Thursday, September 29, 2011

What Does Wiawaka Mean?

The current mission of Wiawaka is to provide enrichment and revitalization for women at a historic lakefront setting. But shortly after its founding, Katrina Trask (who donated some of the land to founder Mary Wiltse Fuller), wrote the following piece. The original is a beautiful piece done in calligraphy.

Some of the border decoration on the original.
Photo by Megan Springate, June 18, 2011.

What is the meaning of the name Wiawaka. This question echoes from year to year when Holiday House opens its hospitable doors. How may we tell its meaning.

We may give in few words the Genesis of the name. How we found it or rather how we made it.

The last lines of Goethe's Foust are these

All things transitory
But as symbols are sent
Earth's insufficiency
Here grows to event
The Indescribable
Here it is done
The Woman's Soul leadeth us
Upward and On
--Bayard Taylors Translation

The Woman's Souls is Bayard Taylors rendering of a word that has come to be immortal "Ewigweibliche"

As our work is upon the shores of Lake Horicon where the music of the Indian still lingers and where the legend of the Mohawk and the Abenaki still are told it seems fitting to use the Indian tongue.

Bayard Taylor says in his notes on the translation of Foust "I can find no English equivalent of das Ewigweibliche except Woman's Soul which will express very nearly the same idea to those who feel the spirit which breathes and burns throughout the Scene.

Love is the all uplifting and all redeeming power on Earth and in Heaven and to man it is revealed in its most pure and perfect form through woman. Thus in the transitory life of Earth it is only a symbol of its deviner being the the possibilities of Love which Earth can never fulfil become realities in the higher life which follows. The Spirit which woman interprets to us here still draws us Upward there.

If Bayard Taylor found no English equivalent for das Ewigweibliche how may we find an equivalent in the crude language of the Indian? It seems a daring thing to do at yet we have essayed it. WIAWAKA is in truth the very freest rendering. Perhaps we have caught an elemental quality from the elemental language which will compensate for the Literary license.

The exact meaning of WIAWAKA is The Spirit of God in Woman.

All this is simple enough to tell it is quite another thing to express the thought, the hope the ideal that lay back of the meaning.

It is no easy task to put an inward spiritual grace into an outward visible sign, and it is even more difficult to put the subtle grace of a thought into the explanitory words How can we describe the indescribable? Yet something we may try to say.

We have chosen the name WIAWAKA with a high purpose toward our work taking it as the outward symbol of the inward grace of the work.

WIAWAKA implies the though the hope that this work shall not be an organized institution of circumstance alone but that it shall be a work of the Spirit that not merely holiday rest and practical refreshment shall be given to women but that there shall be felt by all within the circle of WIAWAKA the inspiration and consideration of woman's privelege and womans obligation; the noblesse oblige of woman to exalt to uplift to inspire.

May we Founders Associates and Girl Guests all Sisters together finding here more leisure ponder our opportunity and study how we may realize our splendid obligation. We women have a double obligation.

There is the obligation of the life mortal to work to do something which will make us a part of the creative world around us. A great Queen of modern times has taken for one of her mottoes Work.

What better motto could be found? Work is the criterion of character. It makes no difference what that work is whether it is making shirts making collars writing books sweeping the floor tying bundles or painting pictures -- so long as it is well done.

There is also the spiritual obligation of the life eternal to lead Upward and on. Let us remember this. Let us feel a demand within us that every man every other woman and every child we meet must be the purer the better the more uplifted for the meeting.

Let us have a sense of exalted consecration about our influence that will restrain us from doing from saying from seeing from reading things that make more difficult the achievement of the true Ideal of Life.

We have chosen the name Wiawaka that we may by the echo of the word keep before us this ideal.

The great Spirit in Woman

Let us remember my sisters Associate Members and Girl Guests remember the obligation laid upon us by the Most High to lead Upward and On to a finer sweeter saner purer realization of Life to a higher holier concept of Love to a clearer Vision of God.

-- Katrina Trask

Some of the border decoration on the original.
Photo by Megan Springate, June 18, 2011.


Anonymous said...

Could you please clarify: "Some of the border decoration on the original."

Is the 'original' written on paper ? And this is a border on the document ?

Would it be possible to view the entire document ?

What a great pin this would make !


MSpringate said...

Hi SS,

The original is a large, framed 3-panel piece done in watercolor and calligraphy on (what I'm pretty sure is) paper.

I will see what I can do about getting an image of the whole thing.

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