Variances Between Male and Female Medicine
By: Cinnamon Moon
By: Cinnamon Moon
© Cinnamon Moon
We hear a lot about the positive - masculine - aggressive - projective forces of energy, as well as the negative - feminine - passive - receptive ones. When we consider this a part of all energy patterns it is not difficult to see them existing within us as well. Every individual has both the masculine and feminine elements within them, and as a rule, gender will typify the traits that dominate. In the Medicine Teachings this is recognized and compensated for as the men and women train differently from one and other while coming to understand their own mysteries and arrive at the same conclusions.
When I began my studies upon the shamanic pathway I found the majority of teachings were from the male perspective. It did not occur to me that there might even be a difference. It was rare to get a female view from anyone other than a Medicine Woman herself and traditionally these teachings did not leave the tribe. I was fortunate enough to have three Native American women who taught me their ways through the oral traditions of their people. Two were Delaware and the other Sioux. They did not stress to me at the time that the teachings were Women’s Medicine, only that it was the way things were done.
In those days the women held their secrets and it was the men who shared through the written word or external tribal teachings. It is only recently that this has become public knowledge. My background in witchcraft, folklore, and mythology had served to create a foundational study of the feminine mysteries that were clearly defined as such. As I studied shamanism I came to see the masculine mysteries and struggled with understanding them. The pattern of teaching did not fully emerge for me until I was well onto my shamanic path. Spirit seems to have seen fit to school me in both techniques to understand these variants. I am not exactly sure why other than it brought to my own Medicine a deeper sense of balance. Because this is my personal experience I share it as a way of understanding these forces, at least in theory.
The comprehension of the two schools of thought was quite an eye opener for me since I had struggled with why certain things had to be discovered by methods that seemed very awkward. I came to see that there was a lot of extra effort put forth for what should be a relatively easy task. Often I would reach my results only to find myself saying "is that what all this was about?" which left me amused at the complexity men go through to reach their conclusions because intuitively I already understood it. (I hope to demonstrate here that it would be much the same for a man who were to try to study shamanism from a woman’s perspective.) As the patterns emerged I realized that both methods taught predominantly the same wisdom but in very different extremes and it was simply a matter of how one came to the same identical conclusion. Women are born with an innate trust of their intuition and they learn early on to rely on it. Men seek to understand it and have to be taught to trust what their senses are telling them. Today it seems to reflect the old battle of the sexes in that men and women do not share the same mysteries and are, therefore, a mystery to the other.
I am going to step into Anatomy 101 and try to draw a verbal image I would like you to hold for a moment. We have a man to the right and a woman to the left standing face to face. Their energy flows in a clockwise manner leaving the woman from the area of her heart and penetrating the man in the area of his. The man’s energy flows from his genitalia penetrating the woman’s. This is the natural creative cycle that forms when they unite. The projection and reception of these energies are both internal and external but in direct opposition in order to create a state of balance to complete the flow cycle. This same pattern is found throughout all of nature. So it stands to reason that their teachings would be in direct opposition to one and other as well.
Women tend to internalize their rationale and operate from an innate intuitive perspective, while men run on instinctual pursuit and externalize theirs. Both genders sacrifice, suffer, and summon courage but in direct opposite patterns. It is said that all things are born of woman for woman carries the seed of life manifested in birth. That which is born of man is an external creation seeded by conceptual ideas and manifests as a functional object. I know this is not new to any of you, but it needs to be said so that there is an understanding of their views. The teachings of the Medicine Woman take place orally and internally first and are projected outward in a process of assimilation. The teachings of the Medicine Man take place orally and externally first and are received in a process of internalized assimilation.
Women menstruate, become impregnated, and allow their wombs to host the unborn spirit within them for nine months. They suffer through the moon cycles, pregnancy, labor, and birthing process. This is followed with the nurturing of the child and dedication to family. The teachings I have received all say that this physical suffrage is enough to receive the gifts of Spirit, and that no more physical discomfort is asked of them than this—but, if they wish to sacrifice more they may.
On the other hand, men fertilize women and their task is done until it comes time to provide for the security and sustenance of the family; their process is relatively painless and the teachings say they must suffer physically in order to receive the gifts of Spirit they seek. I realize that today these standards are changing in many ways and it is perhaps because of these changes that both methods of teaching are gradually being made known. That is something I have suspected for a long time now. My theory is that in order for humanity to achieve a higher state of consciousness, on the whole it would naturally require a sense of balanced understanding. So it may be that the two methods are becoming united for some very beneficial reasons.
The exemplification of the vision quest best demonstrates the variances between the two methods of teaching. While both men and women utilize the fast and sweat lodge, the quest process varies from that point onward. Women have been shunned from the tribal setting during their moon cycle and said to be unclean. This is the male term for their ability at this time to disrupt the flow of magick or Medicine the men may be performing. However, in the women’s teachings this is a very powerful time for honoring their femininity and questing. The woman is releasing life-source blood from her womb and giving to Mother Earth. While blood is considered very powerful Medicine menstrual blood is even more potent. Thus, she is not only grounded in union with the force of Mother Earth, but has the ability with her increased energies to take away the power of men or perform powerful magicks of her own. (Ever heard of PMS? That’s a woman who does not channel her energies properly at these times and can create chaos magick with relative ease.)
During the moon cycle the woman leaves the social setting to isolate herself for a number of days (generally three) not because she is unclean, but because it is a time of sacred Medicine for her. She enters the Moon Lodge and does not exit until her time of commitment has past. The fast she undergoes is light. It is a time when her body is flushing and needs nourishment so she takes in natural foods, raw and uncooked vegetables, nuts and berries, breads made from corn, and drinks only water. Her meals are sparse but they sustain her. She does no chores or craft working, but focuses on her questing through dreams, journeys, and meditation. It is a time of spiritual growth without strain. She is relaxed and comfortable as all her needs are attended by other women. Those needs include those of her family she has had to leave behind for the moment. Because of this method she will quest 13 times during the course of a year.
