This fall, the First Nations Garden will be joining the Chinese Garden and the JapaneseGardenfor the Gardens of Light event. An artistic illumination of the Sacred Tree, an immense poplar, will extend the new nighttime route. In order to respect the visions of the elders and indigenous artists. I worked in concert with Louis-Xavier Gagnon-Lebrun and Félix Dagenais, the two artistic designers from Atomic 3,
Spirit of Place is intended as an immersive experience, a sort of initiatory journey, that will bring the public into contact with the forces of Mother Earth. This powerful connection with the cycles of nature is part of the teachings handed down from generation to generation by all the indigenous peoples ofNorth America.
The Circle of Life and Mother Earth
The Circle of Life invites humans to live in harmony with all forms of life. The circle symbol lies at the heart of Indigenous peoples spirituality. In that philosophy, human beings are part of the cosmic forces of the universe and also participate in this circular movement, and do so their entire lives, including when they return to Mother Earth in order to perpetuate the cycle.
In the Circle of Life, four sacred spirits, symbolized by animals, represent the four cardinal points. Each direction expresses meaning.* Together they embody the four great natural and powerful forces, which correspond to the seasons and to their attributes.
- The spirit of the East is the awakening of nature, the springtime of life and the discoveries of childhood.
- The spirit of the South is the noontime of life. The light is at its zenith; summer displays its splendors.
- The spirit of the West, representing autumn, is the time for tribulations before the acceptance of old age.
- The spirit of the North, associated with winter, reminds us of the end of the life cycle, the return to Mother Earth.
The Circle of Life is also a Medicine Wheel enabling humans to strike a balance among spirit, emotions and body throughout their lives.
Spirit of Place, an inspired work
Inspired by the wealth of Mother Earth, the nighttime experience highlights the natural features of the place while harmoniously blending in with the elements of the First Nations Garden. Nature is at the core of the immersive work.
Visitors will feel awe and wonder before the Sacred Tree. In the Circle of Life, this great poplar is placed right in the center, as a pole of attraction between the forces of the Earth and those of the heavens. The Sacred Tree lifts the hearts of humans towards the heights. It makes achieving great spiritual powers possible. Visitors will be plunged into a poetic ambiance and be totally enveloped by the light projections and soundtrack.
Spirit of Place is designed to be a double experience. A sense of marvel will marry with an awakening to the major role of humans in the balance of nature: “We are nature.” Our hope is that that sense of marvel and that awakening of consciousness will extend well beyond this waking dream.
* It’s important to emphasize that the colors, the animals and the meaning of the four directions can vary from one nation to the next.