The fact that the Anishinabeg spoke a common language would indicate that the various tribes and clans thereof also had similar customs and traditions.
The common religion of the Ojibway was “Medawewin” [pronounced Me-Day-Wee-Win]. The Medawe even had their own written language, as evidenced by preserved birch bark scrolls and rock formations. The Medawewin religion consisted of four degrees or levels wherein initiates learned to use their spiritual abilities for spiritual healing. Herbalists and surgeons also belonged to the Medawewin. This may have been the origin of the term “medicine man”, since “Medawewin” sounds very similar to the English words “medicine man”. The “Megis” was one of the primary symbols that represents the Medawewin religion.
The Megis is a little shell called a cowry shell. The word “cowry” was derived from a Hindu word and is defined as “Any of various tropical marine mollusks of the family Cypraeidae, having glossy, often brightly marked shells, some of which are used as money in the South Pacific and Africa.”*
What is not mentioned in the foregoing megis definition is that megis shells were also used as money, or “wampum,” in North America before the European invasion of this continent. What is most intriguing about the cowry shells used by the Anishinabeg is that these particular shells were not indigenous to America.
The Seven Grandfathers are traditional teachings given by the Creator to the Anishinaabeg to teach them what is important so that they know how to live. The Seven Grandfathers are traditional teachings on Love, Humility, Honesty, Courage, Wisdom, Generosity and Respect. Each of the Grandfathers is a lesson that is viewed as a gift of knowledge for the learning of values and for living by these values. Although each teaching represents a wealth of wisdom on its own, collectively they represent what was needed for community survival.
Seven Grandfathers could not be used in isolation. To practice one without the other would amount to practicing the opposite of that teaching. Therefore, to not love is to be fearful; to not be humble is to be egotistical; to not be honest is to be dishonest; to not be courageous is to be cowardly.
Central to this philosophy, or worldview, is the emphasis on the larger perspective, the effects on others, the family, the community, the region and the universe, as the Aboriginal peoples believe that all beings are connected, like links in a chain. A belief in the interdependence of all living things frames Native American value systems. Animals are no less important than humans, and plants are no less important than animals. Water and wind, sun and moon and the changing of the seasons are all related to each other and to humans. We are all part of one great whole. As this awareness dictates a vision of the world as a whole, traditional Aboriginal thinking concludes that life forms maintain their health and balance through the focus on harmony as opposed to individual wants or needs. The Seven Grandfathers were designed to achieve harmony.
The Seventh Prophet was younger than the others who had come and there was a glowing light from his eyes. He said that there would come a time when the waters had been so poisoned that the animals and plants that lived there would fall sick and begin to die. Much of the forests and prairies would be gone so the air would begin to lose the power of life. The way of the mind brought to the red, black, and yellow nation by the white nation would bring danger to the whole earth.
In this time there will arise Osh-ki-bi-ma-di-zeeg, a new people who will emerge from the clouds of illusion. They will retrace their steps to find the treasures that had been left by the trail. The stories that had been lost will be returned to them. They will remember the Original Instructions and find strength in the way of the circle. Their search will take them to the elders and the new people will ask for guidance.
But many of the elders will have walked the Path of the Souls to the Star Web. Many elders will have forgotten their wisdom and they will not be able to help. Some of the elders will point in the wrong direction and others will remain silent because of their fear. Some of the elders will be silent because no one has asked them for their wisdom.
If the New People will find trust in the way of all things in the circle, they will no longer need the selfish voice of the ego and they can begin to trust their inner voice. Wisdom will be once again be found in dreams of the night and of the day. The sacred fire will once again be lit.
The Light-skinned People will be given a choice between two paths. If they choose the right path the Seventh Fire will light the Eighth Fire and final fire of brotherhood and sisterhood. If they choose the wrong path, remaining on the path of the mind, then the destruction they brought with them will come back to destroy them. The people of the earth will experience much suffering and death.
The Sixth Prophet told them that in the time of Sixth Fire it would be clear that the promise accepted during the Fifth Fire was false. "Those who were deceived by this promise will take their children away from the teachings of the elders. The elders will lose their purpose in life and many will become sick and die. Many people will be out of balance and the cup of life will become the cup of grief."
