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Things of the Earth, Things of the Spirit

Sage Coil Bracelet

An hour’s rain yesterday, and today our whole world flowers. The trees are lush and heavy with leaves, the corn in the garden already more than mere shoots; out in the land beyond the hayfields, the sage grows full and silvery green. It’s a gift of the water, yes, but also a gift of the earth: rich red-brown soil, just the right mix of minerals and clay, the stuff of which, according to some traditions, the whole indigenous world is formed.

In light of more recent occurrences elsewhere, political and otherwise, the outside world is newly attuned to the value of water. Much less attention is paid to the value of earth — small-e earth, the dust and dirt and soil and mud beneath our very feet. But for us, the earth is family, our mother, that which births and midwifes simultaneously, nurtures and feeds and sustains in ways tangible and metaphorical. Our earth hosts the seeds that become the plants that feed us, that heal us, that are a part of ceremony and prayer. Our earth is art, pigment and paint, sculpture and mosaic.

Climate change has altered our growing patterns here; plants that once bloomed in spring are now delayed, while others more apt to birth themselves in autumn have blossomed prematurely. Everyone suffers from allergies, including the animals, because so much of the plant world now lives out of season. But at the same time, some of our indigenous plant life is thriving in unexpected ways.

Counted among these is the sage.

For many of our peoples, sage is one of the sacred substances, along with cedar, sweetgrass, and tobacco (or other combinations of sacred and medicinal plants). This is not the sage of European cookery, although it is possible to use it as a seasoning. Our form is what is known here as “desert sage,” a plant that thrives most of the year but is a special gift of the rainy season.

It is the inspiration for today’s featured work, a part of The Wisdom Collection in Wings’s signature series of coil bracelets. From its description in the relevant section of the Bracelets Gallery here on the site:

Sage Coil Bracelet

In some cultures, a sage is a seer, a spiritual leader revered for his or her powers of wisdom and foresight. In ours, sage is equally mystical, a medicine given to us in the form of a plant by which, dried and lit with flame, we cleanse our world and ourselves, and seek the wisdom of the spirits through the prayers its smoke sends spiraling skyward. Wings pays tribute to this medicine of wisdom with this coil bracelet, one in the greens and browns of the plant itself. The coil is anchored at either by a short segment of old-style copper barrel beads; another short segment of tiny green turquoise nuggets emerges from it, as though arising from the earth itself. It then flowers slower, first in the soft spring green of peridot, then in the mysterious hues of nuggety green fluorite, from only a silvery sage-like hint of green to deep teal shades like raw emerald. at the center are seven Eyes of Spirit, glowing oval orbs of diamond-faceted smoky quartz, the source of wisdom and power that the sage’s smoke seeks. Fifth in The Wisdom Collection of The Seventh Fire Series. Designed jointly by Wings and Aji.

Memory wire; smoky quartz; green fluorite; peridot; green turquoise; copper
$325 + shipping, handling, and insurance

In recent decades, the outside world has appropriated our spiritual process known as smudging, and with it, the substances used. A favorite is sage, although among outsiders, most popular seems to be the extraordinarily smoky California white sage. Some Native populations for whom that variety is indigenous do use it, but many more of us use those known species variants known collectively simply as “desert sage.” Two major varieties are common here: the purple sage of song and cowboy legend, brilliant summer flowers the color of the desert sky at twilight; and ordinary sage that is marked mostly by its small, slender, silvery leaves with a texture like velvet. Now, as the rains begin to turn the plants full and lush, the colors range from pewter with the tiniest hint of green to brighter, grassy hues to dark foresty shades atop gray and brown stalks.

In its current form, it is far too moist to use ceremonially; for that, we dry it enough to burn the leaves, producing a smoke that purifies and carries prayers. It carries, too, a beautifully delicate scent, slightly spicy. But at this season, it gives us another gift: When the afternoon’s monsoonal showers cease, the pure scent of wet sage upon the wind is an experience like no other. It is elemental: contrasting with fire in the form of the heat of the day, earth and air and water combine to produce one of the world’s great healing scents.

Like its fellow sacred substances, sage is, in its way, the very definition of “indigenous”: It emerges from the earth of this place to sustain and heal those who similarly belong to it. Those who belong to it, whether person or plant? They are the land, and the land is them. They are things of the earth, things of the spirit.

~ Aji




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error: All content copyright Wings & Aji; all rights reserved. Copying or any other use prohibited without the express written consent of the owners.