Transformational Object: A Mid 19th C. Laguna / Acomita Water Jar
When I find an object that grabs me to my core, I know that a new path in my life is going to open up. I can feel the energy pulling me into an unknown space. I’ve been doing this collecting long enough to see the pattern. Buying is the easy part – it’s the journey to understand this new feeling that, at times, consumes me.
An object that goes beyond our eyes to grab at our heart and soul is something worth paying attention to. It’s not enough to buy it. There’s more to acquiring, and it’s understanding what the “more” is that can add a whole new dimension to our life. For me, the experience is like opening a door to a new world, a world that feels both unfamiliar yet familiar.
I have a few objects that remain in a perpetual state of unknowing, meaning the power that stirs me remains a mystery, and these objects remain my most favorite as they feel so full of potential. This is more than OK, since being in the mystery is more fun than solving the riddle. The mystery allows for a continuous space of expansion and growth, often evolving over time. It’s like asking why you love someone. We never know this answer, even as we try to take it apart and look at the pieces. It’s all in the overall effect, an effect that feels both huge and intimate at the same time.
Laguna / Acomita Water Jar
One of my pieces that has this effect, and continues so to this day, is a mid 19th century Acomita or Laguna water jar pictured at the title of this post as well as below. This jar has a power over me that does not quit. I have even tried to draw the design out on flat paper, taking it out of its 3-dimensional existence, but to no avail. The layering of the complex design over a curved surface is part of the story that can’t be taken apart. There is a certain magic going on with this jar, both in design and form.
When I first acquired this jar, I assumed that the flowers at each point of the design were added later, as if an afterthought. With closer inspection, I discovered that this was not the case and that the flowers were always a part of the original design. Part of my original thinking was that the design of spirals and meandering movement, often mirroring itself, had a “scary” quality for me, like a shadow side or some deep but painful secret. The caps to the spirals look like ghosts, with the eyes above a row of 3-4 teeth. The juncture of the stacked bars shows almost a mouth, a mouth with upper and lower teeth, grinding off-center as they mirror each other.
In contrast to these “ghosts” and “mouths” are the stacked bars adjacent to each other and showing up on the jar in two sets. They are 4 bars and different lengths, set side by side and so close to touching but not. They are like a family. These bars are, for me, very grounding. They take all that energy from the “mouth” and settle it out into the base and ground on one end, and the neck and sky on the other. These bars feel like a coming home. A part of me wants to envision the jar without all the meandering spirals and only have the space left empty, except for the bars. This is not the case, and in having both the bars and the design elements, we have the dichotomy of opposites – unsettling with settling. So be it in all its complex beauty.
Seen below is the capped spired with the two eyes and the teeth.
Seen below is the “mouth” with teeth.
I told myself that the flowers were an attempt to soften the teeth, ghosts and the meandering form that all felt so ominous. The forms, excluding the flowers, are precise and perfect, nay a mistake is made in their tight proximity. The flowers, in contrast, are loose and impressionistic, showing a whole different energetic formation. Taken together, the whole design captivates me whenever I look at it. When I contemplate this jar, I enter both a conscious and subconscious space that pulls me out of my present world into a layering matrix that feels out of my body yet still within me.
In summation, this jar represents the world to me, in all its complexities and layering. The continuity of its system, circulating and coming back onto itself, never ending and never starting, feels like it holds some deep mystery that explains the making of everything. In my gut there is a connection, and this connection feels like some key to understanding the universe I am in, not so much on a thinking level, but more on a body level. The shadow aspect of this jar is just one part of a complex interlacing of beauty mixed with consternation. As I try to link up these systems, it feels like water passing through my hand and I just can’t hold on to it. I tell myself to turn down my thinking and turn up my feeling, but I can only take this so far before my automatic pilot of connectivity to everything takes over and the jar comes back to earth in a way that just wants to be loved.
It’s not a stretch to consider an object a living thing. If a form is the result of past human hands, then that creator has imbibed a part of their soul into it. I imagine that their DNA has altered the objects DNA, or matrix. Some sort of communication is going on and I want that message to have the best chance of making it to me. The crystalline form of the object speaks to me in some way and it’s this language that I want to understand. In this light, this jar is alive. It both sees and is seen, and in being such, enters into a relationship with me that is cherished and honored. My hope is that the jar will enter my dreams, and here I can do my work around integration between thinking and primal self.
What Object Activates Your Life?
This all goes to support the process of our connection to things. When an object enters our life that fills us with energy, it’s an opportunity to ask some deeper questions about why . While it may be enough to just have the object in our presence, there comes a point where our curiosity takes over. Why do I feel so different in its field? What might the story be here? In asking the question, the energy field has been opened up for some answer to come forth, maybe not overnight, and maybe not in our lifetime, but some enlightenment is guaranteed, if not at least in our dreams.
I invite anyone reading this to participate in the process of objects as transformational paths. I would love for you to share your object, either herein on this blog or in a more private way, whatever feels best for you. Or, you could share the experience but not the object. You can email me or text me or add onto this blog. After all, this is not a solitary experience, but instead a process that gets deeper and richer the more it is shared.