Danza de la Luna with Abuelita Tonalmitl – Women’s Time Together

Abuelita Tonalmitl Bienvenido!

CLR in partnership with UK Moon Dance (Danza de la luna), Eleanor Sara Cihuaoctoquiani welcomed a Mexican Elder and companions to our Forest Haven in East Sussex!

We really value learning from other people and cultures, and couldn’t turn down the opportunity to have a day with a Female leader and ceremonialist, who for last 25 years has been offering ‘The Moon Dance’ in Mexico.

This is an ancient ceremony, where women would gather at a particular full moon, pray together, sit in circle, dance in circle under the moon.  The ceremony requires the participants to fast for four days and nights, to be able to ‘listen’ to their internal wisdom, in relationship to the non-human and larger stories of life. A female-based quest.

Last year, I had the opportunity to live in Mexico for 6 months, a well-planned sebatical to write (a new book with Jon Cree on a deeper enquiry into Forest School and nature-based practices), spend time with my youngest daughter (the older two boy are now adults) and to retrace some steps I left in my late 20’s, having lived in Mexico for a few years, where i  became a mother!

I had heard of the  ‘Moon dance’ several years previous, and having searched and seeked knowledge specific for women, I was eager to discover more.  

In the 1600’s, the ‘America’s’ were ‘discovered’ by the Spanish, the religious hierarchy at the time – who are responsible for some of the most horrific destruction of culture, in a very violent form.  Like in this land, people were killed for their beliefs, and documents & artifacts destroyed. We see this all around the world.

It is said that a man, perhaps a priest of the old cultures, saved a document that is now known as the ‘Borgia Codex’.  This is now kept in Venice museum. It is a historical and lengthly recording made on deer skin and shows among other things drawings of ‘the sun dance’, next to ‘the moon dance’.

 

Abuelita spoke of this history and the need for us all, men and women to reclaim our knowledge of this relationship to the earth and the wider context that we are living in.  As a group of women, to understand how oppression permeates our cultures – oppression that impedes men, women and children alike – that stops us living to our full expression – to know ourselves, so we can live well with the rest of life.  

I can hear a voice in me that is ashamed to claim and be vocal about the oppression of women, because there is always someone who is more oppressed.   Yet I know as a nearly 50 year old, how the knowing of women is often dismissed in both subtle and large ways. This weekend the Saudi women finally get ‘the right’ to drive!  I read the book ‘Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening’,  a few years ago.  These women were repeatedly arrested, imprisoned, humiliated to fight this fight. When we live in Southern England and have privileges, we forget so easily how different it is in different places, and how this still seeps into our lives every day.  Equality and equanimity are not the same things.

This visit provoked and awakened these things, as well as feeling a great unity and hope. That young women can grow up friends with their bodies, that they can understand how intimately their bodies and emotions are mirrored by the monthly cycle of the moon.  How we can harness this cycle to go within, foster mindfulness and befriend the darkness. How the natural world reflects us and provides well-being.

The older cultures hold something for the modern human.  This is not to say there is perfection there. But they hold a language and understanding of how things fit together, how natural law could fit with human law.  It is not them and us, rather how we at this time in history can draw on ancient wisdom from across cultures and enable the modern world to gain a sensibility to ‘the other’.  The ‘other’ that is more than human, the ‘other’ that is foreign, the ‘other’ that is feminine or masculine.

We have inherited ways of working that have been dominated by hierarchy, and we have had to follow ways of keeping order and control for we fear that we will loose what we have.    

How can we all be of service, young and old to each other? How can we feel the joy of giving, and not the fear?  In the present moment, all we have is right now, to have the pure acceptance of this moment and us within it, is a connected state of being.  In nature work, when we get into the flow, we feel this state of mind, it is part of the abilities that help us to live a healthy and happy lives.

Yet we have to have a vision of how life could be, and how we can contribute to that, to have meaning and purpose.  To imagine a world where we can live well, without harming ‘the other’ provides the steps towards that.

The Abuelita, encouraged us to confirm for each other what we know already. To not fear.  To listen within. To not defer to the cultural norm of some men. To remember.

For any interest in joining us on some women in nature days please email info@circleofliferediscovery.com

Contact Eleanor for information in the UK about the Moon Dance: eleanorsara@googlemail.com

Get Real. Get Messy. Get Maths. Get Outdoors.

