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Traveling To The Mexica Moon Dance Journal, Entry #9 - November 8, 2012

Updated on May 23, 2014
Fire Moon!
Fire Moon! | Source

First Year Moon Dancers Receive Their Fire!

First night of Moon Dance, Danza la Luna, was lit not only by the bright moon and the sacred fire, but also by the copalitas (smudge women), who carry the fire in their popoxcomitl. This is an earthen wear chalice that holds coals so to melt the copal resin for smudging. It is used in the same manor as the Northern Native American Indians would use an abalone shell for burning sage and other sacred herbs in cleansing and prayer. The copalitas have the heavy job of keeping the place smudged and sacred. One sits at each door of the sacred dance circle, protecting those entrances. Others work each line and smudge the way for the drum and our dancers. All dancers own a popoxcomitl and are responsible in learning to work that fire. On this first night of the Danza, the first year dancers receive their first fire and carry their popoxcomitl into the circle. In this Traveling To The Mexica Moon Dance Journal, I will share the beauty of the fire and how it carries us all into the circle.

I once heard a fire keeper put it quite simple. He said that everything starts with fire. Fire is one of the four sacred elements that is honored throughout the cultures of the world. The combustion of this intense energy can both destroy and create, lending to it's sacredness as one of the four elements of the universe. In the early dawning of man, it was fire that propelled the human race forward into development, creating the complexity of life we know today. In our dance circle, fire is the essential element that gives us cleansing, a tool of consuming bad energies and the strength to guide us in the darkness of the unknown.

As us dancers line up into 11 lines with over 40 women deep to each line, we are well aware of the fire within each one of us. Our procession from the sacred fire to the dance circle begins with the drum. This is the heartbeat of the Dance and leads us into the sacred place of prayer. The singers follow the drum as their voices spill out into the night air. Though the element of fire is dominant in this ceremony belonging to the night, the other elements, Earth, Wind and Water are represented and follow in procession after the singers along with the concha blowers.

The approach to the circle is very unique in that we first move on the outside of the dance area in a clockwise fashion, first moving to the east door and continue around the outside circle and finally enter at the east gate. At this point we begin to move into the circle in a counter clockwise movement. At each door, east, south, west and north, the concha blowers and the caplitas along with the elements, stop to honor the directions, both on the outside of the circle as well as the inside. It takes a good half hour or more for 450 women to finally enter the circle with our sacred pipes, rattles, fans and fire.

We danced in our circles for 3 to 4 hours. We were a vision of whiteness, moving, floating and calling out our prayers as we danced. Our prayers were not just spoken and sung but expressed through our bodies in motion. Though we have rest time, it is also prayer time. Prayers never stop! We picked up our sacred pipes and with the element of fire, we lit them and our prayers were released through the smokey night air. Again the element of fire plays an important role with the pipe in transforming our prayers so they can travel into the cosmos.

As we took our break from dancing, we never left the circle. Medicinal tea was passed out to us with the aid of the supporters. It was hot tea with a wonderful taste of anise, filling our bodies up with the necessary needs to complete the rest of the night of dancing. Soon we were back on our feet and filling the sacred circle with our spiritual movements that continue to burn in our hearts. We sang to the earth, we sang to the moon, we sang to the Creator until the first light of dawn came.

When the sun first began to spread it's rays upon the east horizon, we began our procession from out of the circle and back to the sacred fire. In this holy exit of the dance, the drum is the last to leave and us dancers wait for her arrival at the fire. We cheer as the last drum beat vibrates and comes to rest. We have completed our first night of the Danza la Luna, the moon dance. After Grandmother give us her closing statement, we can not simply go to sleep, because we have yet to finish with a sweat!

Our sweat lodges have over 35 women participating in each. Sometimes these lodges are long and hard and hot! But we gather there to pour out our souls to the Creator. For many of these women, these lodges are the only time in which they can be cleansed in this manner. Often it is 3 hours later, before we can finally lay our heads down and rest before the afternoon teachings begin. We thankfully close our eyes, while keeping the embers in our hearts lit and rest for a bit, knowing one night of dance is done and three more to go.

The second night of Danza will soon come with the setting of the sun. Follow this experience in the next entry to Traveling To Mexica Moon Dance Journal.


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