Creator’s Game is a 90-ft long mural at Ravina Gardens, north of High Park in Toronto, created by artists Monique Bedard (Aura), Chief Lady Bird, Jay Soule (Chippewar) and Evan Lovett with the support of StreetARToronto.
In this mural, spiritual depictions of our ancestors play lacrosse under Spirit Moon while the Northern Lights dance joyfully around them. Their presence is accompanied by a large owl and a thunderbird. The entire image is framed with Anishinaabe/Haudenosaunee florals.
This mural depicts notions of joy, interconnectivity, life cycles and our human connection with all of creation.
The traditional Haudenosaunee game of lacrosse is also known as the Creator’s game. It is said that lacrosse was given to our people from the Creator, for his amusement. Its origins are rooted in fun and was often played to show our gratitude for being able to live on this land. In some instances, it is also said that lacrosse was a medicine game because the medicine people would prepare mushkikii (medicine) and then ask the people to play a game of lacrosse to convey to the Creator that we still hold on to our teachings.
Painting a mural about the Creator’s Game urged us to delve into other teachings and place them alongside our ancestors to honour, respect and share these stories.
Traditionally, in some First Nations communities, owls are considered bringers of death. It is said that if you hear their call, or if they look you in the eye, that they represent death for either you or someone dear to you.
Regardless, death is not something to be feared, nor is it considered the end. Death is a stage of life when we exit the Western doorway and enter the spirit world, joining our ancestors and looking back at our time in the physical world.
Days before a storm, owls and other night birds begin to stir and warn each other that the thunderbirds are on their way. Many creatures take shelter because they hold deep respect for them and recognize their unmitigated power.
Thunderbirds are manitous (spirits) made by the Creator to look after Mother Earth’s health by bringing storms. They bring thunder, lightning, rain and wind that cleanse the land. They give our mother a drink when she is thirsty and keep her soils fertile and fruitful so that all of creation can live.
Their sole purpose is to ensure that Mother Earth is protected. From spring to fall they bring many cleansings, but in the winter they rest. This is a time when the Northern Lights, a gift that has been ascribed to the thunderbirds, become prevalent.
The Northern Lights are electric storms, dancing joyously above creation as everything sleeps; they are an important part of our 13 Grandmother Moon teachings, particularly during the first moon of creation, Spirit Moon, to teach us to honour the silence and realize our place within all of creation.
Our Grandmother Moon teachings represent the feminine and are directly related to some Anishinaabe and Ongwehonwe beliefs about First Woman (also known as Sky Woman) who landed on a turtle’s back. Many of our creation stories begin on the turtle’s back, which has 13 platelets.
Our Grandmother Moon teachings take us back to these first moments before humans and animals were given this land to reside on and remind us how to live our lives in a good way and sustain ourselves spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally.
Everything is connected.
by Chief Lady Bird, Toronto, Ontario, Canada