Our intention for Weaving Stories is to provide a space to share our words & worlds with the hopes of relating, empowering & inspiring. To recognize & strengthen our community. I began asking our friends to be interviewed & realized we hadn't revealed this information about ourselves, so here we go!
Please introduce yourselves & give us a glimpse into your world. Where are you located? What are you currently creating?
K ~ My name is Katrina Elizabeth Hohowski & I am the co creator of Ancestral Thread. I live in midcoast Maine (unceded Wabanaki land) with Stefan & our two cats Maude & Sven. August is harvest season, so I am clipping plants from our herb garden to dry for teas. Our vegetable garden produced very well this year, especially varietals of squash, so I have been inventing many meals including them.
Being the clothing curator for Ancestral Thread, the majority of the clothes we use for our work is hand chosen & recycled. We have been working on a new collection for the past few months. Our hand drawn designs are created by observing the current collective consciousness, seeking guidance from our ancestors, learning & applying archaic truths & myth, blending both of our aesthetics, to create a healing talisman for the wearer in the present. Once the design is ready to print, I chose a color palette & feel, arrange the clothes to be printed & we handprint them at home together. Soon I will be photographing some friends modeling the clothes! I love styling & being behind the camera as opposed to in front of it. When the photography is complete, I will arrange them on the website. I enjoy the process very much & we are already conjuring our next design!
S ~ Greetings & glad tidings, my name is Stefan Heinrich Christoph and alongside my sweetheart, Katrina, I co-create Ancestral Thread. I have been living in rural, midcoast Maine for the past seven years & with Katrina and our two feline familiars, for the past three.
August here in Maine means a good deal of gardening, harvesting & canning vegetables, drying herbs & tincturing alongside my usual creative pursuits of woodworking, painting and printing. Full days that involve both indoor & outdoor pursuits are my cup of tea, whether they are in the summer or deep winter. Over the past few years I've been learning to appreciate & enjoy the brighter, warmer months even if my heart still yearns for silent snows and ice....
Can you tell us about a childhood experience that was profound or life changing? Or a memory that still resonates with you today?
K ~ Being a sensitive, imaginative person my relationship to the world of plants, animals & spirit realms began quite early on. I have always sought out solitude & quiet preferring nature & animals to most places & people. At the age of 8 I developed a kinship with a Yew in the front yard of my childhood home. I spent a lot of time beneath the Yew where I would daydream & nibble tangy tasting clovers I found growing among the grass. During that time I kept fish as pets & when my favorite goldfish Pee Wee died, I buried his body beneath the Yew. I secretly dug him up every few days. I suppose I learned about grief, death & decomposition this way. Little did I know then that the Yew tree is very significant to my Northern European ancestors.
S ~ I was fortunate to be raised in rural New Hampshire by two relatively intelligent humans that are still married to this day. Being an only child I was often left to my own devices for entertainment, so naturally, my imagination was infused by the fertile environs of the forest, streams & lakes not to mention my morbid obsession with monsters & the fantastic. This was during the late 70s and 80s when parents weren't squeamish about allowing their children to be out of range all day, which I took full advantage of.
I have so many memories concerning the sights & sounds from the forest that are still extremely vivid & lucid but also seem like dream fragments. Faces in trees, half glimpsed wee folk, impressions from specific caves & rock formations, disembodied voices & whispers... Looking back it appears to have been a fairly constant stream of dialogue betwixt myself, the imaginal realms & nature spirits. Add this to a child that is experiencing the wyrd phenomenon of "deja vú" multiple times a day & you have a recipe for an odd little bugger.
What daily rituals or practices if any, connect you with the spiritual realms?
K ~ My rituals seem to change with the seasons. Lately I wake up around 7:30 am, scrape my tongue, wash my face with cool water & spritz with Water of Wild Rose by Terracotta Farmacia. Drink a glass of water & mindfully ingest the tinctures I am working with. Have a cup of tea with honey & quietly relax, maybe write down some dreams or read.
Most mornings I spend some time upstairs in my "meditation room" sitting on a pillow in front of my altar. There I speak softly & listen to my spirit Guides, feel the energy of the day. Often I will pull a single Rune from their pouch & meditate. Other days I play the crystal singing bowls & harmonize vocally. I'll do some light stretching & if the day calls for movement I like to go outside barefooted and say hi to the Sun. Stretch & allow the energies of Nature to move my body as a subtle intuitive dance.
S ~ I tend to wake up relatively early even without the assistance of the dreaded alarm clock. Depending on the previous night's dream escapades, I may sing a quiet little ditty in honor of being visited by a profound or wyrd astral messenger. Tea and a book are always required for a good start. Honoring the day's associated Northern deity is a practice for me as well as honoring my ancestors with the first bites & sips of the day's food & drink. We also have some outdoor areas around the house that I tend to leave offerings of food/drink for the land wights and wee folk on the daily as well.
I find the creative process in general opens doors & windows into other non or hyper terrestrial realms. Often, as I am painting, drawing, carving, etc, buried dream memories & dormant ideas will well up from inside me. When this occurs, I feel it is a plucking of the web of wyrd by my ancestors and I want to keep filling the reservoir with positive energy. It's akin to feeding a cherished family member or pet.
What parts of the world do your ancestors come from? What inspires you most about your ancestral cultural background?
