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To Dream a Better World, and Then to Defend It

Dream Warrior Bow Guard Wrap View

The day dawned beautifully clear here, if not so warm as yesterday. Elsewhere in the country, the sun seems mostly to have elected to shine upon the actions of the nation’s young people as they take the lead in trying to build a better world, an obligation in which we adults have so miserably failed them. This will be a day both arduous and triumphant for them, but there is a long road ahead.

For me, this is a hard day for other reasons, a marker of a different sort that carries with it its own deep wounds that will never fully heal. Others will share similar anniversaries, and for some of us, myself included, the markers of violence with which this day and date will now become inextricably intertwined will occur at other points in the year. Whatever the date, the immediate zeitgeist makes avoidance impossible. Today is a day marked by grief and loss, by anguish and sorrow. it is also marked by courage and strength, by resolve and commitment.

In other words, this now-mildly blustery day in early spring, full of pale gathering clouds and light rising winds and an unsettled air, is the time to warrior up.

The phrasing varies among communities and cultures. The dominant culture tends to fall back on “man up,” a gendered expression that omits, or rather, erases, those of us who are women and those whose identities are less binary. Our people, five hundred years and counting of colonialism notwithstanding, have always known that a warrior’s heart and spirit know no physical or physiological boundaries. And on this day when I see, once again, our young people bravely choosing to warrior up in ways that we adults have been too cowardly and complacent to do for them ourselves, the sight inspires a sense of love and pride for them.

It also inspires fear for their well-being, and a desire to protect them in the face of the risks they are taking.

And it reminds us that we all need protection.

It’s too easy, in the contemporary world, to become separated from that which has always made us strong: community and culture and clan; the ancestors and the spirits; our traditions and tradition tongues; the Earth itself.

And then there is the world of visions and dreams.

We live now in a hyper-“rational” society, even those of us walking in two worlds. Science reigns supreme (except when it is being ignored or inverted by politicians and false prophets for personal gain). The colonial religions that rule the landscape by force are traditions not of power as our peoples understand the term, but of authority — specifically, the attaining and maintaining of it.

But in our way, power is not dependent on, nor even especially linked with, authority; power exists independently of human desires. And one of the greatest sources of power, a wellspring of strength and courage and visionary wisdom, is to be found in the world of dreams. It’s why our ancestors, faced with their own need to warrior up, sought guidance from such invisible planes and altered states, and from the spirits who inhabit them.

It’s why Wings created today’s featured work: a piece to honor the warrior gifts of the world of dreams, even as it provides very real protection in this world. From its description in the Accessories Gallery here on the site:

Dream Warrior Bow Guard

Some of our fiercest battles are fought in and over dreams. Wings invokes the dream warrior and and the warrior’s art in this old traditional-style bow guard. It begins with a solitary concha from one of his old belts, a piece that has spent decades in his private collection: multiple layers of solid, heavy sterling silver hand-cut into ovals of ascending size, the base layer scalloped gracefully around its edge, all stacked atop each other in an overlay pattern. Each layer is edged with hand-stamped chased images in traditional designs — the force of the lightning, the shelter of the lodge, the power of the rising sun. The center oval is domed, repoussé-fashion, and the entire finished concha is domed yet again to trace the line of the wrist. A small sturdy column of sterling silver arises from its center to hold the bezel of the central stone securely in place. The stone itself is an extraordinary giant cabochon of high-grade Cloud Mountain turquoise from China’s Hubei District, bright teal blue and webbed in inky indigo as tightly and thoroughly as Grandmother Spider’s dreamcatcher, set into a saw-toothed bezel and trimmed with bold twisted silver. Flanking the center concha are a pair of tiny round conchas whose stampwork repeat the lodge motif around diminutive round blue-green center stones. The conchas are screwed into a band of warm golden-hued moosehide, thick, sturdy and velvety to the touch. The band extends outward three inches beyond each small concha to allow for custom cutting and lacing to fit the wearer. In its current from, prior to sizing to suit, the full band extends 11.25″ long by 2.25″ high; the small conchas are 2-7/8″ across and their cabochons are 1/4″ across; the center concha is 3/5/8″ high by 2.75″ across, and the focal cabochon is 2″ high by 1-3/8″ across at the widest point (dimensions approximate). Other views shown at the link.

Sterling silver; high-grade Cloud Mountain turquoise; old blue-green turquoise; moosehide
$2,500 + shipping, handling, and insurance


Around the country, this is a day of reckoning long overdue. It is also only the first step in a very long march to come, a journey that will require much of us all. We need courage, we strength, we need protection . . . and we need wisdom, the sort that derives from the ability to envision a better world, the capacity to dream its contours and details, and the willingness to make it so.

Like the young, we too are called today to be dream warriors. It is a time to dream a better world, and then to defend it.

~ Aji









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