I received this red cedar basket in the mail yesterday from my friend, artist Mary Snowden of Anacortes, Washington, ceremonial weaver and sculptor. I had commissioned the basket and requested a dragonfly theme, because of a very early dragonfly experience i had myself at about age five that has stayed with me. i was standing back in the marshes, where i was not supposed to go alone, of course, and was visited by a very large, camoflage-colored dragonfly with heavily netted wings. He perched on my upper arm, covering almost the entire length of it, and I had no idea what it was. It was a sort of alien-encounter for me, and I was terrified. We stood that way together for what seemed forever. I finally closed my eyes and prayed that it would go away, and when I opened my eyes it was gone. I felt relieved, but kind of missed it too. It was a sort of heightened experience of the marshes and of nature in that environment, and of the deep mysteriousness and terror of life. my mother felt a deep reverence for the marshes, which i feel is a value handed down from our native ancestress.
Here is what Mary wrote to me about the basket:
"Dragonfly and the Four Directions" basket 2010
(Red Cedar Bark, Raffia, Dentailium shells (a symbol of wealth and memory, precontact, on the NW Coast here it was First Peoples trade 'money'), Green Wooden Beads, Fire polished Glass, Carnelian Beads, Mother of Pearl Beads, Glass Beads, Trade Beads.)
"The Dragonfly is an ally through mysterious times and will show us the way through illusion, and lead us ultimately to our own inner truths. Dragonfly medicine is very important. Dragonfly's can be found on every continent of our Mother Earth. They are a precious part of our Mother Earth's gift to us as one of our winged significant teachers and helpers. Thank you Dragonfly.
"Red Cedar Bark is sacred and essentially priceless. Not every cedar tree can be gathered from, making it rarer. Then after the bark is gathered traditionally ( a good hike in the forest), it sets for one year. Then the process of slowly paring it both horizontally, and vertically begins.
"The cedar is very powerful when gathered from a living tree, which continues to live, and essentially, your basket is alive. There is a saying here on the Northwest Coast in Indian Country, "Be good to your cedar, and your cedar will be good to you" It is the considered the most sacred 'powe/healing' element here in the NW, and cedar storage boxes are used to house ceremonial items. It is also is the symbol of Red face Paint (the healers). The inner bark of the red tree can only be separated from the tree, only a few weeks of the year. Any other time, it is solid wood, with no divisions in its tree Cambrian. During this special time, it separates itself for the people. It is highly revered."
I found what Mary wrote about the dragonfly to be very meaningful. i've read quite a few 'takes' on the dragonfly's medicine, but this one certainly rings true to me, and has been proved out in my life as I approach sixty. An interesting age for this basket to come to my home.