CANEY CIRCLE SACRED WORDS
The women have within them
The rhythm of the Universe.
Ever constant, ever changing,
The twenty eight day cycles of life.
Our women are each one
A manifestation of the great Earth Mother Ata Bei,
Who-with her cycles of life and death-
Brings the reality that we know as existence.
Songs of Bleeding
The Women’s Lodge is a place set apart where women go when they have their Moontimes to connect with MotherEarth, to share sacred women’s wisdom and to celebrate the cycles of the moon, women’s monthly cycles, and the passage rites of living. Traditionally the Women’s Lodge was a hut where only bleeding women could enter; today the Women’s Lodge lives in our hearts when women remember their sacred gift and honor this special time. Songs of Bleeding presents Taino Women’s Lodge teachings, passage rites and ceremonies. In this book, you will dance with the Food Mothers, follow the cycles of MotherEarth, find ceremonies to celebrate your Moontime cycles, and journey with one woman to find her Moontime Medicine. Each chapter is presented as a song, to honor the chronicle songs of our Ancient Ancestors that remembered the Sacred Wisdom so that it could be passed down to future generations.219 pages......$15
Scroll down for excerpts from Songs of Bleeding
Songs of Bleeding is $15.00.
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Katie’s Journey—Moon Lodge Dreams
Katie’s Journey-Moon Lodge Dreams- This little book shares the journey of Katie, a modern day girl beginning her first menstrual period. Following a dreamtime message from her grandmother, Katie is lead into a stone Medicine Wheel to meet the four Food Mothers who share the teachings of the Four Directions with her. Along the way, Katie learns to listen to her inner spirit essence, make an Earth connection, find her healing plant and Guardian Spirit, and dance with the Spirit Grandmothers who initiate her into the Women’s Lodge. 58 pages.…….….$12
Please enclose check or money order made out to "Cash". (We can't cash checks made out to "Spider")
Katie's Journey is $12.00.
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Mail to: SpiderHerbs, PO Box 51, Fredonia, NY 14063
EXCERPTS FROM KATIE’S JOURNEY
Mom told me how special women’s Moontimes were when she taught me how to use the sea sponges. She said that a girl becomes a woman when she starts her bleeding time and that our Ancestors held a special rite of passage to celebrate. The young woman was honored in a secret Women’s Lodge ceremony, given a new name and then presented to the community as a new woman. Maybe the young woman would go on a vision quest at that time and find her Guardian Spirit. Sometimes they had a parade through the village and there was always a big feast with the sacred foods served by the new woman.
While we talked that day, Mom opened a box that I had never seen before and took out a beautiful necklace that Grandmother had beaded for her when she started her own bleeding time. It was red with a white beaded star surrounded by a circle of flowers. Mom said that this was a symbol given to her on her vision quest. She smiled, remembering her own Moontime ceremony. There are several rite of passage ceremonies for women that celebrate our growing and changing bodies. I remember the ceremony that Mom had for me when I turned three years old. It made me feel special and important. I have always looked forward to my first bleeding time because both Mom and Grandmother said that the First Moontime Ceremony is the most special of the women’s Rites of Passage ceremonies.
“Katie, you are a woman now,” a familiar voice speaks. I turn and see Grandmother standing next to me. I had not recognized her among the Grandmothers in the dancing circle. She is still wearing her beaded dancing dress and I am surprised to see a pouch tied around her waist that has the face of a fox on it. Wisdom shines deep in Grandmothers eyes, the way she always looked when she told her most important stories. Now I know that Grandmother has been watching over me the whole time that I have been journeying around the Medicine Wheel.
Grandmother looks into my eyes and smiles. She is holding a small clay bowl filled with cornmeal. Grandmother dips her fingers into the cornmeal and sprinkles a little on my forehead. “May your thoughts know wisdom,” she says. She dips her fingers into the cornmeal again and rubs some softly over my eyelids. “May your eyes see beauty.” She sprinkles cornmeal on my lips and says, “May you always speak the truth.” Next Grandmother sprinkles cornmeal over my heart and says, “May you feel love in everything you do.” She sprinkles cornmeal on my womb and says, “May your womb cycles bring healing and open the door for new life to enter.” Grandmother rubs my hands with cornmeal so that I can create with gentleness and then rubs my feet so that I may walk in peace. She sprinkles the rest of the cornmeal on the ground so that I can feel the heartbeat of MotherEarth under my feet everywhere I walk
Excerpts from Songs of Bleeding
Song of the Ancient Grandmothers Awakening
Children dancing in time
We have not forgotten
The voices of the Ancient Ones
Are with you everyday
Spinning and creating life
You soar into the future
The Golden Door has opened
Into another age
We come with you
The voices in the trees
Are your Ancient Grandmothers
The rocks, the winds, the sea
Sing our healing chants
We sing inside the Earth
We sing inside of your wombs
As the Fifth World turns to harmony
And the balance of love is restored
The Ancient Ones have returned
Our messages are clear
For each of our daughters
Is a precious jewel
Carrying forth magic into the New World
Song of the Blood Lodge
In ancient times, the Women’s Bleeding Lodge was a structure set apart from the rest of the community where women would go to dream and communicate with the Ancestors when they were bleeding. Since life follows the cycles of the Earth and Moon, activities of our Ancient Ancestors also closely followed the cycles of the Earth and Moon. The women all cycled together, ovulating at the full moon and bleeding at the new moon.
