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Summer Falls, Earth Rises


Today was one of those days that was classic summer — just shy of ninety, hot and bright and hazy with wildfire smoke, no hint of autumn save the dawn chill and the turning leaves. The forecast promised rain, almost impossible to believe given the day’s brilliance.

Now, the northern sky is a blue-black wall, clouds moving in steadily, inexorably, the occasional drumbeat of thunder echoing against the light.

It will rain before this night is out, and the mercury will fall with the summer sun and the turning leaves.

This threshold between the hot and cold seasons gives us pause, and for many, these are melancholy days. I am not among them, nor is Wings; we love autumn, and these are days when our world comes alive with clarity and light. As summer falls, earth rises, and while she is neither so bright nor so fertile, she is achingly, vulnerably open to her children, and to the ancient spirits that travel between worlds.

And she rises from today’s featured work.

This is Wings’s latest, completed only this afternoon, and it is one that has already taken hold of my heart and refused to let go. It’s not a question of fusing ancient and modern, but rather the unutterably old and more recently old with the presently new and yet future yet incorporeal. It combines one of his oldest, earliest works, a small piece that has been a part of his personal collection, worn for years on his favorite cowboy hat, with a brand new base, even as it combines ancient spirits with new substance. From its description in the relevant section of the Bracelets Gallery here on the site:


Earth Rising Cuff Bracelet

It is a time of elemental change, Earth rising to link past and present and future in a sacred hoop of protection and survival. Wings links them in more tangible ways with this spectacularly complex cuff, one that fuses one of his very early pieces into a whole new work that honors elemental powers, sacred numbers, and ancient spirits. It begins with a solid sterling silver cuff, scored freehand into eight separate lines, the number of the cardinal and ordinal directions. At either end, a sterling silver overlay in the shape of Grandmother Turtle, she who holds the world on her back, climbs steadily upward. Each turtle is cut, freehand, with a tiny jeweler’s saw, articulated head, legs, and tail each stamped with traditional patterns to form scales and provide texture and dimensionality. Each turtle’s shell is gently scalloped with stampwork around the edge, a Morning Star stretched across the shell’s center. Wings brought old to new and melded them together at the top of the cuff with the addition of one of his very early pieces from his personal collection: a hat pin in the form of a medicine shield that doubles as a medicine wheel, cut freehand and centered by Buffalo’s skull, our Elder Brother of the Earth. The horizontal spokes of the medicine shield are sculpted and stamped in the shape of a ceremonial pipe, eagle feathers suspended at either end. The entire wheel is overlaid onto a backing of hand-hammered sterling silver. Cuff band is 7″ long by roughly 1-1/8″ across; turtle overlays are 1-1/4″ long by 15/16″ across at the widest point; buffalo medicine wheel overlay is 1-7/16″ high by 1-3/8″ across at the widest point (dimensions approximate). Other views shown below.

Sterling silver
$1,900 + shipping, handling, and insurance

The old stories tell us that the earth did not rise, whole and entire, out of nothing, with no history — and neither did we. In some stories, the first people were lowered from the skies; in others, the emerged from the waters of the vortex or the void. In some, they were given a world as hoop, a sacred circle for the journey of life; in others, the breath of life as smoke from a pipe. In some, Buffalo is an archetypal spirit of the Earth, solid and strong, hooves planted firmly on the soil; in others, Grandmother Turtle is the one who holds the world, and us with it, on her back.


It is a story of emergence, from underworlds or other worlds into this one, of being birthed by Mother Earth to stand upon her skin and bones, to drink of the water that gives her body life. Her health is threatened now, and ours with it; we have been negligent stewards and unfaithful children, allowing damage to her body and spirit and too often purposefully inflicting it ourselves. We risk a metaphorical winter of epochal proportions, environmental destruction that defies description, desolation beyond belief or relief or repair. We need only look eastward to the great water spirits battering her shores to know the truth of this, for as summer falls, the storms rise.

But as summer falls, the Earth rises, too. She assumes a different form, robed in quieter garments and colder hues, but she is still solid beneath our feet, still here to nurture and sustain us. It is up to us to adapt, to rise with her.

And if it takes Turtle and Buffalo, shield and wheel and pipe, their spirits remain.  We need only call upon them to rise with us in the shadows, in the change of the light.

~ Aji








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