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The Return of the Shadow, and the Light

Eclipse Earrings

When I planned this week’s posts, choosing our featured work for this day, I had no idea how personal its symbolism would suddenly be.

But I spent most of yesterday in the emergency room, and the night and this morning in a hospital room, haven fallen prey to some as-yet-unspecified cardiac-related event. But my own world grayed out several times yesterday, only sheer force of will keeping me conscious while I waited half an hour or more for the ambulance’s arrival. More testing is being scheduled, of course. I am not, as the doctor put it this morning, out of the woods yet.

It’s merely another way of phrasing the title of this post, one that didn’t occur to me when I first wrote it. In Christianity’s argot, one might say that I walk, still, through the valley of the shadow: surrounded by jeopardy on all sides, armored by faith in divine protection and a good outcome.

In terms of today’s featured work, one that bears the name of a natural phenomenon that nonetheless holds awe-inspiring, even terrible symbolic power for some of our peoples, it is a journey through the return of the shadow, and the light. From its description in the Earrings Gallery here on the site:

Eclipse Earrings

In traditional cultures, an eclipse — whether of the sun or of the moon — is an event of great symbolism and power. In some, they are omens of great and beneficial change; in others, warnings of dark days ahead. In all cultures, their practical effect is the same: to veil the light that shines upon our path. With these earrings, Wings honors the imagery of the eclipse, a shadowy black image that passes in front of the face of sun or moon, while still reminding us that the light is not gone: Its rays still shine from behind the shadow. Here, glossy black onyx cabochons form the shadow, perfect dark orbs like pools of liquid jet. Each is set in a scalloped bezel at the center of a round sterling silver concha, the radiating corona of light. The conchas are meticulously cut freehand with a tiny jeweler’s saw to create the blossom-like “rays” that edge each earring. Each is then hand-stamped in a chased pattern, concentric circles of traditional symbols that evoke the image of the moon and the rays of the sun. Finally, the conchas are domed by hand in the traditional manner, repoussé-fashion, to create depth and refract the light. Settings are 1.5″ across; cabochons are .75″ across (dimensions approximate).

Sterling silver; onyx
$825 + shipping, handling, and insurance

It’s a fitting metaphor for this time of year, as well, one in which darkness falls quickly, early, a dense dark blackness of being that bids all remain sheltered as much as possible. It is also a time when the light comes early, too, Father Sun requiring a head start to make his way clear across the sky by dusk. This year’s full eclipse of the sun, now nearly three months past, took place in the full bright light of summer. Here, it cast a shadow across the earth, but the light itself remained visible, if ethereally, surreally rendered by the heavens. Now, the eclipse is a daily matter of the dance between day and night, no singular celestial event but the gradual shift to the primacy of winter.

It’s also a reminder that a certain amount of darkness is inevitable, and that we must learn to adapt accordingly. But it’s also a reminder that the shadow is temporary. However long and dark it seems at the moment, however frightening its shape and nature, it will eventually shrink and fade in the face of the light.

~ Aji







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