Saturday, May 1, 2010


"Sudden Death, Sudden Life" 
"Prickly Pear Spirituality" 
(See chapter links on side panel)

"Unicorn," a tapestry by Savitri L. Bess

Visit my new blog
"All the Colors"

And my new website

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Images from Dreamtime

Spirit Tapestries

"Noah's Arc" detail, by Savitri Bess

When I weave a tapestry for someone, it becomes a partnership.

I draw from many threads—meditation visions, archetypes, ancient cultures and mythologies, psychology and spirituality, even the person's astrological birth chart.

The act of creating the weaving is like an archeological discovery of soul. One can contemplate the finished tapestry in the same way one would a mandala or sacred object.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Timothy's Hawk

"Timothy's Hawk"
by Savitri

Timothy’s Hawk

My sister’s son Timothy killed himself, violently, at age forty-five, three years ago. The bereavement counselor at hospice where I’m a volunteer here in Maine, agreed with the California coroner and the police, that it was not advisable for the family to see the body. Ordinarily it is affirming and healing to view the loved one, as a step towards closure. But not Tim.

Now, three years later, seemingly unrelated to Tim, my sister and I, through e-mail, reached an agreement about a tapestry she wanted me to create for her, including price, size, and free-flowing abstract design. Brilliant colors of lilac, magenta, burnt orange, amethyst, red, gold, in loosely spun bulky wools.

Minutes after our e-mail, I headed to the grocery store. On a branch of a leafy green maple, above my car I spotted a hawk. Just to be sure it wasn’t just a branch looking like a hawk, I edged to the side of it. The hawk’s brown eye followed me. Auspicious, I decided. A good beginning for my sister’s weaving.

When I returned from the store, hawk gone from tree, I lay on my carpet to relax. I thought how I’d seen Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, Eagles, but never, in the seven years I’d lived on Mount Desert Island, had I seen a hawk. Crows started raising a ruckus outside. Suspecting the hawk, I jumped up to have a look.

Just below my balcony, on the lawn, there it stood. Crows, about ten of them, were settled and silent now, in sentinel positions on various trees, one on top of a dead pine. Hawk looked up at me with its brown eye. Then it took a few limping-style steps. Crows scattered, cawing. Hawk stood still. Crows returned to their posts. Then, hawk flew low to the ground and into the forest, with crows scolding, in zigzag flight, racing after.

I wrote my sister the story, asked if I could put a hawk in her weaving, asked if the hawk meant anything to her. She wrote that her son Tim had had a fascination for birds of prey, and most particularly hawks. “Yes,” she said, “put the hawk in. The weaving needs a subject. It’ll be Tim’s gift to me.” It was a Red-shouldered Hawk, about the size of a crow, not the larger Red-tailed, as I’d thought. And so Timothy’s Hawk was begun.

One or two days into the weaving, I began to have nightmares, every night, waking up with a start, sucking in air, someone or something chasing me. I rarely have nightmares. After sharing with a friend,  I connected the dreams to Tim. At that point I realized, that while I wove, I was to visualize Tim’s release from pain and suffering, and from the the ways he might be stuck on the other side.

According to the Tibetans, the images encountered in the after-death Bardos, can be infinitely more terrifying than those encountered in life.

Later my sister told me Tim had been plagued with chase dreams, from childhood into adult, sometimes waking him, screaming in the night. Meanwhile, during the weaving of Tim’s hawk, my sister was having her own experiences and recollections, including a dream of deep grief.

For days I wove and watched Tim’s hawk, under my fingers, rising out of a fire and soaring into color and light. During this time I had a numinous dream:

I am standing on a cliff above a Caribbean-blue ocean. I want to swim but someone tells me it’s dangerous. I see why. Not far out from the cliff is a huge, being-like mass of tangled seaweed that floats several feet above the water, rising and falling as if flexing muscles. Soon I find myself at the bottom of the cliff, diving into the ocean and swimming along the narrow passage between the cliff and the seaweed being, towards a white sandy beach. I feel awe but no danger as I swim with abandon, in the center of the turquoise waterway.

I awoke feeling elevated.


My sister and I are reading Timothy through The Tibetan Book of the Dead, The Great Liberation Through Hearing.

Another source: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tapestry Migration: The Beginning

Tapestry weaving by Savitri

Tapestry Migration

Om Sri Maha Ganapatayae Namah!

