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From These, Our Whole World Grows


From the heart of the earth our whole world grows.

Those words constitute the first line of the description I wrote some months ago for the work shown above. At this season in this place, we come to know their essential truth, and intimately so.

Our world is a much busier place now; instead of focusing our days around growing things, we now have to make time, carve it explicitly out of frenetic schedules, to work with our hands in the soil. But this is the growing season, and in these weeks we will spend time weeding and watering (although the rain will take care of most of the latter), cultivating and occasionally even harvesting, from those that fruit and flower early.

It is a time to reacquaint ourselves with the earth, both capital-E and lower-case, our place in our larger world and the very grains of sand that make up the soil beneath our feet. We are fortunate here that the soil is rich, just enough clay but not too much, the sort that welcomes the water and disperses it efficiently, yet is capable of nurturing embryonic plant life for extended periods without it. In some areas here, the earth is sandy, red-gold and dusty, suitable for adobe walls and clay vessels; in others, it is a rich fertile brown, capable of producing fertile and abundant green. In this place and time, our earth is a place of fecundity, of the most fundamentally maternal of loves, that of the mother of us all.

It is love, yes, and life, but it is also spirit: of Mother Earth herself, of the four winds and the sacred directions, of the small pollinating spirits of the season and the green they midwife into being along the way. And it is a perfect season for the first of today’s featured works, one created independently of, yet one that stands as complement to, the additional work that appears below. From the description of the first, found in the Necklaces Gallery here on the site:

From the Heart of the Earth Necklace

From the heart of the earth our whole world grows. Wings pays tribute to this evolutionary process with this necklace, a cross that is not a cross, but the embodiment of elemental forces and nurturing spirits. The pendant’s form is a very old design, one that circumvented colonial insistence on Christianity by appearing to adopt its four-spoked shape — and then adding an extra bar and a curving end to produce the form of a much older spirit: that of Dragonfly, a pollinator, a messenger, a symbol of romantic love and life’s abundance. Here, Wings has honored another old adaptation of the style, turning the curved tail at the base of the lowest spoke into a stylized heart. Above the heart, the pendant extends upward and outward to the Four Sacred Directions, each of the remaining five spokes stamped with a single thunderhead symbol pointing inward toward the center, a sign of the rain that keeps our Earth herself alive. Above the top spoke, the hand-made bail flowers into a lush green peridot; at the base in the center of the heart, the place of emergence, two tiny hand-stamped flowers are wedded into the form of a butterfly, a small spirit rising from its own place of emergence to continue the processes of pollination and prosperity. The cross is made of solid fourteen-gauge silver, and hangs 2-5/8″, the bail 3/4″ (the pendant is 3-3/8″ in total length; 1-1/8″ across at the widest point); the stone is 3/8″ long; the pendant hangs from an 18″ sterling silver snake chain (dimensions approximate).

Sterling silver; peridot
$1,150 + shipping, handling, and insurance


But what the spirits of the growing season know is that the life that finds purchase in the soil now is the answer to Mother Earth’s own prayers. Indeed, we are the answer, too, just as we are the ancestors prayers given form and shape and breath. Soil and spirit go hand in hand, and so, too, do prayer and life itself, the blessings of spirit and the birth of our existence. Prayer is love given spiritual form and shape, invocation and benediction for birth and growth and life — for survival.

And so, today’s second featured work assumes its rightful place in complement to the first: a prayer for all life, summoned from the heart of the earth. From its description in the Earrings Gallery:


A Prayer for All Life Earrings

There are times when survival requires resistance, requires a return to the old ways, requires faith and prayer and visions and dreams. With this pair of earrings, Wings has reconceived his eagle-feather series in new ways: a change of color, an addition of precious gems, greater labor in design and execution . . . and a symbolism suited to the whole world, a prayer for all life. Each eagle feather is roughly a mirror image of the other, but cut entirely free-hand, so that like their real-world counterparts, each preserves its own unique identity. Using a delicate jeweler’s chisel, Wings has scored each earring freehand, the lines forming a vaguely herringboned pattern at either side of the center shaft to create the hundreds of tiny barbs that make up each feather. In a first for this series, he has repeated the freehand barb pattern on the reverse of each drop. The shaft itself is an overlay of stamped thin silver wire, running up the length of each feather to wrap around the base of the shaft at the top. Four tiny round bezel-set cabochons of rich green jade in the color of the evergreens are scattered across the front to create the mottled pattern unique to eagle feathers: two on either side of the shaft on each earring, for a total of eight. The feathers themselves are anchored at the base of the shaft by brilliant grass-green ovals, a pair of stunning peridot cabochons lightly webbed with deep delicate lines of clear, glossy matrix. Together, they form a powerful pair of feathers in the color of life itself, powerful enough to send skyward a prayer for all life. Each is suspended from sterling silver wires. Earrings hang 2.5″ long (excluding wires) and are 9/16″ across at the widest point; the peridot cabochons are 3/8″ long by 1/4″ across (dimensions approximate). Reverse shown below.

Sterling silver; peridot; jade
$875 + shipping, handling, and insurance

Today’s works embody the silvery light of the sun and the shimmering rain (rain once again falling at this hour, even as the sun descends toward its rest), and the fertile, fecund green of grass and tree and mountainside, of garden and field and wildflower stand. Together, they represent the hopes and the prayers of the ancestors, including she who is ancestor to us all. From the heart, the love, the spirit, the prayers of Mother Earth: From these, our whole world grows.

~ Aji





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