Moon-time Teachings & The Celebration of Womanhood

As Canada works towards reconciliation, we at Lil Helper want to continue to learn and improve, and raise Indigenous voices. For more information on what Lil Helper is doing during this time, click here.

On Flo Friday, we at Lil Helper like to talk about all things menstrual health. For this week, we would like to thank author Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw (Emily Jane Henry) of Ochapowace Cree First Nation for sharing these beautiful writings with us.


The Celebration of Womanhood

The Elder was asked to share teachings about the traditional views womanhood, specifically about ‘Moon-time’. She began her talk by thanking the people of the land and those who invited her. Next, she said a prayer mixed in both English and her traditional language. She finished by thanking everyone who came to hear her speak. She began, ‘speaking about womanhood and Moon-time is an important topic. It is important for both men and women to learn about our traditional teachings on women and I am grateful to see both, present in the audience today. For some, this topic will be new information; for others, it will be a review. In any case, my hope is to inspire you to get curious. My hope is that, after listening to what I have to share, you want to learn more about your nation’s specific teachings on womanhood. What you will discover is that your ancestral teachings on the celebration of women are simply beautiful. In the meantime, I humbly share just a few teachings with you and thank you for having an open heart and mind as I do.

Our ancestral ceremonies included pre-teen girls going through rites of passage; where they were given teachings on womanhood. For example, there would be a great celebration in the community when a girl was nearing her Moon-time or menses, or what some might call, ‘having a period’. The reason it is called Moon-time is that a woman’s body is connected to Grandmother Moon. As much as the moon is connected to Mother Earth’s ocean tides, it is also connected to a monthly cycle of a woman. There are teachings about the 13 Sacred Moons, and they are simply beautiful; I absolutely encourage you to learn about this teaching. For now, the important thing to understand is this is why we call it Moon-time. During life-giving years, Moon-time marks a miraculous monthly process occurs and this time is held in the highest regard. For us, Moon-time is a time of ceremony; and as such, there is absolutely no shame associated it. Sadly, views have changed so much that I’ve heard Moon-time being called ‘curse’ or other such derogatory slang words. It saddens me because nothing can be further from the truth. I believe truths are exposed as more information is obtained. For example, I heard that some people have been told that women do not take part in ceremonies when on their Moon-time, but only brief explanations are given. As a result, people fill in missing information with interpretations of the worldviews around them. Sadly, over time many have been taught that when a woman has her ‘period’, she unclean; thus, shame and secrecy have also become associated with this time of the month. I have been told that this is the assumption as to why a woman steps back during ceremonies. This is simply not the case. Our ancestral teachings tell us that Creator blessed women or ‘Lifegivers,’ with the sacred ability to give life. It is through a woman life-giving abilities that humankind prospers. For it is true, without women's ability to carry a child within her, no person on earth would exist today. Part of being a Lifegiver is undergoing a monthly personal ceremony, which we call Moon-time.

Moon-time is when a women’s body demonstrates its sacred ability to nurture life. This process includes the woman’s uterus walls thickening so it can prepare to carry a baby. However, as we know, a woman doesn’t become pregnant every month so her body found ways to naturally purifies itself. This means that on a monthly basis, a woman has a natural and spiritual purification ceremony. The lining that prepared for a baby becomes releases through blood, at the same time, the body mimics the process of giving birth; thus pain occurs. The body undergoes physical changes, essentially rebuilding its self. Additionally, for a short time, hormones that were preparing for the nurturing of a baby also become imbalanced. In a way, a woman’s hormones send her messages associated with feelings of loss. Though the woman may not be aware of it, in a sense, a woman is physically and emotionally connecting with the fact that she must ‘try again’ next month. The strength and endurance a woman goes monthly, really tells us how truly powerful women are. Women possess the natural ability to rebalance their entire being through a powerful internal purification ceremony. In other words, a woman can internally cleanse away emotions and thoughts that detract her from walking in balance, because she possesses the sacred ability to realign her energies. When you really think about it, what a women’s body goes through during her Moon-time is a profound and utter demonstration of the love of humankind because she is truly honouring her life-giving qualities. A man does not have the ability of internal cleaning because he does not possess the ability to carry a child within him. Therefore, in ceremonies when men are present, a woman demonstrates great compassion for men by stepping back. A woman also steps back in high regard and great respect for her time of personal power. She is undergoing a powerfully spiritual external personal purification ceremony. She is so powerful during this time of the month that the medicines are naturally drawn to her. For it is true, Mother Earth is also a Lifegiver; and the connection between her and women is so powerful that they are naturally drawn to one another. For Mother Earth understands a natural cleansing period as well; she demonstrates through the change of seasons. As the sacred medicines are naturally drawn to the woman, the purification properties are not as strong as a man might need to be able to purify their energies. As I said, a woman’s compassion for men is so great that they step back from participating in a ceremony during their Moon-time.

