Today's blog story features two new paintings done by Simone, the first in a series of canvases that she titled "Reawakening Of The Medicine People."
The theme of the series is based on a vision that Simone has carried with her through most of her adult life. Gradually, as she was finding her way along her life's path, an image started to form in her mind, of four mysterious people with tattood faces, wrapped in blankets of fog, sitting silently in the dim dawn light of a perfectly soundless Universe. As she watched these blanket people she began to notice that their closed eyes gradually opened, looking around them intelligently, and their eyes curious and alert seemed to perceive and admire a brilliant yellowish-white light that surrounded them.
What Simone witnessed was the reawakening of, what she would soon call, "the Medicine People". Her vision, and the series of "dream carriers" (paintings based on dreams and visions) that springs from it, evoke memories of the Seventh Fire Prophecy that was given to our ancestors many hundreds of generations ago; this was when the Anishinaabe Peoples still lived in the Land of Dawn on the northern Atlantic coasts of Turtle Island (North America).
This prophecy, which had been delivered by a Miigis (Shell) Being that emerged from the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, revealed that in the time of the Seventh Fire the People would live in a world dominated by a white-skinned race. Then a New People would emerge, who would decide to retrace their steps to the Teachings of the Dawn Land and ask their Elders to guide them into finding back mino misko-miikana, the good red road.
“If the New People will remain strong in their quest the Water Drum of the Midewiwin Lodge will again sound its voice. There will be a rebirth of the Anishinabe Nation and a rekindling of old flames. The Sacred Fire will again be lit…”*
"We are living in a time when many of our 'Medicine People' are sleeping and now reawakening" she says...
"The old ways live inside of us deeply rooted and will never be forgotten. We just need to go and find our ceremonies again. We must respond to the yearnings in our hearts to seek out that part of us. It is like the the prophecies of the Seven Fires I have heard of, reminding us that the only way humankind can survive and save the planet is by choosing a straight and truly spiritual path."
This is what Simone says about the eyes that she painted in the Medicine Faces:
"The eyes of the Medicine People in this first painting are invisible, still closed, as they have barely woken up, and I pictured them shedding tears - representing the tears of my ancestors who have endured many hardships under the hands of the Europeans, of the Midewiwin Lodge that has been prosecuted for many generations and had to go underground to survive and be able to conduct their ceremonies, and of today's generation that is under great social strain. In the second painting, which I titled 'Medicine Faces: Sleeping Medicine People Part 2' (see the image at the top of the page), their eyes are already slightly open, reflecting the first light of dawn."
"The painting titled 'Sleeping Medicine People Part 1' depicts Aki, our world, consisting of an underworld, a middle world, and the sky world", she continues. "Four arms – whose hands I modelled after my own hands - reach out from the underworld to the earth of the middle world; through their veins runs the smoke from the four sweat lodges as if it were cosmic lifeblood, transfusing ancient spirit power and energy and memories into the rocks of mother earth. The rocks are Mother Earth’s backbone, this strong foundation left for us by our ancestors to build on."
"The circular unity symbol I painted in the sky, connected with the images of the praying men by two rays (lines of communication), is a symbol of hope, of a rekindling of the old ways. The divided circle shows the day-sun and the night-sun holding my personal colors anf the clan symbols of the Sturgeon and the Bear, which, symbolically, stand for all clans of our People."
"The red and yellow colors in the day-sun (the right half of the celestial body) reflect the glow of the same fire that we see springing from the purification (sweat) lodges that I painted hidden deeply beneath the earth's surface."
"Inside the womb of the underworld I depicted four bear sweats; the insides of these purification lodges show fires inducing upwellings of red-hot lava from the deep earth - the same colors I used in the orbicular celestial body that I placed high up in the sky."
Click here to read part 2 of the series "Reawakening Of The Medicine People".
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About the authors/artists:
Simone McLeod (her traditional name is Aki’-egwaniizid, which is an Ojibwe name meaning "Earth Blanket") is a Nakawe-Anishinaabe painter and poet, born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1962 and a meber of Pasqua First Nation in Saskatchewan. She belongs to he Name doodem (Sturgeon clan). She feels special kinship with her mother's people, the Azaadiwi-ziibi Nitam-Anishinaabeg (Poplar River First Nation) of Manitoba. Simone descends from a long line of Midewiwin seers and healers and artists. Her artwork has been appreciated by several art collectors and educational and health care institutions from Canada, as well as by art lovers from all over the world.