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 [email protected]
Contact Eleanor for information in the UK about the Moon Dance: [email protected]