I read this to my daughter recently. It was very satisfying because it blew her little mind. I know it did because she stared out the window in awed silence for the entire length of our trip after I finished reading it to her on the bus.
It is a Navajo story about Wandering Girl and how she came to be known as Weaving Woman after what happened when she disobeyed Spider Woman. She was called Wandering Girl because she was a shepherd.
The Spirit Being came to her people to teach them all they needed to know to survive in the earth world, except Wandering Girl who was out tending sheep. She comes back in winter to find her people gone. They are away in their hogans that the Spirit Being has taught them how to build (among other things) and she has none of her own. She cries for help and Spider Woman hears her and comes to her aid. Spider Woman teaches her to weave blankets to keep herself and her people warm in the winter and renames her Weaving Woman. She warns her though, that to walk the Middle Way, she must have balance. She mustn’t do too much of anything. She makes her promise not to weave for too long.
All through the winter she keeps her promise to her people. She knits warm blankets but they aren’t very pretty, since she uses the drab colors of the sheep’s wool. Then all through the warm weather, she moves her loom outside and makes dyes out of the roots and berries and began to weave the beauty of nature all around her. Sooner or later, she gets the idea she will weave a blanket for the Spirit Being using every color in nature. She aspires to make the most beautiful blanket in the world.
She becomes consumed with this idea of making this blanket and begins to weave day and night without rest. The people are concerned. The remind her of the warning of Spider Woman but she doesn’t listen. She believes she is nearly finished. Her husband comes home to find her collapsed at her loom.
He enlists the help of a Hand Trembler and shaman who holds a Blessing Way and they discover that her spirit has become trapped in the blanket.
The shaman tells her husband that her spirit can be released if the blanket is made less perfect, and that can be done only with permission of the weaver. Weaving Woman cries out her consent, and Spider Woman pulls a loose strand of wool from the background, and opens a spirit pathway through the border of the blanket.
Her spirit rushes through the pathway and back into her body and she cries out, “I’ve learned my lesson! Never again will I weave for too long!”
Afterwards, she gathers her people together and teaches them how to make Spirit Trails at the borders of their blankets so that their spirits will not be trapped by their beauty
…and they still do today
Isn’t that beautiful?