Article by Mary Elizabeth Thunder
"THE CORD CEREMONY
Making Relations with the Earth
Mary Elizabeth Thunder
When I was on the road with Grandpa Wallace Black Elk and Grandmother Grace Spotted Eagle, both were full blood Lakota's. I saw that many women wished to have Women Ceremonies.
One day I asked Grandma Grace about Woman's Ceremonies and I got a blast of energy from her, with her saying, "There are no Woman ceremonies or songs." She said, "Women are the Ceremony and men have to recreate creation by doing the ceremony."
Somehow this didn't answer my question and also the question of why did not women get together and do ceremony? My heart still wondered why there were no Women Ceremonies? At that moment, I felt totally filled with grief over this fact.
Then one day, driving to South Dakota, Grandma said that we were going to go talk to some old women who knew about women ceremonies. I was thrilled. It was a process that lasted for several years, but we began to piece together some of the oldest ceremonies on the planet.
I still remember with much fondness my times with Grace, sitting at her small table in her little kitchen in Colorado, with us writing down many women ceremonies. It has allowed me to share these ceremonies for the women, babies, males, now at our the Woman Dance.
The Baby Cord Ceremony, I was told, was the oldest. It was believed that we came from the stars, birthing thru the Milky Way, to this earth. The cord represented the connection not only between mother and child, but also to the stars.
It was so important to have a ceremony for the baby, keeping his/her Umbilical Cord, in a beaded bag to keep for the life of the child.
Also ceremony is done with the Placenta, by planting it under a plant, flower, and I like to chose Rose Bushes, to return them back to the source. Planting the placenta, with honor and awareness, was returning back to the source the memory of our time in the Universal Star Matrix.
The old ones said that our birth is our first Ceremony on this Planet. In the old days, it was witnessed, celebrated, and the cord ceremony was a way to make sacred this connection to our Mother Earth and our origins from the Stars.
A sewn leather pouch was prepared with a beaded totem on it like the Turtle, Butterfly, or Salamander. This pouch served as a Cekpi Ognaka (Navel Pouch) for a newborn infant. It would then be filled with the Umbilical Cord and/or pieces of the navel after the birth of the child. This would signify prayers of good things like good health, fortune, prosperity and a long life for the child. This pouch would then be given to the mother/grandmother to keep.
The ceremony that was done was of putting the cord into the bag. Each elder showed me a different way, but all used the form of winding the Umbilical Cord into a circle or spiral. The circle represents the family, which is centered by the circle for Unity and the circular Tipi is the Unity of the home. The lines of both are continuous and unbroken.
Since then I have found out that many other cultures also embraced this ceremony. Some called it an Umbilical Cord Birth Amulet. For instance, in Indonesia, the amulet was made when a child is born and into it was put a small piece of the dried umbilical cord. It then was sealed inside a silver amulet and placed around the Childs neck, which was worn throughout their life. It was believed that it bestowed power and protection to its wearer from any dangers.
Grandmother Grace instructed me to start making these cord bags for my grandchildren. Today I hold the bags for the time when they go thru their rites of passage. It is fun to take out my medicine box that contains the bags and let each grandchild hold his or her own. Usually held by the Grandmother - in 2006 my granddaughter, Heather (Named by Grace Wamblee Gleska) graduated from high school and she was my first grandchild for me to give back to her the bag for her to keep now. It was a precious moment for us both.
It was felt by the old ones that part of the reason children do not know who they are and where they came from, was that the "Important Parts" of who they are and where they came from were just thrown away in some hospital garbage can. They did not feel in touch with that initial part of creation for it was discarded. It was felt that the keeping of the "cord of connection" was very important for our children&to keep their connection to the mother earth and father sky, stars, planets, and galaxies.
I remember a time when I was helping with a birth of a child in a Hogan in Hopi Land. The placenta was taken and laid out in front of me. "Look at it," that old grandma said. "That placenta looks like the tree of life. It has to be cared for and planted with ceremony so the child will always remember they are born to the tree of life on this planet, not the tree of wisdom or greed." I was just awe struck at how beautiful it was and how the veins and such, did create a beautiful tree-the tree of life.
I started sharing the ceremony as Grandma Grace said, especially in the Woman Dance. Picture 50 to 100 women standing in the Dance Circle. Then the families would be brought to the center of the circle, Mother and Father and other family members. I would take each family group, to the Tree of Life in the center of our Woman Dance Arbor, to pray. All around the Tree of Life, there would be blankets set up for each family group. My helpers would join me, and we would all go to a family blanket and do the ceremony for the baby by making the cord.
All of us would do the ceremony in unison, together in a long line of families. As we were doing the basics of the ceremony, I would ask that the Women Dancers to speak out loud, telling the family their reasons for the prayers for the baby's and their bags, their thoughts, tips, or just blessings for the baby and the parents on parenting.
After the bags were ceremonially made, then each helper would out loud, announce each child to the Universe and the world, dedicating blessings on the child to the Great Mystery, which sees everything. Each helper would ask the Great Mystery to help the children as they grow.
After that, the families would go around the complete circle of women dancers and each dancer would bless the baby and family. The fathers and mothers would present the plant or bush and go to the area designated for planting and plant the placenta.