The Seven Fires
Originally, the prophecies were given by eight prophets in seven different time periods. According to oral tradition, the Mi'kmaq Nation heard the first Prophet. The remaining seven prophets appeared before and were recorded by the Anishinaabeg. A prophecy of each of these seven periods were then called a "Fire".
The teachings of the Seven Fires Prophecy also states that when the world has been befouled and the waters turned bitter by disrespect, human beings will have two options to choose from, materialism or spirituality. If they chose spirituality, they will survive, but if they chose materialism, it will be the end of it.
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Dr. Charles A. Eastman, born Ohiyesa (Santee Sioux) Chapter 4: Barbarism and the Moral Code, The Soul of the Indian: An Interpretation, 1911:
The Megis and Wampum
Woodland Peoples Wampum Belt
Spirit: The Seventh Fire
Peter Buffet'ts Homage in Song and Dance to The First Nation Legends
The Seventh Fire:
Originally, the prophecy and the Ojibwa migration story were closely linked. However, the last half the prophecy appears to apply to all peoples in contact with the Anishinaabeg. Consequently, with the growth of the Pan-Indian Movement in the 1960s and the 1970s, concepts of the Seven Fires Prophecy merged with other similar prophetical teaching found among Indigenous peoples of North America, forming a unified environmental, political, and socio-economic voice towards Canada and the United States. The Seven fires prophecy was originally taught among the practitioners of Midewiwin.
William Commanda, an Algonquin elder and former chief of the Kitigàn-zìbì Anishinàbeg First Nation in Quebec, Canada, was the wampum belt keeper for the seven fires prophecy. He died on August 3, 2011.
“The money-cowry (Cypraea moneta) is, and has been for centuries, a sacred object among the Ojibwa and Menomini Indians of North America, and is employed in initiation ceremonies of the Grand Medicine Society [Medawewin].
The use of this particular cowry by these Indians is of peculiar interest; in the first place; owing to it being alien to the American continent, and in the second place, in view of its intimate association with so many remarkable and fantastic beliefs and practices in different parts of the Old World.” Cypraea moneta shells come from the South Pacific. Other shells which are native only to Asian and South Pacific seas have been found in pre-Columbian North American aboriginal sites, indicating that trans-oceanic trade was occurring prior to the European invasion.
Archaeological finds such as the “Kennewick man” reveal that people with “Caucasian” features lived in North America a long time ago. When one examines this kind of evidence and looks at the similarities between the Medawewin, ancient Hebrew and Judeo-Christian beliefs, one cannot help but wonder if we are not all cousins in the same world family.
The Fifth Prophet said that in the time of the Fifth Fire there will be a struggle between the way of the mind of the light-skinned people and the natural path of spirit of the many nations of natural people. "As this fire loses its heat there will come among the people those who promise great joy and salvation. If the people accept this promise and abandon the old ways, the struggle will continue for many generations. This promise is false and it will nearly destroy those who accept it."
The Fourth Prophet was two who came as one. The first told them to expect a race of people who had light skin. The future of the Anishinabe would be known by the face the light-skinned people would wear. If they come in brotherhood there would be a time of wonderful change. New knowledge would be joined with the old knowledge and the two peoples would join to make a mighty nation. Two other nations would join to make four and they would become the mightiest nation of all. If they brought only their knowledge and their good-will they would be like brothers.
The second being of the Fourth Prophet warned the light-skinned race might wear the face of death that would almost look the same as the face of brotherhood. "If they come carrying a weapon and if they seem to be suffering, beware. Behind this face is greed. You shall recognize the face of death if the rivers are poisoned and the fish are unfit to eat."
The Third Prophet said that in the Third Fire the Anishinabe would find the path to the lands prepared for them and they would continue their journey west to the place where food grows upon the water.
The Second Prophet told them they could recognize the Second Fire because while they were camped by a sweet water sea they would lose their direction and that the dreams of a little boy would point the way back to the true path, the stepping stones to their future.
