~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Highly-Skilled Spinster

"A significant number of the women in the fairy stories are self-employed, independent and skilled. They often have a relationship -- positive or negative -- with spinning. Although most women could and did spin domestically, if she became good at it, it was one of the few ways a woman could become financially self-sufficient. (Midwifery was an alternative career.) At her trial in 1431, Joan of Arc was immediately inflamed by the suggestion that she worked as a shepherdess: on the contrary, she snapped, she was a highly skilled spinster." *

* "The dignity and independence of spinning has left an odd, hidden mark on the English language. A spinster was a woman who could spin; it was as a compliment that the word was extended to all unmarried women, because it implied that they did not need a husband, but chose freely to love or live singly. 'A spinster of this parish' comes to have her banns called not from dire necessity, but from a position of equality and independence."

~ Sara Maitland, From the Forest: A Search for the Hidden Roots of Our Fairy Tales

Spinster is clearly another word that women can reclaim on behalf of empowerment!

This book by Maitland is a gem! I'm grateful that a friend living in the UK had recommended it to me. I will be sharing more from this book in the future -- text that relates to our interconnectedness with forests as well as the uniqueness of Spirit to be encountered within each diverse forestland or woodsy copse -- but couldn't resist posting the above quote on spinsters right away.

# Top Photo: "Margaret (alone at her spinning wheel)" by Frank Cadogan Cowper (English Pre-Raphaelite Painter, 1877-1958)


  1. Was looking for a good read - looks like you helped me find it!

  2. Love the quote -- we forget how very important spinsters were in preindustrial times and places. Gandhi was a big supporter of hand spinning.

  3. That looks like a lovely book. Indeed what a positive, empowering way to look at spinsters.

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here, ladies!


Thank you for stopping by. With open heart, I welcome your thoughts however you wish to share them, whether via personal email or as a comment here. ~ Bright Blessings ~

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...