Moontime and Grandmother Moon
Native people know that everything in Creation has spirit. The plants, the trees, the water, the wind, the rocks and the mountains have spirit. The sky worlds, including the moon and other planets have spirit. All of these are part of our First Family, the natural world. The Moon is called Grandmother Moon and great respect is paid to her.
Recognition of the Moon in the Calendar
The cycles of the moon determine our yearly calendar. The changes that come with each passing moon indicate the times for planting, harvesting, hunting and gathering. In the Anishnawbe calendar the names of each month include the word ‘moon’ and reflect the close connection between cycles of the moon and plant and animal life on Turtle Island.
Grandmother Moon: Female Energy
It is said that Grandmother Moon watches over the waters of the Earth. We see this in her regulating of the tides. Grandmother Moon controls all female life. Much of water life spawns according to the cycles of the moon. It is said that Grandmother Moon is especially close to women because she governs the woman’s cleansing cycle of menstruation known as moontime. Just as Grandmother Moon watches over the waters of the Earth, it is said that women watch over the waters of the people. Water always comes before new life.
It is said that the moon cycle is a gift to women. It is a time to cleanse herself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The moontime is considered a time of power, second only to the ability of the Great Spirit to give life. That is how strong that power is. Women can ask Grandmother Moon for direction in life, for wisdom and for help for her children and others. Grandmother Moon can give her healing and balancing energy to women. Some teachings say that when women are on their moontime the Creator comes closer to them. When women are on their moontime their power is at its strongest, this is acknowledged in that they do not prepare foods or medicines, take part in ceremonies or use the pipes and other sacred items. The moontime is a ceremony of life for women and a time for renewal. The moontime is a time for women to relax and take it easy. All the chores are done by other family members. It is a time for women to think about themselves, their family, their relatives or anyone they think needs help. It is a time of reflection.
Teachings on the Moontime
In the past when young women had her first moontime her aunties or grandmothers would take her to a small lodge where she could be close to the natural world. The young woman is sacred at this time. She is now able to give life. Her mother, grandmothers or aunties would give her the teachings about her new life. She would be taught about her role as a woman in the community.
Honouring Grandmother Moon
Some teachings say that when the moon is full women can ask Grandmother Moon to give them new energy. Around the full moon women on their moontime become very intuitive. It is an opportunity for women to take time for themselves to help foster their intuition and to have strong dreams. When the moon is full a woman can do a ceremony to honour and seek guidance from Grandmother Moon. The ceremony can be simple. A woman can sit on the ground and ask Grandmother Moon to replenish her body with new energy. She takes water with her which she asks the Moon to bless. That water then becomes her medicine. Full moon ceremonies are held in many communities. The ceremony may differ from place to place. It is held either on the Full Moon or two days before or after a Full Moon, depending on the teachings given to the women in a particular community. Women gather in a circle from infancy to old age. They drum and sing. Tobacco is placed in the fire and women ask for the cleansing of the Earth, as the water, lakes, river and oceans constitute women’s responsibility. In some communities at the Full Moon ceremony each woman brings a container of water. They pour this water into one bowl and this water is offered to Grandmother Moon and to the Earth. At the end of the ceremony the water, now called moon water, can be used as a medicine during the month.