When women started to bleed, they left their homes and families to go to the sacred introspective space of the Bleeding Lodge. The Lodge was honored and respected by the entire community, for the dreams and visions of the bleeding women brought vital survival information such as planting and healing knowledge and guidance on community relations. When there were questions that needed to be answered, the women would go to the Lodge and ask the Ancestors. All questions were always answered by the Ancient Ancestors. The entire community benefited through the powerful gifts of the women’s bleeding cycle.
Since our Ancient Grandmothers probably all bled together, many women shared the Womb Lodge at one time. Ceremonies to honor our womb cycles, celebrate the cycles of the Earth and Moon, and rites of passage were developed by these women from visions and dreams during their bleeding times in the Sacred Lodge. These traditions were passed down in the initiatory rites of the Blood Lodge from mother to daughter.
As our current culture has separated us so far from honoring the cycles of the Earth and Moon, these ancient women’s rites have become almost forgotten. But, as we granddaughters of these ancient women dream during our bleeding cycles, fragments of their powerful honoring and healing ceremonies fill our spirits. We know that there is a wisdom within our wombs that is our birthright.
The spirits of the Ancient Ones have returned to teach us ways of honoring and healing the Earth. It is no coincidence that these Grandmothers are feeding our dreams at this time when the Earth is in dire need of the healing ceremonies of the Blood Lodges. We must return to the old ceremonies of honoring if we want to heal ourselves and our planet. The answers to our survival questions will come through the Blood Lodges.
During our bleeding times, our Grandmothers can help us remember ancient ceremonies, wisdom and rites of passage. We must remember to ask, and they will teach us. The Ancient Ancestors know all the answers and they will help us remember everything we need to know, just as they helped our Ancestors.
Our Blood Lodges today are not usually a particular physical place but more an attitude of community that occurs whenever women come together in any sacred space to honor and celebrate our bleeding cycle. So, we make our womb-space wherever we meet...a spare room in someone’s house, in the basement of a local church or YWCA, or any private outdoor place where women can be safe and uninterrupted.
The Bleeding Lodge is when women come together to celebrate the ancient ceremonies of honoring our bleeding cycles, communicating with the ancestors, sharing our gifts and passing the women’s wisdom on to our daughters. The Lodge reminds us that we live within the cycles of the Earth and Moon. When we honor our cycles, we honor the cycles of life. When we honor our wombs, we honor the Great Mother. Remembering and recreating these ancient ceremonies will bring Right Relation to all children of Earth. Perhaps, eventually, Bleeding Lodges will once again become respected places in our communities.
Song of My Womb
My womb cycles are the cycles of my life. My womb teaches me of my body and spirit and the connections I have with All My Relations and our Mother, the Earth. My womb is the center of my creativity and the place where my Guardian Spirit speaks. It is here in my womb-space, the core of my being, where I learn and grow.
My womb awakens me in the night when I am ovulating or bleeding. These are the times when she has strong messages for me. She must speak, and I must listen, in order to maintain balance and harmony in my life.
It used to be, I accepted all those degrading attitudes that society teaches us about a woman’s body. You know, the “dirtiness” of menstrual blood, and the need for secretness about “that time of the month” that we dare not speak to others about, let alone give any tale-tale signs of bleeding. I strongly felt the pressure to flaunt my women’s body, yet hide my woman’s gift. All the feelings of being different and somehow not “good enough” during this time of natural bodily functioning made me dread the coming of my blood each month.
Even my trusted girlfriends reinforced this negative self-image. We couldn’t wait until we were old enough to bleed so that we could experience this secret that the older girls talked about in the gym locker room. But, as soon as we began our cycles, we lived each month dreading this “curse.” When we got a little older some of us dreaded not getting this “curse” because that could mean we were pregnant. The inconvenience of our cycles took over all of our lives and all activities were cleverly planned to hide this “problem.”
Sensing this special time of passage, I felt elated at finally starting my bloodcycle. But, the lack of support and recognition I received soon lead to feelings of shame. There were no joys in discovering the flowering depths of my women’s body, no rites of passage; only a few whispers and snickers from the few friends I dared tell about this event, and a few hushed words from my mother about how to use and secretly dispose of the sanitary pads. Now things would be different between me and the boys, she told me. And they were. The snide remarks in school, and later on the job about particular women being “on the rag” if they were too independent, moody or outspoken, became all too common. I quickly began to regret growing up because it meant hiding who I was.
