Now that you have an explanation of my previous shop name, The Crystal Cave, and the reasons behind changing to Moonspinner, would you like to know the story behind the new name? As ever, it began with Mary Stewart, queen of my childhood imagination.
After my 10-year old mind was set afire by Stewart’s “Merlin” trilogy, I looked for other books by her, expecting the same magic. And then came The Moonspinners. Spoiler alert, this book has nothing to do with British mythos. As well as I can remember, it is suspense novel involving kidnapping, young love, and family secrets. I was sorely disappointed, craving the crackle of fires on stone hearths, the earthy smell of stables, the wisdom and arrogance of old-world magic.
However, Stewart did leave an indelible mark on my imagination through this book, and that is with the brief tale one of her characters tell of the moonspinners.
“Moon-spinners. They’re naiads – you know, water nymphs. Sometimes, when you’re deep in the countryside, you meet three girls, walking along the hill tracks in the dusk, spinning. They each have a spindle, and on to these they are spinning their wool, milk-white, like the moonlight. In fact, it is the moonlight, the moon itself, which is why they don’t cary a distaff. They’re not Fates, or anything terrible; they don’t affect the lives of men; all they have to do is to see that the world gets its hours of darkness, and they do this spinning the moon down out of the sky. Night after night, you can see the moon getting less and less, the ball of light waning, while it grows on the spindles of the maidens. Then, at length, the moon is gone, and the world has darkness, and rest, and the creatures of the hillsides are safe from the hunter and the tides are still… Then, on the darkest night, the maidens take their spindles down to the sea, to wash their wool. And the wool slips from the spindles, into the water, and unravels in long ripples of light from the shore to the horizon, and there is the moon again, rising from the sea, just a thin curved thread, reappearing in the sky. Only when all the wool is washed, and wound again into a white ball in the sky, can the moonspinners start their work once more, to make the night safe for hunted things…“
I still do not know if the myth of the moonspinners has historical provenance or is entirely woven by Mary Stewart, either is utterly believable. But the origin matters not, for the aesthetic stayed with me. Ethereal beings responsible for the waxing and waning of the moon by drawing on the natural world to create their art. Art not for their own glory, but so that for one night, the little creatures of the wood can raise their heads and drink in the delicious safety of a moonless sky.
I like to imagine the moonspinners walking dusky paths and seeing the quiet ones, appreciative of the invisibility of nighttime, tipping their little heads in reverence as they pass. While I create, I will think on them and count myself among them, but by pushing flame and hammering metal rather than spinning down the moonlight. I will whisper protections into the joins and gemstones. So sleep well on those moonless nights, for the moonspinners have done their good work.
All my best,