'The little space within the heart is as great as the vast universe. The heavens and the earth are there, and the sun and the moon and the stars. Fire and lightning and winds are there, and all that now is and all that is not.' -The Upanishads.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

it's the end of the world as we know it ... and I feel fine

Well, the world didn't end.  There was no giant asteroid and the Invisible Planet Nibiru didn't blast the Earth out of existence.  The magnetic poles didn't reverse and flip us all into outer space or do whatever that calamity was supposed to do.  Dave and I didn't go food shopping the night before even though the cupboard was bare.  Who wants to waste their last night in a supermarket?  What's the point?

My unemployment insurance did end though.  Now I'm retired instead of "out-of-work".  It feels better somehow. I'm still one of the "47%", but now I'm not feeling guilty about it.

Blue Crystal Night Amulet Necklace by Maggie Zee on Etsy

The Diviner's Amulet by Maggie Zee

(detail)The Diviner's Amulet by Maggie Zee

It's hard to live every day as if it was your last if you're a born procrastinator.  I do have a special reason for being glad that the Earth did not end on the 21st and that is that I have a new granddaughter who is due to make her entry into the world on January 21st.  I would have hated not to have gotten to meet her.

I think she has my nose.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


In quilting, there is an old pattern called "streak o' lightning". To me, it always referred to an event that changed everything in the blink of an eye. The events that happened across the Long Island Sound in Connecticut last week changed the lives of so many people in a matter of minutes. There's nothing new that I can add to all the things that have been said in the last few days about the need for gun control legislation, better mental health services, and a major change in our culture of violence. I think of my own grandchildren and I ache for those families who now have to cope with unthinkable loss and grief. My heart and my prayers go out to them.
 I had been working on a blog post before this tragedy. Since the subject was healing, I'm going to go ahead and post it now, even though it feels a little frivolous.

Can jewelry heal?

 Now, I don't mean can a necklace cure cancer or a bracelet stop the flu, but I'm thinking of the kind of healing that helps restore a person to a place of wholeness or balance.  Not like when we buy ourselves something to make us feel better temporarily, like some women engage in therapeutic shopping or need to buy one more pair of shoes when they're depressed (No sweetie, I'm not talking about you here; I fully understand that you need 80 pairs of shoes for work because you're on your feet all day, I really do. I'm more of a barefoot kind of person myself, so I never really got the shoe thing. I did buy a pair of shoes once just because they had these sexy little cut-outs that showed some toe-cleavage, but I couldn't wear them for more than 15 minutes without going into excruciating foot spasms - but I'm getting sidetracked. Sorry. Short attention span. ) I was talking about jewelry. Energy jewelry. ART jewelry.

 I've been an artist my entire life. Painting, fiber, pottery, assemblage. Jewelry is just so personal. You wear it next to your skin. It reveals something very personal about you to every person you meet. Status. Values. Beliefs. I've been noticing something very interesting about when people look at my pieces: if they are looking for a piece to transform them into someone they are not, they won't be able to make up their minds and they end up not buying anything. If they already understand who they are, they will connect with a piece that expresses and enhances that. I had wondered how that dynamic will work on Etsy, but it seems like people can be drawn to a photo as well as the actual object.

 I've had training in two different shamanic traditions: many years ago under a student of Michael Harner's "urban shamanism", a mix of Celtic and Native American, and more recently with a student of Alberto Villoldo and The Four Winds Society in the Peruvian Q'ero tradition. Some of the people I was initiated with are practicing healers. I'm not. I'm not going to make the necklace that saves the world. I just want to make jewelry that makes people feel good. Beautiful and strong. Protected and grounded. I want to help people TO REMEMBER WHO THEY ARE. I put that intention into every piece I make. I hope that's enough.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thanksgiving is early this year

We survived a devastating storm and an election. And right now, we're being pounded by a Nor'easter. Miraculously, superstorm Sandy did very little damage to our house and property. For that, I am deeply thankful. I protected the big trees in our yard with offerings of cornmeal, according to Native American tradition, and red strings, according to some other tradition I had heard about. Maybe Celtic? A version of a Scots clootie, perhaps? In any case, it worked. We never even lost power. In between cooking pots of soup for not so fortunate friends, I managed to make and list a few bracelets on Etsy. And make my first sale!! (Thank you, dear Kristin.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

I'm a believer ...