Each moon cycle is a separate focus relative to the lore of Grandmother Moon in the current aspect. Included in this will be found the understanding of each of the thirteen Moons and their influence upon us. It is an astrological as well as moral teaching the women receive and with is comes deeper understanding of many of the stones that are placed within the Medicine Wheel. Here her guides and teachers will appear to share enlightenment and gifts of the Spirit.
The lore of the Medicine Woman is the lore of the Moon while that of the Medicine Man is the lore of the Sun. If the teachings of the Sun and Moon are learned by us all we achieve an even greater state of balance and understanding. We learn to honor the feminine and masculine sides of our natures, to at least comprehend the ways of our opposite genders, and in this to find the harmony we seek with one and other. While the women and men are not going to go through the same ceremonies and rituals at all times, they will at least understand the meanings behind them. It is not possible for the intimacy of the opposite gender to be known in all ways, but it is possible to appreciate what their sacrifices and wisdom have earned them. Much of what will follow here is going to briefly define the teachings of the Moon and feminine perspectives as well as the Sun and masculine perspectives. It is intended that these will help you, the student, to better honor the signification of these lessons.
Please note that there are many names for the Moons of the year that can be found in the wide variety of indigenous cultures throughout the world. For this reason they will not be named specifically, but numbered for your convenience in understanding. At the end of the lesson there will be an appendix of Moon names from which you may choose to select one or more appropriate to your pathwork.
The First Moon
It occurs from December 22 to January 19 and is the first of the year. It begins at the Winter Solstice. The honored stone for placement on the Medicine Wheel sits in the northern quarter and is in the one o’clock position. All other moons will follow in succession in sets of three between the roads or lines of division for the quadrants. Her gift is that of life and vision and she is akin to Mother Nature. Here the lessons pertain to the flow of cycles within the seasons. The languages of nature are under these teachings, learning to speak with the plants, the Tree People, the Stone People and the Animals. The focus is on understanding that there is need to respect All Our Relations.
The honoring of the turning in the Wheel of the Year and marking the change of seasons is an important part of this Moon. It is here that the first lesson in oneness with Spirit or Great Mystery is entered into, where the truths of the dimensions within the Seven Sacred Directions are taught. This Moon teaches us to be receptive, to surrender to life. It is wild and seductive to the active forces. The visions granted here are those of rebirth. Here the cycles of life are explored. Under its teachings you can examine dreams, vision, intuitive skills, psychic abilities, sexuality, and sensuality. It is here the shadow side of your nature is confronted. While the Moon under which you are born determines your starting place on the Medicine Wheel of Life, you will undergo experiences with all thirteen Moons.
It is here that you learn to both receive and send the universal energy and tap the ancient knowledge for the first time. It is here respect for tradition and ritual is gained as you learn to flow with the cycles, to act with integrity, intent, and impeccability.
The Second Moon
It begins on January 20 through February 18; again it is the second stone of the northern quadrant. It is here we come to feel the light spirit of love and the respect for All Our Relations. Communication, intellectual growth, and love (including romantic love) fall under this Moon. Psychic ability is focused on and honed, as well as the courage that is required to be outgoing in your efforts to serve humanity. It is where the gentle side of your own nature is examined and enhanced. Through this gentle and respectable love there is the protection of the traditions now known to the Medicine Woman.
This Moon is the keeper of history and memory. Here the lessons are about friendship, unity, understanding, and self-development that go beyond simple comprehension to making the courageous moves that are required to bring this wisdom forth and apply it to the reality of one’s life. It is here access is attained to the wisdom of the Ancient Ones and the secrets of All Our Relations can be tapped to understand the perspectives we need to be aware of so we can step beyond the stage of our dreams and manifest them. It is here that truths are honored.The Third Moon
This is the final moon of the northern quadrant beginning February 19 through March 20. Here the understanding of why things are protected, the value of the traditions, and the healing ability found in this understanding are comprehended. There is mystery in this as the dimensions are explored and their boundaries made known. Here the Medicine Woman explores her own personal Medicine, how it pertains to the psychic ability she possesses, the need to understand her own spirituality, and confront her truths. Feelings and grounding are examined so that balance can be achieved in daily living. This includes the sudden moods that come over us, moments of depression, and using the forces of the Moon to balance our levels of sensitivity to others and issues. It is where reality is examined closely.
Under this Moon we explore our responses to others, to issues, to life. We learn that the positive and negative energies that exist are part of All Our Relations, they are part of Spirit, and part of us. We examine them and learn that it is the intent behind our actions and responses that determines how that energy is to be used and we balance those forces within ourselves. Here it is Divine Law that states all that exists is composed of polarity. To act justly and honorably our integrity needs to demand of us the impeccable balance between these forces, and the wisdom to know for what reasons one is to be wielded above another. We are made accountable for these wieldings be they in thought, word or deed. Integrity and ethical standards are taking form here. We learn to apply them in healing and positive manners as we accept the responsibility of our own actions and truths. Through this Moon deception is presented clearly and we become capable of determining what is right or wrong upon our spiritual paths and our earthwalk.
