"We are presently reaching toward a whole new time on Earth, a flowering of the Tree of Life... yet much still lies within the womb of Mystery, in the womb of Buffalo Woman. We are being called to bring forth into reality what is waiting there for us, to awaken ourselves in the dream.
"Finding the dream is the function of the Moon cycle especially for the daughters of earth, whose blood expresses itself with the tides of Grandmother Moon's pull.
- Brooke Medicine Eagle
Day 211 - Friday, January 19, 1996 - A wet mist hung over the grove of oaks surrounding our base camp as we awakened. This is pretty much how the weather went through the morning.
We are behind schedule in terms of reaching the Western Gate, but our walk may reach the Pacific Ocean today. That would be a major accomplishment. Then all we need to do is to continue north along Route 1 to Santa Barbara and beyond to Point Conception.
At the insistence of the Harmony Warriors, the men of our walk set up one of the Army surplus tents for the women to use as a Moon Lodge.
|Sequence of Moons - A series of full Moon exposures over time. (Photo by Velo Steve, courtesy of flckr.com)
A Moon Lodge is a place where women may gather during their menstrual time. In some native cultures, during their Moon cycles, women were freed from duties of family and allowed to retreat to the comfort and ease of a Moon Lodge, to share each other’s company, to care for each other, to relax, and to dream.
In those traditions, the Moon cycle was regarded as a sacred time for woman when she was respected as mother of the life-giving forces.
About 9 PM, the women in our group were summoned around the sacred fire at the heart of our base camp in Oak Grove Park.
When they gathered, they were told to stand away from the fire, so they were cold, and could scarcely hear what was said. The women were informed that they needed to go into the Moon Lodge, and to stay there, four days before their Moon time began, for the actually duration of their Moon cycle, and then for four days afterward. But that could be ten, twelve, or more days each month -- a third of each woman’s life.
The way this was handled by the Harmony Warriors, with the acquiescence of Joe and Ned, caused a great deal of hurt and anger among the women. They felt nobody had any business telling them how to take care of themselves, especially not any men.
After this consternation settled down, more or less, the women went to their tents to get some sleep. But not for long. They were awakened from their warm sleeping bags at 2:00 AM by the Harmony Warriors, and informed that they all needed to go over to The Moon Lodge tent and stay there. But they found the Moon Lodge tent was cold, damp, clammy and had no stove in it. It had just been set up and it was exceedingly uncomfortable – not at all the ideal of comfort implied by the term Moon Lodge.
All the activity and discussion around Moon cycles ultimately caused the women in our pilgrimage group to feel that they had been treated rudely. In the tradition of the Moon Lodge, women are to be nurtured and cared for so they can pray in comfort, restore themselves and bring restoration to their communities. That is not happening here at all. Instead, it has become a massively painful and confusing issue.
I talked with Buddhist nun Jun San about what is happening to our walk. She told me she was profoundly unhappy with the restrictions that have been imposed upon us.
|Walks Far Woman - Jun San on another pilgrimage, the Dharma Walk. (Photo by Louise Dunlap)
She said that she has made five pilgrimages across the United States so far in her life, and that on those journeys she has walked with many traditional native people. She said she has never heard of four days being applied for before and after a woman’s Moontime cycle, and she feels this requirement is harsh, punitive, and unrealistic. She said she was going to follow her own inner guidance on how to care for herself during her Moon cycle.
She said she was also displeased with the other new restrictions. For example, we have been informed that no new people will be allowed to join us from here on out. Further, no one may visit our camp. There were several guests who stopped by for the evening to play music with us. But the Harmony Warriors told them that they were unwelcome in camp, and asked them to leave.
Additionally, no matter how many days a person has been with the walk, even as far back as the beginning, if you leave camp -- even to go visit family -- you will not be allowed to come back.
These are huge changes directly impacting each person’s freedom. Until now our walk has always invited people to join us at any time for any length of time, and everyone has been free to come and go as they please, as long as they walked and prayed in a respectful way.
Jun San told me she regards these new rules as militaristic.
|Visiting - Grandfather William Commanda and Jacki Hayward Gauger visit with each other, along our Sunbow trail to the Western Gate. (Author photo)
Jacki Gauger, who has been with the walk since all the way since Maryland, said she also was confused and profoundly unhappy.
Her big concerns, she explained, are not really knowing what is going on, or who is making these decisions, or why Ned and Joe are agreeing to them on our behalf, or why the whole circle of walkers is not involved in making the decisions, or at least the agreements, around these issues.
There’s a real lack of information, she said, which leads to unease and to rumors.
“The way it all strikes me,” Jacki said, “this is just more of the same old male-style bullshit: domination and control of other people -- male controlling ego getting in the way of the real work of our prayer walk. I think our walk -- and our planet -- has had quite enough of that."
Copyright 2007 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 212 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire