Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gargoyles and God's Eyes

Originally a gargoyle was a water spout, mounted on the eave and directing water away from a building so that the water would not erode the mortar. If a stone carving carries no water and has a face or resembles a creature, these are technically called grotesques.

Over the passage of time the word gargoyle became the term used to describe any and all the fantastic creatures on a cathedral or other building. Folklore held that gargoyles are good luck and frightened away evil spirits.

During the 1200's when gargoyles first appeared (and at many other times), the Roman Catholic Church was actively involved in converting people of other faiths to the Catholic, often very keenly indeed (as the Christian but non-Catholic Cathars could testify). The argument for decorated gargoyles runs as follows:  Since literacy was generally not an option for most people, images were very important. Since the religious images (if any) that non-Christians were accustomed to were of animals or mixtures of animals and humans (e.g. the horned god, the Green Man), then putting similar images on churches and cathedrals would encourage non-Catholics to join the religion and go to church, make them feel more comfortable about it, or at least ease the transition. 

Myths held that gargoyles come alive at night and return to their place when the sun comes up! Some believed that these figures on the cathedrals would come alive at night to protect.....ward off evil and such. The ones with wings were believed to fly around at night keeping watch from the sky.   Some of the explanations of the symbolism of gargoyles are found to have sexual connotations. Oh my!

The Washington National Cathedral has many gargoyles and even offers a gargoyle tour!  If only we lived closer! If anyone takes this in, be sure to let us know all about it and what you learned.

Julie's Gargoyle chart has used the God's Eye stitch for the eyes of her gargoyle - which helps him gain a grotesqueness - otherwise, he kind of looks like a happy little puppy that someone put some wings on!  

"May the eye of God be upon you."
The God's Eye Stitch is an isolated stitch used on even weave fabrics.  It is similar in construction to the ribbed spider's web and makes a bold raised diamond shape with a long tail. It is a great accent stitch where texture or color is needed. One of my favorite sources for learning the stitch is, The Complete Stitch Encyclopedia by Jan Eaton.  I have also included some web sites that show how to create this stitch.
God's eye or Ojo de Dios on Quemado Mountain, San Luis Potosi,Mexico, photo by Anaroza, 2007
You may remember making God's eyes as children, with two sticks as the base and wrapping the colorful yarns around them. This is a craft many of us enjoyed in our scouting days.  Ojo de Dios is Spanish for "eye of God." It is pronounced "oh-ho-day-Dee-ohs" (the "j" is silent or sometimes has a light "h" sound). The " Ojo de Dios" or God's Eye is an ancient symbol made by the Huichol Indians of Mexico and the Aymara Indians of Bolivia. Ojos de Dios (plural) were discovered by early Spaniards when they encountered the Huichol (pronounced "wettchol") Indians in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico.  The four points of the crossed sticks represent earth, air, water, and fire. In Bolivia, "God's Eyes" were made to be placed on an altar so that the gods could watch over the praying people and protect them. When one makes a traditional Ojo de Dios, one is expressing a prayer that the "Eye of God" will watch over them or the person they are making it for (oftentimes a child). The Ojo de Dios is also a physical representation of praying for health, fortune, and a long life. To some Christians, it means a prayer for "May the eye of God be upon you."  In Mexico, The central eye was made when a child was born. Each year, a bit of yarn was added until the child turned five at which point the Ojo was complete. 

In folk art, the God's Eye has been taken to new levels - even a God's Eye Quilt.

As usual, click on the photo of the chart to get to the freebie chart, or click on Freebies in the sidebar and look for A Dark Alphabet on the Freebie page of our website.

Julie has been stitching, and has C and F stitched!  

She still hasn't caught up to Jo, but  she's pretty happy.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pandora Settles In

On her second day in America, Dora awoke with some confusion.  She had been dreaming of James, and that he had met her ship and they'd been married.  When she found herself waking up in a strange bed and no sign of James, she wondered idly where he'd gone.  Then she remembered.  Captain Doble and his wife, Charity, had taken her in after telling her that James had died.

She fought to stop the tears from forming and wondered what to do now?  Rereading the last letter that James had left for her, she realized that first she would have to find a place to live and make arrangements to contact Mr. Otis in Andover.  James had mentioned taking a house for them - was that still available?

Over breakfast with the Dobles' she found that, indeed, the house had been taken for a year and was close by.  If she wished, Captain Doble could take her there this morning.  The sun was shining brightly on the harbor as they walked a few small blocks and came to a charming little house with a neat yard.  We found a drawing of the house that we think Dora made some time while she lived there.

Inside, Dora found that James had brought in some basic furnishings, and she would be able to set up house very easily.  In the desk found in the front parlor, was a receipt from the landlord for a year's rent paid in advance.  For the first time since she'd left the ship, Dora felt like she'd come home.  In the next instant, the full realization hit her that she would spend her time in this home alone.  She hadn't really let herself believe this, but now, as she saw the careful preparations James had made for her arrival, she knew just how much she would miss him.  It was too much for her to bear.  She hated to break down in front of Captain Doble, and he seemed to understand, as he proposed that he "make an inspection of the grounds and garden to see if anything needed tending to" and stepped outside.  

A drawing of Dora's yard.

Dora sank into a chair that had been placed by the fireplace, and realized that James' own hands had placed it there for her.  She wept for the first time, and after a quarter of an hour, she knew that she would wait here for James to return, as she was not convinced that he was really gone.  She'd be able to feel it if he were gone, wouldn't she?  And they'd never found him.  He could be ill somewhere, waiting to gain his strength before coming back to meet her.  She'd wait.

When Captain Doble entered the house again, she greeted him cheerfully and asked if he'd like a cup of tea?  She'd been rummaging in the cupboards and found some provisions were already here.  She'd later ask Charity to show her where to do the marketing and she'd be able to manage very nicely.  That afternoon, Charity and Dora were back in the little house, scrubbing and cleaning everything and getting all ready for Dora to move in, with the help of some of Charity's friends.  On her third day in America, Pandora Boxworth moved into her own home, and began to settle in, making friends easily as she met the ladies in Charity's circle.  No friend would ever mean as much to her as Charity, but it was good to have company, especially through the harsh winter.  Now that she had a pretty little home, she began to feel very much as if she belonged in this new land,  and as she talked with her new friends, and read the news accounts of the events going on all over New England, she began to realize that this new land was very different from her home in England.
Dora's pencil drawing of Charity.

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