Tapestry Weaving. Aha! An electromagnetic-free profession. (read about EMF sensitivity in “Red-Zoned into the Arms Nature” link on the side panel)

So what do I do now? And what does weaving have to do with my blog, "Sudden Death, Sudden Life"? Well, if I stretch a bit, maybe it's related...transformation, transfiguration, transmigration, and all of those trans-whatevers that often have to do with all kinds of death and dying, from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.

Meanwhile, I’m a bit shocked because you’d not have convinced me a month ago that I’d return to my earlier profession of tapestry weaver. These days I like to write. Not that I make any money at it, but monetary gain is something to strive for, not the goal. Isn’t it? If I’m going to allow myself to be turned all the way around, then I’ll have to buy a loom. Looms are expensive. Try $2,000 to $3,000, new. Price is one of my excuses as friends tell me, over and over: “You should weave again.”

Okay, okay. Maybe I will, but first, to start such an undertaking, I’d be smart to call upon the elephant-headed lord, the remover of obstacles, Ganesha. He’s is a pretty jolly fellow because one of his lordship activities is to open the way for new ventures, all comings and goings, even for in the door, or out the door and down the road. Practically every Hindu taxi driver in India has a picture of Ganesha (also known as Ganapati) on the dashboard, along with the deity of choice. These drivers know that before you pray to Shiva or Lakshmi or Hanuman or any of the gods of the Hindu pantheon, you pray to Ganesha first, because he clears the pathway, even for your worship endeavors. And maybe he’ll even open up the wall-to-wall traffic jam. You never know.

If you want to look at this crazy move from writer to weaver, or any combination thereof, you might take into consideration Mercury (Hermes), the Greek god with the wings on his heels, the messenger god, the trickster. From my viewpoint, which is a bit topsy-turvy after having given up tapestry weaving about fifteen years ago, to take up writing, and now maybe weaving again, there has to be some crafty business going on. And that would be Mercury’s department. I take into consideration that Mercury rules over both writing and weaving, and that my Moon is in a Mercury-ruled sign, and my Mercury is in my house of profession.

Do you know the story about Mercury stealing Apollo’s cows? Right after Mercury’s born, he runs off with the cows and then climbs back into his crib. Apollo gets word of the cow heist. When Apollo confronts him, Mercury says, “Who me? I’m just a baby. How could I steal your cows?” Well, Apollo, being who he is, sleuths out the location of the cows and then retaliates, threatens to curse Mercury with God-only-knows what. To appease Apollo, Mercury crafts a lyre for him, the very one you always see in the depictions of Apollo. Oh, well, I digress. I was always a better weaver than writer.

So one day about a month and a half ago, I tell my friend Juniper (not her real name) that I’m going to take up weaving again. Next time I see her she says, “I want to give you money towards your weaving loom, and in exchange you can weave me something.”

“Thank you! Oh, my God. A commission?” I ask.

“I hadn’t looked at it that way,” she says.

“Yes, that’s what it is, a commission. And so now you need to tell me what to weave for you, something to wear, something to put on your wall? Like that.”

Juniper says she’ll think about it. Next week she shows up with a check made out to me and tells me what she wants. “A gull and fog, to remind me of our times by the sea, on our weekly walks down there to sit by the water in the early morning, and our talks. And the lone gull that sometimes sits behind us.”

I go stiff. Can I pull it off, a gull and fog after fifteen years of no weaving? “I don’t know how to make fog,” I say. “I’ll need some practice.”

“Oh, Savitri, don’t practice. Just do it. You’ll remember how.”

What trust. I believe her faith in my abilities helped me pull it off. Say nothing of Ganesha, who hangs on the wall behind me as I weave, and Amma, my guru, who’s picture is on the wall in front of me. How can I go wrong? Well, I can definitely go wrong, even with divine intervention. What do they say…look for the positive in the things that go wrong. Be optimistic.

That week I find out about four used looms for sale—yes, four of them—three in the $1,000 range and one $600. All near home. A friend drives me to Belfast in his truck, and we lug home a loom, an excellent four-harness loom, a Herald (never mind the metaphor, unintended), for $450.

To avoid an attempt at gull and fog I do everything to distract myself, just as I did as a writer (and still do), even decide I need to refinish the loom because I'm not sure I like the walnut stain.

Eventually, I get myself going, without refinishing the loom.

Here is "Gull."