I've been lusting after some of the leather amulets I've been seeing on necklaces on Etsy.  You can see some of them at Quisnam, Desert Talismans, Stregata, Infinity Stop and other shops.  I've gone through my closet (and Dave's), a couple of thrift shops, even tried to talk someone out of a well-worn wallet, but no luck finding the perfect piece of old leather to become my personal amulet.  When I tried to envision what it would look like, what I saw in my mind's eye was a Moroccan coin purse that I had bought at a head shop when I was in college, carried in my jeans pocket over many years and across several states.  I could not remember when or where I had seen it last, but I couldn't get it out of my mind.  The rust colored goat skin.  The stamped design in gold.  Opened and closed a thousand times.  I'm talking the sixties here, folks.  I hadn't seen it in like, thirty years or more.

In anticipation of selling our house and moving south, we were going through some boxes the other day. One was filled with stuff my daughter had left behind when she went off to college years ago.  A old jewelry box.  Pens and pencils.  Pay stubs from an after school job.  Her high school stash box.  And at the bottom - you guessed it - the little worn Moroccan coin purse.

Sometimes you can call things to you.  Important things like friendship.  Like love.  And small things that have little or no value except to make you a believer.

And a couple of new listings on Etsy:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


 My heart is pounding, but I finally did it. With Dave waving around a couple of flashlights, I pressed the button and opened my Etsy shop. Why is it so terrifying?? Maggie Zee was already taken and so was Urban Amulets and Etsy wouldn't let me use an apostrophe, so it's maggiezees. With an "s".

Friday, October 5, 2012

Some pieces finished in the last couple of weeks.

turquoise deer & labyrinth amulet necklace

close-up of turquoise deer

Chinese bronze coin amulet necklace

I will never do a multi-strand necklace again. Not fun. I don't have the attention span. I must have taken it apart 20 times.  Well, 4 times at least.  The white beads are rainbow moonstones and they really are very pretty.

I have three more necklaces to photograph, but the computer is causing massive headaches and I'm not able to download anything new.  One of them is really spectacular though - check back next week.

The Archaeology News blog had the following story today...http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2012/10/cavewoman-jeweller-rewrites-gender.html#.UG-Ch7KPX90

If you were to be buried with items that would tell future archaeologists just who you were, what would they be???

Friday, August 31, 2012

the grandmother stone ...

Back in the day when I made "art" quilts, I avoided commissions much like I avoided going to the dentist.  My nature is just contrary enough that needing to please someone else's aesthetic shuts down whatever  creativity I might be able to channel.  So when a woman I know asked me last week to make a stone that has special meaning for her into a necklace, I said I'd have to see the stone first.

My friend picked up the stone in the Andes, in Peru, on a journey with a group of other students of Peruvian shamanism.  It turned out to be a very interesting rock.   It has a petrified bone sort of feel and it's triangular rather than round so there are a total of three sides, each one with a distinct "face".  It fits perfectly in the hand.  In this picture it looks a bit like a dinosaur skull .

I had planned to do a funky kind of bronze wire wrap.  I still think that might have been the best way to go from an aesthetic point of view.  Now, how do I explain what happened next without making you think I'm a total New Age Wacko?  This rock definitely did not want to be wrapped in wire.  The words that popped into my head were, "Would you put handcuffs on your Grandmother???"  So since she's Peruvian, I decided to treat her like a beloved Peruvian ancestor and wrap her.  Beautifully.  Lovingly.  First I put some seeds into the crevices in the stone.  Then I wrapped her in a pale skeletonized leaf.  A strip of gold embroidered silk sari fabric next.  (I don't know about your grandmother, but mine liked a little glitz.)  A tiny speckled feather and a piece of root are tucked into this layer.  Then a strip of hand-dyed silk and a leather thong to hold it all together and attach it to the bronze "hanger".

I always try to work in a way that is mindful, for want of a better word.  I try to respect the materials and use pieces that already have some history to add to the

story I'm trying to tell.  I think I'm sensitive to the vibrations that different materials have, (though I usually have to look up the meaning and properties of the gemstones I use), but working on this piece has taken that to a whole new level for me.

