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  • Writer's picturezhaawano

Star Stories, part 25: The Mighty Winds From Our Grandfather in the Sky

Updated: May 11

Updated: Namebine-giizis (Suckerfish Moon)/Zaagibagaa-giizis (Budding Moon) - May 11, 2024


Jiibayag Niimi'idiwag ("The Spirits Are Dancing") Painting by Zhaawano Giizhik
Jiibayag Niimi'idiwag ("The Spirits Are Dancing") ©2022 Zhaawano Giizhik


Boozhoo, aaniin!

Our Grandfather in the Sky is speaking to us, again. With the speed of a million miles an hour he is sending us messages from our ancestors, in the form of powerful winds and dazzling lights dancing above the horizon. This weekend and the upcoming week, solar winds, those powerful storms that originate from the sun, are unusually active on AKI GIMAAMAAMINAAN – Our Mother the Earth – as we speak.

GIMISHOOMISINAAN GIIZIS, Our Grandfather the Sun, sent a storm to Aki last night. The stormtriggers a strong geomagnetic storm – the strongest in two decades. The storm comes along with an astonishing amount of visible WAAWAATEWAG (Northern Lights) outside of their usual realm. The effects are expected to last through the weekend and possibly into next week.

When a solar outburst happens, we experience our Grandfathers, the spirits of our ancestors, dancing in the sky. Jiibayag niimi'idiwag: "The Spirits Are Dancing." They dance south to north: I can't help but wonder why this is one of the reasons the Anishinaabe jiibay-midewigaan (The Ojibwe Ghost Lodge") * is lined up north to south. The purpose of the north to south lodge was to commune with or catch the spirits as they traveled south to north, going home, toward the Giiwedin anang (Pole star).

When the Grandfathers and Grandmothers dance, what happens is that many trillions of ozone gas entities help protect us from the solar particles that hit the Earth... The solar wind, screaming in thousands of tongues inaudible to our ears, carries these particles away but some stick around, waiting for reincarnation to happen in our lives. This is why we must pay attention when we observe the Waawaatewag dancing in the sky. We must greet them with asemaa (tobacco) in hand. A rattle, if at hand, is used for communication. Some hold a pole wrapped in green cloth in the air. When the campfires are flaring throughout the northern sky it could mean our ancestors are visiting us, revitalizing our DNA and making us remember where we came from.

The old people know that they come to our world to collect the souls of the newly-departed and take them home. The polar lights, therefore, are imagined to be campfires, lit by the grandmothers and grandfathers who went before us and who sit alongside the Path of Souls in the Milky Way to guide the spirits of the recently deceased to their final home.


Jiibayag Boodawaanan ("Campfires of the Spirits") Painting by Zhaawano Giizhik.
Jiibayag Boodawaanan ("Campfires of the Spirits") ©2022 Zhaawano Giizhik.

What is a geomagnetic storm? Scientists describe it as a major disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere that occurs when there is a very efficient exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding the Earth.

The frequency of geomagnetic storms increases and decreases with the solar magnetic activity cycle. Our Grandfather has cycles of about 11 years during which he waxes and wanes – or, as an astrophysicist would put it: The cycles occur when the solar magnetic poles switch places. These "Coronal Mass Ejections" as they are called, become more common during the peak of the Sun's 11-year solar cycle.

The source of the solar storm is a cluster of sunspots on the sun's surface that is 17 times the diameter of the earth. The spots are filled with tangled magnetic fields that can act as slingshots, throwing huge quantities of charged particles towards our planet.

Several space weather phenomena are often associated with or are caused by a geomagnetic storm. NASA and astrophysicists try to make us believe that this is recent "scientific" knowledge, but our ancestors knew about it long before the Europeans invaded Turtle Island. These phenomena include solar energetic particle events, geomagnetically induced currents, Waawaatewag (Northern Lights), and, in our modern times, ionospheric disturbances that cause radio and radar scintillation, disruption of navigation by magnetic compass.

A solar wind carries with it Giizis's magnetic field. This field will have either a North or South orientation –, which is in line with the path our spirits travel after death. If the solar wind has energetic bursts, contracting and expanding the magnetosphere, or if the solar wind takes a southward polarization, geomagnetic storms occur. The southward field causes magnetic reconnection of the dayside magnetopause, rapidly injecting magnetic and particle energy into Aki's magnetosphere.

SUNSPOTS are dark, planet-size regions of strong magnetic fields on the surface of Giizis. They can spawn eruptive disturbances such as SOLAR FLARES and coronal mass ejection. You could say that Coronal Mass Ejections and solar flares are extremely large explosions on the photosphere. In just a few minutes, the flares heat to several million degrees F. and release as much energy as a billion megatons of TNT. They occur near sunspots, usually at the dividing line between areas of oppositely directed magnetic fields.

Hot matter interacts with the magnetic field sending a burst of this matter up and away from Giizis in the form of a flare. Solar flares emit x-rays and magnetic fields which bombard Aki as geomagnetic storms. If sunspots are active, more solar flares will result creating an increase in geomagnetic storm activity for Aki. Therefore during sunspot maximums, Our Mother will see an increase in the Waawaatewag (Northern and Southern Lights) and a possible disruption in radio transmissions and power grids. The storms can even change polarity in satellites which can damage sophisticated electronics.

The frequency and intensity of sunspots visible on the surface of Our Grandfather indicate the level of solar activity during the 11-year solar cycle that is driven by his magnetic field. It is said that sunspots are our window into Giizis's complicated magnetic interior, and they have fascinated solar observers around the globe for hundreds, if not thousands of years...


*The Mide Jiibay ceremony, also known as the Midewiwin or Medicine Lodge ceremony, is a sacred ritual central to Anishinaabe culture and belief. Mide Jiibay involves intricate spiritual practices, teachings, and healing ceremonies that connect the Ojibwe people with their ancestors, the spirit world, and the natural elements. The ceremony's symbolism extends to Jiibay Miikana (Trail of Ghosts; the Milky Way), representing a profound connection between the earthly realm and the spiritual realm.

Illustrations, from top to bottom:

Jiibayag Niimi'idiwag ("The Spirits Are Dancing") ©2022 Zhaawano Giizhik.

Jiibayag Boodawaanan ("Campfires of the Spirits") ©2022 Zhaawano Giizhik.

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