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Friday, August 17, 2012

Teachings of the Eagle Feather, Part 2

"A Prayer to the North"

- Updated March 9, 2023
wedding rings, trouwringen, edelsmid Tammo Geertsema
ANAMA'AAWIN GIIWEDINONG (Prayer to the North): 14K white gold wedding rings; the ladies' ring is mounted with a 0.06 ct white brilliant-cut diamond . See our website for details. 

Boozhoo! Biindigen miinawaa nindaadizooke wigamigong; enji-zaagi'iding miinawaa gikendaasong. Ningad-aawechige noongom giizhigad! (Greetings! Welcome back in my Storytelling Lodge where legends and teaching stories are told. Let's tell a teaching story today!)
Today's story is the second episode of a series named "Teachings of the Eagle Feather."

It's a collection of teaching stories provided with jewelry images and illustrations of artwork by myself as well as by kindred artists. The stories are based on aadizookaanan (traditional stories) of our People, the Ojibwe Anishinaabeg of Gaa-zaaga'eganikaag, the land of many lakes - the Great Lakes area of North America.
These narratives are of a sacred, healing nature and often told within a romantic context, their allegorical themes provided with a personal touch.
Today's story, which I wove around a set of wedding rings designed and handcrafted by myself, features two images of acrylic canvases, one by Leland Bell and the other by Chris Angeconeb.


A living prayer

A Prayer to the North wedding rings by ZhaawanArt
See the website for details of the wedding ring set. 

am pleased to share with you the sacred story of these white gold eagle feather rings

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

The color and the shape of the white gold eagle feather wedding rings symbolize a special prayer to Giiwedin, the North Wind - and a petition to aya'aabitameg giiwedinoong, the benevolent spirits that dwell to the North.

MIGIZI, the bald eagle, has always been regarded by the Ojibwe Anishinaabe People as a mediator between Earth and Sky and a living Prayer to the Great Mystery. Migizi is therefore the ultimate embodiment, and his feathers a powerful reminder, of our responsibility to live in balance with natural law and in cooperation with all life forms.

Winter time

GIIWEDIN, the North, represents many things. Giiwedin literally means "Coming Home." BIIBOON (Winter), when plants rest and the ground is covered in snow, lives in the North. Traditionally, during the winter months, the people engage in hunting and spear fishing and during the long, cold nights the parents and grandparents share their stories and teachings with the young, recounting the history of the People and providing the children with lessons about their spiritual heritage and about bimaadiziwin (a good way of life). 
Biboonishiwing is a time of going home, of remembrance and rest, of self-reflection and honoring the Elders, the pipe carriers, the lodge keepers, and the storytellers of the Nation. It is a time of looking back and passing on one's life experience onto the younger generations in a good way.

Chris Angeconeb Nishnabe Aski Medicine Painter
Giiwedinong ("In the North") by Nishnawbe Aski Medicine Painter Chris Angeconeb. Grandfather Bear, who  sits in the North,  represents the medicinal powers of Creation.

A place of wisdom

The literal meaning of giiwedin is "Coming Home." It is a place that reminds us to be mindful of the physical body; when it is tired we put it to rest - just as in the winter the Earth rests from her labors. So, the North is really a place of Homecoming and Healing Powers and Wisdom, telling us to let go of ourselves and the past, to let go of our enemies and our fears, and to get in touch with our ancestors. In the North we make peace with ourselves and we experience and explore our love for family and friends - and for that special person with whom we decide to walk the Road Of Life.


A Midewiwin prayer to the North:*

Giinawaa aya'aabitameg giiwedinoong ineninimishinaang noongom giizhigak ji mino-bawaajigeyaang.
Naazikaawizhinaang, abi-izhaamizhinaang noongom dibikak endaso-dibikak gaye; abi gaatwendamoog en-daayaang abi-mooshkineshiwik n’jiichaaginaanin ji gezhendamaang w’onizhishiwing.
Waabandashinaang gwayakawaadizin ji gikendamaang ge izhi gayekaadiziyaang.

Zhaagoojidamowizhinaang mayanadag ji bawaadizinaang.
Gego inenimizhkaangenji bawaadimaangiban zaagiziwin, gemaa maanaadenjigiwin, gemaa wiyezhingewin, gemaa naniinawendamowin, ji boodaginigiyaangiban maanaadendamowin.

Ganawenimizhinaang niibaadibik megwaa memeidige gaagetaawizisiwaang.
Dibishkoo giiwedin ezhi mashkowaanimag zhaagoodinamowizhinaang mayaanaadag; dibishkoo goon ezhi-bidagoonayang aki ganawenimizhinaang en-dachiyaang.
Gego gaye webinashkaangen; baamaa w’gii aabiziishinaang, ninawind dibinawe ji naanaagadawendiziyaang.

“To you, spirit beings who dwell to the North: today we ask you to grant us good dreams.
Approach us this night and every night; enter our homes and our spirits and fill us with the yearning for beauty.
Show us the good that we may follow and observe it.”

“Banish evil dreams from our sleep and from our lives.
Let neither deceit nor remorse, neither selfishness nor ill will toward our brothers, disturb our sleep”

“Guard us at night when we are helpless.
Come like the north winds; dispel the evil. Watch over us, blanket our spirits as the snow covers the earth.
And do not abandon us until we are awake and restored.”


Leland Bell Ojibwe Medicine painter
Leland Bebaminojmat Bell: "Being Together" 


A Prayer to the North wedding rings by ZhaawanArt
See our website for details of the wedding ring set. 


Sweetgrass, hair of Mother Earth

Eagle feather and wiingashk
The stylized feathers of Migizi that are draped over the white gold ring shanks symbolize spirit, and prayer.

The twisted wire of white gold adorning the feathers represent braids of WIINGASHK (northern sweetgrass), which the Anishinaabeg regard as a sacred plant that symbolizes the hair of Mother Earth and the northern direction; it is used in prayer and for smudging in purifying ceremonies.

White gold wedding rings ZhaawanArt trouwringen
A clean heart and a clear mind 

The brilliance and fire of the diamond - mounted slightly off-center on the ladies’ ring, in a 14k yellow gold setting -, stands for biinide'ewin: cleanliness of heart and waaseyaawendamowin: clarity of mind. 

The stone reminds us of our ability to get in touch with the benevolent spirits of the North - and thus with the great wisdom within ourselves.

Mii sa ekoozid. Miigwech gibizindaw noongom mii dash gidibaajimotoon wa’aw aawechigan. And that is the end of the story. Thank you for listening today, for allowing me to relate to you this teaching story. Giga-waabamin wayiiba, I hope to see you again soon.

> Read the next episode in the blog series Teachings of the Eagle Feather: "My Good Enemy."
> See more eagle feather wedding rings designed by ZhaawanArt.

* Source: Basil Johnston, Ojibway Ceremonies, p. 179, Bison Book University of Nebraska Press, Bison Book Printing 1990.

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Zhaawano Giizhik at Agawa Rock

About the author/artist:

Zhaawano Giizhik, an American currently living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, was born in 1959 in North Carolina, USA. Zhaawano has Anishinaabe blood running through his veins; the doodem of his ancestors from Baawiting (Sault Ste. Marie, Upper Michigan) is Waabizheshi, Marten. As an artist, a writer, and a designer of  jewelry and wedding rings, Zhaawano draws on the oral and pictorial traditions of his ancestors. In doing so he sometimes works together with kindred artists.

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