|My Horse Hide Drum|
This magical time in my life was in the mid-90’s when I attended my first Women of the 14th Moon Ceremony or Celebration.
Friday night, we were told the history behind this gathering. Three California women from Jewish, Celtic, and Native American backgrounds were concerned that women were not celebrated or honored in our society. They did more than talk or complain. They acted. And from their creativity came the bones of The 14th Moon. The Ceremony I attended was brought back to the area by three NW women who had traveled to California to attend one sponsored by the original group.Women of the 14th Moon is about women coming together: leaving husbands, children, significant others, jobs – their responsibilities behind. Traveling to the meeting place in cars, trucks, RV’s, they pitch tents, sleep on the ground, in the back seat of their cars, in their RV’s. They bring food to share in the communal meals. But most of all they bring themselves and a willingness to experience what it is like to be surrounded by caring compassionate women and accepted and honored for no other reason than because they are there.
The three phases of womanhood are honored: Maiden, Matron, Crone or Elder.My first 14th Moon Ceremony had 100 women in attendance. We sat in a circle and introduced ourselves through our maternal lineage.
I am Judith Ashley, daughter of Jean Elizabeth, granddaughter of Ester, granddaughter of Grace, great granddaughter of Mary Donohue, niece of Ruth, Helen, and Margaret, Grandmother of Kayla and Mariah. I come from a long line of strong women who have endured and thrived.
Maidens, young women who have had their first menses, are introduced to the circle of women by their sponsors (mothers, aunts, grandmothers, friends). They also introduce themselves and share what they bring to The Circle and the world and before they sit down they ask for what they want from the other women. Sometimes it’s as simple as a word of encouragement, sometimes it’s a bit more complicated – an idea on how they can move forward with a part of their lives. A highlight of my many 14th Moon experiences was introducing my granddaughters to the circle.
Matrons are the ‘worker bees’. They are mothers, wives, or women who are 25 years of age. They have their own special time when they are in the center of the circle and are honored for what they bring to their lives and the lives of all they touch.
I remember vividly my first Women of the 14th Moon Crone Ceremony. I stood, holding my new staff, looked out at the assembled women, and wondered aloud what my life would have been like if, when I had my first menses, my mother had brought me to a circle of women where I would have been welcomed, honored, nurtured, mentored, and held in high-esteem for no other reason than I was a woman.
And last is the ceremony for the crones. Crones are at
least 51 years of age and one year has passed since their last menses. At some 14th Moons the Maidens
massage scented oil into their hands and serve them sage tea. The Circle gifts first-time
elders with a staff and often the other women make items to decorate them. The highlight of every 14th
Moon Ceremony I’ve attended is when each Crone stands and shares her wisdom
with the entire circle.
|My Crone or Wise Woman Staff - August 2012|
In the years since, I’ve attended eleven 14th Moon Ceremonies. Each has been different and yet each has been the same. There have been challenges in attending some (I’m no longer eager to climb in and out of a tent and up and down off the ground or use a port-o-potty in the middle of the night) but regardless of the challenges, each has given me a gift. A gift of a time away from the realities and responsibilities of my daily life; a gift of time where I am welcomed and valued for being a woman; a gift of a few minutes where my words are listened to and honored because they came from me – an older woman, an elder, a crone or wise woman.
My first 14th Moon was held on Labor Day Weekend and there are several being held in Oregon this year on Labor Day. If you are interested in learning more, ask around. Women of the 14th Moon events are happening all over the world. If you can’t find one near you, let me know (JudithAshley@Comcast.net). If you live in the Northwest, I'll connect you to a Women of the 14th Moon celebration. And if you live elsewhere, I'll send you information so you and a group of women can host one yourself.
© 2012 Judith Ashley