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Monday, July 16, 2012

Teaching Stories, part 9

"Walking The Sacred Path Of Life"


Unieke Levensweg trouwringen van ZhaawanArt

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Boozhoo! Hello! I consider it an honor to share with you today the sacred story of these wedding rings

It's a story that has been told throughout history and although its meaning is deeply rooted in the collective memory and cultural consciousness of the Anishinaabe People; it's also a story that I believe is quintessentially universal in its scope and in its applicability to our everyday lives and relationships.

The exterior of the rings display a stylized form of the diagram of the MIDEWIWIN MIIKANA or ANISHINAABE MINO-MIIKANA: the Good Life Road of the People. The interiors of the rings depict the daily path of MISHOOMIS GIIZIS, our grandfather the sun, our Lifegiver who brings us light and warmth and energy.


Teachings of the Midewiwin


The teachings of MIDEWIWIN, the Lodge of Medicine and Ethics of the Anishinaabe People, tell us that each person has a path to follow, called The True Path of Life, a capricious trail with many digressions (dangers and temptations) traveling over four “hills”: infancy, youth, adulthood, old age. This trail of life was originally depicted by the ancestors on ancient, sacred birchbark scrolls, as a stylized path with seven or nine digressions or lines leading from life’s main trail. Kept safely within the caches of the Mide spiritual practices, the teachings of the True Path of Life have been passed down for many centuries.


Midwiwin Life Road diagram


For a Midewiwinini or Midewekwe - Mide man or Mide woman -, to depart from Bimaadiziiwin-Miikana, the true path of life, and to not return is equivalent to dying. But since digression has rarely a permanent character, he or she is expected to withdraw annually in vigil and prayer, to ask the aadizoogaanag (spirit helpers) for guidance, and to review his or her life to determine whether he or she is still on the true path.



A good way of life



The title of these Mide path wedding bands, MINO BIMAADIZiWIN, literally means A GOOD WAY OF LIFE. Life as the People should live it in order to receive good fortune, good health, and peace of heart in this world; and to gain admission into the Land of Peace in the next world. Material wealth does not enhance the status of a person in Anishinaabe society. Only courage, skill, and respect for the children and the elders and the sacred web of life lead to bimaadiziwin, a good way of life.



Trouwringen van ZhaawanArt


To live a good way of life is the central goal for the traditional Anishinaabeg. This goal cannot be achieved without one’s own personal efforts or the aid of specialists (medicine persons); nor can it be obtained without the effective help and cooperation of certain nonhuman persons called aadizoogaanag (“our grandfathers” or spirit-helpers), who inhabit all layers of the universe. Reciprocal responsibilities and mutual obligations, not only between humans, but also in connection with all life forces and beings of the world are simply taken for granted.

Inaabandamowinan (dreaming) or seeking waasayaabindamiwin (a vision) are the primary means by which one can enter into direct social interaction with persons of the nonhuman category. Maintaining a high moral standard within Anishinaabe society, honoring the principle of mutual obligations between all life forms, and obtaining power from both aadizoogaanag and bawaajiganag (grandfathers and ancestors appearing in dreams) are equally essential conditions for obtaining Bimaadiziwin.

Giiwenh. That's how far the story goes. Thank you for reading & listening.


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Trouwringen ontwerperd Zhaawano Giizhik
Image wedding rings by ZhaawanArt. ‘MINO BIMAADIZIWIN': overlay wedding rings, 14 K white gold, red gold, yellow gold by ZhaawanArt

About me and my sources of inspiration:



My name is Zhaawano Giizhik. As an American artist and jewelry designer currently living in the Netherlands,  I like to draw on the oral and pictorial traditions of my Ojibwe Anishinaabe ancestors from the American Great Lakes area. For this I call on my manidoo-minjimandamowin, or 'Spirit Memory'; which means I try to remember the knowledge and the lessons of my ancestors.

The MAZINAAJIMOWIN or ‘pictorial spirit writings’ - which are rich with  symbolism and have been painted throughout history on rocks and etched on other sacred items such as copper and slate, birch bark and animal hide - were a form of spiritual as well as educational communication that gave structure and meaning to the cosmos. Many of these sacred pictographs or petroforms – some of which are many, many  generations old - hide in sacred locations where the manidoog (spirits) reside, particularly in those mystic places near the coastline where the sky, the earth, the water, the underground and the underwater meet.


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