Creativity sometimes comes out in different and unexpected forms that surprise us. This is the case with The Lady of the House quilt.
I found myself wanting to write about a topic that is dear to me, but the creative path became increasingly difficult. I realized that sometimes we have to accept defeat and retreat, if possible, with dignity. So, out of frustration I decided to put everything aside and resigned myself to being distracted with making a quilt and creating something new.
I let my imagination flow and came up with the idea of a woman wearing a beautiful feminine dress. I was inspired by how much care and labor could be found in a long dress of the XV century. Moved by the image I chose the colors yellow and purple for the dress, and enjoyed making it while wondering how to imagine the face and hairstyle. Then the idea came to take the face from a drawing by Picasso where the lines were clean and clear. For the head I did not want a crown but an “important” hairstyle like Audrey Hepburn had in “My Fair Lady”. I then added the butterflies around her head and put the two keys in her hand. I was following what the creativity had transmitted through my hands. This process was intense, but at the same time very enjoyable.
When this quilt was completed and hung on the wall at the entrance of our home I began to see what my creativity was telling me. I was looking at a regal feminine energy that, as women, we all have to strive to ground ourselves in: it is well evolved, it is strong and mature, and it reflects authority. This energy is what the negative Animus wants to oppose and block in us women. In its negative form it is a destructive, internal energy that we often have difficulty even envisioning because it is so hard to transform it from negative to positive. More often than not we are tempted to give up even trying for this transformation.
The Feminist movement started with the good and important intention of “liberating” women by bringing equal rights, equal pay, equal opportunities, and respect in society. Unfortunately, it has put all of these good intentions into the “box” of our power- and materialistically-driven patriarchal social structure. While the movement has seemed to liberate us in a societal sense, due to the patriarchal dominance it is paradoxically suffocating and amputating the sensitive, unique values of the great Feminine Archetype in us. As a society we do not seriously support child care, mothering, fathering, families, communities, valuing people’s suffering or reducing causes of violence. We do not truly know how to nurture and care for each other and our communities. This is a big misunderstanding that sits on a collective pathology that we must “see,” confront, and transform.
The true Feminine principle is a principle of Life, of Love, of Transformation. We are collectively so ignorant and scared of what these words really mean that we sentimentalize them and reduce them into something dull and so idealistic sounding that they can never be fully lived. These thoughts remind me of a cartoon that I saw some time ago in a New York Times calendar. In the cartoon two women were talking on a sofa and one of them was explaining to her friend the furry ball with two staring eyes that was sitting next to them. “I neutered my cat, de-clawed her, then de-legged her, and de-tailed her. Isn’t she cute?”. What we have done to the great values of the Feminine Principle is to put them under the power-oriented patriarchal principle that dominates our culture, and in so doing we have lost Love, Receptivity, and Transformation which are principal values in human nature. At this point we might ask ourselves: how much lower than this can we get? Isn’t this saying that we do not want to understand what human nature is about? Isn’t the Feminine a creation of the Divine?
I was reading the revelations of a Spanish mystic of the 1600’s, Sister Mary of Jesus also known as Mary of Agreda, and she writes about how God decided out of love to create the angels, and below them human beings. Then God decided to favor humans greatly through the incarnation into humanity of His son, the man/God. The angels would then have to humble themselves to adore and serve Him. Also, they were to admit as their superior conjointly with Him a Woman who was to become His mother and therefore the Queen and Mistress of all creatures. Lucifer, who was brighter and more beautiful than all the other angels, could not accept this new reality. He said “I will not serve Him, I am superior to Him because He is a human and I am superior due to my angelic nature”. A terrible war broke out in the heavens between Saint Michael and Lucifer, between fire and sulfur, due to Lucifer’s pride and desire for power.
In this profound tradition God has favored humanity by not taking an angelic form but rather incarnating and becoming one of us, therefore sharing our limitations, fears, pains, and frustrations. Lucifer, instead, is despising all of this and by contrast could represent, in psychological terms, the Ego and the negative complexes that come to oppose and attack whatever threatens it. Women are made by nature close to Life; we carry in our bodies a new life, we feel and nourish it, and creation becomes a live experience in us. But we are now at a crucial point: we find ourselves highly favored by life and the Divine and hated by the proud and power-oriented Lucifer force in our culture because of it. In other words, women have the greatest potentials for human life and the values of Love and Transformation, but because of these capacities they are targeted and persecuted the most. One strategy among many to humiliate the Feminine is to diminish and ridicule its value, and cast it as the “weaker” sex. Another way is to think that we, women, have to become more like men, and give away our deeply Feminine power because we do not know its true value.