Still, this not to say that a woman does not participate in ceremonies during her Moon-time; no, quite the opposite is actually is true. In traditional times, during a woman’s Moon-time, the respect for women was so great that there was no other burden was placed upon her at that time. During monthly moon-lodges, women were encouraged to nurture themselves holistically. Women ceremonies honoured the cleansing time of the body, and also assisted to balance hormones. For example, our Ancestors knew that during Moon-time, the mind (brain) becomes influenced by a sense of ‘loss’. As a result, both serotonin (‘feel-good’ chemical in a person’s brain) and sugar (insulin) levels were being impacted. Our Ancestors knew the power of intermitting fasting for rebalancing thoughts and emotions. They also knew that breaking fasts with fruit naturally restore a body’s sugar levels; thus, today, we see sweet berries associated with women ceremonies. We also break our fast with buffalo broth because of the deficiency of certain alkaline levels in our bodies. Our Ancestors were naturally gifted with knowledge of the body’s chemistry, and a person’s emotional and mental states. Thus, daily lifestyles were based on holistic principles and spirituality was a simply a way of life. Therefore, we lived a balanced lifestyle where we were nurtured physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Today, we can learn more these holistic life views through the Medicine Wheel teachings. I encourage you to learn more about that the teaching of the Medicine Wheel; they have the potential to profoundly impact your life. For now, my hope was to provide you with enough teachings to make you curious about learning more about Moon-time ceremonies. Most of all I hope that I encourage you to learn about the traditional views of women. We must return to our traditional views in order that our culture endures. Our teachings were oral; and to a large extent, still are; however, if there is one thing about our people is that we are resilient because we adapt. We are sharing information with today’s technology and I am so happy for that. Still, there is nothing like learning traditional teachings from your nation’s healthy Elders – most especially the ones that follow our traditional ways. The Elder’s are waiting for you; they know it is time to hand the torch over to the next generation. They want to teach you about ceremonies, and they want to tell you about our ancestral teachings. They want our culture to thrive. I encourage you to go and learn. In the meantime, I thank you for your kind attention.

Kākithaw niwākomākanak (All My Relations),
(author) Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw (Emily Jane Henry)
Original Home Territory: Ochapowace Cree First Nation

Featured is the beautiful artwork of Loretta Gould. To see more of her work visit her page at: https://www.facebook.com/mikmaq.artist.loretta.gould/?ref=br_rs

Upcycle Twine: How to Repurpose Cloth Diaper Inserts & Worn Clothes (Part 2)

Revisiting Part 1: Making Your Upcycle Twine

Welcome to part two, revisiting our DIY project on where we upcycle old fabric scraps (even diaper inserts!) into twine. If you missed part one, you can find it here. To recap, in the dilemma of spring cleaning and upgrading old inserts to Lil Helper’s newest Tank insert, an abundance of unusable fabric is a common problem! Part one of the blog walked through how to go from inserts, to twine. Now, lets walk through what you can do with your repurposed fabric twine.

Crafted Out?

Sometimes, we set out with boldness on a crafting track that we are confident will bring about the most wonderful of results, and half way through we have lost all crafting inertia. Fear not! If creating this twine has used your entire craft energy for the month (or many years), you can still find use for it without a single additional DIY session.

Upcycle Twine as Wrapping Gifts / Bags

You can keep this fabric twine alongside your wrapping paper and gift cards, giving your gifts a unique ribbon tie. This ups your eco-friendly game by replacing plastic ribbons that are used once and thrown away, with a twine that is already giving fibers a second life.

Photo, Art, or Card Display

Grab some clothes pins and command hooks, and drape your strand of twine down the hallway to display photos, card, or kids artwork.

Craft Bucket

Perhaps, despite your best efforts of twisting and wrapping, your twine is not up to par and your preference is to never see or touch it again. Toss it into your kids’ craft bucket! They will inevitably enter a string cutting or knot tying stage at some point. Or they can simply delight in destroying it! Either way, your old fabric has lasted a little longer, and it is now serving the purpose of protecting new supplies from being destroyed.

