It was an ordinary morning, just before dawn, on Ktichigaming (Lake Superior). I was out at Mission Marsh and having an extraordinary experience with a Spirit from the north and we were sharing spectacular stories and experiences. This Spirit appeared to be of the male gender.
I noticed that this Spirit had sprinkled something into the water as I was leaning over the fence at a lookout that has one of those magnifying devices on it. I wasn’t sure what the Spirit had sprinkled on the water but I later determined that it was asemaa (tobacco). Asemaa is considered the Chief of the medicines. It is used for healing and it is used as a communication mechanism to the Creator. It can also confirm a spiritual contract between an Elder and an individual seeking guidance or healing. Asemaa has many purposes. In this instance, it was an offering to the Spirit’s clan. The Spirit pointed out across the water and asked me if I could see what was coming toward us? I wasn’t sure exactly what the Spirit was pointing out but I thought I noticed a twig or something in the water floating on top. As you know it is very difficult to see just before dawn, just as it is very difficult to see just before dusk.
What was swimming towards us was a fish about 14 to 16 inches long and it came directly in front of the Spirit, facing the Spirit with its fins keeping it suspended in the water directly facing the Spirit. Now that in itself was amazing enough, but would happen next still has me be bewildered to this day. I get emotional every time I think about it. I noticed that there were more and more and more fish coming to face this visiting Spirit. All facing exactly the same way. All suspended in exactly the same way. All about the same size. Maybe even the same kind of fish. I am not sure exactly how many fish there were that morning acting in this manner, but it did seem like there were at least 100, maybe hundreds. Again it was difficult to see and I believe this was a vision. I had never shared a vision with another Spirit before.
I asked the Spirit what the fish were doing. He explained that he was part of a fish clan and the fish were coming to honor him and pay their respects. There was more shared with me that I am not able to share here. When the Spirit was done sharing all with me, the fish slowly started to drift away.
Later that same summer, I was out camping with my oldest son at Red Pine Canoe Outfitters located in Kaministiquia. He had been out kayaking that day and fishing. He was now back to our campsite on the Northern Light Lake and was proceeding to fillet the fish that he caught. I was already contemplating becoming a vegetarian at this time and was grimacing while he was filleting the fish. When I looked over to my son though it appeared to me that the fish that he was filleting was still breathing. Seeing animals that have already left this physical realm still breathing is not uncommon for me now. I have also had others coming to me expressing their amazement that my wolf or bear pelt appear to be ‘breathing’.
This reminds me of the teaching that I had received from Albert Mandamin following a ceremony. Albert had asked me to care for the tobacco ties which are large pieces of broadcloth with asemaa (tobacco) tied into a knot on the end. He lovingly placed these four tobacco ties into my arms with instructions where to put them out in the water. He did not care for the way of I was handling these tobacco ties expressing to me that these tobacco ties were more alive than I was. I never forgot that teaching. For me, it is the same with the animals, plants, trees, grandfathers (rocks), mountains, and lakes and so on. They are all alive.
So was my son filleting this fish and I thought the fish was still alive. I expressed my concern to my son. It didn’t matter how much my son my son tried to reassure me, I could not be consoled. That was the final confirmation for me. I do what I can to learn from God’s creatures. They bring me messages every day and I treasure these messages. I also do what I can to advocate for them. How could I in good conscience continue to eat them? How could I put that violence in my body? I could no longer eat my relations. I also now follow a vegan lifestyle as much as possible. It can be challenging when you are traveling or eating out. I am so grateful to the swimmers for helping me to be true to myself.
‘Fish medicine’ is about teaching us to ‘go with the flow’, using our intuition to navigate our surroundings, ‘riding the tide’ to new adventures, transformation of our Spirits. If fish is coming to you, think of the qualities of fish and it will help you identify your gifts.
Photo by Jonathan Coons.