“Wonder begins in a womb of a woman.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita
The Moondance is a traditional Aztec ceremony for women that was banned by the Spanish conquistadores as they colonized the region of Mexico over 500 years ago. Like all sacred teachings in this tradition, the dance had to be hidden. In the early 1990’s, a group of Mexican Grandmothers decoded an old Mexica codex that spoke of the women dancing under the moon and praying with the tobacco. Utilizing the structure of the Lakota Sundance to recreate their own ceremony, the Abuela’s planted the dream of their first dance. They decided a participant must dance for nine consecutive years, initiating at different levels along the way, before being gifted the dance to take into their respective communities. The Moondance’s are growing and are being held annually now in Central, South, North America and Austria.
I had the privilege to partake in such an experience most recently as a first year dancer with the Chicuauhtlimetzli California Moondance at Mt. Shasta. As it was truly a sacred ceremony, I will leave the intricacies of the dance to the Great Mystery, but I would like to share one Medicine Talk from the Moondance as I have encountered these teachings in a few different lineages.
As Moondancers, we spiral, in a circular formation known as a Medicine Wheel, to the four directions. Within this circle is another sacred symbol, it is that of a woman’s womb. We dance in geometric formations that at times take us into the designated womb space where the singers & drummers are hard at work keeping the sacred rhythms, songs and chants for the Moondance. It is well known amongst Meso-American healers that the womb is the center of the entire female body, it is the sacred portal from which all life is created and from which all our power flows.
In studying with Dr. Rosita Arvigo, I have heard her repeat what her own teacher, Mayan Elder/H’men Don Elijio Panti was fond of saying, “The uterus is the core, if it is out of balance, a woman’s whole life is out of balance- physically, mentally, & spiritually.
And so we dance, sing and pray under the Full Moon light of Nana Metztli, to the four directions, but also to the absolute sanctity of the womb. During the day, we sleep a bit prior to attending an afternoon Medicine Talk where the entire group of women will learn more about topics relevant to women. At one specific presentation, we created a living Womb Altar. We were encouraged from our Moondance Abuela, Susana, upon retuning home, to set up our own Womb Altars. I was so moved by the power of the ritual that I have made it my first priority to create an altar and share this much needed Earth ritual.
Allow me to clarify, although the Mexica tradition has restored this ancient dance, the Elders have been clear; Moondance is for All Women, All Relations. These teachings are female teachings for, and on behalf of, all women, for our greatest awakening.
These altars are simple enactments of love that we can do for our family, homes and communities. Begin by choosing a prominent tree if your are so blessed to have a garden or yard. Beneath the tree, dig a hole that will lovingly be designed into the shape of a yoni by your own hands. In my garden, I have a magnificent, fruitless, mulberry tree that offers much shade, refuge and gentle presence. She is the Queen tree of my backyard, so it was easy to find a place to dig my ‘yoni’ hole. Lovingly decorate your yoni with flowers, herbs, crystals and/or goddess statues. (If you are in an apartment, get a large house plant).
I chose to bring a carved Sheela Na-Gig to my yoni altar, she is the Irish/British/French Patroness of this sacred portal. A wise crone peeling back her vulva, inviting you into her mysterious depths. No matter how the Catholic Church tried, they could not rid the ‘peasants’ of their need to come and rub the vulva of Sheela Na-Gig, for the ‘peasants’ (the people of the land) believed she offered them blessings, protection and good luck. The Church in all their trickery, and in a concerted effort to convert the peasants, placed the formidable Sheela Na-Gig over their church doors, where you can still find them to this day in the land of Ireland (and rub the vulva). People worshipping yoni’s is as old as the day is long.
So we create these living Womb Altars in our homes & gardens as a reminder and as a reflection of our own wombs. Once decorated, it is time to ritually feed the altar. The most potent ‘food’ you can offer is your own menstrual blood. If you are woman still cycling with the moon, collecting & offering this most vital substance, your sacred ITZ, is of utmost importance.
