THE CREATION OF KLUSKAP
After the Mi’kmaq world was created and after the animals, birds and plants were placed on the surface, Creator caused a bolt of lightning to hit the surface of Wsitqamu’k. This bolt of lightning caused the formation of an image of a human body. It was Kluskap (gloos-cap), first shaped out of the basic element of the Mi’kmaq world, sand.
Creator unleashed another bolt of lightning which gave life to Kluskap, but he could not yet move. He was stuck to the ground, watching the world go by and Naku’set travel across the sky everyday. His head was facing the direction of the rising sun, his feet were in the direction of the setting sun, his right hand was pointed North, and his left hand was in the South direction.
Kluskap watched the animals, the birds and the plants grow and pass around him. He asked Kisu’lk to give him freedom to move about the Mi’kmaq world. So it was that a third blast of lightning came, and that caused Kluskap to become free and to be able to stand on the surface of the Earth.
After Kluskap stood up on his feet, he turned around in a full circle seven times. He then looked toward the sky and gave thanks to the Creator for giving him life. He looked down and gave thanks to Wsitqamu’k for offering its sand for his creation. He looked within himself and gave thanks to Kisu’lk for giving him his soul and spirit. Kluskap then gave thanks to the four directions, starting in the direction of sunrise, and following the sun: East, South, West and North. In all he gave his heartfelt thanks to the seven directions.
Kluskap then went out to explore Wsitqamu’k, to see what he may learn about where he lived. He traveled in the direction of the setting sun, until he came to an ocean. He went South until the land narrowed, and he could see two oceans on either side. He journeyed back to where he started from, and then continued towards the North, to the land of ice and snow. Finally he came back to the East, where he decided to stay, because it was where he came into existence. He again watched the animals, the birds and the plants. He watched the water and the sky. Creator taught him how to watch and learn about the world. Kluskap watched but he did not disturb the world around him. He finally asked Creator to tell him the purpose of his existence. He was told that he would meet someone soon.
THE COMING OF NUKUMI
One day when Kluskap was traveling in the East he came upon a very old woman. The old woman introduced herself as Nukumi (noo-goo-mee). She said to Kluskap, “I am your grandmother.” KLuskap asked the old woman how she arrived in the Mi’kmaq world. Nikumi said that she owed her existence to the rock, the dew and Naku’set, the Sun. She went on to explain that on one chilly morning a rock became covered with dew because it was sitting in a low valley. By midday, when the sun was most powerful, the rock got warm and then hot. This old woman was Nukumi, who came into being already very wise and knowledgeable. She told Kluskap that he would gain spiritual strength by listening to and having great respect for his grandmother.
Kluskap was so glad for his grandmother’s arrival to the Mi’kmaq world he called upon Apistne’wj (ah-bis-ti-nay-ooj), a marten swimming in the river, to come ashore. Apistne’wj came to the shore where Kluskap and Nukumi were standing, and Kluskap asked him to give up his life so that he and his grandmother could live. Apistne’wj agreed. Nukumi then took Apistne’wj and quickly snapped his neck, then placed him on the ground. Kluskap for the first time asked Creator to use his power to give life back to Apistne’wj, because he did not want to be in disfavor with the animals. Apistne’wj went back to the river and in his place lay another marten. Kluskap and Apistne’wj became friends and brothers forever. Because of marten’s sacrifice, Kluskap referred to all the animals as his brothers and sisters from that point on.
Nukumi cleaned the animal to get it ready for eating. She gathered the still-hot sparks from the lightning which had hit the ground to give Kluskap life. She placed dry wood over the coals to make a fire. The fire became the Great Spirit Fire, and later came to be known as the Great Council Fire. Thus, the first feast of meat was cooked over the Great Fire.
Kluskap relied on his grandmother for her knowledge, and since Nukumi was old and wise, Kluskap also came to respect her for her wisdom. They learned to respect each other for their continued interdependence and continued existence.
Grandmother’s Heart Stone
As everything created changes, so Grandmother knew the time was nearing when she would begin her Last Great Adventure of this life. With all of her experience and wisdom, Grandmother knew this was the Way, and with all the love she had from generations upon generations, her heart was breaking. Everyone’s heart was breaking with the knowledge that Grandmother would soon be gone.
And so it happened that, as Nukumi was entering the Bardo of Death, her heart hoped that it could stay behind as a momento mori, a reminder that all things change, and that wisdom begins in the heart. As Death gently guided her last breath through the portal, the Creator unleashed a bolt of lightning that caused the rock, from which Nukumi was given life, to break into many hearts, each in the image of Nukumi’s.
From that time on, the Grandmothers have been the guardians of Nukumi’s Heart Stones. As they grew in wisdom, so did their compassion, and they knew that they must give their hearts to those that follow. In this way did the tradition of passing the Heart Stone from the Grandmothers to the Grand Daughters, typically at the beginning of a Great Adventure. It is to guide, to protect.
The Heart Stone is said to hold the collective wisdom of all the Grandmothers. It is, generally, a soft stone and a conglomerate, representing the uniqueness of every heart. It is soft, and so it is touched and shaped by its experiences, yet retains its essence.
On May 8, 2014 a special grand daughter received the Heart Stone pictured above.
The stories of “Kluskap” and “Nukumi” are from Legends of the Mi’kmaq, a tribe of the Northeast. And “The Grandmother’s Heart Stone” is from MindfulDying.com.
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