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The Things of the Earth Are First Things

The Center of All Things Resized

As the calendar marks time on the passage of another year, it becomes increasingly clear that we need a return to first things.

I don’t mean first things in the way white, European-descended philosophers use the phrase; this is not a treatise on logic. I’m talking about something continental, not Continental, something far older and deeper than any colonial political, economic, or social theory.

I’m talking about a return to that which is truly fundamental, the center of all things. Yes, one of the first things we learn in grade-school science is that the earth revolves around the sun, but for purposes of our own survival? The first thing, the center, is earth herself.

Modernity forgot this lesson; post-modernism has tried to erase it entirely.

Our peoples have not forgotten.

As this year draws to a close, an illegitimate “authority” daily strips protections from the earth, from the air and water, soil and sky. Extractive expansion ramps up amid a neutered regulatory environment; pipelines snake further and further across the land even as their spills grow in number and effect while the penalties diminish to nothing. The earth warms, and so do the seas; the waters rise, and the rains cease. A city in the western mid-Atlantic states receives more than fifty inches of snow in thirty hours; here at 7,500 feet, the mercury passes fifty and there is no snow to be found, only manufactured.

As the old year walks on, as the new one is born, it is a time to return to the center whence we all come, hence we all return: to our shared Mother, the Earth.

It’s a sense and spirit found in today’s featured work, long one of my favorites for the beauty of its design and execution, but also for the depth and meaning of its symbolism. From its description in the Buckles Gallery here on the site:

The Center of All Things Concha Belt Buckle

In our own small plane of existence, from our own human perspective, our world is the center of all things. Indigenous cultures affirm this reality in our origin stories, in how we understand Turtle Island beneath the skies, amidst the winds, above the point of emergence. Wings pays tribute to this vision, one lived daily among his own people, in this complex concha belt buckle, a flowering shell-shaped disc of heavy sterling silver that blossoms into traditional symbols of the world as we know it. Celestial patterns, rising sun and setting moon and the light that flows between them, edge the scalloped buckle in concentric rings. Its repoussé center, lightly domed by hand, is chased in a loop of hundreds of individual arrow stamps tracking the motion of the spiraling winds. Ancient kiva steps symbols lead inward to the very center, heart and womb alike, where rests a large oval cabochon of emerald green turquoise with a golden brown matrix that looks for all the world like a map of Turtle Island. On the reverse, only Wings’s hallmark appears, in the embrace of another spiritual center: the Morning Star Lodge, a place of healing and medicine, guidance and power. The buckle stretches 3.75 inches across by 3-1/8 inches high; the stone is 1-3/16 inches across by 7/8″ high (dimensions approximate). Reverse shown below.

Sterling silver; Colorado Evans Mine turquoise
$1,800 + shipping, handling, and insurance

Outside the window, the earth seems distinctly feminine, all soft curves where the brown soil shows through the evergreen blanket. It seems, too, as subject as human women are to oppression and abandonment, its importance forgotten, its place in our collective consciousness erased.

There has been much talk in recent weeks, in the wake of revelations of widespread abuse and assault of woman across multiple platforms and settings and professions and contexts, of naming this year now so nearly gone some sort of “year of the woman.” It misses both the point and the crucial opportunity: The year about to be born should be the one so named, and the collective powers of society should bring to bear a concerted effort to keep it well in focus the whole year long.

But we should have another focus, too, on another feminine spirit. Let this be the last year that pain inflicted outweighs the protection we give to Mother Earth. Let the new year, sprung from her womb and the child of her union with Time itself, be the mechanism for our return to the center — for elevating rather than erasing, focusing rather than forgetting.

Because the Earth is our mother, and the things of the Earth are first things indeed.

~ Aji









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