when giizis stops

by waaseyaa'sin christine sy


a few big days for Anishinaabeg just occurred: winter solstice, which is also known as when giizis (the sun) stops; and, the first full moon after solstice, which is considered the first moon of the Anishinaabeg new year.

i had intended on curating a gallery of images as a blog entry in the hopes that this would support others who, like me, also have difficulty this time of year. i suffer a bit from the domination and colonial nature of the season but find a whole lot of relief in finding and making Anishinaabeg meaning of this time. however, other commitments took over and i just couldn’t get to it working on those images.

that said, i still want to share a great source of medicine and contemplative material that helps during the western holidays in an Anishinaabe way: Nanaboozhoo or Nanabush (who is also called Elder Brother, by some, in the off season).

i’ve written about Nanaboozhoo during this time of year in other entries. for those interested in the historicity of his form here, there is a story in december 2011 or 2012 that introduces him in this christmas context. in the present image, Nanaboozhoo continues to be our tree-topper but is now sportin’ some new bling which was gifted to us during a sugar shack solstice ceremony/visit/par-tay. some fellow anishinaabeg gathered in the sugar shack because this year, on the 21st, zhaawanong dominated kiiwedinong. the heavy, drenching downpour of rain being the evidence of this domination. rainy day aside, the constellation that marks this guys’ season is still on course and so we still consider it okay to call him by name at this time even if there is no snow on the ground.

i’m pretty sure Nanaboozhoo is feeling pretty fly in his new porcupine quill necklaces. he’s lookin’ pretty fly, anyhow!

since the time this image was taken, the tree–which has become known to me as ‘the contradiction tree’-has been taken down but ndaanis (who took it all down and packed everything away. yay!) knew enough to keep him out. he now hangs by his treaty twine, adorning his new solstice bling, from a mirror in our den.

he stands out, like so many anishinaabeg, proud and strong and brilliant. hiy hiy! here’s to another season of laughing, loving, and learning vis-a-vis our ancestor, helper, and teacher, Nanaboozhoo!