My wish is that the necklace that I've created around this interesting stone will in some way enhance the holistic healing work that her guardian, Susan, does in her life.

A link to Susan's website is below.  She is a certified holistic health counselor and a gifted healer.  She even has a very affordable online program and her site is a goldmine of useful and helpful information.

Check it out.


and on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/StillPointHealingArts

Saturday, August 25, 2012

shell beads

I've been waking up every morning at 3:48 A.M.  Too early to start the day but too late to try to fall back to sleep right away.  So I get out of bed, try not to wake Dave and the dogs (truth be told, the dogs are only too happy to occupy the warm spot I've just vacated), and I make my way downstairs.  Sometimes I take my ipad with me, sometimes I just sit on the couch petting our geriatric cat, and sometimes, if I'm really really lucky, there's something interesting on tv.  The other morning there was a show on the NatGeo channel about the excavation of a hominid child's skull in a cave in Morocco.  Along with the bones, a number of tiny shells were found.  They had holes in them and under the microscope, the holes showed wear patterns that indicated that the shells had been strung on sinew or on some kind of plant material.


These people were making and wearing jewelry 125,000 years ago.  And what's more, the shells were not local; they had come from hundreds of miles away.   I just cannot imagine what meaning that strand of shells had for those people, but they pull me back through the millenia that separate me from that child and his mother.  I fell asleep on the couch and had a dream about making a necklace of shells, specifically a shard of clam shell that I found on the beach near my house that I had been practicing my hole drilling skills on.  No wire.  Only plant fiber.

My dream necklace involved quite a lot of macrame but  my attempts were rather pathetic.  Need to revive those old hippie skills.  I think I'll dig out my old macrame books and get some softer material and redo this.  The hemp has a mind of its own.

clam shell amulet necklace, close up

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


bee amulet necklace

A wire-wrapped fragment of a Tibetan "beeswax" amber bead hangs from a little copper bee.

Very worrisome - the disappearance of honeybees.  Since the beginnings of humankind, we have regarded honey as a miraculous substance and the makers of honey as divine beings.  In ancient Greece, the Melissae were the priestesses of the Bee Goddess.  This necklace is my humble offering to the Bees.  Please forgive us for poisoning you.  Please come back and pollinate our crops and make sweet honey for us to steal from you.  Please teach us how to live in community and work together for the good of all.  (I don't think any bees are Republicans.)

Here is a link to an article in the Vancouver Sun on the subject::

Greek amulets of the Bee Goddess, 6th century BCE

photo by Doris Diamond, copyright 2012
bees at Hofstra University bee project

And a couple more pieces with dangly things hanging off them.  I'm not tired of making them yet and I'm not tired of wearing them yet (the dangly things are fun to play with when you're waiting for someone).  When I'm ready, I'll move on to other things.  Or not.  They're actually kind of like a hamsa - usually five dangles hanging down like the fingers of a hand.

amethyst necklace variation

close-up, revisited amethyst necklace

abalone shell with protective amulets

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The circle complete ...

Yesterday,  after resolving some technical difficulties, I finished the piece below in time to wear to an event on the North Shore at a little harbor that flows into the Sound.  It was a water blessing and healing ceremony commemorating the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The Asian goddess of mercy, Kwan Yin, seemed appropriate to invoke.  We each put little origami cranes into the water to bear our prayers for peace out to sea and as the last one swirled away out to the harbor, a single white egret rose from the adjoining marsh and flew off over our heads.  For a brief moment, the world felt in perfect balance.  Blessings offered, acknowledged, and returned.  The circle complete.

The lovely Kwan Yin pendant on this necklace hangs right over the heart.  The mussel shell pieces are collaged with gold foil candy wrapper and instructions for burn ointment in Chinese characters.  On the linked chain are two vintage carnelian accent beads that are undeniably loaded with feminine energy.  And the rondelle beads are the last of my stash of Peruvian opal. (At least they were sold to me as Peruvian opal - I honestly don't know what they are but I like them alot.)  I don't always test drive the pieces I make, but I've got to say that this one feels incredible on.

