In 1877 Crazy Horse delivered a prophetic address:
“Upon suffering beyond suffering, the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness, and separation, a world longing for light again. I see a time of seven generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. In that day, there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things, and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom. I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am at that place within me, we shall be as one.” *
Ojibway Anishinaabe elder and wisdom keeper Jim Dumont adds that “we are in the time of the seventh fire. This is what the prophecy has to say about this time: If the new people learned to trust the ways of the circle and trained themselves to hear their inner voice, wisdom would return to them in waking and sleeping dreams, and the sacred fire would be lit once again.” *
* Indigenous Prophecy and Mother Earth. Sherri Mitchell – Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset, Penawahpskek Nation. pp.26-27. From All We Can Save: Truth, Courage and solutions for the Climate Crisis. Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine K. Wilkinson.
In the last few months of social distancing and lockdown, I, like many others, have discovered a love of puzzle building. I am taken with the slow process of making a whole out of fragments.
Rebuilding Ceremony will consist of a circular table with puzzle pieces on it that, when put together, will form a circular image. The four table legs will be oriented to the four cardinal points. A circle the size of the completed puzzle will be engraved into the table surface. The original image (below) for the puzzle will be placed on a wall close to the table and will serve as both a mandala for contemplation and a visual reference for the puzzlers. Viewers will be invited (via small giveaway cards) to work collaboratively with fellow viewers to build the puzzle. The image on the wall includes a quote from Terry Tempest Williams that invites the viewer further into thoughtful intention.
The puzzle will be made of 108 pieces. I chose this number because it has deep significance in a number of religions, and in the patterns of the universe. The diameter of the sun, for example, is 108 times that of the Earth. The distance of the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the sun, too. The same is true for the Earth and moon. The number thus reminds us of our place in the cosmic order of things. 108 is also the number of prayer beads on Hindu and Buddhist malas. One bead for each earthly desire in mortals.
The invitation card will say:
Look upon your mother
Read the words of a Wisdom Keeper
Breathe in and out slowly
Find your feet and connect with gravity
Let your heart, hands, eyes and soul piece together this puzzle
and in so doing, light the sacred fire
On the back of the card will be the words that are inscribed below the image. Once viewers have built the puzzle, the puzzle will be taken apart again so that the ceremony can be repeated by others.
In August 2020, the Movement 4 Black Lives published the Breathe Act. It is a document that articulates a path that, among many other things, takes into account the rights of the planet as a living being and all its inhabitants. I was moved to transcribe the climate justice language. The act of transcribing this text had a similar grounding effect into the best path forward as the drawing of the trees. It seems like a fitting piece to include in this body of work as it articulates how humans can begin the healing process needed to align with the planet that gave us our lives.
Island of Fertility is a term coined by Ray Callaway, an ecologist who wrote a book entitled Positive Interactions and Interdependence In Plant Communities. Islands of fertility are “nutrient pumps that lift minerals from the deep and scatter them in an annual leaf drop”. They typically progress backwards – “downslope” creating “tear shaped “tree islands” that “show how facilitation can create the conditions conducive to community”. *
* Reciprocity by Janine Benyus pp10-11. From All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis. Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine K. Wilkinson.-