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Traveling to Mexica Moon Dance Journal, Entry #3 - October 11, 2012

Updated on May 23, 2014
Ayoyote Seed Pod
Ayoyote Seed Pod | Source
Danzante Ankle Wrap
Danzante Ankle Wrap | Source

Native Rattles And Shakers

As I pack for this moon dance journey, I go through my dance regalia, checking for need of cleaning and mending. Looking over each garment and accessories, memories of past Mexica Moon Dances come floating up in my mind. There are two accessories today, that I will tend to and will share here in this journal, the essential necessity of these things to the Moon Dance, la Danza de Luna.

In a colorful Peruvian bag, I keep all my regalia, waiting for this once a year sacred women's ceremony. One of my favorite pieces to pull out is the Danzante ankle wraps or shaker warps. Some of you may be familiar with the South Eastern Native American Indian Stomp Dance. The women in the Stomp Dance wear wraps around their ankles that have either turtle shells, gourds or tin cans attached as rattles or shakers. As they move to the singing of the Stomp Dance, they keep beat with the shakers on their legs.

In la Danza de Luna, our ankle wraps are made of leather and buckled around the ankle, like those of the Stomp Dance, however, we have 104 dried seed pods from the Ayoyote tree. Fifty two pods, on each leg, clapping together and the trapped nuts jumping in the pods, making a beautiful sound of rain. Much like the soothing sound of rain sticks! When we dance around the circle to the singers and prayer songs, we move to the beat and create wonderful shaker noise to accompany the drum and the Dance.

The seed pod of the Ayoyote tree or shrub is unique in that when it is picked before opening and dried, it resembles a Chinese fortune cookie, which lends to one of the seed pods common names, the Lucky Nut. Other common names are Yellow Oleander, Be-Still Tree and in the olden days, it was known as Codo de Fraile - Friar's Elbow or Monk's Sleeve. This tree like shrub has been found growing all over the world!

For you "do it your-selfers", realize this plant belongs to the Cascabela thevetia species, also known as box bell or jungle bell. This plant also belongs to the Dogbane family, so be aware of is high toxicity when handling as a live plant! It is amazing to realize that this beauty can kill with just a small amount of its milk and yet can jump beat a stopped heart! I find God's creations awesome!

Native American Indian Rattle or Shaker
Native American Indian Rattle or Shaker | Source

Continuing To Rattle And Roll!

Our Danzante ankle wraps are not the only rhythm keeping tool we use as we pray and dance. We have rattle or shakers in our hands! I have taken different rattles each year and found some are cumbersome to dance with all night. I managed to take another rattle and set out to adorn it with the appropriate fetishes for the occasion.

The rattles or shakers from across all of the Americas, are generally made from gourds. From region to region you may find differences in material, like turtle shells, animal bladders or even rain sticks, which are a certain dried cactus plant. This significance of the rattle is that it represents the animal kingdom, mineral kingdom and plant kingdom. Take a quick look at my picture of the rattle that will travel to ceremony. The gourd itself and its seeds inside are the plant kingdom, the leather and sinew used to bind the pieces together are the animal kingdom and finally the stone beads and any sand or pebbles used to aid the "rattle" sounds are the mineral kingdom.

As humans, we are dependent on these three kingdoms in order for us to survive. If these kingdoms did not exist, neither would we! We honor them by bringing the spirits of such into our prayer circle. We shake the rattle when we are dancing, praying and when we are joyous!

Well time to pack these things securely away for the road! Don't want to leave these essentials behind. I still have lots of things to gather and time is quickly approaching. There are ten days left, then soon the journey will be at the heart of the matter...the Moon Dance, la Danza de Luna! Be sure to catch the next will be about giveaways and honoring of others.


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