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Change, In the Beat of a Butterfly’s Wing

It’s another ostensibly clear day, not a cloud for a hundred miles around . . . and yet our small world is gray, shrouded in a shimmering silver haze of ash and smoke. The chill morning air is keeping the pall close, no wind to speak of capable of breaking it up and blowing it out beyond the eastern peaks.

These are supposed to be the early clear days of nascent fall, air so crisp and sharp it almost burns, the only clouds those that build long enough to deliver a late afternoon monsoonal shower before breaking apart to leave behind a green-gradient sunset sky. Now, the only burning is of the Earth herself.

Is it any wonder that most of our small spirits are long departed or else never arrived at all?

These are changes, of course, that have been a long time coming; we’ve been witnessing this many-layered catastrophe unfold in real time for years now. And yet, the time frame is nothing in the context of geologic time: this change, in the beat of a butterfly’s wing, a microsecond compared to all that this world has seen and been and done.

Which makes it all the more terrifying, this truth that in such a short span colonial humanity could inflict a catastrophic existential threat upon the world that shelters us all.

Despite our currently unwelcoming climate, a few hardy small spirits of summer still remain: three or four hummingbirds, perhaps a dozen indigenous bees, one large dragonfly that I know of.

And the butterflies.

They are few and far between now, these fragile messengers — one monarch, one mourning cloak, a couple of other singles among their kind. Even the normally-ubiquitous whites and sulphurs are few and far between now, as are the tiny grays and periwinkles. Even their cousins the moths are rare this year. But those who are here bear a message, one we need to hear and heed if this world is to survive.

Today’s featured work embodies these small brave spirits of summer’s end, rendered old-style in a glowing arc of message and medicine. From its description in the relevant section of the Bracelets Gallery here on the site:

The Beat of a Butterfly’s Wing Cuff Bracelet

The earth turns amid light and shadow and the beat of a butterfly’s wings. The light and shadow, messenger spirits and their motion, too, all come together in this vintage-style cuff by Wings wrought the old way. It’s a single slender band of heavy-gauge sterling silver, cut to size and length and then stamped freehand in a tight repeating pattern of leaves and petals and rays of light that, together, form a motif that evokes that tiny but powerful spirit we call Butterfly, wings fluttering and limned with pure light. Each group of symbols is stamped entirely freehand, perfectly even and consistent, the strikes so deep as to displace the silver into gently undulating edges, the oxidation giving each line and divot a beautifully aged appearance that, together with its Florentine finish, makes the entire work glow. Band is 6″ long by 5/16″ across (dimensions approximate). Other views shown above and below.

Sterling silver
$425 + shipping, handling, and insurance

Wings has several of these old-style cuffs currently in inventory, but this is one my favorites. Its heavy, deep, regular stampwork, its aged and textured finish, are throwbacks to a much older time and silverwork tradition.

In that, it reminds us of how things used to be, a time when our peoples could never have envisioned the ravages to earth and climate, season and weather that dog our footsteps daily now.

And yet, our peoples have always been prophets, too, and in many of our traditions (most? all?), these days were foretold long ago. So were our obligations in the face of what would come to pass.

These are the days of prophecy now: days of change, in the beat of a butterfly’s wing. The messengers have brought us their own message; it’s up to us now to put it into practice and effect.

~ Aji








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