Vol I

The Tongs of Gold
by Tabita Rezaire

  • Getty Images, Mine tailings as seen from above, Mount Morgan, Queensland, Australia.

  • You are the roots of my roots, the soil of my soil, the flesh of my flesh, the blood of my blood. You are my ancestors. Thank you for my life.

    On my father’s side my great grandfather was a gold panner. He spent 40 years in the Amazon forest of French Guiana searching for gold. As the family story goes, after being bitten by a snake, he had to let go of all his belongings and gold to seek assistance. He was finally found lying inert by a scientific research team and repatriated to a hospital. He survived—goldless.

    My great grandmother wore a sumptuous gold fish around her neck. She was a midwife. Her mother was from the Kalina nation. Today, illegal gold mining is contaminating our rivers with mercury and fishes are intoxicated. The indigenous populations living from the rivers are being poisoned to the point that many babies are born with malfunctions.

    “When will you understand the true gold is water?” she said in a dream.

    On my mother’s side my great great grandfather was a silver artisan and jewelry maker. All his children followed his path except my great grandfather whose work took him to China. He returned from there with many pieces of silverware that today fill the shelves of my childhood home. There is a dragon I particularly love.

    They say silence is gold and the word is silver.

    Gold has always been associated with the sun and silver with the moon; and often the sun with the masculine and the moon with the feminine. May they find union in my being.

    My ancestors have asked that I wear three gold bangles on each wrist.

    They say I am the one they have been waiting for. To carry the work of releasing and healing the burden of the lineage. I’m scared. My computer just wrote sacred as I tried to write scared. I’m sacred too. Thank you for the reminder. I never realized both words used the same letters. Maybe that’s the journey I’m walking on. From scared to sacred. Just two letters to swap around. Why does it feel insurmountable?

    Gold is tested. Silver is refined. Our hearts are polished. Like gold, must we go through flames to become pure? Are the metals in our body asking for the crucible? Or is the radiance of infinity in us seeking the furnace to burn our shell?

Gold is tested. Silver is refined. Our hearts are polished.
Like gold, must we go through flames to become pure? Are the metals in our body asking for the crucible?

  • Throughout the African continent are cultures who saw the furnace as a womb. Traditional metallurgists were seen as impregnating the furnace-womb for the metal-child to be born anew.

    May we continually and gracefully be reborn from the heat of life—she sang.

    Humanity reveres gold from time immemorial: for ceremonial offerings, for burial, for adornment, for art, for survival, for healing, for power, for love.

    Mansa Musa, the 14th-century emperor of the kingdom of Mali, is said to have been one of the wealthiest men to have ever walked the earth. He may have been the largest producer of gold in the world. His now famous pilgrimage to Mecca made him known beyond borders. He gifted so much gold along the way that he caused a major gold recession.

    His journey echoes the pilgrimage of Queen Makeda from East Africa to Jerusalem a thousand years before, flooding the land with gold and spices, as she sought the wisdom of King Solomon. She knew a seed of wisdom was worth more than a mountain of gold.

    We have forgotten. Today no amount of gold can quench our greed. We violate the earth for a shiny glimpse, while our hearts roam in obscurity. The lavishness of our appearance can never hide the scarcity of our soul.

    From his possessed tongue he said: Gold, like the sun, burns the eyes.

    Our jewelry is not made of gold but of sweat—of the tears of history.

    Some of my ancestors were decimated for they lived in a land of gold. Some of my ancestors were bought in exchange for gold. Some of my ancestors benefited from it all. Some of my ancestors fell in love despite it all.

    The triangle of gold. The triangle of horror. The triangle across the sea. The triangle that made me.

    A child asked: Why are the countries with gold so poor and those without any so rich?

    He wanted the people of his land to trade in gold, as gold was abundant. Those who came from lands where wealth was of paper felt threatened and silenced him.

    The old one says human beings have been engineered by an alien species to mine gold for them. Enslaved to the golden rule: they who have the gold make the rules.

    Today, space might become the new gold. Those who control the sky will control the earth.

    Oshun! Deliver our children so your rivers can thrive again.

    From the sword of her mouth, we heard: brighter than the finest gold, sweeter than honey, are the ways of the soul.

    We are like golden chains full of knots. May we sit patiently and remove all the entanglements from the chain of our beings. Like a lotus flower we only bloom through the mud.

    Gold fears no fire.

    We are on the threshold of a golden age. Thresholds are always uncomfortable.

    Let us resist the temptation to gold-plate our fears and shortcomings.

    Let us collectively walk the distance from scared to sacred, like the alchemist who turns iron into gold. May we find a place of comfort within the discomfort. One can mine more gold from the depth of the heart than from the core of the earth.

    Infinite gratitude to the roots of my roots, the soil of my soil, the flesh of my flesh, the blood of my blood for the wisdom of gold.

    What did you receive from your ancestors that nothing can buy?

    Name it. And treasure it.

Tabita Rezaire is an artist-healer-seeker working with screens and energy streams. Her cross-dimensional practice envisions network sciences—organic, electronic, and spiritual—as healing technologies to serve the shift towards heart consciousness. Navigating digital, corporeal and ancestral memory as sites of struggles, she digs into scientific imaginaries to tackle the pervasive matrix of coloniality that affect the songs of our body-mind-spirits. She has shown her work internationally at Centre Pompidou Paris, MoMa New York, MASP São Paulo, Gropius Bau Berlin, ICA and Tate Modern London. Rezaire currently lives and works in Cayenne, French Guiana, where she is birthing AMAKABA.