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#ThrowbackThursday: A Warrior’s Fire

Amber Cactus Blossom Warrior Woman Pin Resized

A warrior’s fire is a flame that burns deep within the spirit. At its best, it burns for justice, to resist oppression and defend the vulnerable and the innocent.

Like any flame, it can be warped and directed to other, less noble ends.

Our peoples have always known these risks. It’s why, in so many cultures, warriors are expected to undertake periods of rigorous self-examination, to seek wisdom and guidance from worlds beyond, to dream dreams and cry for visions to guide them in the fulfillment of their charge.

In many, perhaps most indigenous cultures, the warriors are, at least as formally organized. mostly men. But there have always been exceptions, and in some, women are naturally recognized for their own skills, strategy, and strength in the practice of war and defense. Here, war is a province that falls, formally and by default, to the men . . . but Wings has always maintained that women are by far the stronger warriors.

It’s what inspired him to create his signature series, the Warrior Woman, the first made for and in honor of his mother’s great bravery and strength. Since then, they have assumed many forms, each with her own unique set of gifts and powers and spiritual symbolism. And today’s featured work, a throwback to 2009 or so, is one that embodies the visionary wisdom of a warrior’s fire.

She was cut freehand, as always, from solid sterling silver: femininity of a rabbit’s head, serpent over her right shoulder and wrist for prosperity; crescent moon in her left hand and jewel in her right; bracelets on her wrist, a gorget over her heart, traditional symbols on her dress. In this instance, her form and shape, color and symbol all combined to create the effect of great spiritual power and the fire that burns in the soul.

It began with her dress: three raised Eyes of Spirit in the embrace of the rays of the sun, flames dancing outward from their edges. They were deeply stamped and sharply defined, symbols of illumination, of wisdom, of fire and light. Above them, her necklace assumed the form of a large gorget in the shape of a thunderhead, a bit of rain to cool the fires above her heart.

The motif was repeated on her cuffs, on the moon, and on the serpent who accompanied her. Each cuff was formed of a single bold Eye of Spirit, flanked on either side by a radiating pattern of feathers and light. A stylized Eye of Spirit beneath an image reminiscent of a traditional headdress was chased around the arc of the moon in her left hand. Over her opposite shoulder, pattern wire in the form of raised diamonds, more Eyes of Spirit, alternated with geometric lines to create the serpent. And beyond its coiled length, in her right, she held the fire of the sun itself, an intensely-hued cabochon of brilliant dark amber, like holding Father Sun in miniature.

It was Warrior Woman in one of her more striking iterations, a manifestation of the illuminating power of the sun from without and the fire within: the best and the brightest of the indigenous warrior spirit.

~ Aji






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