Updated: Aug 2, 2021
Nokomis Grandmother moon
Native people understand that everything in Creation has spirit. The plants, the trees, the water, the wind, the rocks and the mountains have spirit. The sky worlds, including the moon and other planets, have spirit. All of these are part of our first family, the natural world.
The first of all the mothers, Nokomis or Grandmother Moon/Sky woman, dwells in the heavens near her daughter, Mother Earth. From there, Nokomis keeps watch over her children, gently leading them through the night. Grandmother Moon in Anishinaabe tradition that views the moon as our Nokomis (Grandmother) who’s 13 faces appearances throughout the year to watch over us and our Mother the Earth.
A reminder that she has a dark side too which she may be held accountable for through her relations but through which we must never diminish the honor and dignity that are hers by virtue of being mindimoyen-- one who carries the world. "Grandmother" controls all female life. Much of the water life spawns according to the cycles of the moon. Just as Grandmother Moon watches over the waters of the Earth, it is said that women watch over the waters of the people. Water always comes before new life.
Nokomis is the grandmother of our Ojibwe spirit hero Nanaboozhoo, who she raised from birth. She was born in the sky world, and her mother was indeed the moon. She fell from the sky to Earth when she was an Oshkinikwe, a young girl, and was the first woman to set foot on Earth.
She had to learn very quickly how to survive alone, and she gave birth without midwifery to a daughter.
As a single mother, Nokomis took tremendous comfort in her child, grieving terribly when the young woman died in childbirth. With the birth of Nanaboozhoo, the girl who fell from the sky became both Nokomis and once again a single mother -- both at the same time.
Nanaboozhoo, who was the son of a human mother and the north wind, took the form of a tiny white rabbit when he was born. He had extraordinary gifts and talents that included the ability to shift shapes, or change his physical appearance.
His destiny was to walk the planet and encounter all that his creator placed here. His life and what he did with it would affect all of creation, and he would mold and save the Anishinaabe. Those sacred stories, which are told to this day, are the foundation of our spiritual and moral teachings -- and our history.