The power of menstruation: Native American Moon time ritual



The Power of menstruation: Native American Moon time ritual

Hello all!

Man and woman looking at the moon

Caspar David Friedrich-Man and Woman looking at the moon

Pretty sure some of you saw the title of this post and were like: “hmmm ok, what is she talking about?” or “ewwww not reading this”. Well hang in there for a sec! It will be interesting I promise! So yes this post is about a woman’s time of the month. The power of menstruation. But from a Native perspective. Within the native culture, women’s periods are called being in one’s moon time. Referring to the monthly moon cycle. So let’s look at what that all means and the beauty that was seen in that time of the month. A beauty we have somewhat lost in the modern world.

What is moon time?

So yes, the moon time is the time of the month the woman gets her periods and it does refer to the cycle of the moon. In most Native cultures, it is considered to be a sacred time. A time of purification, of inner purification. And as a woman, I can say I understand that. In one’s moon time, there is a sense of being purified, of getting rid of some sort of energy or negativity. Moon time for a woman would be considered a ceremony in itself. It would represent the power of birth. The power of life. Hence why women in the Native culture are often called lifegivers. And that’s one hell of a gift to have! When our ancestors were alive, men would literally leave women alone (who could go in a moon lodge) as they feared their power at that time of the month! As though we turned into witches for a week 😉

moon woman

What is the story of the moon?

So why go with the cycle of the moon? Why call it moon time? Well I will relate a version of a story that I once heard. As you know, within the Native culture, natural elements are our relations. We have Father Sky, Mother Earth, Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon. Therefore, in this case, the story involves Grandmother Moon.

So a long time ago, women were considered powerful in that they held in a lot of their family emotions, their joy and happiness but also their sadness and sorrow. They were the life-force of the family. However, sometimes that would become exhausting. As taking in all the emotions and heartache would be tiring. However, the Creator had created the woman to take on the burdens of the family.

So one day, the woman went to nature to try to find help and yelled out because the burden was too much. The Raven heard her and went to see her, asking her why she was crying. The woman stated she was overwhelmed with the burdens of her family. She added loving her family but not being able to take everything in anymore. Raven said that he understood her pain, as he felt it too and went to ask Grandmother Ocean for help. Grandmother Ocean offered to wash away the pain of the women who would come to her but that she could not help those farther away. So she went to ask for help from her sister Grandmother Moon.Moon

So Grandmother Moon said that she represented the feminine power and would send the waters of Grandmother Ocean into the women so her power would reach them. Once every moon cycle, Grandmother Ocean shall come into the women and purify them. And she did just that. Every month, there is thus a time when the women embody the power of Grandmother Moon and are cleansed by the waters of Grandmother Ocean.

I don’t know about you but this story makes my moon time seems more tolerable than it is! It makes me see things from a different perspective. One in which great power comes into me and every woman, and a cleansing takes place.



 

So what should a woman do and not do in her moon time?

Good question. According to some, this is a time of inward purification. A time of prayer, of actually asking the moon for guidance and assistance. And as this is a time of purification, women have to be careful not to take in negativity. Not taking in negativity from others around them, not taking in their burdens. And well, that is easier said than done. But it needs to be. Grandmother Moon is there for guidance. Tonight, I will actually go sit outside with the moon.

Further, it is very important that women in their moon time do NOT participate in ceremonies. Including touching or handling any sacred objects such as pipes or medicine. Menstruation signifies the power of birth, ceremonies often signify a spiritual rebirth. The two do not mix. Ceremonies are also about creating outward energy while moon time is about inner prayer. A lot of ceremonies also involve the sun, while moon time obviously involve the moon. Thus moving in a different direction than the rest of the participants.

moon

And thus why I could not attend the sweat I was scheduled to attend today. As it would have been disruptive and a lack of respect for everyone else. And as I just discussed earlier, women tend to take in the energy of others. One can only imagine what one would pick up in a sweat lodge when in her moon time. I am already very sensitive to others and pick up of lot from others. So staying away from the sweat lodge, which has the shape of a womb and represents a spiritual rebirth, was the right decision. I was disappointed not to go but going was never an option. There will be other sweats.

Hope you enjoyed reading about moon time and the story of Grandmother Moon. Had you heard about any of this before? Let me know below!

 

 

 

 

50 thoughts on “The power of menstruation: Native American Moon time ritual

  1. Martyn

    This is a very enlightening article. The moon signifies great power throughout many cultures and this has widely been forgotten. My understanding is that the woman has the power of life which is held by many modern spiritual believers and the belief of ancient cultures is still held true today, though sadly forgotten by modern society, where a woman’s sensitivity is down to just chemical imbalances thanks to modern science. They do not look beyond the things they can measure.

    I wasn’t aware of the sweat lodge so will read some more about this and how it relates to modern spirituality. Grandmother Moon makes me smile, I love to feel her.

