The case for this talisman is made of oak. In many traditions the oak is a sacred tree to which the privileges of the supreme sky-god are attributed because it attracts lightening. The oak represents strength, power, longevity and height in both the spiritual and material sense. It has been the emblem of hospitality and the equivalent of a temple. Primarily, in all ages the oak has been synonymous with wisdom as well as moral, spiritual, and physical strength. Among the Greeks, the Celts and many other cultures, the oak represented the World Axis or Tree. Hercules’ club was made of oak. In the Christian bible, Abraham received the divine revelation in an oak grove. With its strength, dignity, and capacity to attract energy, the oak plays the axial role that channels communication between heaven and earth.
Contained and protected within the oak casing is a glass vial that is sealed on both ends. This vial contains ashes. The ashes are the remains of a small piece cut from a work of art made by each one of the students. Consequently the ashes consist of the combined artwork created by each of the 27 individuals belonging to the Fine Arts group of 2006. I combined all the “pieces of art” and ceremoniously burned them along with their names written on small slips of paper. While burning, I spoke all the names out loud into the rising smoke. Once converted into ashes, I took the ashes of the artwork and divided it equally into all the glass vials and permanently sealed them. The fire symbolizes knowledge that penetrates and illuminates, while also signifying rebirth, purification and transformation. It is essential in rites of passage since it purifies and transforms the old in order to give birth to the new.