Consecrating the Womb Altar

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).

Sheela Na-Gig

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.

Sacred Song of Moondance

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

Under the Mulberry Tree

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



IxChel!  I first heard about this goddess in 1994 when the book Sastun, by Dr. Rosita Arvigo, floated into my life.  I read the book in one sitting, in one night.  Being of Belizean heritage, this story of an American woman who lived in the jungles of Belize, studying herbs with one of the last known Mayan shaman healers of the region, had me absolutely intrigued and awakened.  Within six weeks of reading this true account of Dr. Rosita and Don Elijio Panti’s life, I was packed and moving to Belize.  Little did I know, at the time, the Goddess had beckoned.

I had a wild idea… and the Fool/Maiden (Tarot Card 0) set that journey in motion.  I found myself in a canoe on the Macal River in Belize, with a Mayan man, being rowed six miles upriver to Ixchel Farm, home and workplace of Dr. Rosita Arvigo.  Although I had the moxy to get myself to her doorstep, I didn’t quite have the self esteem to pronounce that I wanted to be her next apprentice.  Whatever did stumble out of my mouth, I’ll never quite forget her reply.  She told me I was unseasoned for work in the jungle, that I was a young girl who needed some life experience.  She told me to go have a baby.

Well, since she was my absolute heroine for the moment.  I took her advice seriously, and quite literally.  Without a husband, man or prospect of any mate, I decided it was time to have a child.  Quite honestly, a strong biological urge had been nagging me to do just this.  So without further ado, the next man who showed interest was my prey.  Hence, began my journey into motherhood.  I was living on a three mile island, Caye Caulker, Belize and had been forbidden by the local health officials to deliver my first child at home, seeing as how there was no doctor, not to mention a hospital, on the island.  I do believe this is where my true relationship with Ixchel, a fellow Caribbean islander, Goddess of fertility, childbirth, healing & herbs, rainbow, the moon and all female issues, began in earnest.

I called Dr. Rosita to ask for her advice in locating a midwife.  I was determined to stay at home, like my Belizean grandmother before me, who had all twelve kids in the family home. Dr. Rosita referred me to one of her main herbal teachers and ally’s in Belize; the lovely, kind Hortence Robinson, who could neither read or write, but had delivered over 2000 babies in her career as a midwife.  Needless to say, all went very well and my first son Angel entered the world, not quite as we all planned, but safe and sound, on a wooden terrace in the tropics, with his Papa, my black cat Eclipse and the seagrape tree as witnesses.  Hortence arrived shortly post delivery, but just in time to facilitate my after-care, which is where I began to experience firsthand Belize’s deep & rich history with massage, abdominal care, vaginal steams and herbs; all treatments over which Ixchel definitely presides.


True to my lot in life, ever keen to take on more than I can manage, I went on to have five lovely children as the Empress (Tarot Card 3) walked hand in hand with me for many years.  Each and every child was delivered at home, three, in the conscientious care of indigenous midwives, and two, mysteriously, of my own accord.  Again, this is where Ixchel guided and led me through these deep rites of passage & initiations to womanhood.  I’m gonna be honest, nothing is going to make you feel stronger than delivering your own babies.  (please note:  I’m not recommending anyone to run out and do anything quite so steeped in the unknown).

Living in Meso-America will keep you right in the arms of Ixchel and once you have called upon her, be prepared to meet her in all her aspects.  She can be depicted as a beautiful Maiden holding onto her rabbit, bringing fertility, abundance and all the hope of youth.  She can be depicted as the caring Mother weaving the dreams of her life and the universe, working with the healing herbs, and offering her good medicine.  She can also be depicted as the Crone, the cosmic midwife and the destroyer, accompanied by the transformational snake on her head, wearing crossbones on her skirt and pouring out a water jug onto the Earth that may bring floods and rainstorms of destruction.

13490995 - ix chel mayan - aztec goddess of moon and fertility

I came to know her in every aspect she choose to appear.  As the Maiden she gifted me with endless fertility.  As the Mother, she offered me multiple webs to weave in which to care for my family.  As the Crone, she came to teach me about death, decay and tragic loss.

