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Mohawks Girls' Initiation

10:20 min. - Akwesasne Mohawk initiation ceremony to mark the passage from girlhood to womanhood


Louise McDonald - In our ways, we believe man is fire. That's why you see a man working the fire. And in our ways, woman is water. And so, part of our young women coming into their womanhood is to connect them to that water because our bodies contain water and our babies come... their spirits come into that vessel of water, so part of this ritual is to return to... and it's about flowing, and it's about the river flowing. So, we return the young girls to the flowing river and then we bring them back, we purify them in the sweat lodge and then we bathe them to cool them down. And then we put their ceremonial fasting clothes on and we release them into their lodges, so they begin to wind down by themselves. And it's really important for young people to know who they are, inside, their identity, their history, and who their family is. And so, part of this is helping them to take that solitude, to be in solitude and to begin to reflect, because if you don't know who you are inside, then you can't be well with other people. And you're always trying to hang on to somebody else's identity because you don't know who you are. So it's really important that all those teachings that come to us, in our stories, in our legends, are played out.
The journey began months ago and these young ladies that arrived here, to go through this journey, arrived because they wanted to. They wanted to do this piece. So, when we got here, we had twelve young girls go in and we had twelve young women come out. And it wasn't only them that grew from this, it was all of us.
Katsi Cook - You probably know that there are several different versions of the creation story, depending on where you come from. And there is a universal theme though, is that there was this tree that was uprooted and it left a gaping hole from the sky world into this place here. And that this woman, one way or another, came through that hole. Whether she was pushed or fell, or whatever happened, she came through that hole. And when I see that, looking up, there is this gaping hole, and out comes this woman. And in one version of the story, she's met halfway down to the Earth, or what's to become the Earth, she's met by this other spirit being that cushions her fall. And he kind of cradles her, and talks to her, because he felt bad for what had happened to her when she came through that hole. But he also told her that he couldn't accompany her all the way down, but that he could do this much. Well in my mind, when I saw that gaping hole, my clinical self sees an ovary. And, when female babies are born, they are born with all of their eggs for their lifetime already in their little bodies. And, as those little eggs start to mature, a cyst forms around them and eventually pops. And so, there is a hole in the surface of the ovary and out falls this little egg into mid-air and there is nothing to catch this little egg. All that's there are the fingertips of the fallopian tubes in the middle of a woman's pelvis. Which could be a whole other universe, to what we are living in now. And those fingers in the fallopian tube coax that egg into it. And about a third of the way down that tunnel, and it takes 6 days altogether to get down the bottom. If the woman is fortunate, or unfortunate, whichever, however you see it, this other spirit comes, you know, in the form of a sperm. And, that sperm doesn't make it all the way down to implantation because it enters that egg and fertilizes it. So a whole other being is formed. And when you think about that creation story, whatever that sky world is, whatever universe is in there is unknown to us right now, but we do know that there is that hole, and her falling, and then being met by this other spirit. So, I see it like that. You know, I see us as the creation story over and over again. We are the creation story.
Louise McDonald - Our special guest. And this represents the fertility of our young women. Each young woman gets this when she comes into her flow, into her moon time. It's a moon basket. And we ask the girls to fill the content of her basket with herself. And, this is about her name, her clan, her people, her songs, her language, her favourite foods, her dances, and it's about... before she can become a mother, she has to know how to fill her basket with all about her. So that she discovers. I present this to her, on behalf of the women here and on behalf of our young women, that she takes the seeds that she's gained. The seeds of knowledge. Evelyne, that's your basket. Yeah.
Evelyne St-Onge - When you found out you were pregnant, how did you feel? Where you scared?
Laura Pinette - I'd never thought about pregnancy. They told me it would be hard. I already had problems with my cervix. Since I've been carrying life, I seem to be feeling better.
Evelyne St-Onge - Yes that's true, when a woman is pregnant, everything seems to be better.
Laura Pinette - Since I got pregnant I'm less sad than I used to be. I was okay before, but I always came back to my state of sadness. Since I've started carrying this child, everything is better. I'm happy to have life inside me.
Music - Kathia Rock

1 Comment

Billie Myes 12 years, 1 month ago

This is a wonderful site. It's beautiful.
Nia:wen, Billie

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