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#TBT: Blood-Red Earth, Green Growing Toward the Sun

Bloodstone Jasper Oval Solitaire Top View

It has been a day of lush greenery and rich red earth: thick soft mud in the fields, plant life tall and abundant and adance in the wind and the light.

We received only a dozen or so raindrops today, unusual for this time but not unheard-of. Those drops arrived, of course, just as Wings and headed out to the southeast corner to repair a downed fence — just enough to turn the air into a sauna once the scant and scattered clouds moved out, making way for an unrelenting sun. But the earth itself remains moist and fertile, and the plant spirits are thriving in it.

I had already chosen today’s #ThrowbackThursday feature, of course, but I was reminded anew of its aptness now: one built around a stone that, for us, is fitting in color; for the early Christian Church, for protection, symbolizing blood on the green earth of Golgotha; for much of Europe, an orientation toward the sun. The stone is known variously as heliotrope (the reference to sunward orientation) or as bloodstone (the sacrificial imagery of the crucifixion), but for us, it’s merely another gift of the earth that fits well with its summery spirit.

As always, though, this piece from nine years ago began with the band.

Bloodstone Jasper Solitaire Angled Resized

It was, as is most often the case with traditional Native jewelry, built around a wide, substantial band. Part of that is history and tradition; part of it is mere proportion. Native rings tend to feature not tiny faceted precious gems but large smooth semiprecious cabochons, and they require some substance in construction, both to support the setting physically and to complement the size and shape.

In this instance, Wings chose a length of sterling silver of relatively substantial gauge, a little under a half-inch in width, and cut it to size. H then chose a single complex stamp, one that combined the imagery of thunderheads and sacred directions, sacred spaces and Eyes of Spirit. The pattern shown above represents, in each apparent instance, two strikes of the stamp: the first with the symbol inverted to create a kiva steps-like pattern and the upper half of the Eye; the second by rotating the stamp 180 degrees and matching its edges perfectly, so that the stair-stepped pattern from thunderclouds at the edges and the lower half of the Eye inside. He chased the pattern down the bands entirely length to produce a compound set of symbols that spoke of abundance and prosperity, of ceremony and the sacred.

Next, he cut an oval out of sterling silver to form the backing of the bezel, one that would extend a few millimeters beyond the edges of the stone. He then soldered the bezel into place atop the setting, taking care to ensure that it was centered; in this case, he kept it simple and spare, with a plain, elegant low-profile strand of sterling silver placed to hold the cabochon in its embrace. Before setting the stone, he edged the bezel with a delicate strand of twisted silver, just wide enough to take up the space between bezel and backing’s edge.

Then it was time for the stone.

Neither of us recalls any longer how he came into possession of the stone — whether, attracted by its striking and unusual beauty, he purchased it outright on one of our many trips to the supplier, or he acquired it in trade sometime years ago. At any rate, it was one of only a handful of pieces of bloodstone jasper that he has ever had in his inventory of stones, and of all of them, perhaps the most fitting in color and true to its various names.

To me, it looked like a map. Not just any map; an ancient map, draw to chart mercifully-undeveloped lands.

Indigenous lands.

It reminds me of the maps our ancestors held in their mind’s eye, maps of soul and spirit, their knowledge conferred in visions and dreams. It reminds me of specific views of Turtle Island, rich red earth arising in mountainous form from the fertile green that surrounds it.

And in this case, it was cut into a perfectly domed oval, polished to a translucence with the quality and character of glass.

Combined with the imagery of the band — imagery of direction, of navigation, of orientation; imagery of prosperity and good ways of living and sacred space — it produced a work perfect for this muddy season of fertility and abundance. It embodied blood-red earth, green growing toward the sun . . . both source and direction, a guide for us to follow as we go through life in the good way that has been given to us.

~ Aji





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