Outdoors Maths with Juliet Robertson.

There are many reasons why maths is a core part of the curriculum worldwide. It provides us with skills and knowledge that can be used in our daily lives. From the moment we wake up, we are constantly estimating, problem-solving and making quick judgements about quantities and amounts. For example, you may need to check you have the exact change for a bus or wonder if you can still fit into your trousers after several days of a festive celebration.

Join our Messy Maths CPD on 21st September with Juliet Robertson

 

To help you think and plan maths experiences outdoors here are some practical suggestions:

Getting ready to go outside provides many mathematical moments:

  • Time the class to get ready. This can be using a non-standard unit of measurement, such as a song for little children. With older children, this will be using a stopwatch or other timer.
  • Use lining up to reinforce key data handling skills. For example, request children make two lines, e.g. those who are wearing green, those who are not wearing green. This creates a human line graph and can be used for counting and discussing differences between the length of each line. Change the attributes each time you go out. Your children will have plenty of suggestions here.
  • Problem-solve with your class about ways of getting ready quickly and without fuss. Link these to the strategies used to solve problems, so children can see how a skill learned has real life applications.

Maths on the move. Make the most of the distance between your class and your outdoor space:

  • Estimate the number of steps it takes to get outside. Discuss afterwards why everyone has a different answer. Is it possible to standardise this distance and how would we do this?
  • Count aloud and chant in multiples, e.g. multiples of three on each step: 3, 6, 9, etc.
  • What happens to your counting when you take five steps forward and one step back. Consider how to create links between numbers and the pattern of walking forwards and backwards.

Creating a gathering circle in mathematical ways

Explore the size of the circle made when children hold hands, stretch out and touch each other’s fingertips or huddle together shoulder-to-shoulder. Discuss and explore how the size could be measured. This may include:

  • Pacing around the outside of the circle as a non-standard approach.
  • Using a trundle wheel for noting metres or yards.
  • Using a long piece or rope or string. If you put a mark at every metre or yard on the rope then it becomes a giant measuring tape.

Estimating everything

Messy Maths CPD

Children need lots of practice at estimating so they are able to make reasonable guesses based upon experience and knowledge. It is a basic strategy for problem solving and enquiry work as well as a useful life skill. Being outside provides a real context for estimating. It is hard to tell the number of birds in a flock, bricks in a wall or exactly how long it will take to walk to the shops. There is a constant need for everyone to be making estimates of amounts and activities based upon our experiences. Teachers can encourage the children estimate and then to check:

  • Number: having a guess before counting the flock of birds flying overhead – we count ten birds and then use this to count the rest in chunks of ten.
  • Money: evaluating whether we have enough money to buy something we need.
  • Distance: estimating how far away the end of the playing field is.
  • Volume: thinking about the volume of water in one bucket or watering can compared to another.
  • Weight and mass: wondering how much food the birds will eat at a bird table.
  • Time: considering how long it will take to complete a task.

It can help to make group estimates where there is a consensus. With older children, the skill of rounding up or down is a natural progression within estimation.

Playing maths games

All around the world there are strategy games, which were developed using locally found materials on a board that can be drawn onto an outdoor surface. Games involve looking for patterns and knowing the cause and effect of moves undertaken in particular sequences. This usually involves playing the game lots of times and experimenting with different moves. Some basic points include:

  • Children need time to learn each game by just enjoying the experience of playing it. Older children can assist younger ones. Hold a games session so that parents and carers can learn different games too.
  • If a game isn’t going well, ask the children for their ideas about making it better. What rules could be adapted or changed? How can they make the game more exciting?
  • Games can be adapted to help the children acquire specific skills in many areas of maths. When you do this, it can be helpful to seek the children’s thoughts and suggestions. This gives them ownership of their learning and facilitates a personal interest.
  • Children enjoy inventing their own games. Whether you have a pile of stones or a few leaves lying under a tree, challenge them to create a game to help them learn a specific maths concept or skill.

By Juliet Robertson, foMessy Maths under of Creative STAR Learning, UK.

Many of these ideas are expanded upon in her book: Messy Maths: An Outdoor and Playful Approach for Early Years.

 

Circle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

Circle of Life Rediscovery