by Andrew Judge
Boozoo! (Greetings!) Mko Mose Indizhnikaz (My spirit name is Bear Walker*[see footnote]), Meshekenh n’doodem (I am Turtle Clan), D'eshkan Ziibi n'doonjiba (I was born and raised along the Horned River [present day London, Ontario]). Anishinaabe, O’jibii’igay inini n’dow (I am an Anishinaabe Ojibway man).
In early literature, French and English visitors refer to these many groups of Algic speaking people’s as Ojibway, Chippewa, Saulteaux, Odawa, Pottowatomie and a host of other names and spellings (Warren, 1984). At one time there were at least thirty-six dialects of the Algic language.
My English name is Andrew Judge and I had an English grandfather named John Smith. I also have Celtic ancestry on both my mother (Brenda) and father (Arnie) sides of my family. The Celtic lineage on my mother’s side is connected to my Grandmother, Noreen Heeney, from what is today referred to as Northern Ireland. In Celtic times this area was known as the province of Ulster. My Mom was born in Sarnia, Ontario and she lived on a farm in her early years. My Father was born near Thessalon, First Nation, just like my late grandmother, his mother, Celina Bamagesic (portal in the sky), his father, my grandfather and namesake, Bertram Judge’s origins remain obscure to me, other than his Celtic descendance. Bertram passed before I was born at the age of 52.
In 2017, I’ll have worked in the area of Indigenous knowledge and education personally, professionally, and academically for ten years and have chosen to live by my Indigenous values and ancestral teachings to the best of my ability for a number of reasons. To do this, however, I’ve had to go through a traumatic process of forgetting all that I thought I knew about the world. This may sound dramatic and the process for me really was quite dramatic. My cup was full when I began this journey and it was only once I started emptying myself of previously held notions and beliefs about the world that stewards of wisdom began coming forward to confront me with new truths. I can’t thank those wise ones enough, I continue to grow each day from their lessons.
Currently I'm in the process of completing a PhD in Education at Western University. The focus of my studies since my Masters has been increasing holistic well-being by utilizing Indigenous teachings. I practise and implement teachings from the medicine wheel in my life and work which has brought me to the doorstep of heirloom seed savers. These studies and practises have allowed me to become a professor of Indigenous studies, professional speaker, and apprentice of Mayan timekeeping, responsibilities I will continue to uphold indefinitely. That said, I have much to learn from the wisdom of the Ancestors and I will remain committed to that task for the rest of my life.
In this post I'm going to share a brief message about cycles of creation and the importance of honouring these natural cycles when doing work on, for, and with the land. First, I want to acknowledge the many others out there, much more qualified that I, to share about this subject, thank you for your commitment and dedication to ensuring we continue to have unmolested seeds. What I share comes from my heart and from the lessons of the wisdom stewards, personal practice, and continuous study. I can imagine a day when urban gardens and edible landscapes are not a novelty, but a requirement for all levels of education, when food is not viewed as a mere convenience, but as a sacred medicine. We’ve been there before and together we can return. . …
Cycles of Creation
I look to the east, to the place where the sun rises and give thanks to the dawning of spring. The time when daylight and darkness equalize. The sun is our ancient grandfather, without his warmth, shine, and constant flow of energy I would not exist. The sun is the greatest of all fires, hurtling through space at over 800,000km/h, one of more than 100 billion stars in the milky way galaxy. Earths nearly 1675km/h spin speed causes us to interpret the sun as rising each day. What my ancestors referred to as the pathway of the bones. For a visual reference to the vortex created by the motion of the planets revolving around the speeding sun please see this site.
Next, I look to the south feeling the warmth of the earth at the height of the summer, when the longest day and shortest night converge. I give thanks to the great mother, earth. She provides the abundant nutrition we rely on for vitality. I listen to her guidance to ensure my crops yield. It is from this great mother that we all originate. Through careful observation she teaches me about her symbiotic relationship with our grandmother the moon. The moon cleanses her veins through which her sacred waters flow. This is the medicine of the divine feminine, which literally controls all life upon earth. A wise young women recently said, “Its not just sun light that makes plants grow its also the light of the moon. I've learned and practiced that tubers are to be planted on the days of the full moon while corn and tobacco are planted on the days of new moon. When follow this wisdom my garden has always produced in abundance."
Finally I turn to the great North, as snow begins to fall and stick. There are seven basic types of snowflake. I give thanks to the great white blanket that will cover mother earth and allow her to sleep. Her blanket of water. As the great freeze sets in I take time to listen to the ancient stories, I take time to sleep and dream and allow the ancestors' messages to deepen my relationships with times past and present. I wait anxiously for the sacred sugar waters to flow once more, so I can rejuvenate and begin the cycle anew. I honour the sacred temples, built around the world, the ones that celebrate the solstices and equinoxes and illuminate ancient symbols otherwise hidden throughout the rest of the year.
Thank you for allowing me to share this short message with you. It gives me great joy to share the little I’ve learned, in this way. When I presented at FUAL in January, the team utilized lessons from these cycles to set up the room and that is shown in the image below. The cycles which have guided our ancestors for generations will continue to lead me until my last breath. I’ve learned that to align my actions with these ancient cycles means to reap great benefits for my family, community, and environment. I hope you’ve gained something and I can’t wait to learn from you in the future.
We are the emissaries of the ancient teachings and together we can rebuild abundance and beauty for all.
In kindness and humility,
*I dreamt my spirit name after my first fasting experience. I fasted to ask for my spirit name and clan. The night I came out of my fast I had an extraordinary dream. At the very end of the dream a force of energy came out of a water fountain that I witnessed being constructed through time lapsed video, it appeared directly in front of my face. It was as close as something can be without touching. In that moment a commanding voice announced, “Your name is Bear Walker! Your name is Bear Walker!” The voice shook me to my very core and in that moment I awoke gasping for breath. Since the moment I’ve consulted several Anishinaabe knowledge stewards about this name. It now directs my path towards mino-bimaadiziwin ‘the way of a good life’ (Rheault, 1998).