Sacred Medicine Ways – Part 9
A Teaching by Ghost Dancer
Women today have lost or forgotten their true roles and purposes that used to be. In the old days, everything revolved by and through the women. A child was a member of the mother’s clan. Her blood was all that mattered, not the father’s. In every town, all the land and buildings, everything was the property of the women. The women held the power to make decisions in the best interest of the clan and for the people in general.
They are the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, nieces, cousins of the men and boys. Naturally, they want only what is best for everyone. Men seek to be their best by doing good things, honorable things, helping the clan, family, tribe be its best. Each has its own role. I speak of this first so you can get a better mindset of what each person’s role in the old times were.
Every decision, of everyone’s life was conducted through your mother’s clan and the Clan Mothers – who taught you, which society (war clan for men) you would join, only the women had the power to direct your life. No war, no hunts, no chunkey games, or stickball, fishing, gathering anything, unless the women declared that it would be. You could not even court or date or romance a girl without the women’s approval. Your marriages were arranged by the women. The headmen, council, and warriors all lived by the laws and decisions made by the women.
You ask why. Well why would we question the wisdom of the Creator in giving the women, the power to create life, and give birth to that life, from her womb, because no man has the love, the honor, the respect, humbleness, and generosity that a woman has? No man could withstand the pain and suffering that a woman goes through in labor and during the pregnancy that women must go through to bring new life into this world. Do you know any man in his right mind who would ever willingly take on that burden? Women have so much courage. The Creator knew that for there to be balance and love for all life, that the true power had to be the rightful gift of all women.
Now many women still don’t understand the true aspect of women’s powers. Every woman is so connected to Mother Earth that she is given a Moon Time (a menstrual cycle) just to help her always to be pure and clean, just as Mother Earth does in her winter season. Just as she does in her thunderstorms, floods, or earthquakes! Every woman knows how to conserve and think about others before herself. Women are stronger than men in their minds and their hearts, their courage, their ability to change themselves at a moment’s notice while most men are seen to be stubborn, arrogant, selfish, and egotistic. Pride/ego is the downfall of almost all males.
The gifts of love were bestowed upon the women to teach all men how to truly love. As mothers they nurture us, protect us, feed us, take care of us when we are sick, clean us when we mess ourselves, cleanup after us, because men often never think to do these things. The Women’s role was that of power. The tribe was only as good, strong, or successful as the women were in the tribe. If a male leader failed to do as he was directed, he would immediately be replaced by the choice of the women, because the women thought always about what was best for the entire tribe, and the generations of the tribe yet to come. All the tribes’ belongings were owned by the women only. No male owned anything except his weapons. All males did everything they could to earn the respect, love and generosity of the women, because it was the greatest thing a male could do: to provide, protect, pleasure, and procreate for the women.
All the Plant people talked to the women, to teach them the powers of the Plant people, so did the Stone people, because all these relatives could feel the love in the hearts of the women. It is hard for many women today to see themselves as this beautiful, powerful, loving being. But they truly are! If only they would pick their hearts up off the ground, and see everything in beauty and love, the world could change overnight.
A woman is not ugly, selfish, egotistic, lazy, or dumb! Why, because no woman has ever been created that way! The only way that ever happens is if the woman herself changes herself to be that way or is abused and never ever tapped into her true power to take charge of herself. Because there isn’t a woman alive today that could not use her true power and claim her rightful place in control of the world around her and create herself as totally beautiful and loving in every way. But it begins with the woman herself. She must choose this and claim it in her heart. Once she does then she will begin seeing herself as beautiful, and as wonderful as she truly is. Others will see this too.
When a woman recognizes that she is able to make changes around her, by opening her heart, to Mother Earth, to the Moon, to the Waters, to the Plant people, to the Stone people, she will know how special she truly is.
The reason why women on their Moon, were not allowed around the men, boys, or anything that was used by men (weapons, medicine bundles, medicine bags, hunting and fishing equipment, etc.) or around any areas where men conducted rituals, was because during her Moon cycle her power would cancel out and overwhelm anything of the males. Her Moon cycle was so powerful that men would be violating Mother’s gift to the women to ever question it.
A woman’s Moon cycle is a purification that no man is ever blessed with. Most women hate the cycle now days, because they were brought up to believe it was dirty and nasty, but in truth it is a time of the Creator’s gift that all women can purify themselves from within themselves with their passions, emotions and their entire beings. Most women won’t admit their lustful desires now because of the programmed belief that it was wrong, dirty, or sinful for her to be like that or want that desire filled. Any woman who is true to herself will admit those feelings and longings, and in truth women can more easily get pregnant right before her cycle begins, while spotting or cramping, or at the end to their Moon cycle.
Only through the false fear or beliefs of some religions were these truths hidden and put down by these religious dogmas attempting to silence the women and their roles in life. It was these same religious people who feared the women’s power that they systematically attacked women in their beliefs and taught them that they were a curse and they came from a man and that they are the cursed of the people. Why would women put up with it and deny themselves their true powers in this world, and in all the universes? Balance has been lost and will return when women claim it and choose to be the Love, Light, and Power that you truly are!
The Women’s Moon Lodge
In the old days, clan mothers and women were responsible for teaching the young girls the secret ways of women, not only in duties to the clan, but in everyday life. The women’s lodge, or menstrual house (eposkv-hute) was a place of power. It was not, as some people suppose, a place where women were banished because they were unclean. No men or boys dared go anywhere near this place because of the feminine power.
