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The Castle Wall
(Grid = 24 x 24)
(division top right to left = 7-10-7)
St. Teresa of Avila, in her magnificent spiritual masterpiece, THE INTERIOR CASTLE (composed in 1577), employs a number of geometric figures and patterns as symbolic of various ideas, in fact, the layout of the book itself is built on a 7-circuit, geometric labyrinth. See online text here. Another of her most famous spiritual images is a sun-filled, multi-faceted diamond or crystal, which she likens to the depth of beauty hidden in the human soul. And most importantly, as regards this quilt block, Teresa compares our bodies to the wall of a castle, the rough setting for the soul's enlightened wisdom and spiritual beauty, she says:
"As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or Who dwells within them, or how precious they are — those are things which we seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul's beauty. All our interest is centered in the rough setting of the diamond, and in the outer wall of the castle — that is to say, in these bodies of ours.

"Let us now imagine that this castle, as I have said, contains many mansions, some above, others below, others at each side; and in the center and midst of them all is the chiefest mansion where the most secret things pass between God and the soul."

If one were to search for a quilt design to illustrate this passage by St. Teresa, it could easily be THE CASTLE WALL, not only according to its name, but by way of its structure. All the requirements are here — the outer body as a material object is understood as the wall of an enclosure, second the wall/body is but a diamond setting, and third, within or beyond all walls, the true self is creatively an open center, spontaneous and free without limits, and therefore (as in Zen) within reach of the ultimate beauty or wisdom of its own divine nature. More musings on quilt designs and St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle at this site include MYSTIC STAR and HOMESPUN BLOCK (providing its own fortress wall).

Jinny Beyer's QUILTER'S ALBUM illustration (p.295-1) interestingly opens up the center of the block (the Soul's residence) more widely simply by shading it with more interior light. The design is dated to Evelyn Foland, in the Kansas City Star, October 10, 1931. Carrie Hall illustrated the pattern in 1935 — see CARRIE HALL BLOCKS, (p.93) by Bettina Havig (includes pattern templates) — a copy of Hall's block is online at the Spencer Museum of Art.

For more quilt designs celebrating women in the arts, see GIRL'S JOY.
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