Many Native American tribes were matrilineal before the Europeans came along. Women held great power and respect in these communities and when a child was born, she/he was a descendant of the mother’s clan, not the father’s as is typical today. The sweat lodge was actually a counterpart to the women’s moon lodge, originating out of a desire for men to release and restore similarly to women. The ancient ones knew of women’s great power and revered it. The newcomer’s feared it. And sadly, what humans typically do when we fear something is demonize it. And so the devolution of women’s power began. And when truth re-surfaces, the evolution can start a healing spiral of veneration for all.
I recently heard a woman ask if it was ok to prepare herbal remedies if she was in her moon time (menstruation.) Huh?! She was of Native decent, and being that women are often forbidden from certain ceremonies during their moon time, she figured it might also apply to herbal preparations as well. The common reason that gets reiterated as to why women are forced to refrain from ceremonies during menstruation is that they are too powerful and will somehow affect the ceremony negatively. Really?! Please excuse the expletive, but I call bullshit!
I believe the underlying truth is that historically men have feared women’s power, and once again, what one fears, one must make “bad.” I’m not blaming or bashing, nor am I lumping all men into this belief. In fact, I think evolved men would agree. It’s much easier to say we are dirty when we menstruate, or give birth, or bitchy as we move through our natural hormonal dance. And so, as the celebration of women’s power evolved into the demonization of it with the arrival of a new culture, we were banished from the ceremonies if we bled. With the evolution of women’s rights of course, it became much safer and politically correct to say that we were too powerful to join in ceremony. As if that would somehow sooth, keep us from resisting and just go with the flow (no pun intended).
Unfortunately, much of the pre-European history of Indigenous American people has been lost. They often followed an oral tradition, and soon enough the truth was educated right out. However, thankfully, tidbits of wisdom are still in-tact, even if not well known. Here are a few videos that might surprise you and make you think twice about the “herstory” of women’s power.
And let me be clear, I am not referring to women’s power as something that is somehow greater than men. Neither is greater than the other. Both genders have an equally shared responsibility with their power. Claiming it and owning it never equates to an abuse of power. One of the important first steps we must take as humankind, as we continue our evolution on this planet, is to honor one another. The only way we can truly create peace is for both genders to equally respect and revere one another. To me, gender equality is not about any woman being able to do what any man does, or vice versa. Gender equality is about an equal distribution of power and truly finding admiration with each other. Sadly however, the pendulum still leans deeply in the patriarchal field and women’s power is still not honored or even acknowledged in some areas of the planet.
The Dali Lama is quoted as saying “The world will be saved by the Western Woman.” How ironic that Western women were once the leaders of this country…before it was a country. My hope is that we the Western women wake up. I mean really wake up. No groggy sleep-walking, claiming we are awake and then feeling shame about our female essence. I’m including myself in this desire, for I can admit that at times I can sleep-walk as well as anyone. We need men’s support as we do this. As Western women, we can waive our feminist flag all we want, but what good is it if we just become so harsh that we disown our nature? Aren’t we then trying to fight fire with fire? From what I’ve seen, more fire might make a good band-aide, but water is really the best remedy.
I’m proposing that our feminine nature, our juicy power, our lusciousness – in whatever way we desire to express it – is how we can nudge that pendulum out of patriarchy and into a natural swing of harmony; back and forth, sharing power, reciprocally. As we honor and reconnect with the ancient ones, we reawaken women’s natural power, which is harmonious with all of life. This is how the world will be saved by the Western woman.