WELCOME TO MY ARTBLOG! I dedicate this blog to the infinite WISDOM, CREATIVITY, and SACRED DREAMING POWERS of my ANISHINAABE ANCESTORS. They knew that everything in Creation has MANIDOO, or SPIRIT. The PLANTS, the TREES, the WATER, the WIND, the ROCKS, the MOUNTAINS have MANIDOO. The SKY SPIRITS have MANIDOO. I try to put some of that MANIDOO in my jewelry creations and in the ancient TEACHING STORIES that I share along with my art and that of kindred artists. MII I'IW, CHI-MIIGWECH.
Boozhoo, aaniin indinawemaaganag, gidinimikoo miinawaa: Hello relatives, I greet you again in a good way!
I am Zhaawano Giizhik. Welcome to part 20 of my blog series titled “Teachings of the Eagle Feather.” Today I share with you a Teaching against the background of the historical migration path of our People, the Ojibwe Anishinaabeg. According to Ojibwe Midewiwin tradition, our People for many ages lived in Waabanaki (Dawn Land), the old homeland along the Atlantic coast, before they moved westward, to the Great Lakes area in the upper mid-east region of Turtle Island (North America) - and far beyond...
The story is woven around an acrylic painting and asterling silver jewelry settitled Gaagige Bimaadiziwinishkode, which means“Everlasting Fire of Life.” The set, the necklace being an elegantly stylized variant on the classic Dine'(Navajo)squash blossom necklace, tells the story of the more than thousand years old prophecy that led to a legendary odyssey unprecedented in the history of mankind... The above picture shows a self-portrait that my sister Jéssica María Taylor did in 2012, as she was proudly modeling the squash blossom necklace that plays a central role in today's story.
The Great Diaspora of the Ojibwe Anishinaabeg Peoples
"Our forefathers, many
strings of lives ago, lived on the shores of the Great Salt Water in the
east (Waabanakiing, the Dawn Land). Here it was, that while congregated in a great town, and while they
were suffering the ravages of sickness and death, the Great Spirit (Gichi-manidoo), at the
intercession of Manab-o-sho (Wiinabozho), the great common uncle of the An-ish-in-aub-ag (Anishinaabeg),
granted them this rite wherewith life is restored and prolonged. Our
forefathers moved from the shores of the great water, and proceeded westward. The Me-da-we (Midewiwin) lodge was pulled down and it was not again erected, till our
forefathers again took a stand on the shores of the great river near where
Mo-ne-aung (Montreal) now stands. In the course of
time, this town was again deserted, and our forefathers still proceeding
westward, lit not their fires till they reached the shores of Lake Huron, where
again the rites of the Me-da-we were practiced. Again these rites
were forgotten, and the Me-da-we lodge was not built till the Ojibways found
themselves congregated at Bow-et-ing (Baawiting; outlet of Lake Superior), where they
remained for many winters. Still the Ojibways moved westward, and for the
last time the Me-da-we lodge was erected on the Island of La Pointe, and here,
long before the pale face appeared among them, it was practiced in its purest
and most original form. Many of our fathers lived the full term of life
granted to mankind by the Great Spirit, and the forms of many old people were
mingled with each rising generation. This, my grandson, is the meaning of
the words you did not understand; they have been repeated to us by our fathers
for many generations.”
The migration pathof the People, who, according to Midewiwin sources lived along the northern shores of the Atlantic and at some point in history had been advised by Seven Grandfathers (prophets) - who were instructed by six Mystery Beings who had appeared from the ocean to teach the Grandfathers about the Mide way of life - to leave their home country and expand westward, would be marked by Seven Fires. To this day, the - possibly 2000 to 2500 years lasting- migration of the Anishinaabeg is known as niizhwaaso-ishkoden niigaanaajimowin, the Prophecy of the Seven Fires.
