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Friday Feature: A Medicine Bundle of Earth and Water, Wind and Light

Dawn came and went in a flash of green sky this day, the pale expanse marked only by a single coral-colored lenticular cloud arching over the peaks to the north of El Salto.

By full sunrise, though, the smoke had returned, and with it the shimmering haze that is at once mysteriously beautiful and suffocatingly oppressive. The air at the moment is less silver than a dirty pewter, but the trees are a brilliant mix of gold and amber now. Even wildfire smoke and the threat it represents cannot suppress the shades of the season, or its own healing spirits.

Some of those spirits are abroad now, preparing for the first taste of the winter to come — an arrival now due on Sunday.

We have not seen any of Coyote’s clan since late summer, although we hear them occasionally, singing to the night. We have not seen his much larger cousin, either, although this is the time of year when evidence of Bear’s existence appears here and there across the land. In practical terms, they come in search of food to sustain them through the long sleep of winter. In spiritual terms, they remind us that the spirits do not cut us adrift upon those winter winds: There is protection, and there is medicine; we only need to seek, to find, to accept, to acknowledge and honor them.

Today’s featured work does exactly that: seeks the symbolism of protection and medicine in the stone, finds it deep within and summons it into the autumn light for us to accept, to acknowledge, to honor. From its description in the Other Artists:  Sculpture gallery here on the site:

This alabaster medicine bear by master carver Mark Swazo-Hinds (Tesuque Pueblo) is hewn in the classic vintage Southwest Indian style.  The surface is smooth, silky, and touchable, in a brilliant clear orange with a translucent white marbled matrix. In Mark’s trademark style, the medicine bundle is made of macaw and turkey feathers, shells, pottery sherds, and bits of turquoise. The bear is 6″ long by just over 2″ high; the bundle extends 4-6″ beyond the back end of the bear (dimensions approximate).

Orange alabaster; turkey feathers; macaw feathers; pottery sherds; turquoise; shells
$425 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Requires special handling; extra shipping charges apply

Of all of Mark’s works that we’ve carried over the years, this one is far and away my favorite. The orange alabaster is the most spectacular specimen of its kind either of us has ever seen, so translucent it looks like calcite. The white inclusions shimmer in the autumn sunlight, channeling it deep into the bear’s orange glow and refracting it back to the world in a way that speaks of warmth and healing as the days grow cold and short.

For the moment, this medicine bear sits in the light here: on the still of the south-facing windows, aglow and alive in the October light. It’s the color of the darkest of the aspen leaves, of the clouds at dawn and the fire of a smoke-filled sunset; it’s the horned harvest moon and the flames of Father Sun, all gathered into one small, spare spirit wrought in cool and silky stone, carrying a medicine bundle of earth and water, wind and light.

There are dangers on all sides now: some familiar, if not precisely ordinary — smoke, wildfire, a gathering winter storm; some novel, to use an especially apt term for the pandemic loosed upon the land and raging more uncontrolled than any wildfire, while the footsoldiers of fascism fight to consolidate authority and control.

But there is protection, too, and medicine, as our ancestors knew well. They left us a world filled with their teachings and wisdom, with all the medicine of earth and water, wind and light.

It’s time to seek, to find, to accept, to acknowledge and honor them now . . . and to put them to work.

~ Aji








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