The Fourth Moon
This is the first in the eastern quarter, beginning March 21 through April 19 and falls around the Spring Equinox. The Medicine Woman learns that there is a need for emotional tempering of the fiery energy that flows in this season. We learn that there is need to keep our feet planted in firm ground as well as allowing our minds to soar with the inspirations we are experiencing at this time. Understanding that there is wonder and excitement in the freedom this season exudes, also means that we need to take a good view through clear eyes as we explore our plans and actions. Here energy is intensely felt and change sweeps us up in its exuberance. There is a tendency to throw caution to the wind that must be tempered and brought under control so that we can maintain our sense of balance amid our optimistic desires. We discover what it is to take the lead because our own desires drive us forward and barriers seem less threatening. We feel our inner spirit swell and sense its desire to take control as it forces us to see the truths before us in one way or another.
Here the Medicine Woman learns to open herself to these energies and then to direct them in a proper and impeccable manner. She seeks to find her method of that control over her emotions as well as understanding how they flow in others. It is here that methods of divination are studied and honed. It is where other dimensions are penetrated and potentials are applied. The eastern quadrant is the element of Air and through it vision is clear for the element itself is clear. The higher psychic abilities come into focus now as the interpretations for signs, omens, dreams, visions, and prophecy are explored. We learn to trust and go with our intuitive nature as well as our instinctive feelings. We learn about the portals or doors to other realms and how to cross over into them. We also learn how to take the wisdom we have gained there and use it in the service of All Our Relations.
As we come to understand the spiritual boundaries of the dimensions, we also learn to face the challenges they present us and use our psychic abilities for self-defense when necessary, as well as to respect the sacred space of others. It is here that we heal ourselves and learn to honor that healing through sharing our gifts with others so that they too may become whole. It is here we learn to see not only our needs, but the needs of All Our Relations.
The Fifth Moon
It falls between April 20 and May 20 and is the second Moon in the eastern quarter. Here the Medicine Woman learns to center herself as the center of the shamanic tree in respect to linking the branches to the sky and the roots to the earth through the inner spirit’s core. In this way there is a gaining of strength and sustenance that flows in both directions. This is then able to be taught to others and the gift continues to flow outward in a spiral direction as we touch other lives. We learn to fill our sacred space with positive energy as well as our lives. It is something that requires focused effort and determination at first, but soon becomes second nature once the initial hard work is done. We learn about the rewards for our hard effort that come from Spirit in the form of what many would consider to be strokes of good luck. In this we find our own capabilities in creating the realities in which we dwell and manifesting them with beauty as well as order.
It is this Moon that teaches us to keep going, to be patient, keep our feet planted firmly in the ground as we pursue our lofty goals, and the practical applications of doing this to achieve success. It is also where we learn to slip into the Silence, to achieve our own inner knowledge gained through the introspective views of what we are striving to achieve. We learn to be focused and examine all the details that pertain to the perspective views surrounding our endeavors. It is here we find counsel from our Guides and teachers and learn to listen to their wisdom. We learn to listen to the voice within us and follow its guidance as well, discovering in the process that the more we listen the stronger it becomes. It is here we can tap the Ancient Ones and learn to hear their voices as well.
Through the teachings of this Moon we learn to read the faces, eyes, actions, and perspectives of others and in some cases perceive their thoughts be they unspoken or not. We learn the value of listening through the heart and with that the compassion it brings. The Medicine Woman is no longer fooled by the intentions of others or herself. She listens well and in that silent space within learns the value of a silent tongue and how to apply the wisdom it brings her.
The Sixth Moon
This is the third stone in the eastern quarter running from May 21 through June 20 where the realms of the plant and minerals are explored. The Medicine Woman learns to use them for purification and healing, for making her own Medicines stronger. She discovers the beauty within and the joy of letting it shine forth to give-away to others through her love of Spirit and self. She sees this same beauty in All Our Relations and throughout life. She comes to understand the need for balance in all areas of her life to maintain her energy levels and teaches this to those she heals. In this way she finds her ability to remain consistent in her efforts and express herself honorably.
There are many ways to heal, and not all are focused on the physical body. Some Medicine Women find they have the ability to heal the mind, or the spirit. Some heal all three aspects. It is here we learn that true healing begins in the realm of Spirit only to later manifest in the mundane world. That the spirit is wound or illness that must be tended while the physical body manifests the symptoms that are treated with the plants and minerals that are available to us through the grace of Spirit. It is here that laughter is used to cure as well as lighten the burden of suffering, where the humor in life’s redundancies is exposed, and through it the individual is eased into a more relaxed state of mind.
Guides and teachers come forth in these teachings to express cures, treatments, and aid the Medicine Woman in her work. She learns through them the teachings that can be shared as stories that will heal broken paths, spirits, and minds. She learns to understand the messages of Spirit and her Guides and utilize that wisdom by offering to share her counsel and advice. She knows the essence of the inner spirit and its wisdom to guide her and shares this willingly with those who come before her. Her ability to listen well allows her to become the hollow bone that is a necessary part of channeling these healing energies and wisdom. Her telling of these tales brings forth the lessons that need to be learned and she gathers them from all areas of her life seeing clearly where they can best be applied. She knows how to interject humor into the sacred act of healing with her words or her many applications in creative and intentional ways. She does not judge others knowing that is not her place. She simply aids them in understanding their situations and allows them to be the judge of what they will accept or not accept in their lives. She is in this way both a teacher and a student, for each person she heals gifts her with another story to share later, another lesson in method application, or greater wisdom in some other form.
The Seventh Moon
This is the first stone of the southern quarter falling at the time of the Summer Solstice from June 21 through July 22. This is the Moon of the heart, where we learn the meaning of loving all as Spirit loves us. It is also where we learn that everything that gives us pleasure pleases Spirit, including our sexuality, our knowledge of it, and our dignity. All aspects of love be they platonic, parental, or passionate are integrated in the lessons of this Moon. Here we focus on the needs of the family, the lover, friends, acquaintances, and the self as well as All Our Relations learning to trust the intimacy of these relationships.
