Gail Kavanagh was wondering if she still had the energy and the vision to follow her dream and devote the rest of her life to pure creativity, when she decided to call in at the Soul Food Café and say hello to Heather. She was immediately invited to join other travellers on an incredible journey. Gail knows about travelling. Born in Ireland too many years ago (but who’s counting?) her people were travellers and showmen. It seemed crazy to trust her instincts and take to the road again but it was the best thing that could have happened. Now the dream has shape, and form, and hope. With new inspiration, Gail is busy creating her own little world at Vale of Avondale Drop in and wander around for a while. All travellers are welcome.
Vale of Avondale
The mystical Vale of Avondale lies halfway between this world and Tir Nan Og, the Land of the Irish faery folk. The grand old house and estate have seen many owners pass through, and all have been touched by the magic that is Avondale. You can meet some of them and hear their stories – such as the kind but ill fated Lady Eyvonne and the apothecary Flann of Achonrye; Grainne, the wild witch; Brother Lawrence, the gentle astronomer; and Traveller Rose, the half gypsy, half faery woman. There is so much to experience at Avondale that you could lose track of time.
Explore the Bard’s Hall, the Galleries, the Astronomer’s Tower and the Museum, and follow the Christmas Tree to learn how Christmas is celebrated there. New rooms and hidden corners are always being discovered and restored in the house and grounds, so call back again to see what has been uncovered. The search is on for the fabled Temple of Danu which is said to be hidden in the grounds of Avondale. When it is found, the way to Tir Nan Og will be opened once more and you can visit this magical land through the Avondale portal.
Visit Gail in the Gypsy Camp and join in the celebrations with fellow Lemurians as they wander the Soul Food Silk Way
Work at Soul Food
Meet Gail Kavanagh
Spindle turning in my hand,
As I sit here in this quiet, reflective place, the only sound the singing of the birds outside the tower window, my golden spindle lying on the table beside me, I am amazed that I have mastered this strange instrument. But I did have help – after the three knights brought me back from Koshchey’s palace, I unpacked my cotton spindle bag, the threads I had already attempted to pull, and my golden spindle. It is a beautiful object –a simple, elegant tool but one I had yet to master. As I was emptying the bag, a spider ran out and up my arm.
Spinning spiders, on their looms,
I confess, I have never liked spiders – but trying to walk the Middle Way, I have rarely harmed one. My usual method of dealing with a spider is to put a glass jar over it, slide a piece of paper under the jar, and take the spider outside. I have never tried this with a spider I know to be deadly, like the funnel web, but for the most part I manage to relocate the things without harming them. But I confess to having a soft spot for sun spiders, those brightly coloured creatures that build their webs across paths, where they can bathe in the sun – and this spider looked very much like a sun spider. She was bright gold, and she leapt from my arm onto the tapestry frame that had been set up for me.
Spinning, spinning, golden threads,
The spider was looking at me with such intensity
that I knew without being told that she was intelligent – I abandoned
all thoughts of gently depositing her out of the window. After a while
I heard a soft sigh, then a voice.
Drop the spindle to the floor,
Pick it up,” the soft voice said. ``I will
show you how to spin.”
Endlessly spinning, forever doomed
In the days that followed, the spider’s patience won the day, and I slowly learned to spin the threads fine enough to begin my tapestry. All the while she beguiled me with tales, like the one about the Spider Woman who created the world. She spun men and women out of the red earth, and sang to them to give them life, proud men and women who called her Spider Grandmother. As long as they remain attached to her by the gossamer fine thread she spins, they walk the True Path and find their way home when life ends.
Spinning maiden, spinning crone,
She told me the story of a girl who lived with her Godmother, and when the Godmother was dying, she said to the girl, ``I leave you a spindle, a shuttle, and a needle, with which you can earn your living." The girl did indeed make herself a good life with only her spindle, shuttle and needle, making fine clothes that sold easily and made her just enough money to stay in her Godmother’s house.
Then one day a Prince rode through the land, looking for a wife. He wanted to find a girl who was at the same time the richest and poorest in the land. He rode through the village and saw both the richest and the poorest girl there, and then rode on.
But the poorest girl was the spinner, and she called to her spindle to find her a suitor. It flew after the Prince, leaving a trail of golden thread for him to follow. Her shuttle leapt from her hand and wove a beautiful carpet outside her house. Her needle stitched up the house as neat as you please, with new curtains and chair covers. When the Prince followed the thread, crossed the carpet and came into the house, he saw a lovely girl, poor as a church mouse, but richly dressed and surrounded by finery.
Spindle, shuttle, needle, thread,
And as she told me this tale I thought back over this strange journey I have taken. Where are the things I packed? I still have my grandchildren’s photo, but I left the book of poetry behind in the cave. I think of the things I have been given – the glasses that let me see the unicorn, the wings that taught me to fly – and I look down at the golden spindle lying in my lap. The Enchantress – Baba Yaga – Grandmother Spider. Goddess Mother. She has left me in this tower room with a spindle, a shuttle and a needle, with which to make my way in the world. With no more than this, I am the poorest of women. With no more than this, I am the richest of women.
Spindle, shuttle, needle, weave,
``You had it all the time,” the spider said. I looked down at my poor, sore hands. The few threads I had painstakingly pulled were suddenly spilling in all directions, rainbow colours of blue and violet and yellow and red – gold and silver threads dancing across the floor, weaving a beautiful carpet under my feet. And the spindle – it was still a spindle, but a very different one. Now it was surrounded by a hard drive. ``Go, spin,” the spider said.