seven directions

giiwedinong | north

Kiiwedinong means ‘to the North’ (spelled phonetically). The Nichols & Nyholm dictionary gives the spelling of North as Giiwedin. The spirit of the North, as Larry Aitken explains, brings the harshness of cold and snow as a sign of cleansing and purification. It is embodied by large birds such migiziwag (‘bald eagles’), giniwag (‘golden eagles’), and gakekwag (‘hawks’).

Jimmy Jackson on Vision Quest

One prays to the spirit of Waabanong at the beginning of a journey, like this one in which we seek a fuller understanding of Anishinaabe traditional knowledge. Out of respect for our elders, we turn first to the highly respected Medicine Man Jim Jackson who recounts the vision quest that he undertook as a young man.

In Anishinaabemowin ('Ojibwe language'), gii'igoshimo means 'fast for a vision.' Jim Jackson here describes an important moment in traditional people's lives when they would be sent out into the woods for 3-6 days or sometimes longer, where they would live in isolation without any food or drink. If successful, the fast would put the young person in touch with a manidoo ('spirit') that would act as a helper throughout that person's life. The vision might also reveal gashki'ewiziwin ('knowledge / power') that would alert an Anishinaabe that they were called to be a medicine person, as was the case with Jim Jackson.

Related terms:

waabanong | east

Waabanong (‘to the East’) is where one traditionally begins a journey through the seven directions of the Anishinaabe cosmology. Larry Aitken explains that the spirit of the East offers the gift of new life, new birth, and new knowledge. Symbolically, Waabanong is associated with small animals like mice, misajidamoog (‘squirrels’), and agongosag (‘chipmunks’).

Related terms:

zhaawanong | south

Zhaawanong (‘in the South’), as Larry Aitken explains, is associated with the spirit that bears the gifts of healing and warmth. The spirit may be embodied as small birds such as gijgijiggaaneshiinhyag(‘chickadees’), opichiwag (‘robins’), and sparrows.

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