KAHGIIBOONKEH – THE WINTERMAKER
As told by Doug Williams to Julie Kapyrka
We call wintertime: BIBOON. It’s a time of year when all things take a break, they take a rest from the growing seasons of spring and summer. It’s that cold time of year when the winds blow and the cold air from the north is upon us. Many stories are told of the spirits that govern this time of year and it’s led by a number of them. It was originally a dispute between NANABOZHO and BIBOON that determined the present way that winter would stay with us in this part of the world. It was through negotiations between the two of them that it was agreed upon that we would have 4 moons of winter, 4 moons of summer, and 2 moons each of the other seasons – what we call the “in-between seasons.”
The winter is expressed quite readily in the sky. The winter sky tells us much of what is happening at this time of year. It is led by a spirit we call KAHGIIBOONKEH – translated means “Wintermaker.” You can see this Wintermaker as a constellation in the sky. You would know this constellation as Orion the Hunter. The Wintermaker starts to have its presence known in November when it starts to rise from the eastern sky. And by mid-winter, which would be about in February, it is standing straight up in the night sky – a powerful symbol of this time of year. This spirit reminds us that winter time in this part of the world is necessary for our rejuvenation.
KAHGIIBOONKEH is also dependant on the spirit NANABOZHO. They work closely together and this determines how we get winter. As an example, it is NANABOZHO who encourages KAHGIIBOONKEH by gestures of teasing and trickery to make winter. In the event that there is a big melt, you can make a snowman into the form of a rabbit and KAHGIIBOONKEH will see it and be triggered to bring winter back.
We do that in the winter when we want to have a good maple sap run which is determined by a cold, clear, snowy winter.
There are other animal spirits that are symbolized in the sky. One of them is the fisher we call OJIIG, who you know as the Big Dipper. This spirit constellation works with the constellations around it to make sure we have a good healthy winter. They all work together with the other constellations such as the Bear, the Moose, and the Seven Sisters that you know as the Pleiades – which we also know as a hole in the sky through which we travel after we pass on here.
There is much happening with spirits in the Sky World that determines what happens here on earth. They are all in harmony and it is a pleasure to know that they are working hard to keep this part of the world healthy. I thank those spirits every day for this beautiful part of North America we call GCHI MIKINAAK – the Big Turtle.
Many people tend to mistakenly call it “Turtle Island,” by no fault of their own…but that is another story.