Not only was the women’s lodge the place women rest while in their moon flow, but it’s a place where girls are taught by older women everything they need to know about being women, how to attract a good mate and how to deal with the men they would soon be having intimate relationships with. When the time was right, young expectant mothers would have full support from the women of her clan to teach them all they needed to know about pregnancy, childbirth and caring for herself and for a new life. The beauty is that no young woman needed to ever feel alone or confused, wondering what was happening to her. So you see, the women’s lodge was a place where women found harmony with Mother Earth and the universe and the girls of each clan learned the mysteries of making secret potions and charms to attract the man they want.
Now a lot of people may not believe in this kind of thing, but judge not, for it isn’t for you to believe. It is for you to know and learn why this was done in the old times. Understand the clans had strict rules on marriage. To marry any relative, even a distant relation was strictly forbidden, so to assure finding an appropriate mate could be especially difficult. The responsibility fell on the clan mothers to keep track of all the members of each clan, the marriages and such. Each child is known by all clans and it is important that each person, even children know and introduce themselves as belonging to their own clan.
Often Muskogee, Ani-yun-wiya and most eastern tribal women are named after flowers or birds and such that bring beauty, love and strength to the people. When a woman is named little oak she is being called that because she is strong and has her roots sunk in deep. She may bend but she won’t break. If she is named honeysuckle woman she is being named for her beauty and her fragrant scent that blesses all that see her or come in her presence. If she is named little fox she is known for her beauty and cunning. Turtle woman is so named for her steady pace in life and always being protective and never rushing into anything without thinking first. So, yes all these things must be paid attention to.
Envisioning the Women’s Lodge
The house dwelling is built using 8 red oak posts (representing the tree of life of the people). Around the sides, 20 red cedar poles and covering with the red cedar boughs and red clay used as cement with designs of the moon and corn maiden, winged serpent, turtle, and all the clans are represented. The number 28 is sacred because it represents the number of days in a moon cycle. This protects the people all around and keeps this power inside.
The roof is made of red cedar poles and boughs laid on top. Red cedar leaves are scattered over the floor. 28 white water willow poles (representing purity and peace) are laid out and tied together using their own stripped bark soaked in water to make the door with intricate designs of each moon phase and stars aligned to the seven sisters (Pleiades). The door faces the south.
Circles of branches of holly are hung and attached to each direction. A special area is made to collect the absorbent pads, most commonly cat tail tops or washed moss, with the blood flow from the women. Just as mother earth has a cleansing so do the mothers and daughters. They were then burned with cedar and juniper boughs and the ashes later added to the burnt ashes from all the fires in every lodge of the tribe, council house fire, and most important, the tribal sacred fire to be mixed in with all the compost made from the blood and waste of fish, animals, and birds and spread upon the tribal fields to grow crops. This completes the circle or cycle of life.
A sacred smudge bowl is set by the door and a turkey hen wing fan is used to smudge all who come or go to bring food and water, to teach and to assist can be smudged and washed with a cedar and or juniper tea. A water bag made from the stomach of a deer and a gourd dipper, hang on one wall. A turtle shell rattle hangs from the poles on the roof.
In the center, a hearth fire is kept burning all year. Fire-hardened clay pots and baskets filled with herbs and powdered roots sit nearby along with a set of deer antlers and deer toes.
The baskets, woven from grasses and bark are dyed with many geometric designs. One of the baskets holds corn meal, another, bean husks with dried beans. Another holds tobacco leaves and corn husks and a stone pipe or deer antler pipe. Many dried roots hang all around, each one of them has medicine and power as does every herb, every object, every symbolic design.
Spider woman is very powerful for dreams and weaving webs to capture things. Her webs have been gathered and stored for medicine. A pile of dried and tanned fur pelts stored out of the way ready to bring warmth and comfort. These, along with a number of skulls and bones containing the spirits of animals, birds or reptiles that may be asked for help, protection, or strength. Many a young woman has used these to help herself in difficult times. Even having to use the toilet is done in the lodge and the waste removed by the ones assisting or visiting. Sometimes during her moon time a woman may suffer cramps or mood swings so special teas were made to ease the discomfort.
Hope this gives you a better understanding of the full meaning and purpose of the women’s lodge as a place of rest and support during the moon time and for young women, a place where they truly learn the traditions and knowledge of our culture. The elder women taught the young women of each village as they came to their first Moon times about the purpose of a retreat during these cycles every month – to reconnect to the Earth Mother and receive her nurturing again every month for those days of her flow. For adult women with children especially, it was a time to get some much-needed rest from the work of everyday life. Sisters, aunties, grandmas etc. would do the household chores for her.
Considered a secret of longevity, when women are filled with the Earth Mother’s love for us, as her daughters, we can make sacrifices for others. But we do not sacrifice ourselves or our health because we take the time each month to be filled with our Earth Mother’s love. With Earth Mother’s love, we can do our work and care for our families and not be used up or weakened.
Today we do not have Moon Lodges in our society, but we can remember who we are and that our Earth Mother is still there for us. We are the human reflections of our Earth Mother, caring for our families and ourselves always. Remember to take some time out for yourself every month or even every day. If you are not healthy and rested, you cannot take care of those you love.
Ghost Dancer ©2014