One day I was resting between tasks and M’Lady was speaking about one of her closest friends, one we nick name “The Story Teller” and rightfully so: it really doesn’t matter what the woman has been up to, the experience (no matter how mundane) becomes a great epic adventure in the telling. A phone call or a chat over coffee in the morning will launch us into a trek across the country.
The Story Teller Amulet
She spoke of how as a girl her best friend would launch into a story, she would climb into her lap, close her eyes and listen.
Later I was at my carving bench again, looking over a rough sketch of what I had envisioned of her story and thus I began to carve. Using the imagery of a woman telling her tale I set her audience in her lap: the story enveloping her, entangling her into the tale; becoming a part of it.
The Story Teller Amulet is for the bards, the story tellers, those with the gift of the gab, teachers of lore, those who encourage us to become our own heroes by being so themselves. It is for those who love tales of tails and know the value of a great story.
Oshun in the Yoruba, Efa and Santería religions, is an Orisha (not quite a “goddess”, however in the case of those who are not of these Faiths it is a close approximation) reigns over love, intimacy, beauty, wealth and diplomacy. She may also be found in Brazilian Candomblé Ketu, with the name spelled Oxum. She is beneficent, generous and very kind. She does, however, have a temper which she seldom loses but which can cause havoc! In one of the stories about her, Oshun is said to have gone to a drum festival and fallen in love with Shango, and has been married to him ever since.
The Study of the Orisha is very complex and deeply rooted in the cultures from where they spring. If one is to trace it’s lore, you will find a path that leads over five thousand years into the heart of Africa and transcends time itself. I would encourage anyone who is interested in this subject to take the time for farther research.
I have some very close friends who have devoted themselves in these traditions and found a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and insight into the human condition. One of the jewels of my life is the introduction the the lovely and charming Oshun. On a visit to Florida some years ago I found myself strolling in an orchid garden and talking to a Dear One about Oshun and found myself gazing into one of the most exquisite flowers I had ever seen.
My friend pointed it out and said “the Orchid’s beauty is much like Oshun Herself: the flower’s beauty, fragrance and form holds a wounder that inspires a spark deep within you; it is that connection to Glory that invokes Her.” Love itself cannot be found: it must be inspired and generated within you, through that beholding one finds a path to Spirit.
In the Oshun Amulet, I attempted to capture the moment with a quiet face hidden a cluster of orchids, adorned with a small opal set beneath her. This would be for those who wish to invoke love and beauty in their lives.
One of the earliest works of art found in the digs of archeology is the Venus of Willendorf; sometimes referred to as the Doni. A simple stone carving of a woman’s body sans arms, face and the feet narrow down to a point. In the writings of professor Joseph Campbell, he points out the image was not intended to be a “realistic” rendering of a woman, rather the Force behind the Archetypal Feminine.
The Doni Amulet
Because there is no one alive today to ask, (Carved in the Paleolithic era: 24,000–22,000 BCE) we can only speculate as to how this images were cherished, yet we see the image again and again in many aspects, each time the focus what the body does rather than who the person is. In much of sacred art, when an image is without a face, hands or feet, it refers to the transcendent rather than the the personal.
This simple form of Womanhood has been re-claimed by many as a reminder of the power of creation and how we all rely on the Feminine Aspect of our world. The term: sacred refers to that which is considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion. Inspiring awe or reverence among believers in a given set of spiritual ideas. When one is in the presence of a birth or death one gets the sense of the great momentum of creation; it is both a part of who and what we are and transcends all things.
I have created in the Doni Amulet my own an interpretation of this image. The head is a simple sphere: no hair or face that can be identified, thus it may represents all faces and that which has none. I have included the arms that tourniquet without hands: this is a power of momentum and it currents can overflow simple or finite articulation. The legs are also tourniqueted presenting her locality and ability to influence everywhere. Her breasts are those of nourishment: both full and yet capable or going dry. Her genitalia: the bardo or gateway of fertility and birth. In an agricultural society, fertility was extremely important for everyone concerned: everything from the food on your table or whether there will be another generation of young people to bring in the harvest. Over all the Doni Amulet is large, bold and simple in form. In sterling silver it is reflective of the world around it.
The Doni Amulet is for those who love and worship all things feminine. Cultivating those aspects within one’s self and/or honoring the women in their lives.
The Cauldron is one of the most basic cooking pots. Typically suspended on chain over an open fire, these large pieces of crockery have been used for everything from heating water, making dinner and making soap. It has been attributed to the Leprechaun’s container of great treasure, a classic image from Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Endora making trouble on Bewitched. In the Southern portion of the US, one may find them in yards filled with flowers signifying prosperity and a welcome hearth for all well intended visitors.
The Cauldron like many other basic and everyday tools have been used as a metaphor for other more esoteric ideas: in Wicca it represents the Womb of the Goddess a place of death and rebirth, a symbol of amalgamation. Joseph Campbell inferred in his lectures thepre-Christian imagery of the Grail was the Cauldron, signifying the source of Virtue, the potency of inquiry and purity of heart.
One of my first designs: tiny Cauldron Earrings. The intent: to culminate all of these ideas into an amulet form. Cauldrons look best hung from chain as you would find them in actual use; thus I selected tiny lengths of chain and suspend them from Shepherd’s hooks, giving them a fluid, pendulous look. The Cauldron Earrings were scaled down to the smallest I could and still be recognizable: large enough for a drop of scented oil, spilling and perfuming neck and hair as they are worn; or simply a sparkling frame for your countenance. Each Cauldron has a tiny star signifying balance and clarity; ready to cast spells of joy and blessings where ever you go.
Several years ago m’Lady Tony designed a piece that combines the three stages of Womanhood: the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. The idea was to develop the three aspects into a single shape: the Astrological symbol of Venus.
Maiden Mother Crone Amulet
At the foundation is the Maiden. She sits cross legged at the base of the piece, creating the anchor of Womanhood: she holds a chalice that contains a flame: an element that symbolizes transformation, a promise of the future’s ever changing opportunities.
In the center is the Mother: pregnant she fulfills the promise and instructs the maiden with her accumulated wisdom of her own maidenhood. In one hand the bud of a rose; the other the blossom: symbolizing beauty and passion, the possibilities that fertility offers. She is flanked with the stems of the rose illustrating life itself.
Above the Mother and below the sickle moon is the Crone. Her hair flows into the spider web that encloses their backs: the network of accumulated lessons of the lives that came before brought to generations of Women for eons. With arms outstretched she holds the wisdom and reveals the destiny of those who seek her.
The symbol of Venus is the cross of matter below with the circle of spirit above, reviling the core concept of Venus: Spirit over Matter: the symbol of love itself. In its purest form, Love is that direct link between spirit and matter without then need for demonstration, condition or interpretation. Women hold the very essence of humanity: the ability to carry within them both the seed of life that brings the next generation and the wisdom to bring to their children the knowledge of a better life.
The Maiden Mother Crone Amulet is a potent piece created as both an amulet that may be worn but also a focus of life itself. Although intended to be worn by women, it also is designed for small alters dedicated to life. A good gift for girls who have achieved womanhood; a talisman for the new mother or for one who has achieved the status of Wise Woman.