My own first encounter with an Ojo de Dios was when traveling in Mexico in the 1965, and seeing Huichol Indian made *ojos* for sale in the Guadalajara Marketplace. These ojos had crossed sticks in the basic dimensions of the Christian Cross, with yarn wrapped from stick to stick to make a diamond shaped design, the color changing every inch or so as the yarn progressed out from the center of the design. Interestingly, the color did not change by new yarns being tied together, but rather one long strand of yarn was dyed different colors. The central diamond of the design was perhaps one foot across, and added on to the ends of each corner was another, smaller diamond shape. Each corner of the four smaller diamond ended in a yarn fringe of many short yarn strands, with the exception of the very bottom-most corner, where the extended bottom stick of the cross shape extended down from the whole pattern, wrapped with yarn. The whole pattern was woven onto both sides of the sticks, so that if you looked at one of these ojos from either side, they looked exactly the same.
In 1966 I was back in Guadalajara again, and saw a Huichol Indian on the pedestrian bridge leading to the marketplace, in his arms a large bundle of ojos. I watched from my vantage place on the second story of that huge central market, fascinated by this Indian's all white clothes and easy slow movements, as he stood for a few moments and surveyed the busy scene around him while holding his very colorful bundle. Later I bought a couple of the ojos and took them back to where I was staying in the small and exotic town of Ajijic, on Lake Chapala.
I describe these ojos in some detail because of a startling discovery on my part later that same year. I was over 2000 miles north of Guadalajara, on the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle, and stepped into a traveling exhibition sent to this country by the Dali Lama of Tibet. The hope of this exhibition was to attract American aid to stop the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and it was the said to be the first time that such sacred objects had been allowed to leave Tibet. Descending the steps and entering this basement level exhibition was one of the most profound and awakening experiences of my life. I was startled to discover that by just being in proximity of these many Tibetan Buddhist artifacts, my whole mental state changed to one of amazing clarity and light, such that I had never experienced before. After looking around for some time a the elaborately fashioned brass Buddhas and jewelled and hammered silver alter pieces etc. I purposely left and re-entered the hall a couple of times to experience the mental change again, and to see just how and where it changed as I approached the sacred objects. Sure enough, there was a distinct area on the stairs on the way into the exhibition where the change from my ordinarily busy mind cleared and was replaced with a, unfortunately temporary, light and clarity.
So how does this relate to the *ojos* of the Huichol Indians? Well, let me tell you the most startling part, for me, of this exhibition sent from Tibet. Amongst all the carefully crafted objects, some quite large, of brass, silver, and stone, was one object of much more humble sticks and yarn! It was four sided, each vertical side facing in four directions like sides of a box. If you were to separate one of these sides from the four, what you would have was exactly the same of a Huichol Ojo de Dios, in ALL of the details that I described above! I was especially amazed that even the detail of the pattern being woven on both sides of the crossed sticks was repeated, as in this case it meant that the back side of each pattern faced into the overall box shape. On a small card as part of this Tibetan exhibition, this four sided object of yarn and sticks was described as something made to place on the rooftops of homes to *keep away evil spirits*. Furthering the mystery of this startling similarity of the extremely remotely placed Huichol and Tibetan peoples, I later read that the Huichols placed their Ojos de Dios (a Christianized name for these objects, I believe) in their fields of corn to *keep away ghosts*.
Sometimes I have thought I
might enter into the field of Anthropology to try and explain
the great similarity of these artifacts from two widely separated
cultures, but really I feel that such a study would fall far short
of a true explanation. Perhaps a through study of both Tibetan
Buddhism and Huichol mysticism would eventually lead to some root
place explaining a common origin of these yarn on stick designs.
But I doubt that in one lifetime I could penetrate these two systems
of beliefs to such depths.
Recemtly I was told by a Navajo weaver that Navajos have always known that they are connected to the Tibetan peoples.
What I have done is enter into the making of *ojos* myself, indeed making my living doing so for a number of years. At first, while living in Joshua Tree California I sold my creations in the nearby resort community of Palm Springs, and then later in Berkeley California. In Berkeley I sold my ojos as a street vendor on Telegraph Avenue, and I expanded my designs to six and eight sided mandalas. Later I moved to New Mexico, where a great variety of such ojos were common fare, and I continued to develop my craft.
Starting in 1999, after a break of over two decades from making ojos, I have returned to spinning yarn onto sticks, and again offer my creations for sale. As for discovering the unity between Tibetan and Huichol ojos and mysticism, I can only offer this: my life has led me to the full acceptance of Avatar of the Age Meher Baba as the root and core of all the worlds great religions, and as the most profound living example of true mysticism. In following Meher Baba since 1971, I have no doubt that I have reached a certain understanding of the true unity of all spiritual ways, including that of Buddhism or Native American spirituality.
For more about Ojos de Dios and their Huicholi origins, see this Wikipedia page.
If you are interested in finding out more about Meher Baba, click here for the Avatar of the Age Meher Baba web site.
In many ways and at many times throughout my life I have felt the hand and eye of God in the turn of events. Hopefully you, dear reader, have too. My hopes in offering my ojos for sale is that they might act as reminders that there is indeed a Divine Presence that enters into our lives, leading us ultimately to the ending of all worries and strife, and to perfect peace, love, and unending happiness.
Also, I like my yarn and stick creations, because I think they look beautiful, and make really distinctive and original designs to hang on the wall.
Because my weavings have an American Indian look to them, I must add that, although my work is largely inspired by Native American artwork, myself I have no proven Native American ancestry, nor am I registered with any Native American tribe.
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