The Muscogee concept of space contains the key idea of seven directions. There are the four cardinal directions – North, East, South and West. The fifth is downward into the earth, and the sixth is upward towards the sky. The seventh is the centre of the observer – boea fikcha/puyvfekcv/fekcv, fire within spirit, or energy. I love this because it places the individual within the entire world/universe. In this instance, our view takes on a three-dimensional perspective so that the universe becomes a sphere instead of a circle.
The Muscogee annual buskida, or green corn dance is the most important festival, occurring in late summer. The ceremonial ground has a central fire which contains the seven directions. The four logs point to the first four directions. The base and the rocks in the earth point downward, the smoke moves upward and the fire remains at the centre.
Symbolically, this parallels the Muscogee concept of self, which includes four external sacred paths, each with its own values, sometimes represented with colours. Internally, the Muscogee spirit is rooted downward to Mother Earth, the fire of energy burns in the centre of the person, the spirit spirals upward in the Muscogee mind, and it exits through the top of the head at death to join the spirit and energy linkages with the rest of the cosmos. Symbolically, the spirit within is in harmony with the Spirit without.
I first learned about this concept a few years ago when I began reading about the Muscogee culture and worldview. Initially, it was a purely intellectual concept, but as I have been journeying inwards and embracing my culture on a personal level it has become an internal orientation. I think that because my Dad had lost touch with and rejected his indigenous heritage, that I grew up feeling disconnected from my ancestry and all of the richness of our culture. Likewise, for many years I was disconnected from the pain and dislocation associated with our post-Contact history. As I have been able to acknowledge the grief and deep loss that our people have suffered and passed down through the generations, I am coming to a deep appreciation of our culture and worldview and becoming grounded and centered in a way I never thought possible. I feel like I am inhabiting my life from the inside out.
I made this piece recently from two whippy branches, gold thread, a metal & shell heart and some honesty. This embodies the way that I see my place in the world – contained, in the moment, with a three dimensional orientation and universal view.
The center of the circle of life is within all of us as we seek to find it.