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The Fire Below the Ice


There was no fog this morning — only a few scant shirred clouds above Pueblo Peak. It is a brilliantly sunny day in early winter, and the wind is finally cold enough to make it possible to believe that Christmas is only two days in the offing. What earth lies fully in the sunny is once again exposed, but the shaded areas are still wrapped in a thin white blanket.

And on the northernmost side of every structure and fence, it is no longer really snow, but ice.

This is the way of things here at this time of year, although usually the ice is much thicker by now, underlain by far deeper snow.

Today’s melt, such as it is, is due mostly to the auspices of Father Sun; we live in a place where the frost line runs deep. But as we know even from grade-school science, at far deeper levels, the Earth itself is lit by the fire within. And while there will be much more snow to come, and ice too before the season is out, the fire below the ice works in concert with the sun to keep the earth habitable. It keeps our surface world alive, and yet, without sufficient ice, the soil turns to ash and bone.

Both are elemental powers, fire and ice, although the latter is simply another name, and state, for the force we more commonly wall “water.” They are extremes of hot and cold, of aridity and humidity, and while we perforce must respect the power of their presence (and their absence), we cannot survive without either of these spirits. We are learning now, on a global scale, just how difficult it is to survive their temperamental extremes: too much of one, too little of the other, in too many places now to count. Even now, in winter, when all save snow and ice tend to rest a while, we are living through the sort of drastic change that foretells calamity. When I say that we will have more snow to come this season, it is now less assertion than supplication, less statement of fact than hope and prayer. Because without it? Next year in this place will be difficult indeed.

And so we are reminded yet again of the essentiality of elemental powers, even at their most extreme. It’s an object lesson, too, in respect: Humanity has, for far too long now (although for an absurdly short time from a historical perspective) become used to the idea that it can, if not control the weather and climate, at least transcend and control it.

And we are learning, rapidly now, how very far from the truth such fictions are.

Today’s featured work makes no such errors; indeed, its design specifically honors such opposing elements and elemental oppositions. From its description in the relevant section of the Bracelets Gallery here on the site:

Fire and Ice Cuff Bracelet

In the interstices inhabited by the elemental powers, Spirit catalyzes fire and ice, bringing them to life in our world, their full strength and power yet held back: a reminder that if we are careful, we may use their gifts rather than be consumed by them. Here, Spirit’s Eye traces the length of the band of this heavy-gauge cuff, accented on all sides by traditional symbols. At the center, two fiery garnet cabochons flank three larger oval stones: snowflake obsidian, representations of ice born naturally of the union of earth and heat and flame. Companion piece to the Fire and Ice solitaire ring in the Rings Gallery.

Sterling silver; snowflake obsidian; garnet
$725 + shipping, handling, and insurance

It is very much a work of winter . . . and of summer, too, a work that reminds us that both are essential to the year, to the earth, to existence itself. It’s humbling to think that the earth will survive without humanity (indeed, it would likely thrive far better), but that lesson in humility is one, too, that we must learn, for if we are to maintain our existence, we must first ensure hers.

We live now in a climate out of balance, a world out of harmony through no fault of her own (although there is plenty of blame to be laid at our own collective door). The elements live [mostly] beyond our grasp, powerful spirits that do as they will, as they can with what remains of our world. It is our task to bring our own existence back into balance, to restore harmony in our relationship to the earth and the climate and the weather and the forces that shape and hold the world on its axis.

This winter would be a good time to begin. We can start by remembering, and respecting, the fire below the ice.

~ Aji









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