The Medicine Woman learns to be loving, nurturing, sensual, and trustworthy of all her interrelationships at all levels they contain. She learns to honor herself and others, forgiving errors that either she or they may make. In this process acceptance becomes positive and negative criticism is set aside for a more optimistic approach where the self and others are embraced for all aspects they contain, not just the good ones. We learn to accept the good with the bad, the positive with the negative, the whole of who we are.
It is this Moon that teaches the linking of hearts and the ability of love to heal and create incentive in others as well as the healer. We learn to express the feelings we hold and share them joyfully. In understanding that the emotions are important triggers that bring our attention to issues and those we need to focus on, we learn that we can transform those triggers into methods of mending wounds with loving compassion. Intuitively skills become honed and there are wild swings in the pendulum of energies this Moon brings out in us. We learn to balance and harmonize with them so that we can build a secure foundation and stability.
The Eighth Moon
As the second stone of the southern quarter it spans the days between July 23 through August 22 teaching the Medicine Woman about strength, the intuitive healing, the need for a strong song for those who drop their robes. It is here the teachings of the mystery found in death are revealed. Roots and herbs for healing are studied to further serve Spirit by tending All Our Relations. We learn to honor the cycle of life and rebirth through spiritual understanding of the process. The energies here are those of instinct and reflect themselves in the ritual passage rites we must undergo to grow upon our earthwalk and in our spiritual pathwork. It is here we experience the blessings and awe contained in Spirit’s gifts as we see grace and beneficence in action behind our own spent efforts. It is here that Spirit steps in and we become the hollow bones through which cosmic energies reach out to those in our care and manifest in ways we would not otherwise be capable of exuding. The miracles of life dwell here. This is where we come to know that service to others is service to Spirit and in that our efforts become blessed.
Our strength comes from our inner spirit and its interconnectedness to Great Mystery. We learn to tap the cosmic forces or the source of all creative energy. We come to understand the bittersweet relationships of the cycles in life and to accept that we must all pass through them. We see what we are projecting and what we are receiving in the cycle of passing energies from one to another as we learn to pass on this wisdom.
It is this Moon that shows us how to teach from the heart, to follow our intuitive nature and give what is needed, not what we think should be given. In learning to perceive the needs of others we serve through fulfilling them with love and compassion. We are challenged by our fears, doubts and shadows as we learn to trust in the guidance of our inner spirit to face those challenges. Here it is a matter of digging deep to find the courage and strength we need, not seeking them outside, but deep within ourselves as we strive to be all that we can. In this way we demonstrate to others who watch us and we teach the ways to lead them through our own actions, not our words. We must balance our inner self with the exterior ego, maintaining a sense of harmony so that we do not surrender to the mundane glory. It is more important to give that glory in honor to Spirit knowing that is the source of all things.
The Ninth Moon
As the final stone in the southern quadrant it represents the time between August 23 through September 22 as the Moon of judgment and justice. It is here we learn to preserve our knowledge and wisdom without wasting it on preoccupation. It is here that dreams and goals are weighed against the right and wrong of our actions to achieve them. Here the Medicine Woman learns to properly use these energies along with her willpower and honor the gifts of life, nature, and Spirit in the process. She learns that focus, proper planning, and determined effort will bring success. She comes to understand the importance of needs, to be consistent and reliable, and to empathize with All Our Relations in their needs as well. This brings about the respect, honor, dignity, and pride that abides within the boundaries of her integrity and her impeccability guiding her intent as she follows her pathwork. It is where she learns to walk her talk.
In learning to walk her talk she comes to understand the importance of tolerance for all paths, for the justice that comes in life through spiritual empathy, and gains the ability to exercise her own judgment of her own acts, accepting that others must do the same. This allows her to be free of prejudging perceptions and balanced in her perspectives of why there are so many paths to be walked and lessons to be learned. She understands that each path is just as viable as the next and designed for its own purposes, not hers. She learns to delve through the heart into the inner spirit and see for herself the why of things. In learning to do this she satisfies her curiosity, and learns to resolve issues through the guidance of Spirit. In this way there is the expression of discriminatory wisdom, ethical perception, proper sense of logic, and confidence in herself to properly see the inner view that leads to motives of actions to be taken or that have been taken.
It is this Moon that exudes energies of balance, fairness, truth, reality, and their practical applications. Here the need to take action finds its footing in sound reason, it brings understanding and the impetus to take that action with a sense of service to Spirit, as well as one’s pathwork and those who create the community in which this service is applied. There is no place here for negative judgments or self-serving declarations of place. There is only balance and harmony with consideration of all perspectives that can be applied. It is here that things come to rest and are weighed on their own merit and rewards are gained or consequences suffered.
The Tenth Moon
This Moon arrives at the time of the Autumn Equinox, from September 23 through October 23 and is the first stone in the western quarter. This is the Moon of creativity in the feminine sense, of artistic expression in song, writing, painting, and dreaming. It is here the Medicine Woman learns to manifest her visions. Through Spirit she brings forth from her womb the dreams she holds. Using her instincts and understanding of the light and dark faces of the Moon she uses her creations to bring about form. She learns to tap into the Source Energy of Spirit creating, changing, or manifesting as she feels called. Her desires are interwoven in the tapestry of her life here and she knows the secrets of weaving them into action. She uses the positive aspects to these energies in the creative functions and the negative aspects to tear down and banish the limiting factors of her workings. She learns to wield her wisdom.
It is this Moon that will teach the Medicine Woman to utilize the energy of the earth and the sun pulling it into herself up, then into her heart through her inner spirit, and then give-away that energy as she creates her dreams. She sees the positive and negative forces for what they are, how they can both soothe and cause friction and she understands their use with others in her environmental society that encompasses All Our Relations. Here the balance that is gained comes from the highs and lows of emotions and desires, the influx of rapid reception in ideas, mood swings, and the sway of the pendulum that contains the extremes.
