The 7th Fire painting was deeply inspired by Grandfather William Commanda, Algonquin Elder, Wampum Belt Keeper, Wisdom Keeper, and friend. His name is synonymous with the 7th Fire Prophecy Belt, kindness and forgiveness.
This painting was never professionally photographed and prints were never made. At the time of this writing, it is for sale in a gallery in Wakefield, Quebec. It has an interesting story...
In March of 2002 I was honoured to have been able to visit with Grandfather William in Kanata - arranged as a birthday gift from my husband. I was nervous and unsure of anything other than that I was curious about the man's beautiful and kind heart. I wanted to know more about this 7th Fire Prophecy I'd read about. After a little conversation, I asked him what a Wampum was. It was a question that started a remarkable journey for me. He gifted me with knowledge and honoured me greatly by taking out the 7 Fires Prophecy Belt, laying it on the table with great reverence and care. He explained each segment of the belt as the sage burned between us. A large eagle feather pointed out the areas of reference like it was an extension of his arm. Time was irrelevant. Nothing existed but his voice, the story, the smoke, and that beautiful belt. It was a life changing experience for me - truly a gift. The sound of his soft voice lives in my memory of that day. I can recall it in a moment anytime I want to. One evening as I sat at the table beneath a waning moon, his voice trickled into me from the ether, and I decided I would paint his words. I painted deep into the night. The painting: As you approach the top of the work, each fire becomes progressively smaller, just as our world becomes progressively smaller in so many ways. Seven of the the fires are easily seen, but the 8th fire is more elusive. We are now living in the time of the 7th fire on this planet.
The Seven Fires Prophecy is an Anishinaabe prophecy that marks phases, or epochs, in the life of the people on Turtle Island - North America.
"In the time of the Seventh Fire New People will emerge. They will retrace their steps to find what was left by the trail. Their steps will take them to the Elders who they will ask to guide them on their journey. But many of the Elders will have fallen asleep. They will awaken to this new time with nothing to offer. Some of the Elders will be silent because no one will ask anything of them. The New People will have to be careful in how they approach the Elders. The task of the New People will not be easy.
It is this time that the light skinned race will be given a choice between two roads. One road will be green and lush, and very inviting. The other road will be black and charred, and walking it will cut their feet. In the prophecy, the people decide to take neither road, but instead to turn back, to remember and reclaim the wisdom of those who came before them. If they choose the right road, then the Seventh Fire will light the Eighth and final Fire, an eternal fire of peace, love, brotherhood and sisterhood. If the light skinned race makes the wrong choice of the roads, then the destruction which they brought with them in coming to this country will come back at them and cause much suffering and death to all the Earth's people."
In the painting, the 8th fire is the smallest fire and the hardest one to find. Symbolically, in this life of high speed everything, we have diminished the importance of the fire within us. We have forgotten the feeling of slowing down and seeing all the beauty around us, and yet frantically seek the comfort of a peace that eludes us. In the painting I wanted the 8th fire to be harder to find, and therefore made precious in its discovery.
Grandfather William will live in my heart and in my work always. He ignited a fire in my spirit. It inspired me to reach for the peace and harmony of the 8th Fire always, regardless of what stands in my way. This is not an easy task, but it is a worthwhile one. We are living in interesting times.