We are well into Raspberry Moon and the berries are in abundance. Yet we could also call this Busy Waters Moon, as it’s peak fishing time and the fish are biting. Here is a meaningful opportunity for the adult Seekers to make the connection between hunger and the hunt—to give up the protein and fruit the school provides for them and rely solely on their own efforts. They are already gathering all of their greens, so these would be their second and third steps toward Earth sufficiency. It is always up to the Seekers to decide what their work will be, and letting go of that like-clockwork food drop has been difficult.
For almost a moon, inertia set in at camp around catching enough fish to live on, so they couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity. Many wanted to go for it, yet others did not. Several of the Seekers proved to the circle that it was possible for fish to meet their protein needs, but still the whole circle could not come to agreement. Those who wanted to experience the hunger of the hunt felt victimized—stifled in their efforts to live in connection with the means and ends of their existence. Others felt pressured to do what they weren’t yet ready to do. Reactivity and inertia became entrenched: they could no longer see all of their options and feel empowered.
Similar conflict arose around food that was going missing. A few of the children had developed a habit of stealing fruit, and no one was speaking up about it. A couple of parents wanted to protect their children by working with them privately or waiting to see where the issue went. Everyone agreed that punishment was not an option. Some felt that natural consequences should result from their behavior—but what consequences? Again, the circle was at a standstill.
Inertia had also set in across the lake. The Rainbows had spent nearly two moons away from the clan, and they were slowly getting closer to approaching their situation in a different light. One of the mothers put it like this: “I can be content and happy anywhere I am. Sometimes I don’t have a choice about who I’m with and what issues come up, and I need to realize that it doesn’t matter where I am.”
It took several quarter moons and a lot of contemplation and Truthspeaking for this circle to move through these issues together. Just a few suns ago, the Rainbows decided to move back to Waabanong and continue their efforts toward clan living. A quarter moon ago, 19 adults have decided to give up fruit and gather berries instead; and 18 have given up their share of the protein that the school provides. They are relying solely on the circle’s fishing, frogging, and insect-gathering efforts. The children continue to receive full food drops.
The issues that have come up for a circle are not anomalies—-they are a natural part of the wilderness immersion process. Each year, Seekers face similar thresholds and break through them—we all do when facing new experiences. There are four typical thresholds: the first three are personal, having to do with what we bring into the wilderness with us, and the last is cultural. The first one is missing the distractions from our psychological issues, and it typically looms within the first few suns. If we get through that, physical comfort threshold awaits, usually at around a quarter moon. Assuming we make it through that one by coming to peace with our demons and finding adequate shelter and comfort, the third threshold will loom at around the end of the first moon. It’s about balance: knowing that the sun will shine again even if it’s raining, and that it’s possible to stay warm even if the fire won’t start, and that the fish will bite again even if they aren’t today. There are ups-and-down cycles in nature, and when we can not only accept that but immerse ourselves in the cycles, we’ll find that we can be as comfortable in the wilderness as any place else.
The fourth threshold, however—the one many of them are now experiencing—is about other people. As social beings, we rely on our network of relationships for growth, as well as a sense of purpose and belonging. We come from a culture of “I, me, mine,” and it takes about three moons in the wilderness to recognize this kind of existence as a sham. We defined ourselves by our egos and didn’t have to think about our clan in relation to our own survival. In the wilderness, it’s an undeniable truth. Getting through ego centeredness and recognizing our interdependence, our oneness with everyone around us, is the final threshold—the one we walk through continuously as we grow in circle consciousness.
While the Seekers have been wrestling with some of these issues, they have also begun hide tanning. They have been given the overview of the Ojibwe method of hide tanning, and they are gathering materials for scrapers, beaming logs, stretching racks, and paddles. Hide tanning is another opportunity for Seekers to complete a circle of connection in their life on this particular land, as they harvest skins from the animals that live here and transform them into soft, durable clothing with their own hands.
Part of the sustenance the Seekers have been gathering and growing into is found in each other. This is part of the transition through the fourth threshold. Women have been gathering regularly for women’s circles at the moonlodge, and they have been supporting each other to take solo time at the lodge. We’ll close this update with a small sharing from Dakota, who wrote it while during one of her times alone in the moonlodge. In many ways, entering and walking through thresholds is very much a little death for parts of us that hold on to beliefs about who we are. Insights like hers can be very valuable for a circle at times like these.
From a moontime vision quest halfway through Fiddlehead Moon:
There is a moon lodge here where women may stay during their moontimes if they wish. The tradition of separating women at this time is one that is generally misunderstood and often feared in the modern world. I, in my ignorance, considered it some patriarchal, fear-based rite probably instituted somehow by religious colonialists.
In my first moontime here I felt called to fast (food and water) for 4 suns at the moonlodge. It became immediately apparent how confused I had been. The bleeding time for a woman can be filled with powerful spiritual connection and insight—if space is allowed for it.
For a woman the moontime is the dying time—
The giving time
Of giving up the possibility of a child
Often coming at the dead moon
That is why we hold such power
In our moontime
We are the keepers of
This cyclical rhythm
Embracing this balance of life and death
Within our bodies
Our culture sees living and dying
They are not opposed
One cannot exist without the other
They are two sides of the same coin
and that coin is change
Life is the receiving
death is the giving
Life is the inbreath
death is the outbreath
We die every moment that we live
and we live through our ‘death’
Enlightenment comes through awareness of this.