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The Path of the Earth’s Spirit

Another hot, dry, windy day, no rain in sight. A small precious flow of water is currently trickling into the pond, brought down by someone south of us, some of it diverting itself long the way.

These days, the ditches are road maps of a sort, mostly empty, dusty pathways that chart in real time the damage that results from our changed climate.

It will take many more such maps, ever more stark, to grab and hold humanity’s attention.

Part of the reason, perhaps, is the scale of the looming disaster. I don’t mean scale just in breadth or scope; I also mean scale as in time. We humans have always had an unrealistic relationship with time anyway, at least on our side of things. Facing its realities squarely is not something that the human spirit enjoys, and so it turns away: ignoring, dismissing, bargaining, as though we can trade with such a power as this for more of it, as though we have anything at all to offer in return.

I often say that our cultures and ways are older than time. It’s a figure of speech, of course, one that refers implicitly to “recorded time.” Time is one of those forces that manages to be both itself and its opposite simultaneously: timelessness; existing not merely long before our earth, but as one of those infinities that the mortal mind is not equipped to comprehend. Small wonder, perhaps, that in such an ancient world, it’s difficult for modernity to conceive of its nonexistence, to understand fully the ramifications of the industrial and technological and colonial leaps of the last couple of centuries that have brought us with almost preternatural rapidity to this terrible pass.

Still, in a colonial world such as this, the figure of speech possesses both merit and accuracy: We remain bound to the earth in ways neither understood nor replicated by the outside world. Her map is ours: her roads carry our own lifeblood; her scars line our spirits.

On a day so dry and arid that the heat seems mummifying, today’s featured work is apt in so many more ways than just one. It is an ancient earth herself bound inextricably with a less ancient, yet still impossibly old spirit, brought together upon the roads of time to speak in their own small echo: a reminder of what, and who, once was . . . and was a part of us. From its description in the Necklaces Gallery here on the site:

The Roads of Time Necklace

The roads of time are neither simple nor straight, but they all meet at intersections of history and spirit. Wings honors their existence, and their patterns, with this contemporary tribute to ancient beings. The pendant’s cabochon is a slab of fossilized mammoth tooth, thousands of years old, its pale natural color warmed by the earth in which it lay, its veins and capillaries now turned into a network of roads in glowing blues and grays: roads that intersect, bisect, run parallel, and overlap, connecting up with each other and linking epochs in time and even time itself. Wings sliced the fossil material from a larger piece, shaped it gently and polished it lightly, then set it in a hand-made bezel of sterling silver. The embrasure is a modified saw-toothed bezel, hand-cut and trimmed in twisted silver. On the reverse, the setting is centered around an ajouré Morning Star, hand-cut to expose the fossil and allow its earthy glow to shine through the star’s spokes as they stretch to the Four Sacred Directions. Around the perimeter of the reverse side, hand-stamped blossoms emerge from the ancient materials and images to flower anew. the pendant hangs from a strand of graduated disc beads made of traditional olivella-shell heishi in two colors, accented near the findings with twin segments of faceted copper barrel beads. Pendant (including bail) hangs 2-1/4″ long by 1-1/4″ across at the widest point; cabochon is 1-11/16″ long by 1-1/16″ across at the widest point; bead strand is 18″ long (dimensions approximate). Close-up views of pendant, front and reverse, shown at the link.

Sterling silver; fossilized mammoth tooth; olivella-shell heishi; copper
$975 + shipping, handling, and insurance

The silvery-blue veins of the mammoth tooth resemble the waters now seemingly so far out of reach — turned long ago from the earth’s lifeblood into a world-wide web of dark asphalt shimmering in the heat. Embedded as they are in the warm earthy combination of fossilized organic matter and host rock, they draw for us a map of what was . . . of what we so carelessly, negligently lost, and will need to find again.

For today, the water is flowing, a bit. It covers the scars of Mother Earth, the roads of time that have tracked across her body and spirit. It will not be enough.

The emptiness itself is a map of another sort, one we must learn to navigate soon. Our Mother has drawn the maps upon her body; if we, and she, are to survive, it will be up to us to follow the path of the Earth’s spirit.

~ Aji








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