Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ll be using manicules (those pointing finger symbols) to direct your attention to something I’m pondering that delights or interests me. Each entry is somehow related to an unusual, obscure, or simply charming to me word.
Q is for…
Quaintrelle – (obscure) – A woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and a cultivation of life’s pleasures. First appearance mid 15th century.
I can’t say for sure why I like this word so much. And I suspect it’s likely to evoke pejorative reactions for some who would consider this a shameful display of privilege. Given our current collective paradigm that encourages leaning in the direction of I’m-too-busy-to-do-anything-but-be-overwhelmed, I can fathom that reaction. But I refuse to be swayed by it. For me this is somehow an invitation to walk the beauty way, in whatever way one wishes to define that.
Ancient alchemical texts are things of beauty – filled with allegory and symbolic language; things hidden in plain sight; and plain things promising transformation.
If we were to peek into the book of our lives, what might we find? What magic do I, do you carry that people need to look a bit deeply to see?
If you peeked into the book of my life you might notice the pages are gilded in gold. You might deduce I like gold, and that’s true. And I do think all alchemical journals should be dusted in precious metal, don’t you? But you might need to look a bit deeper to see that some of that gold is Kintsugi – the Japanese art of golden joinery, which treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, not to be disguised but honored as a mark of wear. I actually don’t believe I’m broken – I don’t believe anyone is broken and needs to be fixed. But life does take its toll and sometimes our hearts are cracked open. And when we’re ready, what better than a bit of gold to create a seal? The older I get the more I understand with great clarity that everything that has brought me to where I am is a gift, whether I recognized it in the moment or not. These days I try to hold that remembering in the now moment.
You might see some tear splashes in my book and conclude I’m sad. And while I will admit there was some sadness – there is always some sadness each year – if you looked a bit deeper you might be able to tell that I also laugh a lot. Sometimes to the point of tears, which I find extraordinarily funny. Some of those salt water splashes are also from the cleansing baths I love to indulge in. You might also discover that my very favorite thing to do when painting with watercolors is throw on a handful of salt. Now that’s alchemical magic! And my favorite salt? Pink.
Tucked into my book are two feathers, one black and one white. You’d be right to think that I love feathers; I love birds; and being gifted feathers feels like a cosmic wink reminding me all is well. You might recognize the black feather as a gift from Crow, and know this is a totem of mine. But you might have to look a bit deeper to understand that I carry both the black and white feather as a reminder of balance and wholeness, and unity consciousness. And you definitely have to lean in close if you want to know that I also carry these feathers as a reminder of mother, and how this year I decided soon it will be time to tell the story of White Crow Speaks.
My book contains formulas and symbols and strange little markings. You could decide, rightfully, that I’m an aromatherapist working out some blending formulas; someone interested in keeping track of the signs the moon travels through and so has learned planetary and astrological glyphs; and someone who thinks best when doodling. But you have to listen deeply to know I understand all these things are carry forwards of many lifetimes lived as an alchemist and artist.
You’ll find dreams in my book, both of the nocturnal variety and those held in the heart waiting for manifestation. You might have to lean in to hear that I think dreams are a beautiful language of the soul and we owe it to ourselves to learn that language so we can speak it fluently.
My book has little envelopes taped into it, tipped in pages, secret pockets, and fanciful folds. Life is filled with treasures and so is my book. Words that delight me, like becloud and nitid, and made-up ones like evolvatorium and loveify. There’s a pinch of rosemary for remembrance, and four-leaf clovers, from two friends who have the most uncanny ability to find them within seconds of looking. I have fortune cookie messages tucked in my book; a small bit of silk ribbon the color of a sea I’ve only seen in my dreams; and a scrap of paper that has bits of gold flakes embedded in it. I’m not sure they manufacture it anymore, but if I ever find it I’m going to buy up armsful. Seeing these things you might surmise I like ephemera; I like bits and bobs; I like hideaways and sweet secrets. All true. But if you listened hard you might also know this is a way of keeping intention. Of reminding myself, and the co-creating universe, that I would be most delighted to have a life filled with only treasures. And very likely my idea of treasures is quite different than yours, and I think that’s perfect.
