Star Stories, part 4: The Amazing Legend of Yellow Star and the Sleeping Giant
Updated: Feb 5
Manoominike-giizis (Wild Rice Harvesting Moon), August 7, 2019
A magic tale about love and separation. Two earth beings, living apart. Shone upon by the light of the Universe, their sacred union reflected by the glow of the stars above, their love remains strong...
Boozhoo! Biindigen miinawaa nindaadizooke wigamigong; enji-zaagi'iding miinawaa gikendaasong. Ninga-aadizooke noongom giizhigad! Hello! Welcome back in my Storytelling Lodge where legends and teaching stories are told. Let’s tell a zaagi'idiwin aadizookaan (sacred love story) today!
This blog tale is another episode, the fourth in a series named “Star Stories.” The series features love tales and teaching stories that encompass the unique worldview and cultural perspective of the Anishinaabeg Peoples.
~~ A SHORT STORY ABOUT LOVE AND SEPARATION ~~
The story I will tell you today is woven around a set of wedding bands titled "Like a Star in My Vision." It is a semi autobiographic narrative, braided with strands of traditional Ojibwe story elements and personal experience, about a starry-eyed woman of Wemitigoozh Wemitigoozh¹ and Anishinaabe descent, whose ancestors came from Bkejwanong,² the Land where the Waters Divide, and whom we will call Ozaawi'anang (Yellow Star).
Once upon a time Ozaawi'anang traveled all the way to the Bay of the Thunder, which lay far to the northwest of her present home on the western shore of Naadowewi-gichigami,³ on a peninsula called Mishigami Aki.⁴
Here, as she crossed the bay in her wiigwaasi-jiimaan (birchbark canoe) she stole the heart of the Sleeping Giant, a stone giant who lays dormant in the northern waters of the great lake called Gichigami. The local Anishinaabeg, who lived close to the bay and also inhabited some of its islands, whispered that the Sleeping Giant was the petrified body of none other than their beloved spirit-hero Wiinabozho...
Since Ozaawi'anang lived far away, she and the Giant only met for short periods of time. Although their times together were brief, her beauty touched him in unspeakable ways, words fall short to express what this stone manidoo felt for her. Only the stars high above understood the depth of the love that lived in their hearts and the scope of the feelings that these two beings harbored for each other. Only they saw how hard it was for them to be separated by time and distance. They were stars in each other's eyes, bonded together, yet it felt sometimes as if beyond each other's grasp...yet the relationship did last on aki, the earth, and now the tale of Ozaawi'anang and the Sleeping Giant lives on forever among anangoog, the stars high above...
~~ ABOUT THE RING DESIGN ~~
Graphically, the design of these wedding rings, which I titled Winaagozi Dibishkoo Anang (“Like a Star in My Eyes”), is inspired by the pictographic outline drawing style of the Anishinaabe and Ininewak (Cree) Medicine painters - more commonly called Woodland Art painters.
The magic outline of Nibaad Misaabe, or the Sleeping Giant, a rock formation that juts out on Lake Superior and characterizes the body of water that was called Animikii-wiikwedong (Thunder Bay) by my Anishinaabe ancestors, has for years been a main source of design inspiration for me.
The red gold bottom part of the wedding rings featuring flowing yellow gold outlines – showing two bodies including faces “in profile,” which I modeled after the Sleeping Giant - represents two lovers who once sprang from the earth’s womb and now become one with each other - and with the Earthmother herself. Thus earth and lovers become a symbolic unity. While the lower part of the wedding rings’ surfaces symbolizes the fertile earth, the grayish white color of the top half of the ring shanks, made of palladium white gold, as well as the yellow gold star figures in the center represent the night sky lit by the glowing light of the stars of the Universe.
~~ THE SONG ~~`
Dibishkoo biidaanakwag, wiingii abi-ezhaa
Dibishkoo waabaanakwag, aabiji-maajaa.
Ningashkendam wiingaa abi-izhaad
Nimgashkendam wiingaa ago-maajaad.
ningaa abi naanig ina?
Wiinaagozi dibishkoo anang
Wiiwaasa wendaagozi dibishkoo anang.
("Like a cloud has he come and gone Like a cloud drifted away forever.
Sad am I since he came
Sad am I since he's gone.
Now he has found my love Will he return for my love?
Like a star in my eyes Like a star beyond my grasp, my love.")⁵
- An Ojibwe Anishinaabe love song
So the story goes...
Giiwenh. So goes the story about the Sleeping Giant wedding rings; so goes the tale about the love that the stone giant of the Deep Sea called Gichigami (Lake Superior) felt for a beautiful woman who came from far and touched his heart before she returned to her home on the shore of the great rattlesnake lake ...so goes the song sung by this brave woman who felt sad because she and her lover lived far apart... separated by East and West.
Miigwech gibizindaw noongom mii dash gidaadizookoon. Thank you for listening to my storytelling today. Giga-waabamin wayiiba, I hope to see you again soon...
¹ Wemitigoozh: French Canadian
² Bkejwanong, present-day Walpole Island, Southeastern Ontario
³ Naadowewi-gichigami, great rattlesnake lake: present-day Lake Huron
⁴ Mishigami Aki, Land of the Great Lake: present-day Michigan State
⁵ Source: Basil Johnston, Ojibway Ceremonies, pp 85, 86. McClelland & Stewart, 28 Jan 2011.