K ~ Germany, Poland, Netherlands, England, Ireland, Scotland & Sweden
I was not raised with knowledge or reference to Pre Christian Northern Europeans, I had to learn about them myself. Animistic, polytheistic, nature worshipers did not make the curriculum in the public school I attended. Hence my immersion into their culture, spirituality & mythology as an adult which in turn inspired Ancestral Thread. My pre colonial, pre Christian ancestors held respect & reverence for Wise Folk and Mother Nature. They developed spiritual technologies to live in flux with the cycles & seasons. They were balanced & venerated death as much as life. But I want to acknowledge some other ancestors here too...
My Irish ancestors are from Killarney Kerry in the province of Munster, which is a region known to be rebellious traditional outsiders (very relatable) due to it's remote location. They refused to speak any language other than Gaelic & continued to speak Gaelic even after they immigrated to New York City in 1850 during the Great Famine. They inspire my wild ways & resilience in the face of adversity.
My Polish paternal great grandmother & grandfather immigrated to the US in the 1920s due to religious / language oppression and poverty. My paternal grandfather Joseph was born in Long Island, New York with 5 siblings. They had to give him & 2 other children up to foster care but kept & raised their other children. They were hard workers, gardeners on an estate by day & my great grandfather Julius played the accordion in a Polka band by night. Their jubilance & strength inspires me, I can feel them especially when I am making music & singing.
My Dutch ancestors left the Netherlands in the late 1600s immigrating to Hudson Valley, New York. My great great great...grandfather Abraham was a carpenter. He built and ran a mill there, also planted an apple orchard. He was killed & scalped by an Esopus Indian, leaving behind a wife & six sons. His wife took control of the mill upon his passing, which was unheard of in those days. A female business owner?! When I heard this story as a teen punk, my reaction was "good, they were here first" but of course I had sympathy for my ancestors as well. I wanted to learn more & explore those feelings. This is the lineage I have done a lot of de-colonization work with & also the lineage I knew least about. As far as I knew they were pilgrims & the story ended there. What was life in Holland like for them? Or for the generations who came before them? My Dutch ancestors encourage me to learn more about North American Indigenous people & their lands we relatively new Americans occupy.
S ~ Germany, Sweden, England, Scotland & Eastern Europe
The aspects of my ancient ancestors that really inspires me & that I feel most strongly connected to is their view that the physical and spiritual worlds were both essentially good, equally important & tangibly real. Perhaps the ultimate lesson that there's no clear demarcation between the physical & spiritual realms as they often dynamically blur. Also, the consciousness of how the natural world informed their lives with symbolic significance & how they responded creatively to this communication as a sort of dance or weaving. The awe, joys, honor, triumphs & tragedies that all our ancestors experienced is what makes each of us who we are.
How do you stay connected to your Ancestors?
K ~ I would like to begin by identifying myself as a spiritual Medium & Seeress who practices trance work. I feel it is important to recognize our current practices as being ancient gifts in our blood DNA & to call ourselves by the names our ancestors would have used. So as far as my Pre Christian Indigenous Northern European ancestors go, I met them in the realms of spirit and I began my relationships with them there. I also want to mention that I began developing these skills & practices in trance work & mediumship with human teachers, after many overwhelming encounters with spirits since childhood.
Now that I have established boundaries & a healthy relationship with my ancestors, they protect, nurture & guide me through my daily life. Empowering me to share their stories, their truths & to be who I really am without shame or fear. I stay connected to them by acknowledging & listening to them. By telling their stories, learning about their cultures, eating their foods. Being quiet in nature, gardening, my hands covered in soil making plant medicine, braiding my hair, drumming, listening to the Runes.
S ~ By constantly exploring their myths, lore, philosophies, spiritual outlook & world views. Also, just by acknowledging that we are all cumulative & unfinished beings that owe our ancestors the honor of veneration. This requires your conscious participation in the story through actual work which may take decades to bear fruit. Needless to say, this runs contrary to what our modern age tells us is the ideal. I venerate my ancestors by striving to stay awakened & conscious of their truths even as a great deal of what is currently being promoted by certain people attempts to lull us into a trance of complacency & defeat.
Where in nature do you find inspiration / healing / refuge? In other word's do you have a "spot" or an activity? Please describe.
K ~ The waterfall in the woods behind our house. There I perch on a huge glacial stone and listen to the water rush, flow, or trickle. Water teaches me a lot about my emotions about the times I am living in, and where I stand in the midst of it all. I envision myself as a stable rock with water flowing over me, cleansing.
S ~ Finally moving out of urban environments & committing to living rurally was a major step in my own personal growth. I feel there is just so much more subtle communication and creative inspiration emanating from natural, non populated areas in general. Reconnecting to the annual cycles of the seasons & seeing the drama of the night sky can truly assist folks seeking to regain that poetic, childlike awe.
I mostly go on unplanned jaunts or rambles around our home. We're fortunate to live amongst large swaths of woods & swamps that are "undeveloped". Saying "good day" to the mushroom people, paying attention to the vast multiverse of scents from plants & animals. Walking on the ice in winter & just being quiet in the forest to listen to its songs & stories.
What is the last good book you read?
K ~ I read "The Bog People" by P.V. Glob in a day & a half. I could hardly put it down, it felt familiar and the photographs & illustrations are beautiful.
A book I love & highly recommend is "Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Spirit Based Change" by Maine author & activist Sherri Mitchell.
S ~ "How the World Is Made" by John Michell, is a lovely illustrated book delving into the language of sacred geometry.
"History of the Rune-Gild" by Edred Thorsson, yet another immortal tome from the Runic Reawakening's main proponent!
How can people find you & your work?
K ~ Look around, you are here
S ~ This Autumn we are hoping to start a Patreon with more in depth teachings about Runes & Northern European myth & lore so stay tuned...