“Itz is the Maya word for all holy liquids & essences such as dew, semen, blood, holy water, nectar, candle-wax, pitch, sap, resin, sweat and tears. It is the vital life force or lightening in the blood. It is the cosmic sap of the World Tree. A Mayan shaman is an Itzam or ‘one who makes itz’ and these fluids were used by shamans to contact otherworlds.” –The Mayan Book of Life, by Michael Owen
In the Lakota Sundance, any menstruating woman must go to the Moon Lodge, far away from the male dancers as the indigenous tribes know full well that a menstruating woman is a force to be reckoned and their power can overtake the men, bringing failure to their dance. In the Moondance, menstruating women contribute their energy by dancing and collecting their blood, for ritual offering. It is a sacrilege to throw away one’s Itz.
It is important, prior to ritually feeding your womb altar, to begin with prayers through an offering from what my Native Elder calls the Ancient One: tobacco. Tobacco is the highest gift we can bring to a sacred space that we are attempting to consecrate. As previously mentioned, tobacco is sacred to the Moondance, which is directly related to the Womb Altar. All prayers, at a womb altar, begin with tobacco. The Ancient One is smoked in a Chanunpa to carry our prayers to the Great Creator, while reminding us to speak with truth on our lips.
Our lips, our mouths, our throats, our larynx and our necks are deeply connected to our vagina, our vulva, our cervix, and our uterus/our wombs. It is very intentional that the drummers & singers remain inside the womb of the Moondance arbor calling forth, through song, the ultimate healing of humanity.
For a moment, go back in time to ponder what messages you received as a girl child. Close your thighs, sit with crossed legs, be quiet, be a lady. Sanitize your vagina. Douche. Dispose properly of your menstural blood. When I got my period, my mother told me to bathe twice a day so I didn’t give off strong odors. No where in modern Western society was I celebrated or taught about the vital life force of my menstrual blood and the power of my womb. No one marveled at that the fact that my body was now able to be a carrier of life.
Moondance and other mystery schools deliver very different messages for women; dance, sing, pray, chant, open your mouth and use your voice so that you can open your legs and bring your yoni immense joy. Connect with your menstrual blood and your own womb to shake the shame of thousands of years of oppression. Take back your innate power. Remember! Your womb is your hallowed temple. Be in awe of who you are as a woman.
One Columbian woman at Moondance shared that in her country, the women healers gather together with their blood at locations were brutal crimes of rape or murder have been committed. They join as a collective to offer their blood back to Mother Earth to heal such atrocities. Our blood, when intentionally used, has the power to wash clean the nefarious sins of our fellow men.
WOMB ALTARS are needed on the Earth, beneath our feet, to keep us in alignment and in constant relationship with our own bodies. “That which is above is like to that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above” (Hermetic Text).
There was a time long ago when every young girl was trained in such matters.
As I ritually carry my menstrual blood to my womb altar, it means I have come into good relationship with collecting this powerful Itz. As I gather other types of Itz, such as holy spring waters, honey, beeswax, and/or copal, I acknowledge the yoni deserves to be fed sacred foods that revitalize her being. It reminds me that, I too deserve to be deeply fed in the center of my being: my womb. Just as I remain in blessed union with my womb altar, she teaches me that sacred union & pleasure is my divine birthright.
Continuing this ritual as a living practice, my womb altar provides me with protection, guidance, connection, strength, empowerment, intuitive knowing, and life force. She enables me to take back any feminine power lost throughout the ages. My blood feeds the Earth and the Earth feeds me.
At this time of deep uncertainty & transition on the Planet, I encourage ALL women to create a womb altar in whatever form you can and offer your blood (or other forms of Itz).
Now, more than ever, our vital life force, our precious energy, from the origin, the source, and the abode is needed!
“Blood mysteries reveal that menstrual (moontime) blood and birth blood are so holy, so full of potential, so full of the void, that they are to be used only to heal, to heal by nourishing. Holy woman-blood is nourishing blood, blood of love, blood of abundance, blood that heals the earth.” -Susan Weed, Herbalist
Wado. Aho. Omeoteotl.
Denai Grace Seacombe-Fuller, Cihuatochtli, is a Mama of five, Tarot Guide, Acolyte of IxChel, spiritual healer, flower essence practitioner, flower alchemist and student of Nahualism. She can be found at