Through the heart the Medicine Woman comes to show her physical emotions and love, she is comfortable in both the Above World of the Sky People and the Below World of the Ancestors and Ancient Ones. She learns to seek out the center and balance herself so that she avoids confusion and replaces it with clarity, as she sees the energies of the Web of Life and learns to channel them in her own weavings.
The Eleventh Moon
This is the second stone in the western quadrant and falls between October 24 through November 21. Here the Medicine Woman learns the value of leadership in walking her own path and setting others on theirs as well. She knows that each path holds value and sees that each of us must walk one appropriate to their spiritual pathwork. This means that no path is better than another, all are valid, and each has its own merit. Through her she demonstrates the forging of new pathways to achieve growth while seeing beauty all around her. This Moon teaches that through the grace of Spirit we are all images that reflect it. It is up to us to maintain our own wellness of mind, body, and spirit as we make our earthwalk. Through this Moon she is taught to let her heart lead the way in all that she does, knowing that it is guided by her inner spirit and taking her along the path of enlightenment she needs to follow. It also teaches her that in being true to herself she is demonstrating that same truth to others as a role of leadership in its own right.
By being the best she can be and following her path with impeccable intentions guided with the integrity of her inner spirit she also demonstrates her vulnerabilities and the acceptance of them. She demonstrates that awareness of her weaknesses allows her to counter them with her strengths to create a balance and point of center from which to function. This requires an adaptable mind, one that can move with the flows of energy that course our lives, reading them to bring forth understanding and enlightenment. Her leadership is one set by example as she exudes her inner strength to utilize the positive and negative energies within the universe and herself to attract or dispel as needed. She does this with respect, honor, dignity, pride, and grace.
This Moon teaches her how to focus, to attune her senses to all energies using them in versatile ways to heal and achieve the manifestation of her desires. The Medicine Woman learns through this cycle that she has the adaptability to serve through the channeling of these energies, that she can enter the Silence and journey to other dimensions as she gathers even more wisdom and knowledge in those experiences. She will stand to her courage and face things others would perhaps run from, and in the process she becomes not only a leader by example, but a keeper of these gleaned wisdom and teachings so that she might share them with those who come before her. She learns her own limits, how to break their barriers, to change things, to satisfy her curiosity, and the reasons for her needing to know the truth. Her vision is sharp and well honed and she knows how to walk between the worlds.
The Twelfth Moon
Here we have the last stone placed in the western quarter. It falls between November 22 and December 21 teaches the Medicine Woman about her ability to perceive and reflect the ways of others. She learns to praise and give thanks through her heart, in the proper way. She learns what it is to cry her prayers and to have them be received by Spirit. She sees the abundance and blessings of her life and holds the wisdom of experience. It is the Moon of Medicine, of magick and the ways of wielding the energies and gifts of Spirit we all receive. It encourages the celebration of the Web of Life and of living, demonstrating the qualities of both reception and giving that comes from the heart.
When we give from the heart there is no thought to reward or return of those efforts. There is no focus on the self, just the joy of sharing with others and blessing them in some way by being a hollow bone for the energy of the Creator to flow through us. This is the love of Spirit in its manifested form of tangible rewards.
This Moon teaches us that we must give thanks for all that we are about to receive so that we make room for it to enter into our lives. It teaches that through the give-away we make room for new and positive changes to take place. The Medicine Woman learns that in celebrating life with great enthusiasm that we will share in our own as well as that of others. This Moon teaches us that with the right attitude we can create mystical and marvelous transformations in our lives. We can bring about the success and abundance that forms the foundations of the structural form we wish to create. It also teaches us that without thanksgiving and both the give-away and ability to remain open to receive, we cannot understand the value of gratitude, nor the truth behind the gifts of Spirit that come our way.
As we give and receive, we reflect not only our thoughts and feelings but those of others as well. It allows us to demonstrate our vulnerability and our strengths in a balance of harmonious energies that compliment our pathwork and earthwalk. We see the beauty in all that surrounds us, and we value the cooperative effort in the exchange of energies we pass among All Our Relations as we explore the Web of Life. Here the desire for what is right and the ability to espouse the duality of the natural energies manifests as our strength and our emotional stability. We understand the value of interrelationships, sharing and teaching what we have learned and becoming both student and teacher in the process. It is here we learn to communicate our insights and stand on our independence. We shed our fears for we know that as we reflect them we also project them and that is the opposite of what Spirit wants us to do. We grow determined in this knowledge and open our hearts to the true channels of Spirit that they are. We lose the need to argue or quarrel in intimate relationships replacing it with a calm sense of being and rightness to all we do, which is reflected by our ability to understand the truth from all perspectives available to us, not simply one of tunnel vision.
The Thirteenth Moon
This final Moon fits itself into the year as it will. It is the center circle stone of the Medicine Wheel that represents Grandmother Moon in all her complexity. It teaches the Medicine Woman that she is the sum total of all her parts, all her faces and phases. It is here she learns the wisdom of transmutation and transformation with the greatest of overviews. It is where she finally allows Spirit to pass through her total being encompassing her mind, body, spirit. She lives life as that hollow bone manifesting Spirit in the physical sense as well as the spiritual. She holds the wisdom of her self, of her life, and all it has encompassed so far. She is the dreamer that becomes the dream. She is the myth come to life. She is the lore at its creative source and manifestation.
