The case for this talisman is made of guayacan, the densest wood in the world. Representing strength and durability, it is indigenous to the island of Hispaniola and was used by the Tainos to carve the 'cemíes'; effigies of their deities. In diverse cultures, guayacan is considered to be the tree of life, as its name in Latin ‘lignum vitae’ suggests. It is also considered sacred and to possess magical properties. According to one of the versions of the Tales of King Arthur, Merlin the Magician’s magic wand was made of guayacan. Taking these characteristics into consideration, the case was carved by first cutting a rectangular hexahedron and later filing 13 additional facets to the surface symbolizing the multifaceted qualities of all the students and also the graduation year. In numerology, 13 is the number that cleans, purifies and represents incorruptible nature, manifestation, integrity, change and magic. It is the number of blessings and great promise.
The seed denotes prosperity, abundance and the totality of potential. The protected ‘seed’ within this reliquary was made and is composed of the following. I took a small piece of clay from each one of the student’s sculptures and combined all the pieces. Secondly, I cut a small piece off each one of the student’s paintings or drawings, put together all the ‘pieces of art’ and ceremoniously burned them. Fire symbolizes rebirth, purification, transformation and knowledge that penetrates and enlightens. It is essential in rites of initiation because it purifies or transforms the old in order for the new to be born. While the pieces burned, I spoke the names of each student out loud into the smoke wishing them joy in their journeys. In native traditions, smoke is the carrier or messenger of the Truth between the heavens and the earth. After the pieces were completely transformed into ashes, I mixed them with the clay of the student’s sculptures, which was then molded into the seeds. The seeds were then fired, covered with a white glaze and fired again. White represents totality, integrity, purity and new beginnings. The final step was to add gold leaf to an end of each of the seeds… in honor of the ‘golden’ students.