Star Stories, part 31: The Story of the Morning Star and the Evening Star
Updated: Mar 4
Namebini-giizis/Makwa-giizis (Suckerfish Moon/Bear Moon )- February 17, 2023
Aaniin! Biindigen miinawaa nindaadizooke wigamigong -- Hi! Welcome back in my Storytelling Lodge.
In the previous chapters of the star stories series we learned that, in the worldview of our ancestors, everything that existed on earth began with anangoog, the stars. Even gidoodeminaanig (our clans) were made of stars. Literally everything that is part of the natural cycles on the earth is represented (and mirrored) on a celestial level, in the form of the Great Family of anangoog (stars) and akiwag (planets).
Today we will put the spotlight on two of the most prominent aadizookaanag (spirits) that belong to this family, or Nation, of stars that live out there: Waaban-anang, the Morning Star, and Nigaabii-anang, the Evening Star.
Waaban-anang, which literally means "Dawn Star," is known by the name of Venus by most non-Native people. From of old, the Anishinaabeg and Ininewak (Cree) honor the Dawn or Morning Star, the one star/planet that remains visible after the sun rises on the horizon. For them the Morning Star remains a sacred object and an ancestral home. It is said Wenabozho, the beloved trickster-hero of the Anishinaabeg, came from Waaban-anang originally. In some aadizookaanan (sacred stories) Waaban-anang is a female spirit and the wife of Wenabozho. Other stories characterize Waaban-anang as a male spirit and the antipode of the Evening Star.
Nigaabii-anang literally means "Star of the West." Also known as Gozaabii-anang (“Star Sinking in Waters”) or Ikwe-anang (Women’s Star), he is a powerful aadizookaan and medicine man who resides in the land of E-bangishimog (the Spirit of the West) and Ningaabii’ani-noodin (the West Wind). Nigaabii-anang (who shines at nightfall) and Waaban-anang (who rises the following dawn) form together a planet, named Giizhig-anang, the Day Star – known by the name of Venus by most non-Native people. Since time immemorial our People use Nigaabii-anang in navigating at night. He is the patron of all women and was once the elder and tutor of Waaban (the Dawn). Representing old age and wisdom, Nigaabii-anang teaches healing and the need for moderation and patience. He symbolizes a force contrary to that of Waaban, and the conflict that resulted from this images the lasting human conflict between knowledge and wisdom, between youth and age on earth.
There are several versions of the aadizookaan of the conflict between both stars -- which, as we have learned in the above, is actually an aki (planet) that appears in Earth's sky never far from the Sun, either as morning star or evening star.
Below is the version that inspired me in creating a painting, which you can see at the top of this page.
THE GREAT BATTLE BETWEEN THE MEDICINE MEN OF THE EAST AND THE WEST
Wayeshkad, in the beginning of times, GICHI-MANIDOO, the Great Mystery, after the creation of the Sun and the Moon and the Earth, dreamt into existence wendaanimag noodinoon, the Four Directions.
The names of thses directions were Giiwedin the North, Waaban the East, Zhaawan the South, and E-bangishimog the West. The star called Nigaabii-anang was assigned to the quarter of the world called E-bangishimog and to the winds and the portion of time that goes with the western direction. Thus the Western, or Evening, Star was gifted with an important power over life on earth to be exercised with prudence and wisdom so that harmony would be maintained forever.
One bad day, however, after many strings of life of perfect harmony between the North, the East, the South, and the West, a struggle arose between Nigaabii-anang and the Spirit of the East.
Although nowadays Waaban-anang, the Eastern/Morning Star Spirit that governs the East, controls knowledge and medicines equally vast and powerful to that of the Western/Evening Star and the other two quarters of the earth, this had not always been so! In the very beginning, since Waanan-anang was not yet fully accredited as a medicine man, Nigaabii-anang had been assigned the task of being Waaban-anang's Elder and tutor!
It is said that the animosity between the two powerful stars started when the proud and headstrong Waaban-anang, after many years of study under Nigaabii-anang’s tutelage, felt that he was ready to exercise his own medicine without Nigaabii-anang’s supervision and counsel; when the latter told his impetuous and hot-tempered student that his knowledge and skills were not complete since he had not yet reached his level of wisdom and moderation and patience that is needed to conduct the important tasks of teaching healing and prolonging life, Waaban-anang challenged him to a contest, taunting him and challenging him to prove his powers.
The battle that took place between the Morning Star and the Evening Star that day became a metaphor for the lasting human conflict between youth and age, and also between knowledge and wisdom. Although in this day and age neither star is more powerful than the other and although the Morning Star and the Evening Star have made peace a long time ago, Dawn and Evening still continue their duels, thus symbolizing the eternal conflicts and dualisms within the human soul, and within human society as a whole...
Mii sa ekoozid. Miigwech gibizindaw noongom mii dash gidibaajimotoon wa’aw aadizookaan. And that is the end of the story. Thank you for listening to me today, for allowing me to relate to you this sacred tale. Giga-waabamin wayiiba, I hope to see you again soon.
Illustration: The Great Battle Between the Morning Star and the Evening Star Ⓒ2023 Zhaawano Giizhik.
Visit the webshop to view a photo print of the painting.