Moons, Ceremonials & Dances

Sacred Medicine Ways – Part 11

A Teaching by Ghost Dancer

Now it is important to understand each month has its own specific moon cycle. There are 13 moon cycles per year and 28 days to a complete moon cycle. We counted time by the moon cycles. We harvested crops, planted crops, hunted, fished, gathered fruits, berries, nuts, medicine plants, burned our fields, cleared land, dug post holes, etc. all by the moon. There were moons to seek courtship, to mate; even seeking spiritual visions is done by certain moons. When young ones are being trained and must find their spirit helpers and seek visions (dream walks) they must do these things on certain moons only.

Women planned on getting pregnant by certain moons as well. Unlike today’s society, all women had knowledge of how and when to get pregnant. Women knew what plant to use to help them ovulate and what plant to use to prevent pregnancy. Yes, this is all knowledge young girls were taught. Women had a hard life. Their lives revolved around the family and clan structures, so it was necessary to plan their pregnancies at the best time for adequate support and in the interest of all the family.

During each moon cycle, certain dances were observed and held. Smaller bands did what they could but relied a lot on the larger villages and towns to help them so they had a vested interest in attending and participating in ceremonies and dances.

Each clan such as the deer, bear, wolf, wind, raccoon, bird, wolf, and beaver clans all had special times by the moons that called for ceremonies. It is most important that you understand that all clans had certain moons that were their own particular times to do things. When each specific moon came about, certain ceremonies took place.

LITTLE SPRING MONTH (tasahcuce) is a time to rejoice because the winter moons have faded and new life is beginning. New crops will be planted so we have fasting, drinking the black drink, dancing and prayer offerings for success of our crops that we are now ready to plant. In preparation of this all the town’s crop fields, village crop fields and individual gardens are all cleared off and then burned. The beloved women and clan mothers bless the fields, and offer prayers. They will sing and dance around the fields offering their prayer songs for Mother Earth, Grandmother Sun, and Grandfather Moon, asking all to help in making the crops grow and be fruitful.

At night, dances to honor Mother Earth, Grandmother Sun, and Grandfather Moon were held. Then, when all was ready on the time chosen by the keethla (kerrv) or keethlulgi (plural), meaning “knower(s)” or one who knows – individuals with special gifts or powers beyond the ordinary –  would have the clan mothers and beloved women lead everyone to the fields and pass out the seeds or bulbs that are to be planted. As this was done prayer songs are sung to Mother Earth, Grandmother Sun, and Grandfather Moon so these crops will grow and be fruitful for the people. This was all done with love in their hearts for the seeds to grow. The women continued to sing prayers each day and take care of the plants as they grew. When the planting ceremony was finished, everyone sang together, giving thanks for these things and for life and to all that is.

FROST MOON was celebrated by fasting, drinking the black drink to purge the body, and dancing. The dancing would be started by 4 hunters chosen to lead the dance. These 4 would dance around the square 4 times for 4 different dances. Why hunters? Well, because the frost moon was the time when hunting the rabbit, squirrel, deer, etc. would begin; after the first hard frost. This would ensure certain parasites would be killed off of the animals being hunted allowing for better meat, better furs and skins to use. The dances would later include dances for the deer, rabbit, squirrels, bear, panther, etc. This would include later the rabbit and turkey dance for couples.

Offerings are made to ensure successful hunts. Certain of the best hunters have already been selected to hunt the deer, squirrel, rabbit, bear, and panther, and after all have been successful, each of these will be offered to the sacred fire as offerings for the hunt that will begin later. All villages and towns observe and practice these things. Many times, larger towns host these ceremonies for the smaller villages, or bands, in surrounding areas. Each town will send a messenger who will carry the bundle of sticks to each band or village, letting them know they have that number of days to arrive. Each stick counts as a day and all are expected to arrive at least 1 day ahead of the beginning of the event. In the event that a band or village is late or doesn’t attend, fines or discipline will be sanctioned by the town micco.

After all the dances and offerings are completed, the hunters retreat to be blessed by sprinkling corn pollen, cedar, tobacco and holly over them. Then they go to pray to their spirit helpers and to the spirit of the animals they will be hunting, asking for their help and success in the hunts. When they pray, they offer to give thanks each day and pay tributes to them by singing songs for them and dancing for them in their honor! The hunters now bless their weapons with the offerings of cedar, corn pollen, tobacco, and holly.

Then the hunters begin to do dream walks, visualizing those they are to hunt; see them and send them love, letting them know it is in love for them and gratitude of their people that the giving of their bodies will give life to their people. The dream walk is a not like a normal dream. When doing a dream walk, the person sends their own spirit out of their body and lets it go where it needs or seeks to go.  All hunters, trackers, farmers, doctors, warriors, fishermen, spiritual people do this. All leaders do this so they can see what is best for their people.

The hunters speak to the leaders of the animals they hunt and ask for their help in these matters. Now once this is done the hunters go their separate ways to their hunting areas. As each kill is done, prayers are offered for each animal and for their kind as well. When the hunters return with their bounty of meats, a feast is held and honor songs for each of these animals are sung. A choice meat of each animal is offered to the fire and animal dances are done. The people celebrate life for all life this way.  Now the couples and romancing dances begin!

The Rabbit Dance for couples is a round dance. Each couple side by side, holding hands crossed over between them, dance in harmony together with each other and the drum. Their bodies move as one in every beat and they dance for as long as they choose to make it last. Rabbit dancing is a lover’s dance – yes, all married people are lovers too! 

