Circle of Life, Craft and Women

Circles of people are one of the oldest forms of human gatherings, dating back some 30,000 years. This was the venue to share valuable information, necessary to prosperity and survival of the group. Women would meet separately along the lunar cycle allowing an intergenerational flow of ideas.

About 6,000 years ago, Western societies became more hierarchical and the circle meetings started their decline. As we became more modern, we also began to separate from each other. We divided along family units and classified people across gender, race and age. We lost our deep and regular connection to each other and some say, to ourselves.

Over the last 30 years, there has been a small revival of women’s circles. Understanding the benefits of women circles might reveal a source of stress reduction which is highly effective. By sharing your story and realizing you are not alone, a deep feeling of peace can be obtained.

Sometimes we can’t physically gather, but there is an understanding which transcends distance. Our Prairie in Fibre was a showing of women’s craft, depicting life in the region. As one who grew up in Alberta, I immediately connect with the interpretations as being distinctly from the prairies. There is a unique perspective that shines through the creations.

Life on the prairies presents unique challenges. For those who homesteaded, everything a family needed had to be made by hand. Each member had responsibilities and learning started at a young age. It is hard to fathom that the basics of life would take on additional meaning. Quilts – Masterpieces of the heart and windows into women’s history chronicles how important all types of craft were in daily life.

Keeping warm over the winter months required many items. As more people arrived on the prairies to stake their homestead claims, women would gather to share knowledge. Communities knit together – reminds us how critical it was to tap into one of these groups, (probably a lot of fun was had as well!)

Prairie Women's Sewing Circle Club

Women on the prairies were resourceful, they had to be. Prairie Women’s Sewing Circle Club shares memories of the concept of make-do. My Mom used to call it ‘good enough’, when we had managed to hid one of my sewing mistakes. Somehow we need to get back to these kind of ideas. Instead of buying everything new, we can make-do in amazing ways when we set our minds to it.

Prairie Women

Nothing stirs my imagination more than listening to Prairie Women talk about what life was like, before all the modern conveniences took over. I had to chuckle when one of the women said – “come hell or high water”. She was referring to the fact that the women in the farmers co-operative always made their meeting engagements, no matter the weather.

As I tap away at the keys of my computer and sometimes feel a pang of self pity for what I still wish for, I am quickly silenced by the stories of women on the prairies. When I think of the homestead my great grandparents created in Alberta after arriving from Sweden and try to understand what life must of been like, I am stopped short. Every where I look in my house and in all aspects of my life – there is convenience. I don’t have to work physically hard, like they did, for my meals, clothing or home. They toiled for the whole of their lives and savoured little delights that were fleetingly offered. A scoop of cream on fresh berries, the smell of sweet peas, a harvest moon.

With the passing of weeks where I am working from home, I am grateful for all that I have. My family is physically close, my friends and co-workers appear on screen regularly where their voice comforts the silence. We are closer than we think and we have more than we realize.

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