“Chalice of the Red Moon” – 11″x14″ pastel on velour paper
I once picked up a book to read entitled Red Man’s Religion. After I read a few pages, it hit me that I should have realized from the prejudicial title that I would get only a distorted view of Native American beliefs. As an example, the author, R. M. Underhill relates, “Fear of the menstruating woman is widespread throughout the world. Female catamenia, related to childbearing, indicated a power impossible to males. In time, there grew up a feeling that it was harmful to all male activity, including ceremony.” What the author fails to understand is that in many nature religions menstruation is considered a hugely powerful time for women. The Native Americans refer to it as a woman’s “moon time” since just like the moon influences the tides, it tends to influence a woman’s period.
When the perspective is looked at by a Shaman trained in the native ways, such as Nicholas Noble Wolf it is recorded very differently. “We traditional people do not see it this way [harmful], as moon-time is a place of honor and beauty.” He goes on to explain, “… when a woman is embodying the moon, she is embodying a huge reservoir of power—all that is contained within her sister, Grandmother Moon. This means that lesser amounts of power around her will inherently flow into her. That would include power charged with negative emotion. This can make a woman sick… Those cramps are but the negative emotions that surround a woman through whomever she comes in contact with.” During her moon time a woman is prevented from touching sacred objects; not because she will “contaminate” the item, but because these medicine objects are seen are living, empowered beings and the woman holding so much energy could draw the life-force out of them. What a different perspective!
- Patricia Robin Woodruff