Native Americans Traditions show Respect for Women

Many of us males have not been raised to be conscious men. Understanding masculinity  may help us become more aware—more conscious.

The Power of Story to help us Grow…

I spent a many years living in Oregon, USA, where I was exposed to Native American traditions. I often attended sweat lodge ceremonies. We ‘suffered’ the discomfort together in the stifling heat and darkness so our intention and resolve would be pure and strong. We put our ‘prayers’ into the ‘peace pipe’ that was handed around. We prayed for friends, to end war, for the animals, the wild places and the healing of the planet.

I was told it did not matter what religion I was. We could all sweat together, Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic or atheist—we all had the same colour blood—I liked that!

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I liked that the lodge was ‘womb like’ and thus honoured women as the ‘portal’ for life as we know it. I began to view women with a new-found respect. Each lodge was an opportunity to be born again, to build character, to ‘lift our game’ and walk the ‘good walk.’ In Lakota tradition, it was only men who ‘sweated.’ This enabled them to ‘cleanse’ their spirit from the killing their role demanded, as hunters and warriors.

I was told the women had their own special ‘moon’ lodge where they would go each month when their menstrual cycles began. Here they would spend 4-5 days while the men tended to their food and firewood. I liked this idea.

The woman’s menstrual cycle of life was thus openly honoured, and they felt it was significant that it coincided with the 28-day moon cycle. In fact, most indigenous cultures followed a moon calendar of 13 months and a ‘spare’ day. In modern times women have been admitted to the lodge, the logic being that modern woman’s roles demanded purification as well as the men.

I attended one lodge with my pregnant ‘step-niece.’ She was generously welcomed and acknowledged as ‘the woman who beats with two hearts.’ Prayers were put up for her child and from that point on everyone in the lodge was connected to her pregnancy and set the intention to be mentors for the child as it grew.

Woman – Bringer of Life

Their expression of respect for women as the bearers of life was in direct contrast to the degrading of women in our own western culture—women as mere sexual objects. Life was precious to tribal cultures. A new baby would ultimately help the tribe survive so it made sense to be honour that which supported life.

I will always be grateful to the lodges, the lodge-keepers and the unique perspectives they gave to a westerner like me. The Lakota model saw respect for ‘mother earth’ and for women as the same thing. Both gave and sustained new life. These concepts continue to empower my masculinity work.

The power of story to help us build character, morals and ethics has been the primary vehicle for tribal and village cohesion and remains powerful in modern societies today.