June 15th, 2024

Miywasin Moment: June and the Strawberry Moon

By JoLynn Parenteau on June 7, 2023.

Berries and ritual tools are prepared for a full moon ceremony on Saturday evening. - PHOTO BY JOLYNN PARENTEAU

“Full moon time is for quiet reflection, and reconnection to your body and the mothers and grandmothers who made you.”

– Dawn Iehstoseranon:nha (She keeps the feathers), Mohawk, Bear Clan)

As the days stretch longer, strawberries are the first sweet gift received from Mother Earth. These berries are the first to ripen, heralding the abundance of the summer months to come.

Many Indigenous women’s circles across Turtle Island (Native North America) observe 13 moons in the year, 13 Grandmothers, with each full moon named to mark the changes across seasons. In May we observed Grandmother Flower Moon, when our garden and wild blossoms burst into full colour. In July we will witness Grandmother Buck Moon, so-called for when deer antlers see the most accelerated growth.

June is Grandmother Strawberry Moon. Historically and today, these heart-shaped fruits are harvested with joy and shared at feasts and in ceremony.

On Saturday evening, as the full Strawberry Moon makes her journey up the sky, the newly-formed Wahkohtowin Eagle Women’s Society meets in a clearing to hold a Full Moon Ceremony. One man attends to act as Firekeeper and to stand watch while the youngest girls run and play.

Elder Lorlei leads the ceremony on this evening, laying sacred items across a blanket. Cedar for smudging, a traditional tobacco pipe, feathers, medicine water in a copper pot, and a bowl of ripe strawberries will all play a role in the ceremony.

As the Elder prepares the pipe for lighting, she rubs oils from her skin to the pipe stem in an energy transfer. The pipe tobacco is lit and repeatedly held skyward to Grandmother Moon and Creator.

Each woman receives a square of cloth, yellow signifying new beginnings, and a generous pinch of tobacco. A tobacco tie is made by gathering the tobacco in the center of the cloth and knotting the bundle. The first sacred medicine from the Creator, natural tobacco leaf can be given back to the Creator along with prayers returning it to the earth or into the fire.

“The hardest part is asking for something for ourselves. We’re always praying for our family and our children, but when you pray with the tobacco, you ask for what you need – love, kindness – from Grandmother Moon,” instructs Elder Lorlei.

The full moon ceremony is practiced as a ritual for healing. At her turn, each guest in the circle stands and shares what is weighing heavily on her heart. Some are struggling with grief, addiction, financial burdens, changes in careers or friction in relationships. An eagle feather makes its way around the Sharing Circle four times, more stories emerging at each passing. The tobacco ties, yellow for new beginnings, are offered to the fire with prayers for individual healing.

In one circuit, drums and rattles emerge to sing traditional Anishinaabe songs honouring the strength of women and the influence of Grandmother Moon over all the earth.

On her website passthefeather.ca, Mohawk Knowledge Keeper Dawn Iehstoseranon:nha (She keeps the feathers) shares a story of a conversation between Grandmother Moon and a young woman.

“I move. I am alive…I am your Grandmother. I guide all of the cycles; when to sleep and wake, when to plant and when to harvest, when to hunt and gather the medicines, when to cleanse your body and when to create life.”

To close the ceremony, the youngest girls in attendance offer the bowl of ripe strawberries around the circle, with the stems offered back to the earth, into the dwindling fire. A cup of moon water, made during the Flower Moon of May, is poured from the copper teapot and offered to the women to share and sip.

Iehstoseranon:nha’s (She keeps the feathers) story of Grandmother Moon continues, “You, girl, are connected to me. When I am full, you are full. When I wane, you begin anew; cleansed mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

“Every cycle, every moon time, our power is unmatched. I move and when I glide over you and am full of light and love, put your water out for me and I will turn it into medicine. Drink me gently and mindfully…like you are the calmest and strongest woman alive – and you will become just that.”

Making moon water is a simple ritual to follow, meant for those who possess feminine energy. Each month, on the night when Grandmother Moon is full, fill a glass container with water – a mason jar is best – and place it on a window ledge where it can sit in the moonlight. It is believed the moonbeams will infuse the water with soothing properties. Iehstoseranon:nha recommends taking a sip every day, thoughtfully and with gratitude, until your jar is empty.

Participating in a full moon ceremony can be shared or observed in private. A ritual is not necessary to feel connected to the moon’s influence. It is a moment for reflection, seeking to heal what harms us, welcoming a new phase, and it can be just you, resting in the moonlight and breathing.

May our Grandmother Moons offer you a reminder to rest throughout the year.

JoLynn Parenteau is a Metis writer out of Miywasin Friendship Centre. Column feedback can be sent to jolynn.parenteau@gmail.com.

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