More than four decades ago, my second-grade son, Keith, brought home a God’s Eye he’d crafted in school shortly before Christmas. At the time I’d never heard of a God’s Eye and asked him to tell me about it.
“My teacher said it can be a Christmas tree decoration. Or we can use it any way we want to.”
“It is certainly pretty,” I observed as I looked more closely at the colorful, interesting creation that started with two narrow strips of cardboard fastened into a cross configuration. Keith had then wrapped bright colors of yarn—red, then blue, and green—around each of the four arms of the cross. Later I would learn that red symbolized life, blue represented sky and water, and green on the outer edge was for vegetation.
“We don’t have our tree yet,” I said to Keith. “Suppose we hang it in the window until we do get the tree?”
“Sure, Mommy,” he said.
We set God’s Eye on the table and didn’t get it hung that afternoon. A family crisis arrived the next day , about which I prayed almost non-stop. There was something about the name of Keith’s craft, God’s Eye, that caused me to keep it near.
The events that ensued during the next four months were life-changing and during that time God’s Eye was placed in the box you see it resting on above.
Several years later, I re-discovered the God’s Eye and placed it on my desk in my cabin in the woods. I’d started writing my memoir then and became curious about the story behind the God’s Eye. I found through research that a God’s Eye was an ancient symbol that originated in Jalisco, Mexico with the Huichol Indian tribe. When his child was born, a Huichol father wove the central eye in the God’s Eye, or Ojo de Dios. Each following year until age five, the father wove another round of yarn, another “eye.”
On a deeper level, this Christian symbol represented a spiritual covenant with God, to watch over and grant the child good health, good fortune, longevity, and auspiciousness. The four ends of the cross symbolized the four life elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Whether a God’s Eye was hung on a wall, the end of an arrow, or in the child’s hair, the Huichol believed it had the power to heal, protect, and ensure the child a long and healthy life.
I’ve created a quilt square that replicates Keith’s God’s Eye for my story quilt; God’s Eye is also the title of Chapter 20 in my memoir.