Some Teachings Found In The Shawl
This evening as I sit and reflect upon a story to share as the time of storytelling approaches. I am drawn to the awareness of the shawl that I am wearing over my shoulders. The purpose and gift of this shawl which keeps me warm, allows me to feel nurtured, held, connected and provides a feeling of safety. The shawl teachings are old in understanding and before the shawl, a blanket was worn by my ancestors. The shawl reminds us of the coming home and connects me to my lineages; the women before me, my mother's line; my mother; my grandmother and my great grandmother. I was fortunate to know my grandmother and I spent a great deal of time with my grandmother. I also spend some time with my great grandmother as well and I remember her quite fondly. There is a memory of my both my grandmother's wearing shawls. Sometimes they would wear a sweater that the buttoned at their neck and it would gently lie over their shoulders. I do not actually remember a time other than in the summer months that my grandmothers did not wear a shawl or sweater draped over their shoulders.
Before the shawl became a shawl it was founded in the form of a blanket to my ancestors. A blanket was made to be able to be used for many things. A shawl can also be used for many things, so as I sit here, and I just embrace this wonderful wool shawl that is around me I am drawn back into the stories of my grandmother my great grandmother. The stories they told me and how this time of year reflects a time of season; of telling the stories, of listening to the stories of old, listening to the knowledge that is held within our families, within our communities, and within our memory. I remember as a young girl always thinking how wonderfully strong my grandmother was. I wanted to be like my grandmother, to be that strong woman. My grandmother was widowed at an early age and raised three children, she ran the household and pretty much worked in the home she didn't work outside of the home. I have memories of knowing some of the hardships my grandmother experience and journeyed through. She always provided home cooked meals, snacks, and baked goods. On special occasions, every holiday within the year, she would always provide me with a card, that was signed with a good wish, filled with love, and in her beautiful cursive handwriting. My grandmother had beautiful handwriting, and I still to this day hold these cards and messages. This is one of the passed on family traditions I carry forward with my children and now my grandchildren. My grandmother even in the smallest ways, she would ensure my birthday celebration or other forms of celebrations were filled with much love and joy. I do remember the wealth of knowledge that she had of the family and the pictures that would share the histories with me. We would go through the pictures, and we would talk about the history found in the homes, who the people were in the pictures and how they were connected in their relationships. The shawl brings us back into embracing and belonging to our knowledge. When we see our women, the grandmothers wrap their shoulders with the shawl we can understand the coming home of wisdom. Sometimes today, you may also see the scarf worn as a shawl placed over the shoulders and it is in the space of coming back to that in which she is, the teachings, the family heritage, the connection to all women that has gone before within the family. The shawl can also be used to keep yourself warm, to protect, and to be used to carry items. To be able to wrap items up in the shawl, to hide away, to carry items in a sling fashion and to carry an infant. The shawl can be used in many ways as a blanket to stay warm, to be placed upon the earth and to act in a blanket to gather upon. Today we can observe the beautiful fancy shawl dancers, which have designed the shawl with distinct colours, applique and the shawls tell a story, with symbols that speak to the woman that is wearing the shawl. Many years ago, I received a beautifully crocheted shawl from one of the women that attended a women's circle I facilitated. I still have that shawl today and it is another reminder of the gifts that we have as women and the importance of the healing that comes with the shawl. When we look at the beauty of the colored leaves that are released from the standing nations, and find themselves upon the mother earth, we can then see the shawl of many colors that the earth mother is wearing. We observe as she connects with her teachings, lineage of old, aligning to the first women and shares her wisdom with us. As we embrace the beauty, breathe in the crisp air, and enjoy our stroll through the leaves knowing the healing and path of beauty that surrounds us.
Nokomis Migizinz Personal Copy Right 2021