Beginner DIY Choices for Upcycle Twine Crafts

Do you have one more evening of crafting adventure left in you? Or an older child who is ready to make some home decor this summer? Here are your intermediate options!

Bottle Wrap

Take a bottle or can from your recycling bin, give it a good rinse, and wrap it up! Using gorilla glue or a hot glue gun will do wonders in the longevity of your project, but you’ll gain a new pencil holder, flower vase, or simple statement piece for your shelf.

Cardboard Cut Out

Grab some cardboard or even styrofoam. Cut out a letter or shape, and (you guessed it) wrap it up!

Intermediate DIY Upcycle Twine Choices

Choose an item to be your “mold” This could be a plastic bowl, a can, anything that is a hard material! Place layers or parchment paper, wax paper, saran wrap, or any material that can function as your barrier between the “mold” and your glue.
You can accomplish this craft one of three ways.

  1. Your first option, is to adopt the barrier paper as part of the final product. Using liquid glue or modge podge, thickly paint it onto the paper or fabric. Tightly wrap your twine on top of the wet glue, following the shape of your container. Once completely wrapped, add a layer of glue to the outside and let it dry completely. It will come off of your mold, but the paper will stay bonded.
  2. The second option is to use a hot glue gun, meticulously adhering the twine only to itself. You will need careful and tight placement in order to have a bowl that stands on its own! You can choose to still add a layer of modge podge to help hold the shape after removing your twine from the mold.
  3. The third option is to sew it! With this option, you will not need your barrier paper and you can follow this tutorial for some helpful tips!

Extreme Crafter Inspiration

Ready to make your own mark on the world of recycled fibers? Do you scoff at the ease of Pinterest craft ideas? If you have a pre-existing craft skill, we would love to see you incorporate your newest material- up-cycled twine! Can you make a macramé plant hanger? Maybe even knit or crochet a basket or market bag? View your new twine as an endless possibility, and be sure to let us know what you create by tagging: @lilhelpergram on Instagram!


About the Author

Lisa is a first time mama who is passionate about sustainable and achievable DIY crafts and activities. Dabbling in a hobbies ranging from knitting to silk screen printing, she loves to help light other's spark for joyful creating. Currently living in Chicago, Lisa has called home: small town NH, Seattle WA, and Vancouver BC. She lives with her husband, their cat, and their one-year-old fluff bum, enjoying traditions of Saturday morning doughnuts and Thursday night nachos.


How to Support Your (and others’) LGBTQ2S+ Kids

…because LGBTQ2S+ kids do exist.

Statistically, you know children who will become part of the queer community. Many adults tell us that they knew as kids that they were gay or transgender. In fact, as it becomes safer and safer to come out, people are doing it earlier. That’s why it’s so important to teach about inclusion, diversity, and Pride early on. You probably already know some LGBTQ2S+ kids without realizing it.

That isn’t to say that every little boy who clomps around in mommy’s high heels is really a trans girl, or every little girl who likes baseball will grow up to date girls. Kids experiment with all kinds of clothes, characters, and activities, and that’s all perfectly developmentally appropriate. Believe it or not, there are straight boys interested in musical theatre and cisgender kids who play lots of dress-up. Those kids also need to hear that whatever they’re interested in, you’re excited for them, whether it’s a phase or not.

Photo Credit: Ashley W.

What the LGBTQ2S+ kids, specifically, in your life need to know from you is that if there does come a moment where they’re sitting in front of you getting ready to come out, terrified that it will change everything, you will always love and support them. The best way to make sure they know that is to tell them early and often that you love them for who they are inside, no matter what they do. A parent’s love should be unconditional. And this should inform your interactions with the other children in your life, as well–there are plenty of kids who don’t have anyone safe to come out to, and if you can be that person it’s an honour.

…even though it’s complicated

I’ve used both the terms LGBTQ2S+ and “queer” in this article so far, and that doesn’t begin to cover all the possibilities. Your child may come to you one day asking for you to refer to her with they/them pronouns. Huh? How? What does that even mean?

We all use pronouns. “We” is a pronoun. If someone asks you to use different pronouns for them than you normally do, go ahead and give it a try. I guarantee it will make them feel relieved that you support them and grateful that you didn’t try to talk them out of it. Guess what? I just used they/them pronouns for the hypothetical person in this whole paragraph. Yup, it’s that simple!

