I enjoy hearing about legends and tales from local and different cultures. One of my favorite legends from the long ago logging culture is the story of Paul Bunyan. My home state of Wisconsin stakes a claim on the story’s origin, but Minnesota and several other states have named themselves as hosting the famed legend and his oxen, Babe.
I wanted to incorporate legends and tales into my novels, and since some of my characters were of Ojibwe blood, I chose that tradition as a base for the tales.
One of my characters in my newly released WWI novel, Oshki, is of Ojibwe heritage and grew up listening to Ojibwe tales from his great aunt, Maang-ikwe (Loon Woman). This excerpt from Silver Moon is my favorite story that he remembers. Although, this story stems primarily from my imagination, it does have a foundation in Ojibwe legend.
Excerpt from Silver Moon: Moon Story
Oshki listened and looked up at the moon smiling down on them. His thoughts drifted from the priest’s words to a tale his great aunt had told him when he was a child. Maang-ikwe’s mellow and slightly nasal voice spilled out the story in his memory . . .
“Now there was Moon whom Gitchi-manidoo made. Moon looked down from heaven. He liked to watch de life of men, but he sad not to gaganoozah, talk, with man. Gitchi-manidoo knew Moon could not talk men’s talk, so he thought of way. He asked Moon question.
“‘Moon, you tired of always being de same color?’ Moon say, ‘’Eya,’ yes. Moon not think of that before, but he tired of gray. So Gitchi-manidoo gave him gift.”
“What did the moon get?” Oshki widened his eyes and asked. The firelight of the hearth danced behind them.
“Moon’s maker say to him, ‘I give you red, orange, blue, gold, and silver to dress in.’
“Moon pleased, but he ask, ‘How I know which color to put on?’
“Gitchi-manidoo tell him, ‘Sun will tell you.’ So . . . Moon listens for Sun and its light to tell him when to dress in a different color.”
“Does the moon have a favorite color?” Oshki asked.
“Is the moon happy wearing different colors?”
Maang-ikwe smiled at him. “It is just so, ingozis. Moon is happy, he wear color so Anishinaabe know when to do certain things.”
“Harvest and thanks. Planting and protect. Joy and laughter. Sorrow and tears.”
Oshki was puzzled. He had an inclination of what she meant, for the moon glowed orange often at harvest time, and he had seen it look golden and full every once in a while. Oshki couldn’t remember seeing the other colors, though.
“Will I see all the colors of the moon? Will the moon tell me when to do these things?” Oshki watched his great aunt. He loved her stories, but he often did not understand them.
Maang-ikwe paused and gazed at him so hard it almost hurt. He wanted to turn away but didn’t.
“What is it?” he finally got up the courage to ask her.
“Ingozis, my son. I see a silver moon.” Maang-ikwe placed a shaky hand on his chin.
“What will a silver moon tell me?” Oshki’s brows puckered together.
She hesitated, sighed, and trailed down the curve of his smooth boy cheek with her wrinkled finger. “Silver a metal that chases away maji-manidoo, bad spirits. The light of de silver moon a cleansing light. It save you from bad things and help you remember Gitchi-manidoo, who protects.”
Maang-ikwe’s hand hovered a few seconds longer at Oshki’s cheek, then she dropped it back into her lap and turned her head to the low, flickering flames.
Oshki looked at his aunt’s profile and wondered when he would see this moon and what he would need protecting from . . .
Thanks for reading my tale of the moon!
To read what Oshki will need protecting from, you can find my book by clicking the button below.