28 Dec Return of the Tribe: Honoring Our Moon Cycle
“Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species. Though the gifts of the wildish nature come to us at birth, society’s attempt to “civilize” us into rigid roles has plundered this treasure, and muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls. Without Wild Woman, we become over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative, trapped.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Recently, I came across an old black and white photograph—1920’s vintage: short skirts and dresses with fringe.
It belonged to my grandmother.
They called it the Gatsby era—where the elite would dance the Charleston while sipping bourbon from glassware graphed with crystal stems: Cloche hats and coifed finger waves—women with persimmon stained crimson lips; Persephone in a kiss.
In the 1920’s a “new woman” emerged. Social classes were established, women began holding employment, and woman’s suffrage was brought to the forefront of political issues.
Liberated women were still not the norm, but women everywhere were talking about the up rise of feminism in every culture. It was a defining era when the sacred patriarchy was recognized as becoming equal with the divine sacred feminine; the holy matriarchy.
While this “new woman” represented freedom (or rebellion), there was already another kind of wild woman roaming the forests and experiencing liberation of a different kind.
These women did not live in mansions—No, these women lived as Viking warriors (shield maidens) forging their way through the woods, eating nuts and berries—raising her spirit in prayer during the full moon and likening her spirit to the everlasting stream of all that nourishes and all that creates.
These women lived in harmony with Gaia forging for survival and bearing their children along the way.
They studied herbs and created healing elixirs: medicine made from natural resources. Chemistry and horticulture gave them magic that others did not understand.
The wild woman was a healer, a shaman, a doula, and a medicine doctor—though others would call her “hag,” “whore,” “gypsy,” or “witch.”She spent much time in study: studying plants, their properties and uses. Petals pressed amidst yellowing pages.
The wild woman understood the need of sisterhood and the power of a circle, a tribe.
They would gather at the time of their moon cycles and honor their wisdom, their knowledge, and would use this time to pass down their gifts to younger generations.
When women lived together in tribes, not only did they bleed in unison but also bled during the new moon.
It is said by the wise women of our ancient ancestors that came before us that the shedding of our blood during this time allowed us to step into a veil or different state of consciousness. Many believed this to be a time of great divinity.
It was for this purpose a “Red Tent” or moon lodge was erected for these women to come together to commune.
There would be music, storytelling of the best kind, recipes and herbal remedies taught—doulas and midwives rubbing ointment on expectant bellies and sage burned near the elder moving to the next stage of consciousness—death.
Everything and everyone would move in unison as life would turn just as the earth on its axis and come full circle.
Maiden, Mother, Crone.
In these tribes, women honored the sacred circle of life. They celebrated their intuition, their sixth sense and worked together to honor the gifts of divination and sight. I can only imagine the Oracle of Delphi were once great leaders of the wild woman tribe.
As time marched forward, cultures evolved and changed. But, the spirit of the wild woman still lives and breathes to this day. Her blood flows through our DNA and the awakened woman knows and understands—there was once a time, long, long ago that we, too, used to run with the wolves.
“Traditionally the Red Tent performed a number of functions, including: rite of passage instruction and ceremonies, teaching and sharing of healing methods, teaching and sharing of pampering and beauty treatments, meditation and healing for self and the greater community, sharing of recipes, child rearing tips and life experience, sharing of personal stories and parables for spiritual teaching, counselling and emotional support, lunar and seasonal sacred ceremonies, and teaching and sharing of crafts, to name but a few.
A modern day Red Tent usually involves a circle of like-minded women sharing with each other and allowing each woman to have some time to express herself.
New moon is the time of the month, two weeks after the full moon when we tend to feel tired, inward and vulnerable. It’s when our insecurities and old wounds surface—our shadow selves that we often try to hide from others.
But if we don’t learn to accept and heal our shadow (like Peter Pan) we never grow up, ending up with a society so afraid of aging we think it normal to carve ourselves up rather than be publicly seen as an elder.
It is for this reason women of all indigenous societies for thousands of years gathered together at this time to reflect upon their lives, offering emotional support and healing to one another rather than expect their partner to intuit and fulfill all their emotional needs.
The new moon is also the time when most women experience their “moontime” or “heavenly water” as it was known in traditional Chinese medicine.
So this custom offered a time out to working women and mothers, enabling them to turn inwards and rest and replenish when their lunar tide was out each month and their life force at its lowest ebb.
The Red Tent also helped to sustain healthy partnerships and marriages. Because just as our bodies are ruled by the moon, so too are our emotions. And just like the moon women are changeable and emotional beings.
When we experience the dark time of our emotional lunar cycle, it is best for the longevity of our relationships that we take sacred space from our partners and children so they don’t experience our destructive side when we are in the little death phase of our monthly mandala.
If we take this time to focus on our inner needs at this time we can return to our loved ones full of self-love and nurturing so we have it to give to them the rest of the month without burning out.
Just as we need to breathe in before breathing out, so too women need to take time and sustenance for themselves if we are to continue giving to others from a centered and full sense of self.
Author: Mary Rogers
Editor: Renée Picard
Images: Chanel Baran (via the author/used with permission) (Model: Shona Keeli Jones)