This Moon teaches the Medicine Woman to be all that she can be, to bring her dreams and visions into material reality through the many teachings she has received. Here she is able to see that she is the cycle of life and through her there is rebirth of that cycle, for all things are born of Woman and in that she is whole unto herself. She realizes she has the ability to release her negative energies and habits to make way for the new self to emerge in an ever flowing cycle of change. She learns to wear the many faces of Grandmother Moon and to wield them all with dignity and honor. The Medicine Woman understands the cycles of change and marks them with her rites of passage as she celebrates Spirit and life in union. She is the vision of the dream she has become and she walks it with intent, integrity, and impeccability. She walks her talk and lives her truths.
It is here the cycle repeats itself as the next year begins. It is an ever changing process by which the Medicine Woman journeys through her quest for spiritual growth and development. Each year she begins this quest with the knowledge gleaned from the previous year in a process of spiritual evolution that is uniquely her own. In this there is honor, there is dignity, and there is pride in the pathwork and earthwalk she is making and she dwells between the worlds knowing them well. She passes through the dimensions of time and space entering into the oneness with Great Mystery to manifest these truths through her own example, and confident she is doing what is right for herself and for All Our Relations. Her path is one of inner reflection and understanding that blossoms into knowledge and the ability to wield the energies that flow through her with grace and honor. It is a path that is intuitive and instinctual in its nature and is innate to the feminine aspects of the Medicine Woman’s path. This is Woman’s Medicine.
The Medicine Man has an exterior approach, one of the Sun and aggressive action that requires he explore the world outwardly before he internalizes his wisdom. It is a world of firsthand experience. Father Sun teaches the Medicine path of the shaman. Here he learns about the discriminatory illuminations that arise, when to speak his mind and set his limits for himself or with others. He learns to strengthen his energy, to find his warmth by taking in that energy of the sun and expanding it. It is the Medicine Man who walks the paths of the Medicine Wheel to experience their teachings and explore the aspects of Spirit that reside upon them. These are the paths that define the quadrants and define the character of those who walk them through their ability to meet and confront the challenges each presents.
The Road of the North:
This is one that begins its trek to Spirit through purification and the emulsification of that process. This is a process of ridding the body of impurities found in mind, body and spirit. Outworn ideas, inappropriate ways of thinking, and habits that are no longer suited to the right way of action being taken are given over to Spirit in a process of transformation. Emotions are cleared and blockages are torn down quickly. Misconceptions are realized and horizons are allowed to broaden themselves. It is this process that allows the Medicine Man to rid himself of emotional baggage, to find his sacred center, and surrender himself to Spirit to be washed clean.
This is followed by a process of renewal and dedication of purpose. Spiritually he is reborn through the shamanic death that allows him to claim his growth and commitment to serving Spirit. He takes in the nourishment of life through the energies he opens to at this point and explores them from all perspectives, beginning on the exterior and working toward the goals of his inner spirit. This is done in a right and proper manner so that he becomes strong, healed, and restored to wholeness. His attitude becomes healthy and his view of the world around him begins to transform itself. He walks this path knowing his place in his world and begins to open from the inside to receive new perceptions. It is here he learns forgiveness and love for himself as well as for others. He learns to care for his needs and be gentle with his self-criticism. His feelings become understood and he learns what self-love really is. He sets aside ego, conceit, and arrogance for respect, dignity, and pride as he honors the path he walks.
Along this path of renewal he comes to set down his foundations of spiritual beliefs and accept his experiences as his truths. He receives his ceremonies and rituals that he will honor in the process of fulfilling his pathwork and maintaining his focus. The end process of this path is that of total purification. This is where the Medicine Man finds himself standing closest to Spirit. He is free of the contaminating influences of the outer world and stands at the center of his spiritual essence in oneness with Great Mystery. There are no inferiority complexes here, no egos to contend with, just the oneness of Spirit and self. It is the result of becoming whole and seeing the path ahead as one of service, growth, and evolution.
It is here the child-like wonder of life manifests once again and there is an innocence of heart that allows total trust in Spirit. The preconceptions of what Spirit is and the service one is to give are gone, all that remains is the understanding of the oneness and what is right. There is no cynical view that can stand here. Lies, falsehoods, misconceptions, they all vanish in the light of Spirit when the inner spirit is washed clean. Doubts, fears, and inabilities are gone. These are replaced with integrity, a strong sense of right and wrong, the ability to be honest with the self and others, an eagerness to take all this within and digest it comes over him and he internalizes the assimilation in a receptive flow from his heart to the seat of balance where he is then able to give it away to others in the exemplification of his own self-actualization. Once again, he is prepared to aggressively pursue his knowledge but with the wisdom his purification path has brought him to hold.The Road of the East:
As road that leads to Spirit, it does so through the process of healing the mind. It allows the Medicine Man to see his truths and release the lies he has been taught through his social upbringing or those he has simple been brought to through osmosis of family life. Here he qualifies and quantifies all that he sees. If he walks with Spirit he opens his world to vast new horizons and experiences, if he walks alone he creates tunnel vision and confines himself to a narrow view. This is the struggle and the pitfall of this roadway the shaman must explore. Each experience must be explored in its entirety before the picture can become clear enough to assimilate internally. The process eliminates the complications of life, reducing things to their simplest components, and the individual discovers that truths are inevitably simple often bearing masks that allow them to stand before us unnoticed until the eyes are trained to see them. It is this awareness that allows the Medicine Man to communicate with more direct precision as he reaches out to Spirit and comes to acknowledge the inner spirit as a part of that process. It is also along this path that the shaman becomes aware that they do not know everything, they are fallible, and that to counter this they must internalize it with the feelings that guide them from their heart and inner spirit. This allows the individual to open to the free flowing energies of the universe and experience the direct rhythms they present. In this way there is an efficiency of sending and receiving them that are attained as the connection to Spirit grows stronger.