    Thanks – Martyn

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Martyn
      thank you for your warm comments. The power of birth, of the lifegivers is so important in the Native culture. Yet in today’s world, women are seen as frail and too sensitive. When in the Native culture, they are seen as full of strength and power and they balance out the men

      Reply
  2. Demi

    Hi Emily. Hats off to your knowledge about Native American rituals. I always enjoy reading your articles. I had heard the term moon time in Game of Thrones series and was wondering what it is actually. I came to know a lot about it here 🙂

    Reply
  3. Debra

    Very interesting read about the moon time being a time of inner purification. I really do wish I could live a simple life like that. Even moreso because the men knew better than to mess with you at that time. We really do turn into witches.

    I look forward to reading more from you in the future

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Debra
      a simple life sounds good 🙂 we do need time away during our moon time. I don’t know about you but going into a lodge by myself sounds good!

      Reply
  4. Cathy

    Your are really knowledgeable about the Native American rituals Emily. Menstruation signifies the power of birth. I would to add that the moon signifies the women. Beautiful, quiet but strong on the inside.

    I enjoy reading this articles Emily. And the previous ones too. You did a great job in educating about Native American Culture. Keep it up!

    Cathy

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Cathy
      very good point about the moon signifying women. The moon does have the qualities of the women indeed! do come back 🙂

      Reply
  5. Nigel

    I though the moon had more to do with tides than menstruation!
    It’s amazing how much you can believe if you want to believe. The native Americans have very strong beliefs and wouldn’t dare disagree with them. Great insight Emily.

    Reply
  6. Cathy

    Where I come from Asia, there are many beliefs and customs towards menstruating women. Some aren’t allowed to do certain things and some aren’t allowed into sacred places like temples. I don’t particularly practice them but I know some devoted who do. For me, it’s the time of the month that I slow down a bit, drink a lot of water and simply rest more. If I don’t exert myself too much, I usually feel refresh after 3-4 days 🙂

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      that’s the way to go Cathy! Interesting that they have similar beliefs in Asia. In the Native culture, it is about not mixing ceremonies and not touching sacred objects. Moon time is considered a powerful time to be respected

      Reply
  7. Neil

    Strange how the human women’s cycle follows that of the moon almost exactly. I wonder if any other animals follow the same monthly cycle? Talking of not participating in things, I was once on Komodo island in Indonesia where the “dragons” live (very big lizards). When a group of us trekked to the island interior to see the dragons, the local guides said women on their monthly cycle should stay away as it was too dangerous. The dragons can detect this and may be prone to attack. In days gone by when more wild animals were around, I suppose it was another reason why women would be careful what they did during their cycle.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Neil!
      wow that is so great! Similar beliefs across the globes. There is something to be said about the power of Moon time. Although not fun for women, it certainly gives more perspective to it

      Reply
  8. Aikaterini Markakis

    Hello Emily!
    Yes another wonderful post! I know that many people would have been unattracted to the title of this post but it get so interesting as you read through. I, as a woman I got fascinated by it. I can’t believe how a woman’s cycle almost follows the cycle of moon. Menstruations meant a lot for Native Americans for sure. I too believe that this is a purifying time of the month not only for the body but for the soul also. Some people don’t understand this but women know the good feeling occurring after the menstrual cycle and how important it is for the body and our mood. Thank you for sharing Emily!

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      thanks Katerina!
      I do see it as a purifying process too, even if it can an annoying one…. I am trying to change how I perceive the Moon time and really see it as a ceremony. It certainly makes it more tolerable 🙂

      Reply
  9. AJ

    I must say this is a great read. I had no idea about any of this. It really is interesting. Thanks for the valuable steps.

    AJ

    Reply
  10. Allan

    Hi Emily. What an amazing read. I can honestly say that I have never really put much thought into the healing aspects or the power of the menstruation for women. To me it has always been a time when my wife seemed more secluded and introspective. Neither my wife nor I are of Native American heritage, but I feel that I have a better understanding of how she nurtures her body during this time.

    Reply
  11. edy

    Being a male, I don’t know much about woman menstruation. But one thing I know that they are more sensitive when the period comes. It is nice to know the story behind it, however, they are many beliefs among us. Which one is true? Nobody knows. As long as we embrace what is in us, then things are fine 🙂 Anyway, learn something new here about native american moon time ritual.

    Reply
  12. Brad

    Your first line says it all as far as my reaction lol. But I decided to give it a shot as maybe the information can be useful to me in the future. One thing I picked up is make sure my girlfriend asks the moon for guidance so shes not mean to me hehehe. Good read Emily

    Reply
  13. nnamdi

    Hello Emily, I said it before that I wouldn’t know what you will be coming up next with. Sure, I was like, menstruation and Native Americans? OK, this yet another beautiful post you have, even though the title was kind of… LOL. Well, I enjoyed reading the post and I can tell how passionate you are about the Native Americans.

