TOTEMS CAN BE MADE OF ANYTHING
Jonas tied the last thread. His fingers moved confidently over the knots and bindings -twenty three of them in total- that held the small object together. He didn’t even need to look at them, he could feel whether they were tightly bound or needed adjustment.
As the sun dropped over his left shoulder to bend in shape at Horizon’s Edge before dropping out of shape, he finished his work.
It was not very big; maybe five centimeters in diameter. A series of hoops made of willow and bamboo split down to be thin and flexible. They varied in size and arrangement. The order of which would not make sense to anyone but himself, and maybe a highly studied mythographer.
They would have to be as obsessed as he was though. That made him smile.
These objects spoke to him in a way that could not be done with words nor even two dimensional drawings. Diagrams compressed what was a dynamic into ‘understandable’ space, but ultimately something was lost. At least he felt that way. Truth be told, this was an expression of his own feeling and understanding.
An object to organize the individually complete loops of his life into a unified masterpiece. A reminder that he was his own creator.
Jonas smiled and stood up. The sun was going egg shaped and it would get cold in this desert.
The Totem in his hand felt alive.
They had work to do together.
Jonas is a character that understands what he wants from the universe. He’s got a vision of what would be ideal. He creates his manifestations as needed, and returns them to the beautiful chaos of natural process when he’s done.
Conscious. Sustainable. Intentional….
In my sketches of who he is, he values creation on all levels. He has his own precious-metal totems that he wears daily. But the need for something primal comes he simply creates it.
I didn’t invent this word Totem….
It has been long standing in human tradition.
An object that carries significance to a person or group of people. Often spiritual in nature. Commonly made from organic materials.
In the early days of tribal society these were made from sticks, bones, bits of mud. Sinew bound objects together or held them on poles or necklaces. When a hunter killed a great beast to feed the tribe, claws or teeth were kept. Yes, to some extend this was a show of dominance. Of prowess. But remember that in the initial tribes of humanity, we spent our lives around the same 60-150 people every day. All year. For a lifetime. Natural hierarchies likely developed based on skill, but there was little need to “show off”.
Your tribe knew you so intimately that the pretense was often wasted.
These totemic objects were marks of important events, powerful intentions, necessary concepts. They held in them the mythography -the visual stories of your life and your people- so that you could hold them. See them. Touch them.
A tactile bridge between the deepest knowing of your soul and the greater power of an idea.
Totems ultimately connect you to yourself…
So when I take this powerful element in human history and apply it to precious metals, fine cut gems, intricate technological tools, it is an extension of that tradition, of that mythography, into the present day.
They’re not for everybody. In fact they’re not for most people.
These Totemic Relics I make are a passion. They’re born of an innate need in me, a deep-soul motivation to express what I see in the world, and often what others tell me they see, into an object that is refined, powerful, and intricate… Yet also raw, earthy, and tribal.
The Talismans, designs that flow through me with no clear knowledge of who will claim them, are ethereal concepts that *WANT* a home. They want it so badly that I am compelled by a need to give them a Totemic Talisman to live in. To live through.
The Prime Totems are a similar creature. Only in this case they’re primal. Simple relative to the others yet just as potent. They come into the world in sets because something about them wants to be held by more than one individual.
I think in this way the Prime Totems are the most tribal expression of this idea of shared tangibility. The individuals that claim one in a set are, in a loose way that fits our modern society, connected.
I like to think that they function much like the butterfly effect would suggest: a few dozen people carrying an idea that’s worth carrying out into the world. Sharing it. Embodying it. Holding it. And the Totems hold the concept but the mind shares the idea. Permeation into the fabric of humanity.
Or maybe they live quietly in pockets. Touched but not seen. Reminding but not declaring. That notion also brings a smile to my face.
The questions for me are most often: What most needs to be said in this moment? Can I do that in a beautiful way? Is this producing a positive change?
And always, it’s just about taking the best next step.
-Cedric Winter Wolf