Love Stories from the Land of Many Lakes, part 13: Walking the Rough and Winding Road
Updated: Feb 18
Waatebagaa Giizis /Waabaagbagaa Giizis (Leaves Turning Moon, September 13, 2019)
Aaniin. Biindigen! Hello, welcome to this blog!
Today's blog story is the thirteenth in a series named "Love Stories From the Land of Many Lakes." It's a collection of love stories written and 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 told within a romantic context, their allegorical themes often provided with a personal touch.
The following tale is an aadizookaan (sacred story). It is narrated by way of a set of wedding bands. My jewelry are essentially storyteller mediums; the technique of overlay, which I use to replicate the "graphic outline" imagery of the Native Woodland Art School, is perfect for conveying the aadizookanan of our People.
The title of the below wedding ring set, Niwiijiiwaa Waawaashkamiinaang, literally means: "I accompany him/her on the crooked road."
I created these gold Life Road wedding bands, whose colors radiate a "copperish glow," with the aid of my trademark method of, what I like to call, "Ojibwe graphic overlay." The rings are provided with an organic look - characterized by a slightly melted ("sculptural") top layer with a subtle hammer blow-structure surface. The rings, which consist of a 14K warm yellow gold exterior and a 14K red gold interior, show a cut-out symbol of the Midewiwin Life Road with a cut-out stylized design of Maang (a loon) on the insides.
~~ COPPER, METAL OF THE SPIRITS ~~
The gold alloys that I used in making the wedding rings contain a high percentage of ozaawaabiko-zhooniyaa (copper). Traditionally, to our People, the "brown silver" is highly sacred since it is known to hold extraordinary healing powers - as it possesses the best energies of the earth. In recent times (since the 19th or 20th century) copper is being directly related to the powerful Mishi-bizhiw (the Horned Underwater Lynx) and Animkiig (Thunderbirds). The Midewiwin, the Grand Medicine Lodge of the Ojibweg, use miskwaabikoon (pieces of copper) in their ceremonies and the copper deposits in Gichigami (Lake Superior) were often frequented by Medicine People who came there to dream and have visions.
~~ MIDEWIWIN AND THE TRUE PATH OF LIFE ~~
The teachings of Midewiwin, the Lodge of Medicine and Ethics of the Anishinaabeg Peoples, 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, graphically integrated in the design of these wedding bands, 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.
The jagged lines of the Life Road design of the ring exteriors reflect the capricious nature and the paradoxes of our earthly existence. The ring set contains a metaphor of peaks and valleys, the obstacles and possibilities that two zayaagi`iwedjig (lovers) and wiijiiwaaganag (companions on the path of life) encounter as they walk the matrimonial road and must overcome together.
At the same time, the stylized designs of a loon on the inside of the rings emphasize virtues like companionship, inseperability, and faithfulness that exists between the wiijiiwaaganag.
To gete-ayaa'ag, our ancestors, Maang, the skilfull waterbird with the loud, wild cry, symbolized conjugal fidelity, for it was the close companionship between loons that best reflected wiidigendiwin, the union between husband and wife.
Giwiijiiwin Dibishkoo maang Pane jiigayi'iin.
("I am by your side Like a loon
- An Ojibwe Anishinaabe love song
Giiwenh. Miigwech gibizindaw noongom mii dash gidibaajimotoon wa’aw zaagi'iwewi-aadizookaan. Bi-waabamishinaang miinawaa daga.
So the story goes. Thank you for listening to me today, for allowing me tell you this sacred love story. Please come see me again!