Couples who play together, dance together, and renew their passion, love, and devotion to each other do not get divorced, or left behind. It is good to have so many different moons and each month different celebrations lead to more dancing. It is good medicine as we say, it keeps love flowing between couples, and it always helps with replenishing the population.

The Turkey Dance is a couple’s dance as well, but this is a beautiful, sensuous, exotic dance.  The women all line up on one side of the square and the men on the other side. Males will act as gobblers and the females will act as hens. Their bodies are covered in oils and painted to accent their gifts and the curves of their attributes. The women sensuously dance towards the males, first flirting and touching the males only with their feathers, then dance away trying to draw them to come after them. Then coming back, the women become more flirtatious, teasing more and more with their eyes, promising all kinds of delights, their bodies floating on air and enticing the strongest of hearts as they fade away to the other side of the square. 

Then the males begin to approach, mimicking the moves of the turkey. Thrusting their chests out, spreading arms out to the sides with their feathers all expanded, they begin their struts. Athletic oiled bodies gleam in the fire light; paint reflects exotic designs to accent their powerful bodies as slowly they move steadily towards the females. Coming close, yet not touching, their breath tingles on the female’s skin as the males slowly, gently use their feathers to tease and arouse their ladies. Then strutting away they dance as a gobbler would, mimicking every move a gobbler does, adding their own personal touches to show off their power. Then the couples dance together as mates, their feathers touching in harmony as one while the drum pounds out the beautiful vibrant beats and the singers all harmonize the songs. It is a sight to behold.

These two dances are very important to every moon and to every important ceremony, especially to our next moon, the blood moon.

BLOOD MOON – Blood moons are rare and very special to all tribes and all Native nations. Each nation has its own beliefs and practices for this event when it occurs. But all understand the importance of the blood moon. To the Mvskoge and the Mvskoke peoples, the blood moon represented two important things. Either Grandfather Moon was angry or Grandfather Moon was very aroused, so the people covered both so as to make it right.

Let’s deal with the angry part first. To most Mvskoke or Mvskoge peoples, when Grandfather Moon (hvresse puca) was angry, it was because some offense towards the people had occurred and had not been balanced out. The people’s blood laws demanded that offenses must always be balanced out and maintained. All towns, villages and bands observed the blood laws, so questions were asked in each to determine who had been violated, or who had violated another under the blood laws.

This usually pertained to other tribal nations who had killed or injured a member of the people, stolen someone or property, or even violated the hunting grounds, burial mounds, etc. Once this was found out, a quick council would be held and balance would be demanded by the clan mothers. The leader would be given her/his orders to get this done. She/he would select a certain number of chosen warriors to go with her/him to restore balance. This would be done under law. For instance, if a child or person of the people had been captured or stolen, the designated warriors would have to go and free that person and capture or steal one of the people from the offending party. If a person had been injured, wounded, killed or crippled by these people, the blood laws demanded balance, so this was done swiftly.

The clan mothers would bless the war leader and all the warriors, sprinkling them with corn pollen, corn meal, cedar, holly, and tobacco and they would all be smudged. They would be given the black drink to purge, and later given special medicine that only the keethla would make and give them to enhance the war leader, and warrior’s abilities, stamina, and awaken all their senses to a higher degree than ordinarily possible. Honor demands that balance be restored. This is our code.

In case Grandfather was aroused, while the war leader led the warriors off to restore balance and harmony, the clan mothers held love dances. Members of all the villages, bands, and towns gathered, fasted, drank the black drink and purged. Each eligible dancer would be sprinkled with the corn pollen, cedar, holly, tobacco and some special love medicine made by the medicine peoples. A special tea was also made so that both female and male would drink and bless their bodies on the inside!

Four women are chosen to lead in the dances four times around the square, each time faster and more skilled as they go, dancing erotically, sensually, teasing all the eligible male participants. When they finish, the four who are chosen will lead all the women in the dance four times around the square, each time getting faster and faster and skilled as they go. Then all the males who are eligible to participate join in, all dancing erotically, teasing all the females, showing off their powerful and athletic bodies four times around the square. When they finish, each woman comes to her mate and they dance together as one all night into the early morning until one by one they wander off to their own secluded places and make love. This helps restore the balance/harmony for Grandfather moon.

This is done each night until the war leader and warriors return. After rites of purification and clean-up ceremonies are completed, the announcement of what they have done is made, and those who are captured or stolen are displayed in the square. Usually these individuals will be adopted into the tribe later. If members who had previously been stolen or captured have been recovered, they are cleansed and purified and danced around the square four times welcoming them back amongst the people. When all these things are done, then the war leader and warriors will now dance with their mates and make love through the night.

The next night it will be announced that all has been done to appease Grandfather Moon and balance/harmony has been restored. The clan mothers, keethlas, beloved women and men will let the people know that life is truly good for all our people once again. They will bless and thank every member of the tribe, from the youngest to the oldest. Making sure every single member feels loved, appreciated and honored, and most importantly that each one is needed and special. This is the way of the people. This makes each band, each village, town and tribe so united as one in heart, mind and body. As we say, one heart, one mind, and one prayer – we are one!

Respectfully, Ghost

Ghost Dancer © 2017

Published by Sings Many Songs

I'm an 80-something child of the great depression and WWII. Throughout my life I have been a seeker, an outsider, never quite belonging anywhere, still always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. A lifelong student with many interests and a love of writing and editing, my elder's path led to encouraging and assisting some remarkable people to write out their amazing stories. This calling became the magic elixir that keeps me growing, keeps me alive.

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