Interpretive Exhibit Piece Designed and Created by Ghost Dancer
Creation and Interpretation
Ceremonial Cleansing with Tobacco and Cedar Smudge As the smoke from the smudge passed over the disk, it was charged with the intent of clearing negativity and bringing in positive vibrations with the blessing.
Blessing of the Disk in the Mvskoke Way Invoking the power of the Mother Earth, and all her gifts, I ask the Spirit of Light to guide me. I call upon you to bless this disk so that it helps educate, invigorate, and bring everyone to enjoy, respect, and love the Mvskoke Way.
Respect for the Mvskoke Way One of the core beliefs of the Mvskoke is RESPECT. Interpreting the disk allows everyone a different view and a different opinion. This is what Mvskoke see in every life. We respect everyone’s point of view, we respect what everyone else believes; there is no wrong belief, because it belongs to you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. So the disk says it is whatever you see it to be! I am Mvskoke; I live by respect for all life. This beaded disk is my interpretation of ancient symbolism passed down through the ages from the mound builders through Mvskoke traditions.
Blue, the predominant color, symbolizes air and water which are male and female; water being female, air being male; above and below. Blue also represents the direction, north. Balance must be in everything!
Neckpiece made from traditional materials – bone, antler, and shell.
The Red & White Spiral Star:
The red & white colors represent the red stick & white stick peoples being in balance. We all have the characteristics of both inside of us; we need this to balance ourselves.
White represents love, peace, learning, calm compromising, mediation, gentleness, compassion, balance, spiritual searching, and enlightenment.
Red represents activity, energy, action, anger/love, loyalty, honor, blood, protectiveness, and duty.
We are all warriors in these matters. Some are more of the character of one than the other and we even fight this battle within ourselves each day. This is why sometimes you are a redstick and sometimes you are a white stick! We need to be both at times as well. Both are always needed.
The red and white disk has 9 rows representing the 9 Major Clans of the Mvskoke. They are designed a little off because the imperfect work itself represents humility and is meant to show that no one is better than the other and to signify our humbleness to the Creator. The disk sits below the Horned Winged Serpent and the Horned Mask showing that the People look for help and protection by asking the Horned Winged Serpent.
The Horned Winged Serpent
The winged Serpent has many colors. Each color represents specific things that are female and male energies:
White symbolizes purity, peace, balance, love, gentleness, song, and spirituality.
Red represents the sun: fire, life, action, protectiveness, and love.
Then there is the black & red in the serpent’s belly representing life, death, and renewal; the war within ourselves.
The Horned winged serpent has the antlers of the deer representing gentleness with wisdom and awareness. We listen to the deer for they teach us to pay attention, to be cautious, to watch out for dangers and signs and teach us to move gently in this world. the antlers are a prize for all hunters, whether they are hunting food, plants, stones, minerals, spiritual enlightenment or even love, or people.
The serpent’s wings represent the air and messengers. The eagle feathers in the wings are a symbol of peace and love, loyalty, justice, compassion
Colors and their meanings:
- The white represents purity, love, balance, and peace.
- The yellow represents corn mother, sunlight, and life.
- Red, the color of blood, represents love, action, energy, and life.
- Black is the color of death, the moon, the spirit trail, and the Milky Way. Even in death success is there in the connection to the earth and defeating the dark side in us.
- Green is the color of prosperity, success, and fruitfulness.
The horned winged serpent is a good luck medicine to all hunters and those who look for love as well.
So this Horned Wing Serpent is truly one of balance; it represents all these different characters and energies!
But wait! Look at its mouth; its red tongue is sticking out and it is reaching to the Horned Mask!
The Horned Mask
So the Horned Winged Serpent is breathing; blowing power into the Horned Mask with all the understandings of balance: peace, love, compassion, humility, sacredness, blood, life, loyalty, sacrifice, discipline, and action.
Now, look at the mask. Notice the red & white balances; opposites on each side. Notice that it, too, has horns, antlers. The antlers are blended in colors from brown to golden to yellow. Brown is the earth, golden is the sun, corn pollen and honey. Yellow, the corn mother and life itself!
The mask has yellow ears to hear the voice of corn mother. The brown color is bark of the water oak from which the mask is made. Water oak is the tree of life of the people with roots running deep into the Earth Mother.
Notice the gar teeth in the mask. These are the scratching teeth used in rites of passage, discipline, and other ceremonial rites.
Hidden in Plain Sight: Hints on finding some hidden images and symbols within the design:
- The disk, itself, has the shape of the human head.
- Above and below encompasses the mindset of the world and the universe in the mind of the Mvskoke.
In the Clouds:
- Gift of the serpent breathing life into the horned mask.
- Tree of life in the clouds
- The different moons that were so important to us.
- The states of Florida, Georgia and Alabama all connected touching each other on the left side in the clouds.
- Mound on the right side in the clouds.
- See the fluffy rabbit? Rabbit is important to us. He is the trickster in many of our traditional stories.
In the Water:
- The All Seeing Eye in the water at the bottom on the left.
- The four directions in the water.
- A mermaid as people would call them now. We call them, water people.
- Water serpents
- The State of Florida
This disk is all about teaching the fundamentals of the Mvskoke Peoples’ way of life, our beliefs, understandings, and our connection to everything in the universe, understanding how much each matters to the other. Whether we are of Mvskoke heritage or not, in order to understand and even experience the true traditions of the People, it is important for us to pay attention to these teachings.
Just as the serpent breathes life into the mask, so do we breathe power into things when we do medicine. Traditionally, a Mvskoke medicine person uses river cane to blow power into the medicine, the patient, or medicine bundles for healing. Even ceremonial drinks, purges, teas, or water, all must have a medicine person blow power, life into them.
Every symbol of our art has meaning and is intended to help us connect to everything and everyone around us; plants, stones, animals, fish, reptiles, winged ones, star people, and Mother Earth. Everything that is in the universe we should feel, reach out to and protect, nourish, love, and enjoy. We must reach inside of ourselves and touch the inner child, the adolescent, the adult, and the elder. This disk is the past, present, and future of our Sacred Way.
All of these goals and characteristics given to the People are embodied in the concepts of the Four Elements: Fire, Air, Water, and Earth, the Four Directions, Female and Male, and the Four Stages of Life: Infant, Adolescent, Adult, and Elder.
Walk in Beauty and Love Always,
Ghost Dancer, Images and text © April 2015
NOTE: I know many people have different colors that they use to represent different directions, even amongst the Mvskoke people and teachers. All I can use is what I have been taught and shown by my spirit helpers and elders of the Mvskoke who personally taught me.