I think the spinster needs rebranding. A spinster has come to mean what a woman is not instead of who she is. A spinster has been defined as an older unmarried woman; as if marriage was of the utmost importance in defining one’s self. A spinster been called an old maid as if she is not fully formed because she is not married and has no children. Long ago a spinster was a denoted as a woman whose occupation was to spin. But what if it was more than being defined by one’s occupation? What if a spinster was a spinner, not necessarily of wool, but of stories, of magic.
A spinster can be the witch next door; the spell-weaver; a woman who enjoys her solitude; who is happy to dance with herself. A spinster can be the elder who has tales to tell; stories to weave; magic to spin like gold into a rich tapestry of a life well lived.
Then, wouldn’t more women long to be spinsters as we aged? We may take lovers but we would remain totally of ourselves. We would meet our lovers as rivers not vines, as air currents not bramble, as flames not thorns, as butterfly bush not bindweed.
A spinster may live alone but she is not alone. She is wild and free and has all matter of non-human beings to keep her company. And she would gather with her sisters and brothers around the fire, and oh what stories they would tell; like jewels taken out and fondled by caring, weathered hands.
To all the women (and men) who choose not to (re)marry, choose not to have children, who choose not to be defined by other, know that you are not wrong, you are not selfish. You are enough. Your life choice is yours to make and no one else’s.
Arianna Alexsandra Collins, naturalist, poet, writer, wild edible enthusiast, and Wiccan High Priestess lives in Ashfield, MA.
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