The Native people of North America have always depended upon the natural world for their survival. Watching the changes going on in the natural world with each season, they also look up into the sky and see it changing. In many parts of North America, the Native people relate the cycles of the moon to those seasons. In every year, there are 13 of those moon cycles, each with 28 days from one new moon to the next. For many Nations, including the Anishinabek Nation, there are teachings and other culturally important aspects of the moon cycle, which is associated with women’s menstrual cycles as well as other natural phenomena like the tides. Indigenous teachers and knowledge keepers can provide more specific information on the teachings that go with each moon, which will depend on their particular history and culture. Many Native American people look at Turtle’s back as a sort of calendar, with its pattern of 13 large scales standing for 13 moons in each year. It reminds us that all things are connected and we must try to live in balance.
Native American legend, the natural world is a place of great power where stories help humans understand the mysteries of the earth.
Grandmother Moon: Female Energy
It is said that Grandmother Moon watches over the waters of the Earth. We see this in her regulating of the tides. Grandmother Moon controls all female life. Much of water life spawns according to the cycles of the moon. It is said that Grandmother Moon is especially close to women because she governs the woman’s cleansing cycle of menstruation known as moon time. Just as Grandmother Moon watches over the waters of the Earth, it is said that women watch over the waters of the people. Water always comes before new life.
It is said that the moon cycle is a gift to women. It is a time to cleanse herself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The moon time is considered a time of power, second only to the ability of the Great Spirit to give life. That is how strong that power is. Women can ask Grandmother Moon for direction in life, for wisdom and for help for her children and others. Grandmother Moon can give her healing and balancing energy to women. Some teachings say that when women are on their moon time the Creator comes closer to them. When women are on their moon time their power is at its strongest, this is acknowledged in that they do not prepare foods or medicines, take part in ceremonies or use the pipes and other sacred items. The moon time is a ceremony of life for women and a time for renewal. The moon time is a time for women to relax and take it easy. All the chores are done by other family members. It is a time for women to think about themselves, their family, their relatives or anyone they think needs help. It is a time of reflection.
THE 13 MOONS
MNIDO GIIZIS (SPIRIT MOON) – JANUARY
The first moon of Creation is Spirit Moon. It is manifested through the northern lights. It is a time to honor the silence and realize our place within all of Great Mystery’s creatures.
MKWA GIIZIS (BEAR MOON) – FEBRUARY
The second moon of Creation is Bear Moon, when we honor the vision quest that began in the fall. During this time, we discover how to see beyond reality and to communicate through energy rather than sound. This moon also gives us a special teaching about the birth of bear cubs. In February, there is one morning when there is a heavy fog in the air and the traditional person knows that this is happening.
ZIISSBAAKDOKE GIIZAS (SUGAR MOON) – MARCH
The third moon of Creation is Sugar Moon, as the maple sap begins to run, we learn of one of the main medicines given to the Anishinaabe which balances our blood and heals us. During this time, we are encouraged to balance our lives as we would our blood sugar levels. This moon also teaches us the time of year when the sap is running for maple sugar harvest. This is celebrated as the Anishinaabe new year.
NAMEBINE GIIZIS (SUCKER MOON) – APRIL
The fourth moon of Creation is Sucker Moon, when sucker goes to the Spirit World in order to receive cleansing techniques for this world. When it returns to this realm, it purifies a path for the Spirits and cleanses all our water beings. During this time we can learn to become healed healers. Another teaching is that the sucker gave up his life for the Ojibwe in the month of February. The previous month, January, is the hardest time of year to get food because of the scarceness of game. In February it is easier to net these fish and it is believed that the sucker is giving his life for the Anishinaabe.
WAAWAASKONE GIIZIS (FLOWER MOON) – MAY
The fifth moon of Creation is Flower Moon, where all plants display their Spirit sides for all the world to see. This life giving energy is one of the most powerful healing medicines on Mother Earth. During this moon we are encouraged to explore our Spiritual essences.
ODE’MIIN GIIZIS (STRAWBERRY MOON) – JUNE
The sixth moon of Creation is Strawberry Moon. The medicine of the strawberry is reconciliation. It was during this moon cycle that communities usually held their annual feasts, welcoming everyone home, regardless of their differences over the past year, letting go of judgment and/or self righteousness. The strawberry is the first berry to ripen it is thought to be a good medicine for the heart and the teeth.
MSKOMINI GIIZIS (RASPBERRY MOON) – JULY
The seventh moon of Creation is Raspberry Moon, when great changes begin. By learning gentleness and kindness, we may pass through the thorns of its brush and harvest its fruit, as we gain knowledge that will help in raising our families.
DATKAAGMIN (BLACKBERRY or THIMBLEBERRY MOON)
The eighth moon of Creation is Thimbleberry or Blackberry Moon , when we honor the blackberry which produces an abundance of fruit once every three years. It was one of the first plants put on Mother Earth, and its purpose is to protect the Sacred Circle of life by allowing us to recognize and understand the teachings that come from the Spirit World. The eighth moon can fall in either July or August, depending on the year.
MDAAMIIN GIIZIS (CORN MOON) – AUGUST
The ninth moon of Creation is the Corn Moon, during which time we learn about the cycle of life. Each cob of corn has thirteen rows of multicolored seeds which represent all the spirits waiting to begin their Earthly Walk. These will be the future generations for whom we must prepare.
BIINAAKWE GIIZIS (FALLING LEAVES MOON) – SEPTEMBER
The tenth moon of Creation is the Falling Leaves Moon, a time when Mother Earth is honored with the grandest of colors. As all of Creation makes their offerings to her, we become aware of all the miracles of Creation before us and our spiritual energies are once again awakened.
MSHKAWJI GIIZIS (FREEZING MOON) – OCTOBER
The eleventh moon of Creation is the Freezing Moon, a time when the Star Nation is closest to us. As every creature being prepares for the coming fasting grounds, we are reminded to prepare ourselves for our spiritual path by learning the sacred teachings and songs that will sustain us.
MNIDOONS GIIZIS OONHG (LITTLE SPIRIT MOON) – NOVEMBER
The twelfth moon of Creation is the Little Spirit Moon, a time of healing. By receiving both vision of the spirits and good health, we may walk the Red Road with purest intentions, and we can share this most positive energy with our families and friends for the good of all.
MNIDOONS GIIZIS (BLUE MOON – BIG SPIRIT MOON) – DECEMBER
The thirteenth moon of Creation is Blue Moon or Big Spirit Moon. Its purpose is to purify us, and to heal all of Creation, a process which may take a three month long spiritual journey. During this time, we receive instructions on the healing powers of the universe and transform into our own vision of the truth.