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The Children of Fire

Carnelian Baby Bracelet

Christmas Eve, and we were today perforce reminded anew what it is like to live in a society that treats people as dispensable, as disposable, that does not care whether certain people live or die.

In our case, certainly ancestral terms, that doesn’t even tell the half of it. For the fact of the matter is that what was fast becoming and now is the dominant culture most certainly did care whether we died: Indeed, it sought it as a specific end. When one’s ancestors were targeted for extermination, when one’s very existence is not simple resistance but a war-time victory, it casts notions of dispensability and disposability — and perhaps even more to the point, their opposite, a fundamental essentiality — in a very different light.

I have seen too many people, too many with blood indigenous to this land running through their veins, cast off and cast out, consigned to street corners holding up signs apologizing for their homeless status, hoping for the smallest bit of kindness in a dominant culture that has purposely, and purposefully, failed them utterly. We help where we can, but we are not so far removed from their own situation ourselves. And thus we spent yesterday taking care of others as best we could; today’s one brief errand found us with only a couple of dollars to give to the homeless man in the worn trousers and dress shoes and tie and Santa hat at the blinking light.

It’s more obvious at this time, of course, this season of conspicuous consumption, commercialism, capitalism, and more fundamentally, colonialism. But this is only the annual culmination of another year’s worth of daily indignities, forced invisibilities, deliberate erasures that begin as metaphor but all too easily become both tangible and permanent. In these cold dark days of winter, our bodies are vulnerable to the elements, but our spirits are, too. Survival is not as simple as holding body and soul together, but there it must begin.

Our peoples have long experience with this process.

And so on this Christmas Eve, I find myself not merely lacking in supposed holiday spirit, but angry: angry at a culture of  colonial destruction that treats people as less than commodities, that is perfectly happy sacrificing the existence of our most vulnerable in the service of a few more pennies on the dollar ( on top, of course, of that trillion-dollar tax cut). It’s easy to lose focus, to slip into fury’s hot embrace, and there is a time for that. But we must emerge, armored with that rage, warriors ready to step up and stand up, to resist and defend and demand justice for those who need our help.

We are the children of fire, born of a red sun and born for the fires of prophecy, and this is our charge at this season: not merely the lip service to peace on earth and the easy expression of goodwill toward men, but a willingness to act, to fight for justice for the most vulnerable among us.

It’s a charge that suits today’s featured work perfectly. From its description in the relevant section of the Bracelets Gallery here on the site:

Born of a Red Sun Cuff Bracelet

We are peoples born of a red sun. Wings honors its life-giving, life-sustaining power with three slender strands of silver braided together, flowing outward from a fiery carnelian orb. The outer strands are formed of slim lengths of half-round wire stretched gently outward at the center and bisected by a delicate strand of twisted silver, all three soldered securely together at either end. The outer bands are stamped with tiny wingéd beings that fly to the point where the band curves around the wrist, below which and extending to the ends are chased lightning patterns, summoning the imagery of those who hold the power of the storm. At the center, a glossy oval carnelian cabochon, all blood-red translucent fire, rests solidly in a saw-toothed bezel. At five inches in overall length, the bracelet is sized appropriately for small-wristed adults, youth, and children. Band is a half-inch across at the widest point; carnelian cabochon is a half-inch long by 3/8″ across at the widest point.

Sterling silver; carnelian
$425 + shipping, handling, and insurance

In our way, “fire” means many things: It is the flames that warm body and spirit and sustain life, yes, but it is also the center of council and community . . . and it is the sign and signifier of prophecy, a stage of human existence. In my own people’s way, such prophecy tells us that there is a seventh fire yet to come, and we are its children, those who must fight for it and for the generations of children yet unborn, to ensure their survival in the face of a world that would be more comfortable with their preemptive erasure from history.

On this Christmas Eve, I am struck anew by the precariousness of life, by just how vulnerable existence truly is, and by how careless the colonialist, capitalist machinery of the dominant culture is with regard to those not a charter cog in its gearing. In this season of gifts gaily wrapped in red ribbons, other reds speak to my spirit: the red of the fire, the red of our peoples.

We are the children of fire, and for the fire, too. This is our time, our prophecy to fulfill, our charge to protect the vulnerable and fight for their justice. In a season ostensibly of peace, let us work for justice; in a time of supposed goodwill, let us be the fire that secures it.

~ Aji







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