On The Heart of Pearls

The classic strand of pearls evoke a certain kind of classic lunar beauty. Still. Iridescent. Regal. And yet somehow still redolent of the sea. An unmined gem wrenched from the mouth of an oyster.
And surely we know how this works. A piece of grit or sand is placed in a live oyster and to wall off the irritation the oyster coats the irritant with gleaming nacre and over time a pearl is produced laquered layer by layer.
Pearls have been prized for at least four thousand years and cultivated for about fourteen hundred years and perfected into the flawless orbs we know in the last hundred in China and Japan in particular.
Certainly there is mesmeric beauty to their geometric regularity but that regularity is only possible because of mass production. The ‘perfect’ pearl is so rare in nature that you could consider it a statistical impossibility. A majority are roundish, to be sure, but not thatround.
The moral lesson of pearl making is clear – irritants happen in life and so we aspire to make something beautiful and valuable with them. It’s good old Protestant work ethics with an esthetic veneer. Hence ‘pearls of wisdom’ and ‘the world is your oyster, now go and make your pearls.’ And yet how often are perfectly shaped irritants placed in just the right spot so as a perfect pearl might come? Because that’s how you get strands of pearls. Oysters are sorted by size and lined up and have a flawless grain injected into the center of their mantle.
Maybe you have heard of the music of Bach or Vivaldi, or the paintings of Caravaggio or Rubens described as ‘baroque’. But the word ‘baroque’ comes from the Portuguese word ‘barocco’ meaning ‘irregular pearl’. Extravagant and unusual beauty was once associated with these kinds of pearls.
With X-ray scans we can see that at the center of baroque pearls are things like fish tales, snail shells, sticks, worms, tiny crabs and all sorts of other things. A baroque pearl is an autobiography of a true lived life.
Recently I was talking with a farmer who raises her cows in all the ways you would want about possibly using her tallow for Primal Derma. She said ‘I slaughter when the cows are older so the tallow is really yellow. I don’t know if you’ll want it.” But I was thrilled to hear this because this is a sign that the cows are from somewhere that allows them to eat and have more of life.
Is each batch of Primal Derma a pearl? I don’t know about that. But each is an manifestation of a cow that has lived a unique life in place and their body is a reflection of that place.
So each batch will have different colors and maybe even slightly different textures because we aren’t making industrially produced strings of pearls where every one is the same.
We are happily contending with difference at the heart of these gems of the pasture and letting that show us how to proceed the best we can and trying to make beauty with that.
Thanks so much for your ongoing support of Primal Derma.


  1. Veronica on June 23, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    This is absolutely beautiful. Once again, your words are an inspiring combination of thought-provoking information and heart-warming ideals.

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