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Stories from the Land of Crane and Turtle, part 5: Wenabozho and the Disappearance of the Sun

Updated: Apr 8

Iskigamizige-giizis/Ziisibaakwadoke-giizis (Boiling Sap Moon/Sugar Making Moon; April 8, 2024)


Eclipse (They Dance Together)
"Eclipse (They Dance Together)" ©2024 Zhawano Giizhik

Boozhoo indinawemaaganidog, gidinimikoo miinawaa. Biindigen miinawaa nindaadizooke wigamigong. Hello relatives, I greet you in a good way! Welcome back in my storytelling lodge. Today we will experience one of the most impressive events in nature: Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon, and Grandfather Sun lining up. Which basically means that the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, blocking the Sun and casting a shadow on Earth.

Today the Sun and the Moon dance together, bound in a sacred union!

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 beveled edge designer band featuring a brilliant-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 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. To them, it was an awe-inspiring time of reflection and awareness...

Ahaaw,'ngad aazooke noongom...Now I will tell a sacred story...Wenabozho miinawaa Angoshkaa Omishoomisan Giizis Aadizookaan: the Story of Wenabozho 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.


"The Gift of Life" Painting by Woodland art painter Zhaawano Giizhik
"The Gift of Life" ©2024 Zhaawano Giizhik


Wenabozho, the first man and hero of the Anishinaabeg, continued walking toward his brother Waaban, the Sunrise. He noticed the land leveled out into a huge mashkode (plain). Wenabozho could see no end to these mashkoden (plains). 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 become completely silent! Could it have something to do with oshki-agoojin, the rise of the new moon that he had witnessed last night? Then, tayaa! suddenly, in full daylight, a shadow began to creep over the face of Omishoomisan Giizis, Grandfather Sun. Dibishkoo makadeyaanaagwanaanakwad ina, he thought by himself: "It is as if dark clouds completely cover the universe?"

Wenabozho became really frightened as the shadow grew. The pulsing of a water drum and the shaking of ceremonial rattles seemingly from the nearby river bluffs broke the silence, then suddenly stopped... Light on Omizakamigokwe, the Earth Mother, diminished with each breath he took! Finally, a dense blanket of darkness covered agotakamig, the surface of aki, the earth. Even the giizhig-waawanoon, the sky eggs, those oval eyes in the sky that are Doorways to the origin of life, disappeared. All earth's creatures except Wenabozho turned away their faces. Geget, even the miigisag, the sacred seashells, hid deeply into the earth, and the hills and mountains turned away their eyes...

The day had turned into night!


Solar eclipse April 8, 2024
"Geget, even the hills and mountains turned away their eyes...The day had turned into night!"

For a moment Wenabozho stood there rooted to the spot, gazing at the gaping black hole in the sky, his heart pounding, desperately looking for the sun. "Makadewaabikizi a’aw giizis! (The Sun has turned black!)" he shouted in horror.Then he realized something. He sat down on the earth with eyes closed, smoking his red stone pipe. Total silence surrounded him, a soothing stillness washed over him. The earth stood still. Suddenly, tayaa! with a flash of light, Grandfather started to reappear and light gradually returned to aki! The hills and mountains opened their eyes again and so did the sky...Wenabozho heard the throbbing of the drum reverberate from the river bluffs again, and the sound of the rattles that he had heard before the Sun turned black filled the air as never before...Grateful for what just had happened, he raised his pipe above his head and thanked the spirit of darkness that for a brief moment had reminded him of his smallness, his vulnerability within the cosmic totality...


"Wenabozho and the Black Sun Painting by zhaawano Giizhik
"Wenabozho and the Black Sun" ©2024 Zhaawano Giizhik

Now, you may wonder, what was it that caused Wenabozho to calm down and quietly smoke his pipe while the world was covered in total darkness?

Standing there in the dark feeling helpless, Wenabozho suddenly remembered that Nookomis’s spirit had once spoken to him from her resting place on Dibik-giizis (the Night Sun; the Moon). Grandmother had told him that one day Omishoomisan Giizis would give Wenabozho a sign that would explain the relationship between the Sun and Nookomis Giizis (Grandmother Moon).

Wenabozho, who felt great relief, realized that he witnessed how Nookomis Giizis, as woman, and Omishoomisan Giizis, as man, had come together to honor their sacred bond. 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 a spirit 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. Wenabozho realized that what he 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 is a reminder that death is just a normal part of the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Darkness may fall upon the earth for a short moment of time, but the light — the fire of the Sun — will always return. The temporary death of the Sun reminds us to live and value life to the reseed and to recommit ourselves to everything that matters in our life on earth...

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.


Poetry inspired by the poem "Eclipse" (author unknown). Source: Word Porn.

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