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Friday Feature: Days for Dreamers


Autumn is, like its spring counterpart, fundamentally a threshold season. To many, its status is purely interstitial, that space between summer’s heat and winter’s chill, possessing as its only identity its transitional nature.

To us, autumn is wholly its own spirit, one that stands fully and completely on its own. Even so, its threshold status still informs its identity, because fall is, in effect, one more lock in the braid of time, one more arc in its hoop: It not merely exists between more extreme spaces; it straddles them, melds and merges with them, transforming one into the other and transcending both.

It is, in other words, a visionary space, a time when the possibility of peering into other planes, catching a glimpse of other worlds, seems not only possible but inevitable. This is especially true of autumn, occupying as it does those days leading into the winter, into the world’s long sleep of hibernation, the little death of dormancy. In many of our own traditions, colonial religious beliefs notwithstanding, our indigenous ways teach of a time when the space between worlds is permeable, one usually associated with the rapidly shortening days and long cold night of looming winter. Christianity’s analogue, of course, is Halloween, and it is true that many our peoples have adopted and/or incorporated parts of that tradition into their own, but the underlying, more universal beliefs that animate find expression in indigenous cultures the world over.

On this night, it feels especially apt, a chill wind have blown through here all day, leaving the night air sharply colder and the air so clear it almost hurts to breathe. Amidst the sound of gusting winds and rustling leaves, it’s easy to believe the spirits walk, and that other worlds are open to us, if only we know where and how to look. It is a time not for nightmares, but for dreams of the visionary sort.

And these are days for dreamers.

It seems apt, then, on this first Friday of October, to feature a visionary work, one that embodies dreams and dreamers and the spirits that inhabit both spaces. From its description in the Other Artists: Sculpture gallery here on the site:

BearHawk Sculpture

In his trademark style, master carver Ned Archuleta (Taos Pueblo) melds together the spirits of a traditional elder and an animal into one mystical piece. Here, it’s the elder and a bear, traditional symbol of medicine and power, rendered in smooth, flowing, silken lines of clay-colored alabaster shot with bits of warm golden-hued streaks in the stone. About six inches in overall length, it sits on a wooden base.

Alabaster on wooden base
$225 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Requires special handling; extra shipping charges apply

It’s two, or perhaps three, spirits in one: each distinct, yet each wholly a part of the other(s). This is, as it happens, bear season here, too, the time when the great creatures begin to forage beyond their usual range in search of enough food to sustain them through the long sleep of the winter months. It is hawk season, too, the Swainson’s only recently having departed, the harrier and the red-tail had ing now both returned. The red-tail has already set up housekeeping here, freeing her to spend these golden days on the hunt or at play on the currents — days that it seems must fulfill every hawk’s dreams.

But it is a time for elders, too, for those who practice medicine and those who hold ceremony, for those who seek visions and those who dream dreams. They are afforded more hours in the night with which to do so, but altered states are not bound by the clock, and the golden hours of dawn and dusk are perhaps at least as conducive to visionary experiences as the darker hours.

These are days for dreamers, bears, hawks, and elders alike . . . and perhaps for us, too.

~ Aji





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