I would talk usually to all about the fact that maybe we did not have this ceremony done when we were born, but I was told by the old ones that everyone watching this ceremony would be blessed with a release and acceptance of their own DNA of their bodies, for this ceremony was for all.
This ceremony can be for all of us; this is the prayer that I am making now. The families would then leave the circle and wait until after the dance was complete, and all would feast together. There usually was not a dry eye in sight as the ceremony took place.
This precious ceremony has been ongoing for many years now. Then, around the middle of the 1990s, suddenly mothers started having problems being able to retain the Umbilical cord and the placenta. We had to go thru many legal papers to have this simple request honored. Most of the mothers were told that they had to pay a large sum of money and they could have the cord frozen so that when the child got up in their years, they could make a medicine from that DNA and perhaps cure many diseases for them. Wow.
I went to many doctors and they told me that this was true. I asked if the same medicine could be made from dried DNA Blood. I was told yes. I was reminded that DNA was being studied taken from thousands of years old Mummies from Egypt. Only then did I realize the total amazing piece about this bag. The old ones were very smart for they were holding the DNA of the child, which either a remedy or a vibration healing could happen with the bags.
I did have another thought that was confirmed by many doctors, if the family could not keep paying the fee to keep the cords, then what would happen to the DNA? How about Cloning with or without your approval? Wow.
As I begin to travel overseas, doing the Woman Dance, I found out that in Switzerland, the medicinal practitioners there were actually making a remedy for the babies from the DNA of the cords. They made medicines for the newborn, and every year of the child life. A homeopathic remedy that would help the child live a life of protection and health was made from its own DNA.
It was felt that blood from the cord actually contained serums of healing from all kinds of diseases that may happen to the child, as they grew older. This all felt so good. Recently I met a fellow whose leg would not heal, so they took some of his blood, separated it some way, and replaced it on his leg. The leg is healing amazingly fast after it being completely unhealed for over 4 years. Again Wow.
I share here some of how the ceremony is done:
In our way, we retain any and all parts of the birth process like DNA Blood on the sheets and towels, the placenta (Tree of Life) and the cord. Anything that is part of the physical body of the baby or mother during that birth ceremony SHOULD NOT BE DISCARDED.
1. SHEETS, TOWELS, CLOTHES, or other pieces that have been used and stained during the birthing ceremony are usually Burnt or buried, sending those items back to the Spirit with Prayers and praises of gratefulness.
2. PLACENTA. This Tree of Life that feeds and nurtures the baby is usually buried. Usually I have bought a rose bush or a new tree to bury this placenta under. That which has wrapped and nurtured the baby and provided the life support system will now create a new life. The life of a growing Tree. In the old days many mothers at this miracle of birthing ceremony ate a part of the placenta, either raw or cooked. I like burying it myself.
3. I usually prepare two bags. One is for the spiral of the baby's cord (to be put away for the child, until the child goes thru Rites of Passage. Usually protected by parents or grandparents.) The other, smaller bag is made with a small piece of the cord. This bag is hung over the child's crib and is kept with them until they become of age and will receive the whole cord. Many times the child and parents may wish to burn the smaller bag as a sign that the child has become a man or a woman. The larger bag, after it is given to the child at puberty, should be kept with them until the time they complete their earth walk.
4. FILLING THE BAG WITH THE CORD. A bag has been prepared, taken to Ceremony and now is made ready for the cord to be placed in.
Prepare your area. Gather some dirt from the place where the child has been born. (Usually I just work right on the earth but I lay down first some Kind of slick plastic wrap if I am preparing a bag in the house). Make a little nest of the dirt...large enough for you to work with the cord.
Then create a spiral with the cord by winding it in the spiral pattern...according to the size of the bag. Larger bag...larger spiral of cord...smaller bag...smaller circle of spiral.
Then cover the cord with offerings of the 4 sacreds, cedar, sage, sweet grass and pure tobacco.
Gently turn the cord spiral over and cover the other side with the 4 sacreds.
When the spiral is perfectly shaped & completely covered with the dirt and sacreds...prepare to place it into the bag.
Hold the spiral in your hand to keep it in place and make prayer. Some call this part, the alchemy to infuse the prayer. Pray for good things for your child.
If you are doing this with a sacred Cannunpa filled, then light the Cannunpa and blow the sacred smoke onto the spiral.
Ask the parents if they wish to add some kind of DNA to their babies bag. Part of the Mother, Father, Grandparents if they are there, that can be used are...Saliva; or prick your fingers and put your blood there; or hair; or a nail clipping, etc....that is what is meant by parts of your self. All the above mention parts of the human body can be used contain the DNA Code. Most parents put all of the above into their babies bag.
The last thing I do as I am sliding the spiral of the cord, into the bag, I blow the breathe of life and breath of spirit, into the bag. Then ask each of the family to follow suite. Make sure the spiral goes into the bag as perfectly as possible. Then get a needle and sew it up. Closing it forever. This bag should be given to grandmother/mother to keep in their medicine bags, out of sight as protection for the child.
Now the Ceremony is completed with songs and words of gratefulness."