Now that I had become a woman, I found my cycles ridiculed, and felt my body unclean, and my spirit pressured to perform each day of the month as if nothing unusual were happening. When I complained about this and demanded womb-time, I was told that this was “all part of becoming a woman” and now it was time for me to “act grown up.”
So, cycle after cycle, I recited to my womb these foreign ideals until I finally had myself convinced that I was no different, performed no less and did not require special attention during those days. I must have thought that if I kept it up, my bleeding would go away or at least stop being such an inconvenience. But, underneath it all, my womb, like a needy child demanding attention, got louder and louder until I was forced to spend the better part of my bleeding days in pain and in bed. It wasn’t until then that I finally took the opportunity to listen to my cycle.
We live in a society where our roots to the Earth Mother are forgotten and we are not encouraged to honor and celebrate the cycles of women. Yet, somewhere deep inside my womb, the voices of the Grandmothers spoke and my womb insisted that I remember their ancient blood celebrations and the power of my special gift of Womb Medicine.
Because we are the daughters of the Earth, women carry within our wombs her rhythm. All of the answers to all of the questions are within our wombs. The cycles of bleeding are indeed the keys to the mysteries of life.
During those bleeding days spent in bed, my Grandmothers came in dreams and shamanic journeys to teach me the old ways of honoring women’s bleeding cycles. Each Moon, they brought me a new lesson and a new celebration. Through the teachings of my Grandmothers, I reconnected with the cycles of the Earth and Moon and the wisdom of my womb.
As my knowledge of Womb Medicine began to grow, I brought healing and balance into my life. My womb taught me about the herbs and foods that would nourish her. My Grandmothers taught me how to massage my womb and send her energy. I set aside a special place where I could go to celebrate my bleeding. At first, I would try to fit in time when I was bleeding to go there to meditate, but now I eagerly look forward to canceling my plans at the first drop of blood to spend as much healing time in my Sacred Space as possible. I was also given symbols: a bloodstone, a bleeding skirt and a shell necklace to use to make this time special and sacred.
Each Moon brought the opportunity to give or make myself a gift. I began to talk about my special time to others and some of my family and friends began to acknowledge it. Everyone really noticed a difference in me.
As I learned to heal my womb and live by her wisdom, my self-image changed. I notice that if I look to my bleeding days with anticipation, I use the intense pre-menstrual energy for positive creation rather than developing “P.M.S.” symptoms. I like feeling my womb round as the Moon. I recognize that if I do feel uncomfortable, it’s my body expressing her special needs. So, I try to allow plenty of space for me during this most personal holiday. My cramps, pain, and excessive bleeding have become virtually nonexistent. My inner glow is reflected in my relationships and work every day of the month.
The wisdom of my Grandmothers taught me to honor the Earth Mother, my Ancestors, and all of my sisters and brothers. The Earth gives so much to us... She gives us our very life. The Grandmothers have taught me to show my appreciation of Earth by giving back of my life... my blood. As our womb-blood brings healing and wisdom to us, so it brings healing to our sick Mother Earth and awakens our understanding of the Wheel of Life. As the Earth heals, her abundance increases and our environment becomes one that supports life. Peace will prevail and respect for the wisdom and power of women’s bleeding cycles will return. The medicine of our womb-blood can heal the entire Earth.
The Grandmothers have directed me to share these teachings and ceremonies so that other women will awaken to their own womb-songs and men will awaken to honor women and Mother Earth as creators of life.
Although some of these ceremonies are similar to specific traditions, the wisdom given by my Grandmothers comes from no particular traditional source. The shamanic journeys, dreams and ceremonies that I share here are all part of remembering the wisdom that holds together the Hoop of Life. Perhaps they are only fragments of wisdom given back to us now to return a spiritual focus in honoring the Earth and healing ourselves. I am honored to share these teachings.
Song of My Sister The Moon
My sister the moon
sings her song to my womb
we dance in the Spiral of Life
leads me to dreaming within
we dance in the Spiral of Life
brings me release
we dance in the Spiral of Life
My sister the moon
sings her song to my womb
we dance in the Spiral of Life
Song of the Healing Dance
It is the sacred time when the Moon’s cycle opens up the power within our wombs. As our womb bloods flow out from between our legs and down into the Earth, we are reminded of her bounty and our need to give thanks. Knowing that all healing must be based in gratitude and also knowing that as we honor the Earth Mother, we bring healing to her, as well as to ourselves, the women begin preparations for the special healing dance.
The women know when the time for the healing dance is drawing close. We feel the rhythm of the Moon speaking to our wombs each cycle, and we know when the periodic renewals are needed. As the Earth Mother gives us our lives, our food, and the beauty around us, we must give back to her to complete the cycle. We do that in our Bleeding Lodge ceremonies and through the healing dance.
