Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Astrology of Knitting

Is there astrology specific to knitting?

This is "The Return of Ulysses" by Romare Bearden. Bearden instinctively grasped the connection between the fiber arts and occult knowledge. He shows Penelope weaving, but a cat plays with yarn under the loom, and a messenger crow waits outside the window.

As an increasingly avid knitter and an astrologer, I have been wondering about this. There is a signature for talent in the fiber arts, I think. Knitting, crocheting, tatting, and weaving are included in the fiber arts, and the common denominator for them all is the tying of knots.

Astrology-savvy knitters think of Virgo as the sign of the craftsman. This could be any craft, from baking to woodworking, which is done with the hands. It doesn’t have to be knitting. Saturn is the planet associated with time, and knitting is nothing but an endless repetition of loops or knots extending into infinity. Saturn gets closer to the spirit of the fiber arts, in my opinion, while Virgo represents anything done with the hands. That said, the anal, extreme detail-orientation of a hard-core Virgo is the defining characteristic of those who are good enough to join a knitting guild.

In Vedic astrology, the Third House is associated with the urge to create using one’s hands. Having a benefic like Venus or Jupiter in both the rasi and the navamsa often confers a life-long talent in one of the arts or crafts, but once again, this could also be anything from cooking to carpentry. For people who don’t have a career in the arts, the benefic in the navamsa may be more important, because interest in crafting seems to blossom in a subject’s mid-thirties and beyond.

Getting back to western astrology - are Saturn-in-Virgo natives top suspects? Sure, but think more broadly. Think about a ruling Saturn, or a strongly aspected planet in Virgo, or a stellium in either Capricorn or Virgo, or either of these signs on the angles. These natal configurations don’t promise a knitter, but they do tend to show up in the background.

MOON-SATURN ASPECTS

If there is any natal aspect closely associated with knitting, I suspect it has to be the hard aspect (conjunction, square, or opposition) between Moon and Saturn, and occasionally the trine. Moon-Saturn hard aspects love to braid hair, tie knots, or weave rugs. It is as if the Moon needs a beautiful, nurturing way to express the limitations of Saturn, and Saturn is forever tying us in knots or binding us in some way.

Why Moon-Saturn hard aspects? Hard aspects create tension between two planets, and stress in the subject’s life. Knitting is very meditative once the knitter knows what he or she is doing. Saturn requires patience, but it also gives the gift of meditation, and the satisfaction of creation during time that would otherwise go to waste. Moon-Saturn hard aspects are a challenge to manage – they are associated with depression, difficult motherhood, difficulties in becoming a mother, difficulties with one’s own mother, and constant delays and restrictions in one’s life circumstances. Yet, with knitting, Saturn provides an artistic solution for some of the very problems it creates.

How does the Moon show up? The nurturing generosity of knitters can be legendary – they are forever knitting gifts for other people. Even those who only knit for themselves are usually pretty generous when it comes to teaching others how to knit.

PLUTO

When I began researching this article, I was surprised to find no mention of Pluto in connection with the fiber arts. Pluto is a portal to the underworld – it is represented by the occult, and has associations with remaining invisible and also with causing death. Consider some examples from the following myths, songs, and stories.

The myths of the ancient gods sometimes focused on the fiber arts – think of Arachne, the girl who infuriated Athena by weaving a tapestry depicting the transgressions of the gods – she ended up a spider. In fairy tales, spinning yarn or thread was associated with mild trance – magic might take place as a result. Spells were contained in knots – recipients of hand-made clothes were wary of gifts that might interfere with their free will. The folk song, “Are You Going to Scarborough Fair?” recalls this idea with the lyric, “Tell her to make me a cambric shirt, without any seams or needlework.” The singer assures us he will give his love only if it is not coerced by occult means.

Pluto comes to mind when I think of the Moirai – the ancient goddesses of fate and destiny. Chlotho spun the thread of life, Lachesis measured out the thread and was said to make choices about a person’s destiny after the thread was measured, and the scary Atropos cut the thread. Atropos lives on in the name of the toxic plant Atropa belladonna, or Deadly Nightshade, and also in atropine, an anti-cholinergic drug derived from the plant which ironically keeps a compromised heart beating.

Take knitting away from the knitter, and he or she will seethe or twitch with frustration. Madame Defarge, of Tale of Two Cities fame, is a most Plutonian knitter – she knits the names of those the French Revolution will destroy. A modern knitter is more likely to knit the name of the one who took the knitting away.

There is now a resurgence of popularity in public (visible) knitting, which peaked right around the time Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008, and is still going strong. But I remember my grandmother knitting when I was a little girl – women didn’t knit in public back then. Knitting was something that made her less visible, but I now realize it also allowed her the luxury of observations made in silence (Pluto is invisible).

OUT THE COMET’S ASS…

Rather than focus on the planets or aspects behind knitting, the author of this blog observed knitters on an unspecified forum, possibly ravelry.com, according to their sun signs. Her sharp perceptions about knitters who made revealing self-assessments ended up as an article simply titled, “Knitters”.

I have a Capricorn stellium, and this blogger nailed Capricorn. She notes that Capricorn knitters have a knack for color or spatial dynamics, adds that they knit because they hate to waste time, and sniffs out their dislike of wasteful stashes. I had already written “My First Socks”, where I mentioned that color is my talent, and “My Knitting Philosophy”, with its remarks about show-off stashes and class warfare, before I discovered her article, and I had to laugh. There is no denying I’m a Capricorn knitter. Her article is worth checking out.

BARBARA WALKER, THE KNITTING LEGEND

If there is one famous knitter who taps the hidden power of the ancient gods, it has to be Barbara Walker. Before beginning research on this article, I knew her only as the author of “The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets”, which won Book of the Year from the Times (London) in 1986.
It turns out this book was a mere sideline for her – she had already made her reputation as the Julia Child of knitting with the publication of “Mosaic Knitting” in 1976, and followed it up with an even greater achievement, the four-part series, “A Treasury of Knitting Patterns”.

Like Julia Child, Walker rigorously tested all of her patterns, because she understood that knitting success can hinge on a single incorrect purl stitch in the wrong place. She was a perfectionist and an extremely thorough collector who ended up preserving much of what is known of the entire art of knitting – almost all contemporary knitting designers refer to her work. No matter what Fair Isle motif or lace pattern a knitter selects today, chances are good that Walker carefully recorded it years ago.

Naturally, I was curious about her natal horoscope. She was born July 2, 1930. I don’t have a birth time. Yet, even without a birth time, some things jump out of this horoscope immediately. Ruling Saturn in Capricorn is opposite Pluto in Cancer, creating an energy axis between the two planets I associate most closely with the fiber arts. There is a decent likelihood of Moon square Saturn. And Neptune (creativity) is partile conjunct Vesta (one’s life purpose, what one invests in most heavily) in the 1st degree of Virgo! (Vesta is not shown in the chart below.) Without a doubt, this woman had a knitter’s signature.

SOURCES

Steege, Gwen. The Knitter’s Life List, Storey Publishing, 2011.

I found Romare Bearden’s “The Return of Ulysses” in this book, as well as biographical information on Barbara Walker.

1 comment:

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