My book also contains snippets of poetry. One of my favorite creative practices is to sit with a line or two of poetry for a few weeks, and then create some kind of art that is a reflection. One of the definitions of alchemy is “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.” When I think about how I might answer the question of what magic I carry, I thought perhaps it might be a combination of two lines from two different poems by Hafiz.
“Now is the season to know that everything you do is sacred.” “Stay close to any sounds that make you glad you are alive.“
And I think that’s it. My magic is Sacred Joy.
What about you? What would we see if we peeked into the book of your life? What magic do you carry? Do tell – you know I love to hear.
…I am not sure about magic in my life, but there is some weird kind of alchemy in the ether that only presents your posts to me at very random times!!! I could go back and work on them all… but then I accept that perhaps I am given only those which will have some connection to myself or subjects in which I am interested… which is daft because everything you write is of interest to me!
I loved this visit to the pages of your book; I guess my blog displays mine… YAM xx
The ways of cyber delivery are entirely mysterious to me. It amuses me to think that the etheric delivery service might in fact be overwhelmed by all the April A-to-Z posts and replies flying back and forth. But, in any case, thank you for your kind words and your visits whenever you’re so inclined.
I think that word (which looks elegantly French) describes you perfectly. The book of my life would have many books within it with a variety of themes. Childhood-Teenager-College-Dating-Teaching-Marriage-Motherhood-Widowhood, etc. Each one of the books would have its own set of chapters. Throughout the book I’ve been me but different versions of myself depending on my stage of life. Lots of growth and change along the way, sometimes it’s involved me resisting, kicking and screaming. 🙂
I like your idea of volumes, with each iteration of evolving-you.
Have you read The Rule of Four? As a lover of alchemy, it seems like a story you might enjoy. 🙂
I rather like the idea of being passionate, or displaying passion, though I don’t think “fashion” would figure into it. (Unless cultivating a collection of Christmas sweaters counts? *laugh*) To truly enjoy life and to *choose* to enjoy what you’re doing (or to do what you enjoy) is very much how I roll.
I very like your idea of rolling. I like to call that keeping my feet on the joy trail. I’ve not heard of The Rule of Four, but I’ll be checking it out. Thanks for the recommendation.
I like your book of life. So many little details to discover. And just imagine you’re adding new pages every day!
I consider my photo gallery my book of life. It’s mostly full of happy moments (travel, holidays, food, nature, hockey games, friends & family) but also organizational snippets like screenshots of schedules, maps or to-do lists.
That sounds perfect Tamara!
Now this is a word that I love 🙂 And I can get behind the concept. A lot of people confuse walking in beauty with being lazy or superficial. Let’s bring this word back!
The Multicolored Diary
When I read the word and its meaning, I smiled for I knew I’d be mentioning my recent meeting with a quaintrelle–albeit posthumously–in my comment. I’m referring to my recent exploration of the Isabella Steward Gardener’s gorgeous museum in Boston.
This:” I’m-too-busy-to-do-anything-but-be-overwhelmed,” cracked me up.
Visiting your book was no different from my experience at the Gardener museum. Every nook and page-turn revealed a bit of you and a lot of the magic that you behold and share.
Thank you Deborah for shining your light so beautifully and so willingly.
Oh Arti, thank you for your lovely and kind words. And how wonderful you’ve been to visit the Isabella Steward Gardener museum. I’ve only been there once, but it still makes appearances in my thoughts and dreams. I check their website periodically and peek at the photos of what the courtyard garden is displaying. It’s hanging nasturtiums this month according to the site, and I imagine they were even more gorgeous in person. What a perfect example of a true quaintrelle!
This whole post is a prose poem. Lovely.
Q is for Questions
Thank you Anne.