Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Post Lá Le Bríde (and God's Eyes)

Photo: Busy coffee morning in Dingle - all proceeds to Seed Savers. Call in if you're around. It's a good cause! 

Despite the terrible weather, a lovely crowd showed up to Murphys Ice-Cream, where there was lots of cross making, ice-cream eating, tea-drinking, and fund-raising for the Irish Seed Savers Association.

Here's a selection of crosses made. The four legged cross is the most traditional. My favourite, the three legged cross, or triskel is less common. The triskel is especially characteristic of Celtic Art from the La Tene Culture. but it dates from earlier times, being seen on the pre-Celtic stonework of Newgarange.

The other St. Bridget's Cross, a God's Eye, again, not common in Ireland, but whether made from rushes,straw or yarn, is universal to an incredible amount of cultures around the world. I cant remember where I first learnt to make Gods Eyes. It was after seeing a picture of one in a Mexican textile book, I became fascinated with the traditions, differences and similarities of this small little craft throughout the world.

The weaving of an 'Ojo de Dio's, Spanish (Eye of God), is an ancient contemplative and spiritual practice for many indigenous peoples, particularly in the Americas, and beliefs surrounding them vary with location and history. Traditional Ojos de Dios are frequently woven in solitude, as part of an extended meditation or prayer. In other settings, their construction is one aspect of longstanding communal engagement and connection. The Huichol, of the Sierre Madre mountains of Mexico, call their God's eyes Sikuli, which means "the power to see and understand things unknown. They were placed on altars so that their gods would protect and watch over those who prayed at the altars. The four points of the crossed sticks represent earth, air, water, and fire.

Ojos de Dios were also an important worship object for the Aymara Indians in what is now Bolivia, South America. Native American tribes in the southwestern region of the United States also adopted this object and its spiritual customs. The Navajo are known for their eight-sided Ojos de Dios.

Namkha, seen below, is a form of yarn or thread cross composed traditionally of wool or silk, and is a form of the Endless Knot in Tibetan Buddhism.

Whatever the materials, the symbolism of these 'God's Eyes', are similar. They are potent amulets for protection, safety for loved ones, gifts for gods, and a beautiful handmade tradition that has managed to survive centuries and religious beliefs.

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