Shockingly, my fourth child and only daughter died (Tarot Card 13) on the island, at age two, of dysenterry.  My tropical dream was no longer so magical.  The path I walked, no-one coveted.  Ergo, Ix-Chel could not remain my most venerated Deity.  She was a force with whom to be reckoned.  I had to blame someone.  I blamed God/dess.  I was a grief-stricken mother whose spiritual path had failed her, a woman with no religion, a born-again atheist.

I relocated back to the USA to a small town, Ashland, Oregon (Tarot Card 16, the Tower).  I was driving one day with my friend, shortly after arriving, a huge double rainbow extended itself from one side of our 4 mile by 4 mile town, to the other.  It was so magnificent, we stopped the car to admire the width and breath and beauty of these rainbows (the picture below does not do the rainbow proper justice).  Although my friend could not possibly know the context of this appearance, I knew this was IxChel, The Lady Rainbow herself, communicating that she was indeed with me, that she had actually never forsaken me, and that I was to carry her with me to this new land.  The Goddess diaspora is real.  Atheism is terribly lonely.


I surrendered to the spiritual journey once again and began my small practice of spiritual healing with a few humble offerings, but with IxChel always at my side as my patron guide & goddess.  It took six years in Ashland to come alive and heed her call to return to Belize to work with Dr. Rosita Arvigo in earnest.  Thus, I arrived at IxChel Farm, 24 years after my initial pilgrimage, this time by road & vehicle, carrying 24 pounds of rose quartz for my daughters grave, and enrolled as a student to participate in a Mayan spiritual healing course being offered to learn the art of spiritual bathing.  A dream realized.  Some things take time.

I needed each and every one of the multiple herbal flower baths we took through these trainings.  Layers upon layers of memories and grief were released into the land of Belize at IxChel Farm.

I came to realize that due to Dr. Rosita’s life path and story, she had brought me numerous gifts: she lured me back to my homeland where I could establish real roots in sweet Belize, she gifted me the omnipotent IxChel, she encouraged me to get on with my life as a mother, she guides me in healing with the plants and herbs of Belize, but most importantly, she opened the door for me to find my true life calling and purpose (Tarot Card 21, the World).


As I approach menopause and the crone phase of life, I am busy researching a trip to Isla de Mujeres, the Island of Women, in Mexico which was IxChel’s original home.  I am spiritually preparing for this epic ceremonial pilgrimage to Her power place.  Historically women travelled to island three times in their life, to consecrate their menstruation, to pray for fertility & safe passage with childbirth and to bring offerings at menopause.  I am gathering up my gifts:  jade, clay statues, cocoa beans, turquoise, and hand woven objects; and planning, as well as anyone can plan for such a journey.  Lady Rainbow has looked after me and it is soon time to pay homage to this mysterious Goddess of the Moon (Tarot Card, 18).

This true tale, obviously, is to be continued…

In the Temple of Ixchel

I have come with my sisters before
where aqua waters arc their constant caress
around the southern point of the island.
Now when the ruins are nearly disappeared,
I walk this path that curves above the cliffs,
but once before,
I prayed and sang in procession.
Once before we laughed to be so safe
in the Temple of Ix Chelab Yax.
Faint music from the past—

flute and voice, gull,
something sweetly strung—
all for Her, the Fecund Mother.
Here I greet my gone-before,
who nods in glad surprise
to me, her elder descendant.
I walk the sea wall singing
for Daughter IxChel, for Mama Tonantzin.
The rocks remain, and the rolling sea,

where I return to honor Her.
Ask, Ixchel demands. And so, again, I do.
Goddess of Conception, change my view
and let me trust in Love.
Goddess of Birth,
in the time of the fifth sun, may I give light,
and may I learn to receive it.
Goddess of all Nurture,
grant that I and the world be done with blaming.
May I with the earth, rise as your daughter,
free and whole in love.

©Susa Silvermarie 2013


Denai Grace 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 @