In the McMichael Collection of Canadian Art, north of Toronto, there is a painting by Blake Debassige, an Ojibwe artist of the second Woodlands wave. It shows a grandfather holding a baby. They are surrounded by the things of their environment: rock, butterfly, sun, flower, cloud, if I recall. There are lines of connection drawn from the baby to each of these "things."
In the shamanic world view, the indigenous world view, everything is alive. Not only are the foxes, raccoons, butterflies, and snakes alive. The rocks, the mountains, the lakes and rivers, the clouds and the soil also have beingness. Spirit dances in all of them, awakening them to Life in an interconnected web of creation. The Ojibwe baby in the painting, held in the arms of his grandfather, his tradition, easily experienced this sacred connection with all. It is a very different worldview from the one in which both the living and the nonliving are objects without sacredness, things placed here solely for the use of human beings, who may discard them when they are no longer needed or wanted.
The experience of energy also infuses this world view. In a world where everything is alive, there is a lot of sparkle! Every being has a vibration, a sound or light, which is unique to that being. Sometimes it is deep, a slow undercurrent of barely audible sound or a dark and comforting light. Sometimes it is a very high sound, or a brilliant, white light. Often it is something in between.
One can journey through this world of vibration and energy through the power of one's mind alone. One can see and hear and touch and taste things undreamed of in ordinary human perception. One can receive deep insight into the condition of one's own soul; can receive deep healing of body, mind and spirit; can experience openings of perception that places our personal and communal problems in their proper perspective.
In my journeys over the past several months a ring has appeared. It is a golden band with small diamonds inset into the band. The ring has healing properties in these visions; it is a companion to me, and is eager to help me, to show me the way to access a different vibration in my healing work, to take me to a place of merging with the Light that I have never before experienced.
I have felt a little awkward about these visions. I'm a Quaker, and Quakers are supposed to be simple people. We eschew expensive trinkets like diamond rings. Then there is also the human suffering caused by the mining of diamonds; so much suffering that commercial diamonds are often referred to as "blood diamonds." In this view, there are few "good" diamonds; those that have been mined and traded through methods that don't cause human suffering.
In my journeys, the diamonds are intent on healing. They have beingness, they have suffered, they have a desire for wholeness, they want to be of service, and they have a spiritual mission to fulfill. I have cherished these visions, and the spiritual companionship of the ring of gold and diamonds, precious elements of the Earth. I have felt the power of the journeys, but until recently I explained the diamond ring to myself as a metaphor.
Four weeks ago the lapis stone in my silver wedding band popped out and disappeared. It could not be found, and this was the third time that the stone had escaped. Each time before it had been found and professionally repaired. But now it was gone for good. Clearly the lapis was done with me! So I began the process of seeking out a different ring, checking out my friends' wedding rings, imagining a thick gold band with carving on it. Occasionally I considered a gold band with diamonds, as in my visions. But I felt guilty about liking diamonds and put the desire away from me. I was ready to contact the artist who had created our original wedding bands to create new ones. But as I was driving past a local jewelry store, I impulsively stopped in. I looked at the rings, and suddenly saw the ring. I felt an immediate energetic connection with that particular ring. I heard its voice in my mind's "ear": "Yes, it's me, and it's about time you came by. I've been waiting for you a long time." It was the ring in my vision: small diamonds set down into a gold band. I didn't know until the jeweler told me that this was called "channel set."
The price tag was higher than I had ever before considered paying for a piece of jewelry. I was disturbed by liking it so much, and put off making the purchase for a week and a half. I wanted my husband to see it and offer his opinion about it. I searched rings online, thinking that I should be a "good consumer" and check out all the options. I asked my friends if it was a sin to own a diamond – they basically said, "Yes, unless it is a fair trade diamond." But I kept coming back in my mind to this particular ring, with the seven small diamonds channel set into a gold band. Sitting in the case at the jeweler's, being looked at and admired as a potential possession, but not honored, not invited into service. And ultimately, the voice of the ring convinced me.
Since my husband and I bought its freedom two weeks ago, this ring has journeyed with me. I've accessed a different experience of the Light than I have ever had before – just as in the vision. It has shown me the suffering of earth, rock, water, and human community in the mining business, and how the water, humans, and animals near the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan are suffering right now. It has shown me how this and every oppression can be healed through the power of "now Love" – loving the place where you are now, loving the ones whom you see in front of you, and letting that love expand, just as yeast expands to raise the whole loaf. It has shown me that human beings aren't the only ones suffering at the hands of human greed – so are the diamonds, and the trees, and the animals, and the whole planet Earth. And that we are not the only ones who can help with the healing.
We must make friends with all of the beings of Mother Earth, and make room for their help. The survival of this web of Life depends on recognizing that we are a community, and that it doesn't all depend on us. Let's listen for the voices of the diamonds and the trees, the coyotes and the deer, the lakes and the rivers. Listen deeply to them, the voices that are here, right now, in front of us, behind us, all around us. The dog, the cat, the wild parsley, the rabbit, the urban fox, the raindrops. The clouds above, the earthworms below, the oak leaf, the cactus flower, the stones in your driveway, the rain puddle outside your front door, the mountains on the horizon. What do they have to say to you? When you have heard, please don't keep it a secret. We all need to know what they are saying.