Monday, August 6, 2012

the endless summer ...

I was once written up at work for having a "bad attitude".  Musta been in the summertime. Or maybe not.  Having been brought up to be a "good little girl", I took it as a compliment.  When my granddaughter was in first grade, she told me that she was bored with being a good girl and was trying out being a bad girl.  Apparently this involved making loud farting noises when speaking to her grandmother on the phone , but apart from that, I had to approve.  Sometimes, you just have to make some trouble and shake things up.  As long as you don't forget to recycle. And brush your teeth.

Here's a new piece inspired by some goodies I picked up last Sunday at the Long Island Gem and Mineral Show in Mattituck, which is a lovely little town on the North Fork, between the vineyards and the farmstands.  Used to be, the North Fork of the island was pretty rural and rustic, at least in comparison to the trendy Hamptons on the South Fork.  The bait and tackle places and tractor supply stores have succumbed to boutiques selling fair trade African baskets and every little deli has brewed decaf soy chai lattes.  (I made that part up but it's probably true.)  In spite of that, I had a lovely day with my brilliant and beautiful friend Janet (you remember Janet from the earlier display hand episode) and bought some cool stuff, including some pre-drilled quartz points, Thai amulets, Chinese I-Ching coins and carved jade pendants.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Summertime blues ---- and pinks

When the weather starts to heat up, my brain just shuts down.  It did have one brilliant idea before it closed shop for the summer:  I had two things I wanted very much to incorporate into necklaces but they were just "too pretty" for their own good.  One is a free form glass heart that I bought on Etsy that's PINK.  I don't do pink.  I guess I thought I could work it into a charm bracelet somehow.  The other thing was a square of abalone shell that was part of a necklace in the 60's, very iridescent and all, and actually, pretty boring.  But collaging them has elevated them from the banal and I'm much happier with them.  I have 5 coats of Mod Podge protecting the leaves and paper, but I'm wondering if I need to also use a micro-wax or something in addition.  I thought that resin might leave the finish too glossy.  The Chinese writing is from a box of ointment I once bought in a Chinese pharmacy in NYC on a field trip with my friend and acupuncturist, Liz.  I loved the graphics on the package and the instructions in English that said it was for radiation burns.  The stuff smells like a mixture of hoisin sauce and beanpaste and works really well on non-radiation burns.  And the bonus is that over the years, the oils have made the instructions all lovely and translucent.


post-collaging the back
tip:  don't use black velvet if you share your house with cats and dogs.  you will NEVER get all the hair and linty bits off.

Friday, June 8, 2012

seen and unseen ...

In person, I think that the red jasper beads work - looking at the photos, I'm not so sure.  They're more rusty than red in real life.  I guess I'll give it a few days to "cook".


I happened upon this link when I was Googling the word "amulet" the other night.  The page is about Edward Lovett's collection of the amulets created by people living in London at the beginning of the 20th Century and the photos are fascinating (to me at least).  People have always wanted to feel that they had some way to control some small aspect of their lives.  My friends and I carried brightly colored rabbit's feet as children and always had our eyes out for four-leaf clovers and lucky rocks and charms.  The world we lived in was so beyond our control;  it required magic to tame it.  I find it incredibly touching to see these ordinary objects that gave their makers a link between the seen and the unseen.

I was at a bead show not too long ago and bought beads from a couple of gentlemen from Mali.  They had a tray of North African pendants, mostly poor quality Berber-style pieces, but one dirt-encrusted Tuareg pendant caught my attention.  I asked one of the sellers if it was worn for protection and he told me very sternly:  "No piece of jewelry can protect you - only God can protect you!  And for that to happen, you must open your heart to God."  Well, perhaps he's right.  But by my belief system, that act of opening your heart to the Divine, whatever you happen to call it, puts you in a sort of alignment or balance with other forces in the Universe - seen and unseen.  Physicists and mystics of all persuasions know that everything is vibrating, dancing if you will.  What if the hopes and wishes and prayers put into an amulet have their own vibrations?  What if we can access those vibrations by contact with those objects and they can help us to open our hearts to the Divine within us?  Or not.  Maybe they're just curiosities that remind us about being very vulnerable human beings.