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Finding Mrs. Who, Mrs, Whatsit and Mrs, Which
One of my favorite books to read as a child, when I was home; sick with ear infections, colds or fevers, was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. My attention was caught from the first lines of the book, “It was a dark and stormy night. In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind….” Onward through the magical story of wise and mysterious crones, a mother with her own lab right in the middle of their house, and a quest to find her father, I was hooked. I identified most of all with Margaret, the way she didn’t fit in at school because I always felt that way myself. I loved the three crone-beings in this story-Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which.
Yearning for a Fierce Connection to Meaning
Later as an adult, I learned about the author, how this book was practically channeled in the way it came to her, and how L’Engle was a very religious woman and how her spirituality influenced her writings. But, as a young girl, none of that mattered to me. What mattered most was following the story of this young girl (and the Oprah movie didn’t come close to capturing the magic and truth of this story, not at all, sorry to say) on her quest to save her father and the world, from darkness and evil.
What is this yearning that we feel as young girls, and then hopefully still as women, for a connection to meaning, true and deep, a fierce connection so deep that we aren’t afraid of danger? And not only that, but to feel that we are have agency and can have a positive influence on the world around us. And especially if we are feeling, as I did back then, that we don’t fit in, that our existence doesn’t make sense in the day-to-day world around us?
Wisdom of the Crones
It makes sense to me now that I would have been drawn to these stories back then. How reassuring to experience vicariously the story of a young girl who courageously battles darkness and evil. And to find the help of powerful crones, elder women who seem connected to the wisdom of the universe? As a young girl, I was always more drawn to elders than to my peers, so Margaret’s trust in these elders made sense to me. Just as in a dream, where all the characters in the story are a part of us, so in stories, we are able to identify with all the characters, the wise, the courageous, the fearful, the evil. As a child, I identified with the main character, Meg, but now I know that I would also have been identifying with these wise elder women.
Wisdom of all the Ages
A Wrinkle in Time was ahead of its time in this way, providing so many strong wise female characters, not only young but also old. As young women, we want to be able to imagine into a future where we could be wise old women someday. Not helpless, sad and voiceless creatures as too often still older women are depicted in too much of the media and news today.
We know on a visceral level that we as women are all the ages within us, the young, curious and full of life girl or maiden, the adventurer, lover, sovereign even, or mother, queen. And the wise, complex, creative and resourceful older woman, or crone, full of stories. Looking back now, I can see that this book, among many others, was the inspiration for the work I do today.
One more Thing... that Tesseract!
And if you have read this book as I did as a child, didn't you love the idea of the "tesseract?" Apparently there is a real meaning to this term as a mathematical model, but L'Engle creates something new and magical in her book. The tesseract* is, the ability to fold time and jump quickly from one place to the next. I remember in the story how it was explained, as if you could fold a string, letting the loop fall down so that an ant, crawling across the string, could step across the top of the two folded loops. Time can fold back upon itself. What a joy to imagine this as a child.
And yet, could you suspend judgment and imagine a way that this could also be true in our world?
Don't we all, within our bodies, hold the bodies of all those who we have been before? If we are older women, or crones, don't we hold all our younger selves within us? In this way, maybe we can suspend time, imagining ourselves all ages at once.
*in the book, the explanation goes like this: The fourth dimension is time. And if you square that, you get a tesseract. "You add that to the other dimensions and you can travel through space without having to go the long way around. In other words...a straight line is not the shortest distance between two points." page 78, A Wrinkle in Time
I've been making dolls for about ten years now. I believe that dolls serve as representations and reminders of the best part of ourselves. I am excited to share with you here my learnings about new methods and techniques for doll making and healing. So glad you are here!