[2 articles are here]

Moontime and Ceremony

Ellen Faruna
[from newsletter 2]

Moontime refers to the time a woman bleeds during her menstrual cycle. Through this cycle, women feel the effects of the moon, like we see the Earth affected by the ocean tides. There is some controversy and confusion about menstruating women and their participation in Native Ceremonies, such as the sweatlodge. Bleeding women sacrifice and give to the people during their moontimes, and through childbirth. The sweat ceremony was created for men to have a way to sacrifice and give for the people since they do not bleed monthly, or give birth. The Creator does not ask so much that women need to double their effort to be close to Spirit.

Much knowledge of women's traditions has been lost due to the genocide of Native peoples and the outlawing of their ceremonies. Before patriarchy, bleeding women were respected for their ability to nourish life and many still view this bleeding time as the first ceremony to connect with Spirit. Patriarchal society continues to view women's bleeding as a curse: dirty, and something to be ashamed of. These histories of oppression of Native Peoples and of Women leave us vulnerable to feelings of exclusion, anger, or hurt when ceremonies do not include mooning women in the same way as others.

Native Women used to routinely withdraw from their regular duties of childcare and food preparation to a moonlodge during their bleeding in order to rest and recieve dream guidance from the creator for their people. Some view this time of separation as a vision quest, a time to step away from daily tasks to focus on one's relationship with Spirit. The people honored and respected these bleeding women and their sacred role by covering the work otherwise done by them, and even cooking for them and protecting them.

Many of us are seeking to understand traditional viewpoints by praying about and learning their intent. Since many of us come from different cultures, we also seek to learn about native cultures and how to show respect for these traditions. We need new ways to balance the traditions with an understanding of ourselves as women, old and young: people with unique energies, gifts, and sensitivities, proud of ourselves and our place in the community. This is a time of rediscovery for women, and of ceremonies that will build upon our feminine and spiritual heritages, which will benefit all life.

Mooning women are invited to join the sweat ceremony by being present during the sweat, at the fire or some other comfortable place. Please stay and join the group for the feast at the end of the Sweat Ceremony. May we together continue the search within, with elders, and with other women to dream and pray for understanding in order to honor all gifts given.

—Ellen Faruna

Women's Moontime and Ceremony

Megwetch, Pilamiya,
Barbara Omaha
White Earth Ojibwe
[from newsletter 4]

I wrote this paper on women's moon time & ceremonies, which apply to the sweat lodge ceremonies that I conduct. I learned from Lakota Medicine Man, Pete Catches Fire, in 1983. He said, "All Medicine Men (Lakota) have a difference in their ceremonies and their teachings according to their visions and their powers. It's just like Christianity, all different denominations." It was at that point that my confusion over the differences in teachings ended. Some Medicine Men or Women have a Medicine that protects them, their pipe and sacred items from the moon-time. Unfortunately, we don't all have this Medicine. Therefore we must go by the Moon-time rules.

Just as the moon has a monthly cycle which culminates with a full moon, a woman also has a monthly cycle culminating with menstruation. This is why a woman's menstrual flow is called her Moon. During her Moon time, a woman is going through her own natural purification process. While her body is going through this natural purification, she is also recharging her own body's powers and energies, so it is a cleansing and restorative time for her. Because a woman's power is being renewed during this process, she must stay away from all sacred ceremonies, Eagle Feathers, Pipes, and the food which is to be eaten following a ceremony. A woman's power during her moon time is so strong that it can draw the power away from the sacred Sweat Lodge, Sundance, and Pipe ceremonies. Her power during this time can interfere with the power in the Sacred Pipe, Eagle Feathers, and the food offered for the feasts following ceremony. This interference can sometimes cause others to become sick.

All women on the Red Road want to be respectful of the sacred ceremonies and sacred items. Therefore, it is important that they stay away from the sacred Sweat Lodge and the Sweat Fire at this time. They can attend if they stay a good distance from the Sweat Lodge. They must not cook or handle food (cooked, uncooked, or store bought) used for the feast following Ceremony. If a woman wishes to contribute, she can give money to another sister to buy something for the feast following the ceremony.

In the past, traditionally, women never smoked the Pipe or participated in the Sweat Lodge ceremony until after menopause. During the early 1900s, the men were becoming weak from alcohol abuse. This caused a decline in the participation at the Sundance Ceremony. The Elders had a meeting to resolve this problem and at that time, they opened up the Sundance for women to dance behind the men. This helped to bring back the men into the Sundance. Also at that time, it became possible for women to have pipes at an earlier age,and to participate in the Sweat Lodge ceremony for purification because the Elders saw that the women were also suffering from the negative effects of alcohol abuse. With this change, it became necessary to be mindful of the effects of a woman's moon time, so rules were developed to protect the people from those harmful effects.

Men do not have their own natural purification and renewal process, therefore they must come to the Sweat Lodge ceremony for purification. It is also necessary for men to sacrifice and suffer for their people through the Sundance Ceremony so that our people will live. Woman, be proud! We do not have to do any of this, but we choose to. It makes our Grandfather, the Great Spirit, and our Grandmother Moon very happy!

Megwetch, Pilamiya,
Barbara Omaha
White Earth Ojibwe

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