Published on June 9, 2011 by Amy
by Waynonaha Two Worlds
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In the time of our ancestors, we lived by the seasons, the passage of time through Earth Mother’s embrace with Father Sun. Many of our ceremonies were based on the cycles of the Moon and seasons, which are also how each of the months, were named. We were able to tell time and live in harmony with all of Nature.
The June Moon of the Strawberry is an especially important one for women; it is the time to come and gather for the rites of passage, teachings and sharing of wisdom with the Elder Women. Our culture believed in an oral tradition of passing on the wisdom of the ages through ceremony, story and experiences. It was important that we shared the sacred rituals to assure that our future generations would comprehend the knowledge of the traditional ways. Through the knowledge shared by the elder Clan Grandmothers, the people would always remember their history. In the times before the coming of the white men and women, we celebrated each ceremony in its season. The Strawberry Moon is one of the ceremonies that is still preserved today.
With the seasons, came the understanding of the cycles of Nature, of planting and harvest. Agriculture was the basis for our community life, and the planting was always directed by the Clan Grandmothers. It is said that Creator gave us plants for everything we need here on this Earth for medicine. All we have to do is honor and care for them; this will assure us many years of healing. The strawberry plant is important in our culture, and if it is not honored or used, then it will disappear from this Earth. The strawberry plant was given to the women; all of this plant is for healing of the women. The berry is a natural medicine for the womb, and the leaves make tea for childbirth. The strawberry is used as an estrogen enhancer during the transition time between childbearing years and the time of the moon give-a-way. The roots are used for healing after childbirth. When the month of the planting came, we looked for the first strawberries to ripen.
For weeks, the young women would gather these small and sweet berries until the first full moon in the ripening of the strawberries. On the day of the first full moon, there would be hundreds of women gathering for the ceremony. By then the Moon was as full as the huge fat-bellied pottery jars filled with crushed, fermenting strawberries. All the women brought their camps to the gathering place. Only women and female children were allowed in these camps, except for male children still nursing, and even then, they stayed in a separate shelter.
The heartbeat would be started on the council drum and would continue until the last day of council, when the elder women would close the ceremony. This heartbeat was kept going all day and night for the duration of the full Moon. On the third day of the full Moon, the Strawberry drink was brought out, and was given to the women to drink, until it was gone. Some of the things that happened during this time were the rites of passage for the younger women and for the older women.
A ceremonial dance was done that honored all women and presented the younger women in their first year of moon cycles. The three circles of women stand around the central Fire that was started at the beginning of the ceremony. This Fire was a sacred Fire and only to be used for ceremony. The younger women, who were in their first season of Moon time, were the first circle around the Fire. The women who were of childbearing years made up the second circle. After this, the Grand Mother women who were no longer having their Moon time, and Elders. The Elders, Grand Mothers, Mothers, and young women were all honored in this dance. The dance was performed as a rite of passage into the women’s society.
In the old days, dancing would go on through the night, and into the morning—all would celebrate with much gifting and wearing of their new clothing they had made just for this occasion. When the Strawberry Moon Gathering was over, we each took home a little of the ashes from the sacred Fire to add to our own lodge fire. It was a good time to live and still, to this day, a healing way to remember a happier time.