I was very fortunate to take part in my first Native moon ceremony yesterday. Many thanks to Barbara H. and Elder D. for inviting me -and welcoming me with open arms – to such a spiritual and life-affirming event that is usually hosted by and for women.
I’ll let Anishnawbe Health Toronto describe what I took part in:
“When the moon is full, a woman can do a ceremony to honour and seek guidance from Grandmother Moon. The ceremony may differ from place to place. It is held either on the Full Moon or two days before or after the Full Moon, depending on the teachings given to the women in a particular community. Women gather in a circle, from youngest to oldest, representing the life journey from infancy to old age. Women can ask Grandmother Moon for direction in life, for wisdom, and for help for her children and others. Grandmother Moon can give her healing and balancing energy to women. They drum and sing. Tobacco is placed in the fire and the women ask for the cleansing of the earth, as the water, the lakes, rivers and oceans constitute women’s responsibility. Women bring a container of water and pour this water into a bowl and offer it to Grandmother Moon and to Mother Earth. At the end of the ceremony, the water, now called moon water, can be used as a medicine during the month.”
Aside from history books, my early introduction to Native Canadian culture came through the writings of Thomas King, considered by many to be the leading public intellectual figure on Canadian and American Native culture. Although Joseph Boyden (Three Day Road, Through Black Spruce, The Orenda) has become the darling of the mainstream Canadian publishing industry for his “unflinching honesty” when it comes to his fiction about Native Canadians, it is perhaps Mr. King who has been most vocal in his myriad literary disciplines in bringing attention to Native rights and issues.
Recently, Thomas King was awarded the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize for The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America (2012), what his publisher, the University of Minnesota Press, called “A brilliantly subversive and darkly humorous history of Indian–White relations in North America since first contact.” The RBC Taylor Prize Committee went on to add, “The Inconvenient Indian is at once a ‘history’ and the complete subversion of a history—in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be ‘Indian’ in North America.”
I’ll end this post by citing two passage from Mr. King’s The Inconvenient Indian, both of which are hauntingly poignant:
“While the hardware of civilization – iron pots, blankets, guns – was welcomed by Native people, the software of Protestantism and Catholicism – original sin, universal damnation, atonement, and subligation – was not, and Europeans were perplexed, offended, and incensed that Native peoples had the temerity to take their goods and return their gods.”
“Ignorance has never been the problem. The problem was and continues to be unexamined confidence in western civilization and the unwarranted certainty of Christianity. And arrogance. Perhaps it is unfair to judge the past by the present, but it is also necessary.”