Friday, 29 June 2012

Shaker Day

We're remembering Shaker Day today. A kind of semi-monastic community, allowing men and women to join, making money through the unpaid creation of craft objects, and ruled over by a woman with delusions of grandeur. I find them strangely compelling.

Shakers are notable for writing the tune to which another heretic set "Lord of the Dance", for dancing (presumably in the morning, in the stars and the sun), for celibacy, and for making Shaker furniture. One presumes that after all that dancing, with the celibacy rule in place, making furniture must have been a way of releasing some pent-up frustration.

The Shaker movement could not maintain its numbers in the traditional Catholic way, so instead was dependent on adoptions and conversions. Their decline came about when the American state banned religious groups from adopting. Although I reckon the discovery that you didn't need to go without sex to create Shaker-style furniture didn't help their cause. Also there was that schism when Mother Ann Lee's sister, Sara, set up her own cheese-cake-making community.

So today we will celebrate the Shakers by attempting to make some of their furniture. This will raise some much-needed Community funds, I hope. And will also act as a lived-out parable. With all those saws, gimlets and chisels around it should be patently clear that Beaker Folk aren't the smartest tools in the box.


  1. Not sure that celibacy is the way to procreate? But if Shaker's are dying out as a breed, they need to re-think their theology and realise that non-celibacy can be just as much fun as dancing and shaking, and biblically, begatting becomes a way of preserving their culture and heritage.

    As for shaky furniture, I've been there, done that, got the T Shirt. MFI were the original distributers of shaky furniture, with their self-assemble kits, I managed to produce some classics. The three legged dining table, the five legged dining chair. The wardrobe without doors and the never to be forgotten, bed without springs. It made celibacy a good option if you valued your back.

  2. The decline of the Shaker lineage just goes to show what happens when you forbid jiggling. Forbidding jiggling is the thin end of the wedge that leads to celibacy and the extinction of the species.

  3. I thought the Shakers did jiggle! Isn't that how they got their name? They didn't go any further, no, and in more modern times they found are lamentably few potential converts willing to accept life-long celibacy for EVERYONE, not just the clergy or the nuns or the bishops. But they did have lively services with dancing and singing.

  4. Is this about that famous Welsh bloke "shaker Stevens"?

    1. Behind the beautifully-crafted, rustic green door?

    2. Behind the beautifully-crafted, rustic green door?

  5. They came from Bury in Lancashire, didn't they?
    Aren't the football club still called the shakers?

    Shakers and Quakers - together they would make an interesting dance troupe


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