An ongoing project, dreaming and mining into three intergenerational libraries of women's journals:
My father's mother's mother, my great grandmother, was born in 1864 in the state of New York - lived for a brief time of her early marriage in Massachusetts, and somewhere around the turn of the century migrated West with her husband, children, and mother to become a settler in the Yakima Valley, Washington, where her husband had somehow come to own orchards, which he farmed. She kept a daily diary for years, five volumes of which I've inherited. You can follow my close tracking and tweeting of her daily entries over here.
My mother left me a huge library of her journals, spanning decades of struggles and triumphs and meanderings in the mazes of cancer, marriage, divorce, parenting, teaching, writing, home making and soul recovery until her death at 51, about ten years ago. Slowly, slowly, I am organizing and exploring them, sorting into territories: the writing she left behind that she meant to be published; personal correspondence and messages for her children; and the rich personal journal practice that literally kept her alive, which she knowingly left in my care.
My own library of journals spans back and back and back, but I am digging in here to a series that begins around ten years ago, with the death of one and then both parents, initiating a decade of powerful dreaming, grieving, healing, liberation, homecoming and self discovery. There is much raw material for the Oracle here, and in the process of drawing it up and in, other treasures and creatures and questions and gems are let loose too.
Woven together, they carry overwhelming evidence of the ways that women journal and have journalled, the ways that writing keeps us alive to ourselves and our work and our places, the vastly different languages available to us in different times, and the power of looking at the arc of this intergenerational creativity as a worn and patchy tapestry spanning nearly a hundred years.