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One With the Earth

We are one with the earth: We are of the land, and the land is of us. I will hazard an assertion, and a not very hypothetical one, that this is true of all of our peoples. Whether or not we share origin stories of emergence from it, a birth directly from Mother Earth’s own womb, our bodies and souls and spirits, our very selves, are tied to it in ways not understood by the outside world.

The land itself is tied to us, too. I can attest to the fact that a distance of two thousand miles and too many years has not erased my own homelands from my heart. This was true of Wings, too; his only voluntary separation from these lands was a four-year stint in Boston, and the land compelled him to return.

When we say the Earth is our Mother, we mean it in the most literal of ways.

Right now, the news is aflame of stories of separation: of indigenous peoples forced by violent circumstance to separate themselves from their own lands, to seek a better life for their children in this one, only to have their children torn away from them here with equal force and violence. It has thrown us back to other times and places, to Wings’s own theft by the IPP as a child (that involuntary separation I alluded to above), to the forced separations of my own ancestors through adoption and exile, to the threat of forced separation that was hung deliberately over my own head as a child, a sword of Damocles modeled in abuse and birthed in generational trauma.

It has sent me, too, back to my college days, to what was then regarded as “radical” thought: to notions of “earth mothers” and that the original earth mother would be an indigenous woman as brown as Mother Earth herself.

Perhaps it’s what caused me, some weeks ago, to see something in a curved scrap of old discarded silver. It was essentially detritus, a piece that might be cut up for smaller use, or simply classified as “dirty” silver and eventually exchanged for new. But the flowing lines of what remained spoke — quietly, insistently. They demanded that I see them, acknowledge them, see the spirit buried in the larger shape: a spirit emerging from the earth, Earth Mother out of Mother Earth, two distinct beings, yet one and the same.

Wings saw me staring at it intently, and asked what I was seeing. I told him, and he said, “Show me.” I traced a rough outline of the feminine roundness that I saw within it, and he said, “Tell me which stones it should be. I’ll make it.”

Today’s featured work is the result. From its description in the Pendants Gallery here on the site:

Earth Mother/Mother Earth Pendant

Earth Mother/Mother Earth, two spirits in one: The latter births the former, the former emerges from the very being of the latter. Wings summons this most elemental spirit of the Sacred Feminine into being in this pendant, one to hang beneath the throat and over the heart. She is wrought, freehand, out of sterling silver, arms stretched high above her head to embrace the universe, separated from head and body by delicate ajouré cutwork. She dances, swaying gently, as she emerges from the womb of the earth itself, all red canyons and warm rocky soil beneath a gray and stormy sky; her face is pure golden light, the radiance of sun and moon reflected off the surface of the world. Her body, and that of the earth, is formed from a bold oval cabochon of exquisite picture jasper set into a hand-made, hand-scalloped bezel; her face appears in the form of a spectacularly chatoyant golden-brown tiger’s eye, highly domed and radiating out of a saw-toothed bezel. She hangs suspended from a bail fashioned of wide sterling silver pattern wire molded in a fertile and flowering pattern. Pendant, including bail, hangs 3″ long; pendant only is 2.5″ long by 1-3/16″ across at the widest point; bail is 5/8″ long by 5/16″ across; picture jasper cabochon is 1-3/16″ long by 13/16″ across at the widest point; tiger’s eye cabochon is 1/2″ long by 1/4″ across at the widest point (dimensions approximate). Side view of hand-scalloped bezel shown above; front view shown at top. Jointly designed by Aji and Wings.

Sterling silver; picture jasper; tiger’s eye
$1,075 + shipping, handling, and insurance

Over the years, Wings has asked me to help with many designs. Sometimes it consists merely of choosing the proper color stone for a piece; sometimes it involves, in my utterly inartistic way, sketching out a whole rough image for him to turn into something beautiful; often, it falls somewhere in the very broad spectrum between those two points. It’s always an honor for me to be asked to help; a greater honor still to see something I’ve suggested find its way into a finished work.

But this one? This one is close to my heart in ways I can scarcely articulate. Part of it is, I suspect, that our ties to the land, to our Mother Earth, only deepen with age. Part of it, I have no doubt, is driven by the renewed horror of the headlines, a form of genocide our peoples know all too well. Ancestral memory ties us to the land, but it also braids past trauma into our spirits.

At the moment, in a week when we both have shed tears for these children and raged at the injustice of it, this piece seems to me to be one of hope, of promise: that we are one with the earth, and that we will all find our way home.

~ Aji








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