that support the expanding of this awareness in my day, in my life, in my choices.  Our lives are the story of how we remember.  (p. 29)

There is a difference between being the determiner in your life and being the controller.  We often confuse the two.  The desire to control is a normal human response to fear.  The ability to determine is the ability to remember who and what you are…(p. 80)

To live deeper we have to go to the places that help us find a slower rhythm.  But simply going to these places is not enough.  We have to let these places touch us, change us, speak to us.  (p. 117)  Being a poet who is called by how geography and location forms our stories and voices this resonates with me.

There is a difference between happiness–offering who you are to the world and knowing it is enough–and pleasure and ease. (p. 140)  For me this is difficult to remember and live.  I suspect its due to the effective of materialism and to the impact of living in times of supreme capitalism.

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