- Hide menu

Friday Feature: The Golden Light of Elder Spirits

Today is quintessential Red Willow autumn, October in all its golden glory. The sky is near-cloudless, the sun bright, the air sharp with that kind of blade-like clarity peculiar to this season. Our world here is awash in light, and the trees are now balanced almost perfectly between latent green and new golden fire.

And despite the warmth of the sun, the air holds that unmistakable chill that makes sleeves and shawls and even blankets a must.

It’s a reminder, too, that we are headed inexorably into winter, and whether we have real weather or not, we will need all the guidance and wisdom available to us if we are to make it through to spring.

We tend to think, now, of the seasons as just minor inconveniences — however much we may complain about heat or cold, sun or snow, it has relatively little overall impact upon our daily lives. And that is our mistake: Our over-reliance on technology to save us periodically shows us the limits of human endeavor. I was reminded of that again this morning, viewing a photo of a rockslide in the lands northwest of here, one large enough to cut off an entire highway, at least temporarily. It occurred to me that, in the full depth of the winter snows, such a slide could turn deadly for those on the far side of it, with only one method of ingress and egress for supplies.

We are not so very far removed from the limits of preindustrial days, however much we flatter ourselves into thinking otherwise.

I don’t think people on the outside realize this, understand that this is one of many, many reasons our cultures work so diligently to keep our old ways alive. It’s culture, yes, and tradition, and spiritual practice, but it’s also eminently practical: When one’s ancestors have survived the harshest of human conditions and managed to thrive for millennia, thence to survive organized and repeated campaigns of colonial genocide? It’s only wise to emulate the very ways which ensured not merely our collective survival, but our immediate existence.

This is why — among so very many other reasons — elders hold special status in our communities and cultures. They hold the wisdom of experience and memory, institutional, individual, ancestral. They have much to teach us, even when we have reached full adulthood and beyond; by the same token, no matter the age we manage to attain ourselves, there is always more to learn, even from those no longer with us in this world.

And so, on this beautiful October day of golden sun and still-warm winds, it’s a perfect time to revisit the elders, and the spirits, in tangible form. Today’s featured work, wrought in equally golden cedar wood and shimmering alabaster, is by Wings’s own cousin — a tribute to tradition wrought in the old way. From its description in the Other Artists:  Sculpture gallery here on the site:

This traditional sculpture by carver Paul Dancebow (Taos Pueblo) is done in classic Pueblo style.  Carved of cedar, his upturned face is finely detailed, as is his long hair, tied back in traditional style.  He’s wrapped in a blanket, and his body curves gently, following the natural line of the wood. He stands atop an alabaster base, golden in color with silver-white matrices throughout. Another view shown below.

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

This elder is culture given form and shape: hair tried back in the traditional manner, wrapped in a blanket to ward off the autumn chill and show the proper respect. The wood that gives him life and being glows like our trees in the sharply angled light; beneath his feet, an earth aglimmer like our own, with gold and silver flecks of mica and quartzite. He is solid, a spirit of genuine substance, and a reminder that we owe our existence both to elder spirits like himself, and to the more elemental powers of which he is wrought.

Today is beautiful; tomorrow will be, too. Thereafter, our weather is expected to change rather drastically: cold, windy, rainy, with even a little snow forecast four days hence. Our days are fading fast now, sunset arriving early and dawn appearing late. As we head into the cold season, we would do well not to lose sight of the golden light of elder spirits.

~ Aji






All content, including photos and text, are copyright Wings and Aji, 2018; all rights reserved. Nothing herein may used or reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the owner.

Comments are closed.

error: All content copyright Wings & Aji; all rights reserved. Copying or any other use prohibited without the express written consent of the owners.