The theme of this jewelry set particularly relates to eko-nishwaaching, the Eight Fire. The eight fire, which is a term arising from the Mide teachings of the Seven Fires, is used here as a metaphor for the importance of a spiritual attitude to life, mutual respect for one another and a reciprocal exchange between all life forms, corporeal as well as incorporeal. Hence the title: “Everlasting Fire Of Life”.
The Prophecy of the Seven Fires, an sacred as well as educative Teaching that has been passed on for more than thousand years by many generations of Mide practitioners (members of the Midewiwin society), not only refers to the westward migration of the Anishinaabe People, but also, more particularly, to certain phases or eras in the history of the original peoples of Turtle Island.
This universal Teaching, which contains seven essential spiritual lessons to the world, stresses mino-bimaadiziwin: the importance of living a good and honest way of life with an open eye for other people and nature around us and – placed in a bigger context – the vision that all people and races must come together on the basis of shared dignity and mutual respect. The Seven Fires remind us that the only way humankind can survive and save the planet from social and ecological destruction is by renouncing materialism and choosing a path that is truly spiritual. “Only then, if the people of all colors and faith choose the right path, a path of respect, wisdom, and spirituality, will the Seventh fire light the Last Fire, an eternal fire of peace, which will unfold an era of spiritual illumination…”¹
Two Roads to choose from...
The traditional Mide people of the Ojibweg along with other Algonquin-speaking Nations speak of “two roads”: a road to technology and the road to the spiritual. The thought behind this idea is that even though you are spiritual you still may not be walking on the right path; of course the question that could emerge - if the road of technology that should lead us to greater development actually leads to destruction -, is one that remains open for discussion. ________________________________________________________________
The legendary migration of my distant ancestors and the age-old Midewiwin concept of the Seven Fires are represented by seven oval turquoise stones, each adorned with a crown of seven pear-shaped red corals (which substitute the blossoms of a traditional squash blossom necklace); the silver eagle feathersthat I mounted on the double row of silver beads, symbolize spirituality, courage, and vision.
The pendant of the Fire Of Life Necklace - which substitutes the ‘naja’ of a traditional squash blossom necklace - symbolizes the Eight Fire. The ovally shaped turquoise stone refers to physical unity and spiritual strength of the People as a whole; the pear-shaped red corals – some twenty in total – adjusted around the turquoise stone symbolize the historical journey of the People – and, viewed in a broader context, the Life Fire that burns in all human beings.
In the below photo the eight fires appear to form a heart-shaped path.
How the Great Sea Shell led the People toward the Land of Many Lakes “While our forefathers were living on the great salt water toward the rising sun, the great Megis (miigis; sea-shell) showed itself above the surface of the great water, and the rays of the sun for a long period were reflected from its glossy back. It gave warmth and light to the An-is-in-aub-ag. All at once it sank into the deep, and for a time our ancestors were not blessed with its light. It rose to the surface and appeared again on the great river which drains the waters of the Great Lakes, and again for a long time it gave life to our forefathers, and reflected back the rays of the sun. Again it disappeared from sight and it rose not, till it appeared to the eyes of the An-is-in-aub-ag on the shores of the first great lake. Again it sank from sight, and death daily visited the wigwams of our forefathers, till it showed its back, and reflected the rays of the sun once more at Bow-e-ting (Baawiting; Sault Ste. Marie). Here it remained for a long time, but once more, and for the last time, it disappeared, and the An-ish-in-aub-ag was left in darkness and misery, till it floated and once more showed its bright back at Mo-ning-wun-a-kaun-ing (La Pointe Island), where it has ever since reflected back the rays of the sun, and blessed our ancestors with life, light, and wisdom. Its rays reach the remotest village of the wide-spread Ojibways." -William W. Warren
Giiwenh. So goes the Teaching Story about the Prophecy of the Seven Fires and what it means to the Peoples of the great Turtle Island...Miigwechgibizindaw noongom mii dash gidaadizookoon. Thank you for listening to my storytelling today.Giga-waabamin wayiiba, I hope to see you again soon... > To read more about this topic see: Journey of Our People
My name is Zhaawano Giizhik. As an American artist and jewelry designercurrently 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.