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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spirit of the Seasons, part 4

"Life Is a Gift"

Onaabdin-giizis/Onaabani-giizis; Snowcrust Moon (March 20, 2019)


Click on the image to view details of the ring


I consider it an honor to share with you today this blog story, the fourth in a series titled Spirit of the Seasons. Today's post features an image of a beautiful painting by the late Odaawaa-
Bodéwadmi Anishinaabe painter Daphne Odjig and an eagle feather ring titled Ziigwan Miinigoziwin ("Gift of Spring"). I designed and created the ring by hand at my workbench as a special celebration of the first day of spring and the promise of renewal and growth.

I constructed the ring of sterling silver; a 0.236 x 0.118 inch (6x3 mm) marquise-cut natural emerald graces the eagle feather.The emerald represents zaagakiijigan, or miinikaan, a plant seed, which in turn symbolizes rejuvenation and the fertility of Zaagitooyang Aki, the Loving Earth.

Illustration: "Spring", acrylic on canvas by by the late Daphne Odjig (1979)

Gete-aya'aag, our ancestors, knew that the awakening of the seedbuds and the plant seeds that are hidden in the Earthmother are the first silent sounds of spring time and of Creation at dawn.

The eagle feather adorning the ring represent the mighty dive of the Eagle flying
from the East across the waters of the lakes toward the West. The silver represents the Eastern sky, source of Light. After all, it is in the East where the spirit of Ziigwan dwells and where the Eagle sits; it is in the East where every new day the power and the beauty of Creation awaken and ignite…



Manidoowi miinikaanense.
Niigiwin manidoowin.
Miinikaanense w'da-gikinaawajinowaan abinoojiin.
Miinikaanense manidoowi, w'da-mashki-akiiwi.

'The small seed is a mystery.
Birth is a mystery.
The small seed symbolizes a child.
The small seed is mystical, it will heal like earth's medicine.'

- Ritual words of thanksgiving in the Autumn ceremony of the Waabanoowiwin, Anishinaabe Society of Dawn, when a kernel of corn is planted as a symbolic petition for Life and Health.


So the story goes...

Giiwenh. So goes the Teaching Story about the rejuvenating power of Ziigwan and what it traditionally means to the Anishinaabeg Peoples of the great Turtle Island...Miigwech gibizindaw noongom mii dash gidaadizookoon. Thank you for listening to my storytelling today. Giga-waabamin wayiiba, I hope to see you again soon...

> Read the next episode in the series: When the Spirits of Summer and Winter Meet
> Read more stories by Zhaawano


About the author and his sources of inspiration:

Trouwringen ontwerper Zhaawano Giizhik
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 MAZINAAJIMOWINAN 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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