Indigenous People know that everything in Creation has a spirit. The plants, the trees, the wind, the rocks and the mountains all have spirits. The sky world, including the moon and other planets also have spirits. All of these are apart of our First Family, the natural world.
The Moon is called Nookomis Giizis which means Grandmother Moon in Anishnabemda. Great respect is paid to Nookomis Giizis.
Recognition of the Moon in the Calendar
The cycles of the Moon determine our yearly calendar. The changes that come with each passion Moon indicate the times for planting, harvesting, hunting and gathering. In Anishnaabe calendar the names of each month include the word ‘moon’ and reflect the close connection between the cycles of the moon and the plant and animal life on Turtle Island.
January – Spirit Moon
February – Bear Moon
March – Sugar Moon
April – Sucker Moon
May – Flower Moon
June – Strawberry Moon
July – Raspberry Moon
August – Thimbleberry Moon
September – Corn Moon
October – Falling Leaves Moon
November – Freezing Moon
December – Little Spirit Moon
Grandmother Moon: The Female Energy
It is said that the moon cycle is a gift to women. It is time to cleanse herself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Women can ask Grandmother Moon for direction in life, for wisdom, and for help for her children. Grandmother Moon can give her healing and balancing energy to women.
Some teachings say that when women are on their moon time that the Creator comes closer to them.
When women are on their moon time, their power is the strongest and this is acknowledged that they do not prepare food or medicines, take part in ceremonies or us the pipes and other sacred items. The moon time is a ceremony of life for women and a time for renewal, a time for women to relax and take it easy. All the chores are to be done by other family members. It is a time for women to think about themselves, their families, their relatives, or anyone they think needs help. It is a time of reflection.
Teachings On The Moon Time
In the past when a young women had her first moon time her aunties or grandmothers would take her to a small lodge where she would be close to the natural world. The young women is sacred at that time. She is now able to give life. She would be given the teachings of her new life from her mother, grandmother or aunties. 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 moon time 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 as simple as a woman sitting on the ground and asking Grandmother Moon to replenish her body with new energy. She takes water with her which she asks Grandmother Moon to bless, this water then becomes her medicine.
Full moon ceremonies are held in many different communities and the ceremonies may differ from place to place. It is held on either the full moon or two days before or after the full moon depending on the teachings that are given to the women in a particular community. Women gather in a circle from youngest to oldest representing the life journey from infancy to elder. The women drum and sing and tobacco is placed in the fire and the women ask for the cleansing of the earth, as the water, the lakes, the rivers and the 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 Mother Earth. At the end of the ceremony, this water is now called Moon Water and can be used as medicine throughout the month.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Teachings and Traditions. Remember that these particular teachings and traditions are of the Anishnaabe people and not the same for all indigenous Peoples. We all come from different Nations that have different teachings and different traditions. So if your interested in learning about your own nations teachings and traditions of Grandmother Moon, bring an offering to your elders and asking them if they can share their knowledge with you.
Bah Mah Pii
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(1), (2), (3) artwork by Betty Albert
Resources:Anishnawbe Health Toronto: Jake Aguohia, Garnett Councillor, Harlan Down Wind, Roger Jones, Rose Logan, Mary Louie, Dorothy Sam, Nelson (Sugar Bear) Shognosh, Geraldine Standup & Ella Waukey