It is my belief that human beings are basically seekers; we look for knowledge and understanding in all things and make the effort to discover truth in the world around us. Many of us rely on science and technology to attempt a literal translation, while others find peace, wholeness and completeness through faith in a divine essence. Native American cultures looked to the heavens and probed the earth to aid in that understanding, finding a deific understanding through agriculture.
Navajo Weaver Luana Tso with her Mother Earth Father Sky Rug.
Questions attracting the most attention seem to be those entertaining thoughts on life and afterlife. The Navajo people found a way to best explain this human frailty through nature; they watched and marveled at the cycles of Mother Earth, arriving at the conclusion that all living things undergo the same transformation.
The Navajo people saw that in the spring of each year, new life begins and bursts forth into the world. This was evidence of the spark of life, an awakening of consciousness. Summer is interpreted as the youthful years, where perceptions of reality begin to form in the mind. It is understood that positive outside influences are essential in forming a whole, productive human being. Recognizing the divine, nurturing planet helps initiate the metamorphosis of the people into functional, emotionally prosperous adults.
Careful evaluation of these cycles caused the interlocking pieces of the vast, cosmic puzzle to take shape in the minds of these aboriginal people. Autumn was visualized as maturity; a ripening of the body and mind emerging from carefully tended crops. The fruit of the plant represents successful reproduction; food and nourishment, both physical and mental, the seeds significant to regeneration and progressive continuation. With winter comes a more refined understanding of life, love and a compassionate respect for the thoughts and feelings of others. Unfortunately it also brings old age, frailty and death.
Contemplating the knowledge of Mother Earth provides a fuller understanding. Although individual human beings eventually pass from this world, they may be born again, as with the renewed awakening of the earth. Changing Woman came into being and evolved into the outward expression of Navajo mystery and divinity. Through careful observation, and by approaching the question practically and imaginatively, an acceptable solution is formulated.
A metaphor for this early stage of divine development is corn. The roots of this plant grasp the earth for strength and support; they touch the past and remind the people of their emergence into this world and the accompanying birth of society. The stalk portrays the upward moving way; reaching to the heavens for knowledge, understanding and greater significance. The fruit of the corn represents people: white, male; yellow, female. The tassel produces pollen which is interpreted as pure, unadulterated sunlight or sacred prayer; a realistic contemplation of truth through interpretation of available resources.
Mother Earth Father Sky Navajo Basket by Erick Holiday.
Researching a little deeper, I found similar thoughts from other cultures. Ankh is Egyptian, symbolizing a mythical eternal life, rebirth and the life-giving power of the sun. Most earth-centered or pagan cultures worshiped the serpent because it regularly sheds its skin, representing rebirth, protection against the forces of evil, sexuality, rain and fertility. It is a mediator between the physical and spiritual worlds. The list goes on and on. In the Bible, the serpent is associated with sin, temptation, destruction and Satan. The circular image of the snake biting its tail links the mythical significance of the reptile to that of the sacred circle of life and death.
The Phoenix is a cross-cultural heavyweight when it comes to life and death. This spontaneously combustible fellow is a symbol of the sun, mystical rebirth, resurrection and immortality. Every 100 years or so, this legendary red, yellow and white "fire bird" is believed to die by its self-made flames then rise up out of the ashes. The Phoenix is linked to worship of the fiery sun and associated, volatile, gods such as Mexico's Quetzalcoatl. It was named, "a god of Phoenicia" by the Phoenicians." To alchemists it symbolized the destruction and creation of new forms of matter, along the way to the ultimate transformation; the physical (turning lead into gold) and the spiritual (immortality, an occult alternative to Christian salvation). The philosopher's stone was considered the key to this transformation.
With the coming of the new year, the timeless dimension of questionable reality once again becomes the heavy focus of my consciousness. I contemplate the many versions of past and present realities, existence and substance. I wander in wonder, waiting for lightning to strike. Does the sum of all human knowledge hold the answer? I believe we must all seek and attempt to find our own path to enlightenment. Some of us find it more of a struggle than others. My head hurts, finding a quiet place in my mind would be a comfort. Ah well, bring on the eggnog, let's party and allow a brief dismissal until more relative information can be assimilated. Happy New Year!
With Warm Regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.
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