I'm currently enrolled in Briana Saussy's Spinning Gold course, which examines fairy tales as guiding examples of a spiritual path/journey. We're just wrapping up module one which focused on initiation and talismans. This is the puzzle that came together, a story from my own life, as a result of reflecting on these hallmarks.
In early 2007, I moved to Albuquerque to pursue a master's degree in journalism. It was a big move for me. Not only was my then-husband living in Iowa pursuing his own advanced degree, but it was the first time I had ever moved anywhere new, by myself, without knowing a soul.
I grew up in the same tiny hamlet where my parents grew up. That tiny hamlet sits within the boundaries of my maternal ancestral homeland. The mountains and valleys of that landscape hold the stories of my ancestors. I know the names of each mountain and I can tell you a story about each mountain.
(Increasingly, I believe it's a rare thing for someone to be able to say they grew up where their people have always grown up. And while I can't speak to what it's like to grow up elsewhere, I can tell you that there is a comfort and security that settles deep in your bones, along with a profound sense of belonging, or grounding, when you look out across the mountaintops and know, unequivocally, that everything you see is yours. When I'm home I can literally feel the seat of my soul.)
So here I was, moving to a new part of the country where I didn't know anyone or any mountain for the first time in my 25 years.
I was excited.
Of course, I wasn't without friends for long; One of my new friends was pretty intimate with the art and jewelry scene in Santa Fe and he agreed to show me around Santa Fe and to help me search for the perfect turquoise statement ring. When in Rome.
I eventually found a ring that I adored and that he agreed was a good find. The ring cost me about $80 which was a lot more money to me then than it is now. It was the most money I had ever spent on jewelry for myself (uhhh, not anymore) and I realize now that I was making a statement to my then-husband when I did it. I'm worth it. I have desires too. If we can afford your stupid $200 sunglasses, we can afford this.
In hindsight the ring also became a touchstone, a talisman, for the initiation of a journey I didn't appreciate had begun.
I took the ring home and cleansed it in a bowl of salt overnight. When I removed the ring from it's salty bed it gave me an electric shock and vibrated in my hand for a few moments; a phenomenon which has never happened to be before or since, not even with the same ring.
I've worn the ring with sweatpants, and I've worn the ring with evening gowns. I wore it to Iowa to visit the shell of a marriage. I wore it that year we lived in Spain trying to synchronize our paths once more. I wore the ring to Costa Rica on the heels of divorce when I found unexpected love. I've worn the ring while nursing my children and creating my book. And I've certainly worn it back home again; including when I wore it home to eulogize my grandmother.
I even wore the ring on a return pilgrimage to New Mexico, with my new husband and infant son in tow. I wanted to show them the land that had enchanted me. They new the land that had birthed me, they knew the land that would see me grow old, but I wanted them to see the land that held my secrets and cradled my soul as I birthed myself into womanhood.
But there's something you need to know about New Mexico.
While it's true that I grew up in the same tiny town where both of my parents grew up, my dad was actually born in New Mexico. As was my maternal grandmother, Helen Alvina Maude Carson. She spent most of her girlhood in a far flung corner of New Mexico (aren't they all?) and I had distant relatives spattered across the state.
So while I moved to New Mexico not knowing a soul, New Mexico knew mine.
New Mexico was, and is, the place where my soul began to rectify the checks and balances between both sides of my ancestral lineage. Indian and Indian Fighter. I have not even begun to comprehend what that means and I left New Mexico almost five years ago.
Terrifyingly, on that return pilgrimage to New Mexico my beloved talisman left me. And believe me, I looked for that ring. I looked in three states and two countries for that ring. I went through all the stages of grieving. I pouted.
I told myself that the ring truly belonged to New Mexico, not to me. The funny thing was, for the months leading up to the disappearance of my ring I had an unsettling thought every time I looked at it "This ring won't be mine much longer."
Over a year later I was telling the story of my ring to my sister-in-law. I told her how much I loved that ring and mourned it to this day. She sympathized with a similar story of a talisman suddenly leaving her.
Less than two hours later, my ring reappeared.
In my suitcase of all places. A suitcase I had probably used at least a half dozen times during the time that my ring was lost.
Maybe talismans, physical objects that we love, get touchy. Like people. They get all huffy and hurt when you take for granted the love and adoration you have for them, instead leaving it unspoken. Maybe talismans (like your partner, your kids, your cat, your body) need to receive a physically manifested expression of it once in a while. A kiss, a note, a hug, a say-so.
While 'strong and silent' may describe the qualities of your devotion, it shouldn't describe the devotion.
I learned that one the hard way.
i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you