Seven prophets appeared to the people. The First Prophet told the people that in the time of the First Fire they would leave their homes by the sea and follow the sign of the megis. They were to journey west into strange lands in search of a island in the shape of a turtle. This island will be linked to the purification of the earth. Such an island was to be found at the beginning and at the end of their journey. Along the way they would find a river connecting two large sweet water seas. This river would be narrow and deep as though a knife had cut through the land. They would stop seven times to create villages but they would know that their journey was complete when they found food growing on the water. If they did not leave, there would be much suffering and they would be destroyed. And they would be pursued and attacked by other nations along the way so they must be strong and ready to defend themselves.
Intuitive Tarot & Astrology Tune-Ups
Chris Anderson (aka Onefeather) has been doing intuitive counseling using Tarot cards and Astrological Chart casting since 1970.
Commonality of Native American Prophecy and Legends
Joe Bruchac, Abenaki Storyteller once published a small blue booklet about the tale of Great White Moose who elusively moved through the woods of Maine and Vermont like a will-o-the-wisp. The Renapi/Lenape have a legend of the White Deer which predicts that when a pair (male and female) all-white deer are seen together it is a sign that the indigenous peoples of the Dawnland would all come together. This is in accord with the Seven Fires - Prophecies which said that at the time of the seventh fire a choice would have to be made. Either the true human beings (rennawawk) would become an example leading the world with their wisdom from the original instructions given to them by the creator Kehtanit so that the good white path would be followed, or, the failure to set examples leading to humanity, salvation and survival the path of war and strife (painted red) would bring about the self-destruction already prevalent in the world.
In the western upper Plains - the sight of a white buffalo calf is a similar portend that the ancient traditions and religion would return. The Iroquois have a legend of a white dog. The western Algonquians believe the most sacred object for a medicine bundle is an all-black antelope skin, very rare. To the Quinnipiac and other Wampano-Mattabesoc Confederacy Sachemships the skin of an all-black wolf is the most powerful medicine.
In the world of our ancestors, when this land was a virtual paradise, only natural law prevailed. The law of the pack, the herd, the flock were supreme examples of Creator’s will. Animals were and are still the first to sense any slight changes in the natural order of things…they feel subtle shifts in the vibrations that run through the earth like an electromagnetic heartbeat. Birds are first to react when a hurricane is still far off, deer know when danger lurks near or far. When army ants go on a rampage in lands south of the equator the entire world of nature heads in the opposite direction. So, when nature produces these amazing anomalies such as all-black or all-white species these rarities are immediately understood as omens of strange and wonderful things to come. It has been this way since time immemorable and the legends above have been handed down from generation to generation as proof.
Noh kukkehtah ne-ruwauwungansh - newutche - noh nearrious negonne rewamuks
(Hearken to my words - because - they are ancient prophecies).
(Behold, It Is So).
Biwabiko Paddaquahas/Iron Thunderhorse http://acqtc.org/Articles/AlgonquianProphecies
The Seven Grandfathers
Many Nations ~ Many Songs
A Video Created by Onefeather in 2009 as an Homage to the Peoples of the First Nation
In 1999, musician, author, philanthropist and social architect, Peter Buffett unveiled "Spirit – A Journey in Dance Drums and Song". Based on the prophecy of the Seven Fires, it aired on PBS as a highly successful pledge break special. Combining modern and American Indian dancers with Director and Choreographer Wayne Cilento, Spirit went on to tour through the end of 1999.
In 2004, Buffett worked with Jody Ripplinger and Frank Anderson to create Spirit –The Seventh Fire; an updated version of his earlier show. It was premiered on the National Mall during the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in its 800 seat theater tent.
Spirit-The Seventh Fire is a live concert and epic film of Native American dance. It tells the story of Everyman.
Caught up in the daily distractions of life, Everyman is thrown from his cubicle to begin a journey that renews within him the mystery, beauty, and spirit of his ancestors. Everyman takes you with him on this amazing journey.
For further information go to Peter's website for Spirit - The Seventh Fire: http://www.spirit7thfire.com/
Listen to Onefeather's discussion with Peter Buffett here...