    Reply
  14. nkay

    I am very astonished didnt know about the moon time.I really have to show and narrate this story to my sisters and friends.Very informative and educative and I hope to come back to this site for more interesting history and reason behind some lifestyles.Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Nkay
      The moontime is an integral part of the native culture. It is great that you got to learn about it and will share it with your sisters and friends 🙂

      Reply
  15. Sylvie

    Hello Emily, I have an IUD and it causes me to bleed all the time, because of this I do not know when my moon time is, do you think that means I should avoid ceremonies in general?

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Sylvie
      I would not say to avoid ceremonies at all time. Because being on one’s moon time is a cleansing process, a shredding process. What you are experiencing seems to be due to a medical matter. Do you calculate your cycle? Do you experience any other symptoms when you get your period? Because that could help identify when it is happening.

      Reply
  16. Sarai

    Hi Emily,

    Thank you so much for this post! This story feels very resonant and is similar to a story that I tell the girls that I work with when they come to their moon time. Do you know what tribe this particular story is from? Thank you for the beautiful work you do in the world.

    many blessings,
    Sarai

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Sarai
      I am happy to hear the story resonated with you. I think this is a common story across tribes but this one might come from the Tewa tribe.

      Reply
  17. Betty

    Hi I am experiencing my ceremonial time to be irregular do you think my spirit is out of balance. my periods haven’t been coming :/

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Betty
      It could really depend on numerous factors. It could be a physical or medical issue or even stress. Or eating habits. It’s hard to say and you might know better than I would by seeing if anything has changed in your life recently and how long you have been irregular.

      Reply
  18. Sophia

    Hi Emily! I would love to share what you have written and I was wondering if I can quote you? Also wondering if you have any material I can reference and if is respectful of your culture for me to share this? I am working on a space for women to honor their moon time and I want to include traditions and beliefs from all of our ancestors. Thank you!

    Reply
  19. Dale

    I coach Girls basketball in southwest FL. and I have Native Americans on my team, they are not allowed to even be on the court during their cycle. Why is this? Is it due to the negativity of the coach correcting them when they do something wrong?

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Dale
      that’s a good question. When a woman is her in moon time, it is considered a sacred time. In some cultures, girls and women won’t even be around men as it is a powerful time where they need to take time for themselves. some believe they also then have the power to hurt others as well when on their moon time as they are stronger and more powerful then. It is my opinion that it would not have anything to do with the coach.

      Reply
  20. Rosa

    I have one question, though: don’t women’s menstrual cycles tend to sync up (due to pheromones)? So wouldn’t a lot of you be having it at the same time?

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Rosa
      I am not sure if there is an actual phenomenon that makes women’s cycles sync up. Sometimes it is when women live together and share the same schedule, lifestyle and etc. Then their bodies get accustomed to being in the same life cycle if you will. But I do not know if there is a more scientific explanation.

      Reply
  21. Donald

    Is it possible that Pocahontas (as she was later called) was in her first mensturation and credited with sacred power when she ordered the release of Captain John Smith? Is there a book on the subject???

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Donald
      I can’t say that I have ever seen a book on the topic. The female moontime is a very sacred time and oftentimes, in the past, women did not interact with men at that time. As it was a ceremonial time for the women. Therefore, I am unsure if she would have been around men at that time.

      Reply
      1. Donald

        Thank you for having the patience to put me right. Of course I remember when sex education was forbidden and boys learned about menstruation haphazardly from each ignorant other. But this was in England. I had the impression that native American culture was different. I remember a film in which American Indians consulted a goddess called White Lady whose medium was a little girl, and as a research amateur I have found an internet article (“Becoming woman” by Tika Yupanqui aka Tracy Marks) about each Apache father proudly announcing when his daughters was in menarche as the White Painted Woman.

        Reply
  22. Skyler D Rhodes

    I’ve been taught by many people about the traditions. From different tribes. I am Blackfeet and Chippewa Cree but have been given an Ojibwe name. I have my own feathers and my own shell and medicines. I was told I could touch and use my own things during my moon time but I couldn’t dance or sing around the drum. What is your opinion on the use of your own smudge and feathers during this time?

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Skyler
      that is a very good question. I think you have to go with the teachings you have received. I was taught like you, that going around a drum cannot be done during your moontime. As well as touching someone’s else medicine. But different teachings exist around the use of your own medicine. I would say go with what you were taught.

      Reply
  23. Alexis

    My period has its regular cycle but I was 3 days late this has never happened before I thought I was pregnant I took the test negative then Sunday night the night before the solar eclipse my cycle began but I was very confused on why so late and uyouhelp me understand thank you very much 🙏

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      hi Alexis
      thank you for sharing that stressful moment with me. I am glad this could help you. Please keep coming back and share whenever you feel comfortable 🙂

      Reply

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