Everything is prepared in a sacred manner. Twenty-eight shells surround our circle of dancers and four blankets are spread out, one in each direction, holding the medicine objects of that direction to make our Medicine Wheel. Each woman brings her own objects to place on the blankets and share with the others for meditating on and connecting to Earth Mother during the dance.
The shell calls to the four winds, and the women gather at the Lodge. Greeting each sister, mother, grandmother and daughter, we weave our web as family. We feel the Earth Mother under our feet and know that we are never alone.
I always feel very special when I dance the healing dance. The anticipation of our spirit song runs high through my veins to every part of my body as I tie up my moccasins. The Elders are already beating their drums, calling the circle to come together. By the time I get there, the dedication has already begun.
“I dedicate my dance for peace among all nations on Earth,” one woman states as she puts her gifts into the Grandmother’s basket, and a pinch of tobacco into the bowl of the pipe. Around the circle, each woman and girl speaks to dedicate her give-away of energy through the dance by directing her intention back to healing a specific aspect of the Earth. By the time the basket gets to me, it is already very full. I dedicate my dance to healing the Sacred Tree of Life. As I smoke the pipe, I honor the Grandmothers for the wisdom that I know they will give us today. These are the last words that are spoken in the circle. We begin the chant that takes us to the Spirit Place.
The Food Mothers, with their masks and baskets, lead the women in a dance of simple steps upon the Earth. We form a circle flowing around the drumming Grandmothers sitting on their blankets. The vibration of healing surrounds us all in a womb-like cloak of harmony. We dance around and around the large circle. The steady beating of the drums leads the way to the Spirit Path. I settle into this rhythm and slowly let my body awareness give away until I become the movements of the dance.
Green cape, Black Bean mask, and a small girl carrying a rattle dance before my eyes. Drumbeats…chanting…spirit cries and the voices of the Ancient Ancestors flow through my ears. Harmony flows into color. My feet echo the heartbeat of the Earth. My sisters transform into spirit dancers, each soaring within her own rhythm. Light outside the windows softens slowly into darkness. The Owl Spirits come to keep watch outside our Lodge.
As I dance, I listen to my Grandmothers speak the wisdom of the ages. “Listen…” they tell me. “Listen to the heartbeat of the Earth. Feel her changing cycles, and know that you too are changing. You are about to leave your cocoon….”
Flowing through the dance, I feel my arms sprouting large feathers. My feet have left the floor and I fly effortlessly around the Lodge within the shell circle. On the steady beat of the drummers, I soar upwards, gliding on the energy that we have created.
When I open my eyes again, I am looking down at the Earth surrounded by a dark cloud, her colors faded and choked by an oppressive darkness. As I watch, I see rays of light coming to the Earth from out in space, surrounding and protecting her, weaving a web around all of the darkness. The light webs become anchored in the Earth through the trees and energy flows into the Earth, all the way to her womb, and back out again. She begins to strengthen. The darkness slowly dissipates. Bright blues and greens return. I can feel the pulsing vibration of the light webs keeping the Mother in her steady orbit.
As the energy web strengthens, I can see it both inside the Earth, as well as surrounding her. The energy web becomes the roots of a giant tree that spreads out under the entire Earth. It is the Tree of Life. I can see the tree starting to strengthen and grow again, as the roots pulse with new vitality. The trunk grows thick shields of bark and reaches upwards, growing back home towards the stars. Leaves and flowers bud and bloom on the branches, Birds return to drink the sweet nectar and animals come to sit under the shade of the branches. Outwards and upwards, the branches grow to encircle all the clans of Earth children. The people once again come to join hands and dance to honor the Sacred Tree.
I shed my wings to join hands in their circle, sharing my voice to honor the Great Tree. All is good. The web is connected.
As the dance continues, I see the faces of my sisters around me and we are spinning the Web with our dancing feet and the music of our rattles and drums. All night we weave our magic. The slowing rhythm softens the dance into a trancelike journey and then becomes vibrant again as the first rays of sunlight come streaming through the windows of the Lodge.
The Elder Grandmothers set down their drums and join our circle. The dance is silent for a short while as we listen to the harmony of the Earth. When we finally sit down, each one of us has internalized the rhythm of the dance into the very core of our beings. We each pulsate with the healing that the dance has brought.
After a while, we begin to speak our gratitude. Other women have had visions also. As we share the breaking of the fast, each woman will speak her story of Spirit Wisdom learned through our dancing. In hearing each other’s stories, we know that our energy and intentions were felt by our Mother Earth. Like the trees outside the Lodge, the birds and small animals, and the Earth underneath our feet, as we make our separate ways home, we too are renewed by the blessings of our spirit dance. The healing cycle is complete.