|Just a bit further down this beach we stumbled upon a
fabulous find. I was walking towards the shoreline (thinking that I had spotted a REALLY
big Lake Superior Agate winking at me near the edge of the rocks) I reached down, only to
have the rock I was looking at roll and crush my thumb between it and another rock...
OUCH! I screeched, and tried to stand up.. only slipping on another pile of rocks and
landing flat on my butt on another pile of rocks. As I sat there nursing a throbbing
purple thumb (not broken - thank goodness), I took a look at where I was sitting and found
myself in the center of a treasure pile of Hematite and Jasper stones. They were the
most amazing pieces! Rich powerful blacks with intense red banding! What a find!!
As I sat there in awe, watching the waves roll in near me (knowing that these stones were
only recently hid by layers of ice and before that, many feet of water.. I got to thinking
of Mishi Peshu - the great underwater lynx like creature who lives in the depths of
Gitchigumi (Lake Superior).
A bit of history on this:
Mishi Peshu is the ultimate metaphor
that represents the power, mystery and innate danger that comes from these sacred waters.
With razor like spikes on his back, the face of a lynx or panther, and the body of a sea
serpent, this creature demanded respect. The Anishinabe offered tobacco and prayer to the
creature spirit before they embarked out onto the waters in their canoes. The calm waters
of Lake Superior can be quickly transformed into raging squalls and huge waves from the
northern, north-eastern, and north-western gales that often suddenly crop up. These gales
sweep over the open water, quickly picking up momentum and causing huge waves, some up to
40 feet high.
A picture of Mishi Peshu is found at Agawa Bay, Lake Superior National Park, in northern
Ontario, north of Sault Ste. Marie. The Midewiwin Society claimed in 1850 that this
pictograph was painted by an Anishinabe shaman, and represents a heroic 4 day crossing of
Lake Superior by a war party of five canoes. The author is believed to be a tribal shaman
named Myeengun which means "Wolf." The images are painted using red ochre, a
pigment made from the iron ore called hematite, mixed with clay minerals. This is the most
famous rock art painting in Canada, according to National Collection Archive sources.
As I sat there nursing my sore thumb, I started to wonder about the Great Spirit in the
lake and the wonderful treasures that had shown up where I least expected them to. Even
Rob was in awe over this find. The stones I "stumbled upon" were the stones that
were used (all those years ago) to paint these ancient cave paintings - it was crushed and
the residue inside was used on the rocks). I spent hours with the red ocher colours on my
fingers after picking some of these stones.
You can't go very much farther down this shorline as it ends up in
someone's front yard.
That's me, holding my sore thumb and sitting on the stone that looked like an Agate from a
distance). I've got a chunk of Hematite Jasper in my hand about the size of a baseball.
Yes I'm smiling but it's more like:
"Ow.. hurry up.. take the picture"