We as women have to remember we have two important keys: we have power, and we can choose to value that power. Hopefully, we can internalize this feminine power and sew it together so one day it will become a beautiful reality that we can live.
Articles by Drs. Bud and Massimilla Harris
, archetypal feminine, art, being human, creative life, feminism, Inspirational, Personal Transformation, quilt
13 Responses to “The Lady of the House”
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When my wife first showed me the image of your Lady Of The House quilt, I experienced an awestruck moment where I wasn’t quite sure what I was seeing. She said “quilt” before I saw it, and I was expecting or conditioned to see something beautiful on the order of what my grandmother or mother might have made many years ago. Then she showed me the image and I was actually confused for a moment. I said out loud, quilt what? And I was spellbound. Thank you so much for sharing this not only for its singular and remarkable beauty but also for the memory it brought to me of my small and very strong German grandmother, her hands, and her hand made quilts and rugs. Jerry S.
Thank you for sharing your process, your experience and some of your history with us. It touches my heart to get responses like yours.
With thanks, Massimilla
“This energy is what the negative Animus wants to oppose and block in us women. In its negative form it is a destructive, internal energy that we often have difficulty even envisioning because it is so hard to transform it from negative to positive. More often than not we are tempted to give up even trying for this transformation.”
I find that for most, there isn’t even an awareness of the negative animus and it is in fact camouflaged as ‘Feminist’ rather than an aspect of the shadow which is normalized in our society, not just externally, but internally. The normalization of this shadow aspect has eroded the True Feminine, distancing us from embodying her qualities towards us and others.
The stunning feminine figure on your quilt will now be one of the images of the regal Feminine for me, a Western symbol of grace, poise, beauty and dignity, to access within. It seems your creativity wanted you to create a symbol of the dignified and empowered Feminine not just for yourself but for all of us, shifting from writing to quilting. I am so grateful for you to have followed the thread of the creative process and shared this with us. It is in aligning with this empowered Feminine state within that we have an opportunity to transform the negative animus, and objectify it to transform our subjective experience of its destructive capacity.
With Deep Gratitude, Rose Kumar
Your deep understanding of both my quilt and my words fills me with thanks for your response. Our world as well as ourselves are crying for the strength of the true nurturing and transforming feminine and I know you are living to give them life.
Warmest best wishes,
Brava, Massimilla! A stunningly beautiful quilt. I enjoyed reading about your creative process as well as your reflections — societal, archetypal, and spiritual. And I applaud all efforts by women everywhere to value and lift our traditionally feminine home-arts (including cooking) up for all to celebrate.
It is so good to hear from you. Thank you so much for your insightful and supportive response to my thoughts and creativity.
With warmest regards,
We are currently bombarded with overwhelming cultural and societal images of the degraded Feminine. As a result, it is easy as women to be held a psychic prisoner by the Negative Animus. Women are gifted with strength, love, and creativity. We are life-affirming. This beautiful quilt is a life-affirming Feminine response during these turbulent times. To see this modeled is powerful and necessary. It is also rare. Thank you Massimilla.
You are so very right in what you are sharing with us. We certainly live in a time when the courage and values of the Feminine Heart are needed more than ever in our lives and yet are in danger. Thank you so much for your generous support.
With warmest regards,
Dear Massimilla. Your quilt is exquisite and such a beautiful and profound symbol of feminine power. To put something divinely feminine out into our patriarchal world can feel risky, and yet your image and words have benefited all who have seen it. Thank you for your service to your creativity, as well as your contribution to our transformation. It is truly a blessing.
Thank you so very much for your generous support of me, my work and the importance of the Feminine In our lives, and in the transformation our world is crying for.
With warmest blessings,
Amazing Massimilla. The first time I saw this image my heart skipped a beat and I drew my breath in. I was looking at this amazing creation that conveyed the power of the Feminine. As I work through my own negative animus work and embrace the energy of my Feminine creative, your words provided an even more powerful validation for this work. “This energy is what the negative Animus wants to oppose and block in us women. In its negative form it is a destructive, internal energy that we often have difficulty even envisioning because it is so hard to transform it from negative to positive. More often than not we are tempted to give up even trying for this transformation”. I know first hand this work to transform the negative animus and while it might not be ‘easy’ it is the work for me to do. Sending you a big hug for your wonderful and generous Self. ~ Patti ~
I am so glad that my work is supporting your quest and journey. It is with this kind of determination that we can transform ourselves and to help each other transform the world. With all my love I say: Long live the Queen!.
With my warmest regards,
i too am a textile artist. ive rarely seen someones approach, though different than mine, has the similar stroytellling approach to articulate something about ones inner world. thank you for this offering. it encourages me.