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The Whirlwind Spirits Are Joy

Dance of the Whirlwind Spirits Necklace

I awakened in the middle of the night to see that the clouds were moving in once again. They scudded across a darkened eastern sky, a long horizontal flow of plumes seemingly blown straight from the mouth of the north wind, a long braid shaped like a chain of gray hearts. This morning, they had settled quietly around the horizon, visible only over the eastern peaks, the land awash in bright golden light.

And now the clouds are coming together overhead again, converging upon us from all sides.

Two days ago, in the middle of the brightest part of the day, a sudden whirlwind blew through, catching loose leaves from the globe willow in a loose eddy, sending remnant copper pennies from the aspens clinking and dancing around the door. We are not far past that time when many believe the spirits walk, but in truth, they walk always, and as our peoples have always known, as the air grows cold and the light short, they move into and upon and through our world with greater power and influence.

We stand at the threshold of this season now.

The forecast predicts snow just two days hence, with what appears, at the moment, sufficient probability to guarantee its appearance. Of course, the same whirlwind spirits that come together in the snow are just as capable of carrying it around us, or spinning the fury out entirely before the reach us. They are nothing if not capricious, and they are among our first and most fundamental teachers in how to cope and adapt.

They are also honored, given pride of place, in today’s featured work, one of my favorites in its category in Wings’s current inventory. From its description in the Necklaces Gallery here on the site:

Dance of the Whirlwind Spirits Closeup

Dance of the Whirlwind Spirits Necklace

When the winds come from the Four Directions to meet at the center of all that is, they summon the spirit of the whirlwind to dance in the vortex of the storm. Wings summons all of the spirits in this work, a large, heavy talismanic medallion of solid sterling silver, hammered by hand and lightly domed in repoussé fashion. A symbol of the Four Sacred Direction in a flaring stylized cross shape rests atop the medallion as an overlay. Each spoke is marked with a single cabochon of cobalt-blue lapis lazuli, the color of the rain; they spin inward toward the vortex at the center, embodied in a large round onyx cabochon of mysteriously glossy depths. The hand-made bail is accented with tiny hand-stamped hoops, the shape of the spiraling wind itself. The pendant hangs from an alternating strand of round sterling silver and lapis lazuli beads, with small square lapis and round onyx beads stretching toward either end of the strand, each end terminating in two tiny Florentine-finish silver beads. Pendant is 2-1/8 inches long (including bail) by 2-1/4 inches across; beads are 19 inches long (dimensions approximate). Close-up views of the pendant shown above and at the link.

Sterling silver; onyx; lapis lazuli
$1,500 + shipping, handling, and insurance

I always find . myself noting, in any feature of this work, its status among my personal favorites. It’s partly that it embodies the colors of the storm from which it takes its name, black cloud and silver light and skies darkened to a perfect cobalt blue. It’s partly the fineness of detail, the way Wings has brought its elements together with such perfect precision. It’s partly the interplay of dark and light, illumination and shadow, that radiate from within. But it’s also partly — perhaps mostly? — the spirits it captures, holds, embodies, and sends out into the world, the spirits of the storm that wield such awesome (in the literal sense of the word) power, and yet are so utterly essential to our very existence.

There is an attractiveness in caprice: Audacity is not something granted to us often, at least not without consequences; neither is the ability to act in a wholly arbitrary fashion. But the whirlwind spirits abandon all artifice, strip themselves of the strictures of respectability, and dance as they will in the pure and heedless joy of existence.

There are few opportunities for us to behave as they, at least few without consequence or harm, and we should seize them when they present themselves. But more than that, we should learn to revel in their own dance. Instead of bemoaning the inconvenience of the weather, we should recognize its essential wild beauty, capture and hold a bit of its power for our own.

They may be tricksters, but they are teachers, too. And one of their secrets lies in their complex and essential identity. For they are not merely spirits of anger and sorrow, no: The whirlwind spirits are joy itself.

~ Aji






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