Make a God’s Eye to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Source: Wikipedia. Photo by Anaroza 2007

A God’s Eye (or Ojo de Dios) is often thought of as a Mexican decoration. They are used by the Huichol Indians of western Mexico in sacred ceremonies. When a child is born, a God’s Eye is created by the father and offered to the god who protects children. Each year, until the child reaches the age of five, a new, smaller God’s eye is added to one end of the original. These colorful yarn decorations evolved from the “nierika.” The “nierika,” a small square or round tablet with a hole in the center, was used as a sacred magical offering and symbolized the sun, among other things. Because of the sun symbolism, God’s Eyes have become popular decorations for the Summer Solstice as well.

God’s Eyes can be as simple or complex as you like. We’ll start with the directions for making the most basic version, but I’ll give you some ideas at the end for increasing the complexity if you are so inclined…

Materials:

Two sticks of your choice (these can be chop sticks, Popsicle sticks, wooden dowels, or twigs*)

Scissors and a pencil

3-4 skeins of brightly colored yarn. For a Summer Solstice God’s Eye, you may want to use warm “sun” colors, and especially yellow for the center.

*Note: The God’s Eye will be easier to make with smooth, uniform sticks, however natural sticks, such as twigs, can yield very interesting results.

Instructions:

 

1.      Cross the sticks at the center. Use the yellow yarn to tie them together, making an “X,” but don’t cut the yarn off the skein. Tie the yarn in the back to secure the sticks.

2.      Use the pencil to number the ends of the sticks, beginning with the one at the bottom (make it #1)

3.      Bring the yarn to the front between sticks 3 and 4. Pull the yarn over sticks 3 and 2 and bring to the back between sticks 2 and 1.

4.      Pull the yarn over sticks 1 and 4 and wrap it behind stick 4. Pull it over sticks 4 and 3 and wrap it behind stick 3. Now you have been all the way around once. Continue to work in this manner, keeping your yarn taut and always laying your new yarn next to, not on top of, the one already in place. For the visual learners out there, here’s a link to a nice diagram of the whole process

5.      As you continue, you’ll begin the see the pattern of the eye emerge. Once you have an “eye,” (the size of a quarter is generally a good guideline) you can add a new color of yarn. To do this, tie a new color of yarn onto the existing one so that the knot will be at the back. Continue weaving once or twice around to make sure your knot is secure and then trim the ends.

6.      Continue weaving, adding new colors as desired, until you are within 1/2 “ of the end of the Sticks or your God’s Eye is the size you want. Cut the yarn, leaving approximately a 6-inch tail. Tie the tail in a knot in back.

Other ideas:

  • Make a smaller, more intricate God’s Eye using toothpicks and embroidery floss. Or go smaller still and make earrings.
  • Follow the directions here to make a recessed pattern that you can either use for the entire God’s Eye or alternate with raised patterns to create interesting texture in your finished piece
  • Use long sticks and make one large God’s Eye in the center. Then add smaller sticks to make smaller God’s Eyes on each of the ends.
  • Add feathers, crystals or other decorations to each end of your completed God’s Eye.

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Comments

  1. stevie mack says:

    Kitty, When I was first learned about God’s Eyes I thought they were decorative trinkets. Little did I know until I learned about the Huichol people and their art, that God’s Eyes carry significant cultural meaning, based on a long tradition of their tribal mythology. As in the photo you included in this post, votive objects like the God’s eyes are placed at sacred locations as prayer offerings. Using what most would consider the simplest materials, the Huichol artisans imbue their creations with meaning as a pledge of their devotion to their ancestor gods. For more information about this topic I would recommend a new publication titled, Huichol Art and Culture : Balancing the World, edited by Melissa S. Powell and C. Jill Grady.