"Medicine Basket" is such a wonderful term, and embodies the archetypes of WEAVING, VESSELS FOR HEALING created from many threads. I return to the work of Cherokee artist Shan Goshorn, as she is a weaver of contemporary medicine baskets which she makes in traditional designs and techniques. They are woven from the words of broken contracts, and the names and photos of children taken from their families and forced to attend boarding schools. “Educational Genocide – The Legacy of the Carlisle Indian Boarding School” was created with a Cherokee-style double weave, and was made from splints of paper that had student’s names and historical documents and photographs. The artist weaves together the broken threads of the past to create healing baskets that re-member and re-join.
When I made the mask for my friend Mana Youngbear, she told me that she had dreamed it! My friend saw in her dream a woman wearing a mask that was a basket, the face emerging from the fibers of the basket. This image had meaning for me on many levels. A Medicine Basket is a container, woven of many strands, meant to store or provide forces for healing, understanding, consensus, and offering to the divine, the "greater pattern". We can create baskets, sacred containers for healing or empowerment or memory - the "medicine" that is needed at a given time, place, for a particular person, or a collective "weaving of the energies" . We are also "baskets" ourselves, our intentions and histories woven into the container of our lives, and those threads have been woven into the lives of everyone else we've ever known as well.
|"Tse Che Nako, Thought Woman, Weaving the World with the Stories She Dreams" (2008)|
Now, as everything seems to be unravelling in a world we've made the mistake of taking for granted, I feel the compulsion to make a new "Medicine Basket Mask". The mask I have in mind has an open mouth - it will be less passive and in "dreamtime" as the one above. This one will speak the weaving, the medicine. The time for being merely receptive is past, now is the time for us to act, to become "the medicine".
|"Basket Mask" by Ilana Stein (2008)|
May each of us, in these crucial times, make strong Baskets with all our communities, our friends, our inner sanctuaries. May we Become strong Baskets.