This road is part of the earthwalk of the shaman bringing wisdom in understanding limitations in all aspects of the self and life. He learns what he can and cannot physically accomplish, what he can and cannot achieve, and in understanding what will benefit or hinder that progress. Discernment comes in stages, it grows together with the threads of enlightenment, and produces experiences that are productive to the evolution of the inner spirit. These experiences become internalized and assimilated and help to form the foundation of many truths on which the Medicine Man bases his worldview and judgments of his own actions. He matures and finds stable footing as he continues his way knowing with a sureness what will best serve a given situation for him as well as what he is willing to do about that. It is the path of the mage and wisdom of life lived.
Life’s experiences bring illumination to the road the shaman walks. The closer he walks with Spirit the brighter that illumination becomes. His goal is to walk with Spirit at all times, so he draws closer to his center, internalizing more and more of what he is experiencing and making it a part of himself. The enlightenment of this path is to allow the energy of Spirit to flow through him as a hollow bone. To allow himself to become the channel and tool which Spirit can then wield in service to others. It is here thanks are given for the receiving of this enlightenment both before and after. The shaman knows being grateful for even the smallest amount granted exudes the truths of the life he leads and All Our Relations to which he is exposed.
This road leads to the truths of life and paths that expand on the glimpses that have been shown so that deeper understanding of the self and cosmic consciousness will lead to greater intuition. It also allows one to sense and feel this knowledge through the inner spirit’s awareness and its ability to reach out and touch us with physical sensation alerting us to areas that need our attention. It is here that the Medicine Man learns through experience to allow his emotions to flow freely in the effort to balance them with the love of Spirit and express them through his actions. This leads to a peaceful countenance filled with the understanding of Spirit in one’s life. It allows the shaman to maintain a depth in his connection to Great Mystery that is beyond the normal mundane perception. It also allows him to express this understanding to others.The Road of the South:
This is one that promotes growth and its quality toward healing the emotions and the heart. It is the one where proper prayer comes from the heart and expresses the need for loving relationships or thankfulness for those already present. It is where the Medicine Man learns the lessons of change, expansion, and the process of maturity. It is here the physical body experiences challenges that allow it to grow stronger, and where the shaman will expand his knowledge of his physical surroundings. It brings about the evolution of his mental and emotional growth as well deepening his understanding of himself and the world around him. It allows him to physically reach for enlightenment in all areas of his life and come to know his capabilities and limitations in that regard. His feelings are explored and brought to an understanding in the logical mind as well as integrated within where he learns to apply them outwardly with grace and diplomacy. This is the path of the evolutionary development that brings with it responsibility for the self and all it experiences or acts upon.
It is here the Medicine Man learns to trust in life, gains the confidence necessary to make wise decisions, and accept life on its own terms. It is where the shaman learns to surrender himself to the higher power of Spirit gaining strength in his beliefs and convictions. Here he learns to open and receive the teachings of Spirit and the lessons are intense. It is here through experience that he begins to draw closer to Spirit and understand the meaning of giving and receiving love into his life and the ability to express it personally. It is here that same trust reaches a level where the individual can allow Spirit to take over and bring about change or the events necessary to instigate the proper growth and spiritual evolution necessary. It is in this that the sense of freedom is achieved to quicken the steps upon the path chosen, opening to Spirit and recognizing the truth of what is sacred.
As the path approaches the oneness with Spirit there is an awakening to the meaning of love in all its contexts. Physical pleasures, sexual urges and energies, affection, sensations of the senses, and understanding the flows they contain as they pass through the body. It is the love that produces the energies felt through music, dance, song, colors, art, and other earthly pleasures. It is the love of the mate, of the parent, of the friend. Beyond this is the healing energy of the mind, the ability to communicate, to offer encouragement to the self and others as well as finding validation in order to give it away. Here honesty, integrity, honor, and treasuring the feelings and emotions of the self and others is experienced. Through them the Medicine Man understands the meaning of loyalty, tenderness, compassion, joy, ecstasy, passion, and the nurturing harmony that comes from combining these wisdoms to create a balanced flow of positive energies to and from the self.
Here the deepest levels of sharing permit the true understanding of transformative and evolutionary growth on the path of unconditional love...love without judgment, restraint, or conformity. It is here the shaman sees the value of selfless actions, of service to others, of harmony in commitments all through the eyes of the inner spirit and its own relationship to Great Mystery as well as All Our Relations.The Road of the West:
As a road this one is devoted to the healing of the spirit. It is here that what is held sacred becomes a part of you as well as Great Mystery. It is here we come to understand the need to honor the sacred through the rites of ceremony and religious structure. Here experiences present themselves as catharsis, transforming the life and pathwork of the Medicine Man on all levels of consciousness and physical activity. It is here he will find his mystical moments and learn firsthand through them. It is the School of Hard Knocks initially but gradually progresses into gentler forms of trial by error and learning the lessons well. When we have to go back and start from the beginning on things it often leaves a lasting impression and this is the path that will have the false starts and stops. It forces the shaman to become involved in relationships with others, the self, and with Spirit.
The individual learns through this roadway to experience selective choice through the wisdom gleaned, taking those lessons within to assimilate and make good decisions before action is taken. Here the inner spirit begins to experience its evolution and melds with the surface logic of the mind to create a relationship allowing a tempered personality to emerge. This is the road of introspection where one can find retreat, solace, and sacred space. It is the place where we see our own smoking mirror and reflect on the reflections that exist there. The Medicine Man learns to contemplate these reflections internally and then to act upon the truths that emerge in an outward show of their form. He learns to listen well, to think before he acts, to use his words wisely, and guide himself with wisdom. He comes to see that his true feelings reflect upon his emotional health and that in turn reflects upon his centeredness in the world. As the enlightenment surfaces through the assimilation process it again emerges out into the world through his decisiveness and actions.
