The Art of Coal Burned Wooden Spoon Carving.

The coal is lit! The burn is in progress for a student of Coal Burned Wooden Spoon Carving at Spirit Weavers Gathering, 2017.

The coal is lit! The burn is in progress for a student of Coal Burned Wooden Spoon Carving at Spirit Weavers Gathering, 2017.

What to say about a life changing journey. 

This month I attended the 5th Annual Spirit Weavers Gathering Sun Session in Cave Junction, Oregon. Ceremony and re-skilling alongside 600 women, we became sisters within the divinity of community. How we grieved for our culture and celebrated the new age of evolution. How we held each other as light beings. How we encouraged luminosity, sageing the wounds that run deep to heal, to transcend. How we did this is beyond measure.

At the gathering, I taught workshops on Coal Burned Wooden Spoon Carving, an ancestral skill which uses coals from a fire to form the bowl shape of a spoon. The spoon is then carved, dried, and oil cured to transform wood into a sacred utensil. Personalized nourishment transportation from earth to body. 

The craft of spoon carving spans into the depths of human existence. The oldest known spoon runs past bound twenty-thousand years, made of Mammoth Ivory. Spoon crafting with wood dates back the times of Ancient Egypt. The continuity of spoon carving across time is anything but happenstance. It's function as a vessel that transfers earth alchemy to body is profound. The craft of it's creation is an powerful practice in presence awareness.

Scraping out burn remnants reveals the shape of the bowl (L). Blowing on coal to form the bowl shape (R). Spirit Weavers Gathering, 2017.

Scraping out burn remnants reveals the shape of the bowl (L). Blowing on coal to form the bowl shape (R). Spirit Weavers Gathering, 2017.


Earth crafting is an amazing process of humility, patience and surrender. We might have an idea as to what type of spoon we'd like to create, how long it will take, and what it's purpose will be. But we soon learn that working with wood is a process of listening to the wood. We can respond to the landmarks of natural grain and knot so we may go with its course, rather than against. Using the unique beauty of each blank, or block of wood, we instill flexibility into our ideas of control. The crafter is presented with the opportunity to experience curiosity and limitless potential of form and function. 


Alongside the lessons of elemental awareness, wooden spoon carving offers the crafter self observation practice. As we work with the wood, emotions surface. Thoughts of frustration, imperfection, jealousy of other peoples craftwork, limitation, or whatever other contemplations arise are divine reflections of patterns that serve, or serve us no longer. Through the practice, we present ourselves to the transformational element of fire to morph our craft into a vessel for nourishment. Working intimately with a hot coal from a fire, our steady and slow exhales form the bowl shape in the wood. The lengthened exhales required for coal burning can be a powerful physical practice to release difficult emotions which may arise. We can use our breath within a ceremonial opportunity, in alliance with fire and wood to let go, let go, let go. 

Throughout the length of time we carve our functional artwork, the wood hears our story. We may share tales around the fire of heartache, of celebration, of evolution. With the wood as our ear, as our absorber of tear, of sweat, of tension and release, we pour our experience into its grain. If the blank makes it all the way to the spoon ego finish line, within it will contain the energy of our lives during its creation. How powerful to eat from a vessel such as this.

With that said, it is rather surprising within our cultural lens of productivity, of "to do" focus rather than "to be" experience, to think of wooden spoon carving as anything other than a goal oriented process: to make a spoon. However, we can craft so we may experience ourselves in alignment with the wisdom of the earth, in support of our transformation and presence in motion. The spoon comes to as an aftermath benefit.

Steady, slow exhales make their way to the coal. Spirit Weavers Gathering, 2017.

Steady, slow exhales make their way to the coal. Spirit Weavers Gathering, 2017.

 

FIRE. 

Working with fire is one of the most ancient practices we have as a human populous. The experience runs deep within our bones, passed down as a bio-need from thousands of years past. As powerful decision making beings, we can choose to relate to fire through a vast scope of experience. We can ally with fire to fuel self destructive patterns, for transformation and transcendence, and everything in between.

My first experiences getting close to fire were inherently self destructive, as were many of the measures which ignited my healing path. Through smoking in secrecy for nearly a decade, I continuously sought ways to emotionally and physically "check out". Be that as it may, I intuited at the onset of my young adulthood and smoking habit that as an Aries, as a fiery red head, as a being birthed within the year of the Dragon, I yearned for an authentic experience of fire connection. My inner knowing was aching to transcend my reality of solitary suffering. I knew not how to work with fire as a truly luminous ally. Within my cultural lens, I only recognized it as a useful means for escape. As I invited fire into each moment of smoking in hiding on the regular, it burned away my sense of power and strength. Fire danced with me in the way I asked it to quite well. 

Only when I began to practice presence in motion and learn scarce ancient practices of how to connect earth elements, which I am set to walk within throughout this lifetime, did I heal my relationship to self with fire as guide. Descriptive words associated with fire: luminosity, shine, brightness, glow, intensity, scintillation, radiance, warmth, brilliance... become available to those who cultivate relationship with fire as teacher, informant and friend.

Question your reality.

When is the last time you gazed into a fire? Have you ever?

If so:

What did you see? What did it show you?

Did you sing into it? Dance around it? If so, how did it feel?

Did it aid you to feel your emotions? To celebrate, to grieve? 

Do you have an idea of when will your next fire sit will be?

Here is to practices which help us clearly see our shadows. May we get humble and bow to the elements as great teachers. May we relearn how to be full human beings. The world rejoices as we find our way.

Hand carved olive wood spoon gifted to coal burned wooden spoon carving student Nikki Katz upon her return from Spirit Weavers Gathering. Synchronicity at its finest!

Hand carved olive wood spoon gifted to coal burned wooden spoon carving student Nikki Katz upon her return from Spirit Weavers Gathering. Synchronicity at its finest!

Elizabeth Gross