In our tradition, the 9th Moon (starting count at the Blue Moon) of every year is called: Breaking the Masks. When we first encounter this Moon we are 9 years old. On the Wheel, the 9th Moon is found in the West and it’s when most children learn that there’s a difference between the fairy tales they were told or the television movies they adore, and reality. Despite all the books that have been written on childhood development I have never come across anything that is as beautiful and as thorough as indigenous wisdom. My first encounter with the Sacred Circle traditions left me feeling full…
There’s a long list of fascinating facts about the Moons of the Medicine Wheel. One of them is that the word “moon” can refer to “time.” The cycle of the Moon is present through our daily living. We often use the word “moon” to speak of a month or a particular moment during a month (menstruation). A moon can also mean “a year”. Every birthday speaks of “a moon” we are adding to our personal story and finally, the presence of the moon in our lives speaks of maturity and development. As you can see the moon and the sun are both instrumental in understanding different attributes relating to time.
What is time?
In philosophy time is but an illusion; but when you explore time through physiology you see that it’s very much a reality. Time takes a toll on our physical body. Time is said to “heal all wounds” and when you explore time through attitudes, you begin to notice that we have the ability to increase or decrease the rhythm of time by the way we perceive and feel about the experience in our life story. Some of us give time way too much power or credit; while others should maybe give it more attention.
What makes the moons important is not only the fact that they speak of time and personal development; but they also speak of “the collective” since they come together as one. There are 13 moons on a Sacred Circle. Eleven moons come together to reach Metamorphosis; which is 12th moon. The 13th moon is the expression or form of this transformation. Moons basically give us an understanding of what it means to be “sisters” or “brothers”.
To initiates of the Sacred Circle we often say: “It takes working on your inner community to be able to finally be helpful in your families, your communities, and as a members of a Nation.”
When I started learning the Medicine Wheel I was in my late teens /early 20’s. I was happy to have some idea of the Moons by the time I had my babies. I had my first child at the age of 24. Four years of Wheel teachings was certainly not enough to heal my own illusions, programs and wounded moons; but it was extremely helpful when it came to being present to my children. I didn’t want to be the kind of parent “who decides how a child grows up.” I wanted to witness my children’s personal stories and to guide them to grow into them, true to their own nature. It’s incredible how time flies because soon both my children were in their late teens / early 20’s and choosing to walk their own Wheels on their own terms. I glanced back in time realizing that along with my children, I had spiralled a new loop to my Wheel and was growing into a deeper sense of my own personal tale and basic nature.
Recently we were invited to speak at Concordia University to a classroom of counsellors (psychology). After explaining that that every 12/13 moons (a year) brought us to a new cycle of 12/13 moons (another year) as student asked: “Are we condemned to always repeat our moons?”
“We spiral the Wheel,” I explained, “we don’t walk the same trail over and over again until we’ve created a groove we can’t possibly escape.”
It was through observing my children that I best learnt about the Wheel. One day, at the park, I remember drawing a circle in the sand. Here were the rules of the game: My son stood in the East with a red piece of ribbon in his back pocket while my daughter stood in the West also with a ribbon in her back pocket.
“On the mark of 3” I told them, “you need to run around the Wheel until one of you pulls the ribbon away from his or her opponent.”
They giggled and laughed side-stepping each other while running as fast as they could to finally get the ribbon. They loved the game and eventually, it attracted other children who wanted to participate. Even as the Wheel grew children all behaved the same: Wiggling, side-stepping and dashing around the circle.
It’s the way any of us approach the Moons and the cycle or process they offer.
· We wiggle through the sudden challenges, emotions, and drama: Uncomfortable, awkward, complaining and frustrated.
· We sidestep our opponents in hope to get away: Stepping into the past, relating it to the present, and attempting to push through the future.
· And then, we run as fast as we can learning, healing and developing the skills necessary to be stronger than the influences on the Wheel.
Sometimes we are the winner and other times, we are not; but it isn’t so much about winning as it is about “how we spiral around the Wheel.” Ironically, we always side-step near the end, as our opponent is about to defeat us. On the Wheel this occurs in the “heyoke wind or initiator” (NW); in the same space as the Moon of Metamorphosis.
What does that mean?
It means that even though we are not always aware of the lessons we’ve learnt and integrated during a year (moon) we still instinctively side-step our opponents (challenges, issues, illusions, difficulties, tragedies etc..) and whether we win or not, we still grow and develop new skills, new insights, new wisdom and transform into something new! This process actually happens at smaller levels every day, every month, every year and at every season (childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age).
My teachers and elders taught me to “watch and listen.”
“You don’t learn through talking” they would say.
So I take moment every day and breath in the Moons. What are they telling us? This Moon of Breaking the Masks is telling us to "look in the mirror" and observe what we see.
What do you see in the mirror? Beyond all the veils of illusion there exists reality...