Upon this road the shaman learns to evaluate his spiritual path again and again, knowing that as he evolves so does his spirituality and his concept of what Spirit is. Here he masters centering himself amid the Seven Sacred Directions. He becomes the shamanic tree with his roots firmly planted, his trunk standing securely yet flexibly in the winds of life, and his branches reaching ever upward toward the sun as he receives enlightenment and draws ever closer to the oneness of Spirit. He has experienced the cycles of life and knows they flow in a continuous spiral up and outward as well as in and down through him. In this way he learns to enter the Silence and know that oneness with Great Mystery, to allow the energy of Spirit to flow through him and bring with it illuminating information. The Medicine Man comes to see that the universe is not only "out there" but that it is "within" as well.
This is the roadway of strength, stamina, endurance, and testings. It is understanding the flow of energies and the power behind them. It is the focus of the shaman’s training and development of his unwavering service to Spirit. Here his mind learns discipline, he learns to summon his courage when needed, finds his security and strength in his faith, and gains powers of concentration. He is more centered, self-aware, balanced, and conscious of his pathwork. Through the love of Spirit and attaining the oneness he becomes self-assured as he walks between the worlds and sees no lines of division. To the Medicine Man the physical and spiritual become one because he has experienced them both and sees their interrelationships. His spiritual disciplines become honed, second nature, and he masters his gifts wielding them with precision, impeccability, and integrity. In the oneness he finds his true self.
Not unlike the Medicine Woman, the Medicine Man will walk these paths again and again. Each time they will glean more spiritual evolution as they base their knowledge on the wisdoms gained in the past with the insights of the present. It is a cycle that flows in its own spiral dance of illuminated enlightenments.
The ways of the Medicine Man and Medicine Woman may vary in their techniques, but invariably they come to the same conclusions. In the end they both have a greater understanding of Spirit, life, and each other. Should the Medicine Woman feel called to do the vision quest of the shaman’s teachings it is considered acceptable. She may choose to do some skin cuttings that will be placed in sacred tools as a sacrifice to Spirit to show her dedication and lend her own powers to the implements. In rare cases some women will choose to pierce but this is not very common. She would fast, undergo the purification of the Mother Lodge (sweat), quest, and assimilate. I have done both types of questing and they each have something to offer that is unique. It depends on the call that comes to me as well as the time I have open as to how I will choose to respond. Women who are past menopause still feel the cycles of Grandmother Moon and they do not lose the potency of their Medicine; thus, they will continue to quest as they always have.
The Medicine Man who quests must show his strength, courage, and ability to endure. When he quests there is usually some form of self-sacrifice required. This can be in the form of skin piercing through the breast where tethers are fastened to bones and to a tree. In this case the questor places his body at risk as fatigue sets in and the tethers threaten to tear the muscle if he yields or failing to maintain his pledged time. It is also during this time that he may receive his vision. Other cases of piercing involve the shoulder blade area where tethers are attached to the body with one or more skulls (usually buffalo skulls and up to 3 of them) which are dragged behind the man wherever he goes for the duration of the pledge. Pledges can be made for 1-4 days or more of the sacrificial quest. While piercing is not always required, it is a sign of dedication and courage as well as a sacred sacrifice to Spirit. Fasting, purification, questing, and assimilation are divided equally and the quest itself can last for 16 days or more. In some tribes the men will eat sacred meats during the quest while others deny this.
For the Medicine Woman questing is a lifelong process, met monthly, and spirals out in ever advancing stages of spiritual evolution and enlightenment. For the Medicine Man (at least among the Sioux and other Plains tribes) there are a series of sixteen quests to be accomplished during the course of a lifetime. These quests are divided into sets of four to achieve different levels of advancement significantly marked at the end of each set. Only one quest is undertaken per year, and there may be gaps between them of several years. For this reason not every shaman will achieve his full potential since at a minimum it would take 16 years to reach completion.
As you can see, the woman is taught to go within herself and seek her center. A man centers externally by creating the shamanic tree. This is usually a lodge pole to which he connects himself by climbing it or attaching a rope, string, or ladder for his spirit to follow. Both will accomplish the same spiritual projection from this point onward. Different methods are applied to the initiations and rites of passage; as well as other ceremonies and teachings to achieve the evolution of the inner spirit. This brings about a state of harmony and balance within both genders. While neither is superior to the other, much can be gained in understanding as to why these variances exist and how the individual benefits from them.
Women are born with an innate natural attunement to their bodies and the energies that exist in nature. Men must outwardly explore to find their seat of balance and understand how to bring it within themselves. Both have something to offer the other and through that cyclic exchange unity is formed. Externally this is the male and female uniting; internally it is the male and female sides to our natures in balance. Together they create a state of harmony and a broader horizon from which you can perceive the needs and workings of the opposite gender’s Medicine.Annotated Bibliography/Suggested Reading:
Dancing With the Wheel: The Medicine Wheel Workbook by Sun Bear, Wabun Wind, and Crysalis Mulligan. This is an excellent source for understanding the Native American approach to Grandmother Moon and her cycles, the paths of the Medicine Wheel to be walked, and much more.
The 13 Original Clan Mothers by Jamie Sams. This is an excellent source of women’s Medicine teachings according to Southwestern indigenous tribal teachings. It gives an in-depth look at the many faces of Grandmother Moon and brings understanding of how she works through the influences of her cycles.
The entire series of books by Carlos Castaneda is laced with hints of women’s ways while depicting the aggressive nature of men’s training.
The Circle is Sacred: A Medicine Book for Women by Scout Cloud Lee. Ed. D.
Spirit to spirit and heart to heart,