Stories from the Land of Crane and Turtle, part 5: Wenabozho and the Disappearance of the Sun
Updated: May 15
Gashkadino-giizis /Baashkaakodin-giizis (Freezing Moon), November 28, 2019
Boozhoo indinawemaaganidog, gidinimikoo miinawaa. Biindigen miinawaa nindaadizooke wigamigong. Hello relatives, I greet you in a good way! Welcome back in my storytelling lodge.
~~ ECLIPSE (THEY DANCED TOGETHER) ~~
I had a dream of The sun and the moon Lovers Their paths seldom crossed Longing, missing Chasing, circling One starlit day They did catch up They danced together They danced together The Universe gazed in awe Of their eclipse.*
The title of the above men's ring is ‘‘Il Sole Nero." This is Italian for ‘‘Black Sun." The ring, a platinum bevelled edge designer band featuring a briljant-cut black diamond, is part of my platinum ring collection "IL Disegno della Purezza" (Pure Design). Il Sole Nero would be "Makadewaabikizi" in Anishinaabemowin, the language of my Ojibwe ancestors. This means "The Sun Blackens."
Inspired by the circular paths of the moon and the sun, the sleek design of the ring symbolizes that everything in nature is round or circular. The black diamond sunk in the center of the highly polished platinum band relates the tale of ANGOSHKAA GIMISHOOMISINAAN GIIZIS, "the Disappearance of Our Grandfather the Sun." My Anishinaabe ancestors, who referred to Grandfather Giizis as Grandfather of all Life and He Who Stands above All, were deeply impressed by the phenomen of the solar eclipse.
Ahaaw,'ngad aazooke noongom...Now I will tell a sacred story...Wiinabozho miinawaa Angoshkaa Omishoomisan Giizis Aadizookaan: the Story of Wiinabozho and the Disappearance of Grandfather Sun...The story is loosely based on the tale of "Waynaboozhoo and the Solar Eclipse - The Relationship between Sun and Moon" told by Ojibwe Elder Edward Benton Banai in his book The Mishomis Book - The Voice of the Ojibway.
Today's story is illustrated with a photo image of a total solar eclips and two pen-and-ink drawings by the late Anishinini (Oji-Cree) painter Carl Ray, which he created around the years 1971-The drawings are titled respectively "The Plight of Iyas"' and "Despair."
~~ WENABOZHO AND THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE SUN ~~
Wenabozho, the first man and hero of the Anishinaabeg, continued walking toward Waabanaki, the Land where the Sun Rises. He noticed the land leveled out into a huge mashkode (plain). Wenabozho could see no end to these mashkoden. Yet he noticed that even in the seeming barrenness of the endless mashkoden, they were still teaming with life, songs, and vitality.
After many days of walking Wenabozho sensed something strange! The weather had become exceptionally hot and the animals around him had ceased their scurrying about for food. With a chill, he realized they had even became completely silent! Then, tayaa! all of a sudden, in full daylight, a shadow began to creep over the face of Omishoomisan Giizis, Grandfather Sun. Wenabozho became really frightened now as the shadow grew and light on Omizakamigokwe, the Earth Mother, diminished with each breath he took. Finally, Aki, the earth's surface, was covered by a dense blanket of darkness. The day had turned into night! But then, hoowah! as Wiinabozho sank down onto the earth in despair, suddenly, with a flash of light, Grandfather Giizis started to reappear and light gradually returned to Aki.
Wenabozho remembered that Nookomis’s spirit once talked with him from her resting place on Dibik-giizis (the Night Sun; the Moon). His Grandmother had told him that one day Omishoomisan Giizis would give Wenabozho a sign that would explain the relationship between himself and Nookomis Giizis (Grandmother Moon).
Wenabozho, who felt great relief, realized that he had just witnessed how Nookomis Giizis, as woman, and Omishoosan Giizis, as man, had come together to honor their relationship. He decided that this sign, which would become known as Giizis Nibo (The Sun Dies) or Makadewaabikizi (The Sun Becomes Black), would come to remind all ikweg (women) and ininiwag (men) of the Anishinaabeg Peoples of their responsibility to each other, in their lives, in the way they interact with all living beings, enh geget sa go! even in the midst of all their daily, earthly tasks!
Nookomis had also explained to her grandson that in the beginning Gichi-manidoo, the Great Mystery, had filled Waawiyekamig (the Universe) with an extensive family of stars, moons, and planets. This was done in a sacred order and with a sacred purpose. According to Nookomis, Angoshkaa Giizis - this sign of Makadewaabikizi, the Sun turning black - should be interpreted as testimony to the organic way these celestial family members interact. What Wenabozho just witnessed, the Sun seemingly dying, was proof of the natural harmony that exists in the entire Creation. Enh, the temporary darkening of the Sun Grandfather reminds us that death is just a normal part of the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth...
Gimishoomisinaan Giizis, our Sun Grandfather, Wenabozho thought by himself, never fails to give Aki his warmth and light. "Enh geget, certainly," Wenabozho said to himself, "maanoo, nevertheless, just for a brief moment, Grandfather had been given a rest! A rest that should remind the Anishinaabeg that one cannot take the Sun or any part of the Creation for granted!"
"And," he added, "this particularly goes for one's own part!"
Mii sa ekoozid. Miigwech gibizindaw noongom mii dash gidibaajimotoon wa’aw aadizookaan. And that is the end of the story. Thank you for listening today, for allowing me to relate to you this sacred story. Giga-waabamin wayiiba, I hope to see you again soon.
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*A poem by Zhaawano Giizhik - inspired by Word Porn. Visit the Fisher Star Creations website to read more poetry by Zhaawano Giizhik and Simone McLeod.