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Star Stories, part 19: The Blood Moon, When Great Changes Begin

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Manidoo-Giizisoons (Little Spirit Moon) (December 28, 2021)

Boozhoo, aaniin! Today we will take a closer look at a visually stunning appearance of Dibiki-giizis (ᑎᐱᑭ ᑮᓯᔅ, The Moon) called MISKWI-DIBIK-GIIZIS (BLOOD MOON). The moon turns red during gookomisinaan dibik-giizis makadewaabikiziwin; this is when our Grandmother is fully eclipsed, especially during the summer moons. The appearance of a Miskwi-dibik-giizis carries powerful spiritual and religious relevance in our culture, symbolizing new beginnings and transitions. She brings with her the energy of fertility, healing and growth, in nature as well as within ourselves.

Gookomisinaan dibik-giizis makadewaabikiziwin, a total lunar eclipse, is sometimes called a blood moon because of the reddish tinge waawiyezi-dibik-giizis (the Full Moon) takes on when fully eclipsed. Aki's (the Earth's) atmosphere scatters and refracts the light from Giizis (the Sun), so Aki appears to be surrounded by a reddish glow on the edge of its disk. Since the blue wavelengths coming from Giizis are scattered by our atmosphere, the light that reaches the Moon is reddish — and we see that effect when the Moon is almost totally obscured by Aki's shadow and turns red. The term "blood moon" is also frequently used to describe four total lunar eclipses that occur in a row. The Ojibweg sometimes call this moon: MISKOMINI GIIZIS or MISKWIWMINI GIIZIS - Raspberry moon; the seventh moon of Creation, when great changes begin. It is a time for focusing on healing and restorative activities.

This year, in the sixth moon called ODE'IMIN GIIZIS (the Strawberry Moon; July), we saw a total Lunar Eclipse, a Super Flower Blood Moon, a "ring of fire" Solar Eclipse, and a host of bright stars around the Summer Solstice and the WENABOZHO constellation (Scorpio). On the 24th day of this moon, GIIZHIG-ANANG (Venus) and the "Pollux "star appeared closest to each other in the evening sky. The Strawberry Moon was the last supermoon of the year.

Nookomis, our word for "Grandmother," has since time immemorial been associated with Dibik-giizis or grandmother moon who, as we know, controls the menstrual cycle of women on earth. Some of our aadizookaanan (sacred stories) connect menstrual blood of women with the Moon and certain stars. One story explains the bright red color of the star commonly called Betelgeuse, or, according to its Latinized Greek name, alpha Orionis. A long time ago, Wenabozho (the Great Hare) and his brother Ma’iingan (Wolf) once fought a wiindigoo (the spirit of starvation) by taking a menstrual clot from Nookomis, their grandmother, and throwing it at the wiindigoo, covering him in blood.

Since then, Anishinaabe star stories relate of a celestial being with the same name that lies in ambush along the Jiibay-miikana (Milky Way) to snatch those unprepared for the celestial journey. Wiindigoo Anang, which is part of the Gaa-biboonikaan (Bringer of Winter) constellation, is how Anishinaabeg call it...

Image: Wenabozho Sings at the Blood Moon © 2021 Zhaawano Giizhik

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