So wait, would that mean I have a gay kid? Well… not necessarily. Gender and sexuality are two completely different things. Often, people who use they/them pronouns are nonbinary, which is a way of looking at gender outside of the traditional male/female paradigm. Many nonbinary people feel included under the umbrella term “transgender,” but not all.

And not all transgender people are gay! For example, if your child was assigned female at birth but comes out to you as a trans boy later in life, he may be attracted to and date girls. In that case, he’s straight (unless he also likes boys, in which case he might be more comfortable identifying as bisexual or pansexual)… phew, is there a dictionary for all of this?

Luckily, there is, and it’s called elder queer folks. We’ve been through all of this and many of us are happy to help you and your LGBTQ2S+ kids through anything you’re worried about. I’m generally an open book.

Author, B, at work on teaching diversity. Just B Diversity & Inclusion Consulting.

However, I’d recommend Googling first, specifically for firsthand sources written by gay and trans people who’ve already done the work and will benefit from you buying their books or reading their articles. Most of us don’t really appreciate being stopped in the street and asked about our childhoods; I mean, would you?

…but my toddler isn’t gay

Well, your toddler doesn’t have a sexuality yet, and that’s fair–although I’ve seen my fair share of “ladies’ man” and “Mrs. Bieber” onesies. We talk all the time about their little girlfriends and boyfriends without thinking much of it. Weird, right? They’re babies. We have no idea who they’ll end up dating when they’re ready, if they’re into dating at all.

Photo Credit: Skye C.

When he’s older, though, I’m sure you intend on having The Talk with him, right? I bet you’ll stress respecting women and being a gentleman, right? See, you’re already thinking of these things, because you’re a great parent. And that’s the typical sort of talk you’ll expect to have with a boy, because statistically, most boys date girls… except, yours might be pansexual, demisexual, asexual, or identify as something completely different in the years that go by between now and when he’s ready.

Or maybe his best friend will be, and his parents will kick him out. That kid’s going to need to hear some love. Which means that all of this learning is still worth it even if your kid turns out to be straight and cisgender the whole time, because he’ll know how to treat his friends when they need compassion.

Teaching about inclusion and diversity early is beneficial to all. Photo Credit: Erica H.

Those are a lot of words and some of them are brand new, so let’s have a quick rundown:

Pansexuals are attracted to the person, not the gender. Boy, girl, nonbinary person, they’re all good as long as they’re kind and funny. Pan means “all.”

Demi means “half,” or in this case, “sort of.” Demisexuals are people who can be attracted to someone as long as they know the person really well–they don’t get crushes on celebrities or date someone just to see if they’re compatible. It might take them longer to find someone they’re really comfortable with, and that’s okay.

Asexuals may or may not ever be comfortable dating; they don’t always experience attraction in a sexual sense but might still love romance and affection. (If they don’t, that’s called “aromantic,” and that’s valid too.)

To make this even more complicated, the dictionary is constantly being updated and new identities are coming to the forefront. You might hear things like, “Back in my day, we didn’t have all these different labels.” That’s true; we didn’t. People who didn’t fit into the two binary genders were forced to act like one or the other. Trans people were literally arrested for wearing “the wrong clothes” at the Stonewall Riot, the historic reason Pride parades exist. Asexual and aromantic people were and still are pressured into relationships, and sometimes sex they don’t want. I’m sure that’s the last thing you want for your kiddo when they grow up.

Photo Credit: Nicola L.

So how do you make sure that you’re ready for the person your child grows up to be? Tell them now. I don’t mean “sit your two-year-old down and ask them which pronouns they want,” although that’s cool if you want to try it. I mean say things, repeatedly, like “I love you no matter what.”

Gay and trans family friends are totally appropriate to introduce to your kiddo at any age–there’s nothing “inappropriate” about two men holding hands, just like it’s not inappropriate for straight couples to do so. Let your kids know that any kind of love they find in their life is a love you’ll celebrate. “Why is that man wearing a skirt?” your curious child might ask. “There might be a lot of reasons, including that skirts are twirly and pretty!” If he wants to paint his nails, let him know you’ve got his back against the bullies. If she wants to go by “Theodore,” let her teacher know she’s trying out a cool new name, and ask her which pronouns she’d like to go with it.

Just like anything else, your kid is going to grow up into exactly who they’re meant to be, and all you can do is love them for who they are. If you know how to do that, you’ve already nailed it.


About the Author

After coming out as gay & trans in a rural/conservative farming community in East Central Alberta, B Adair (he/him) now facilitates community conversations to increase knowledge and improve diversity and inclusion practices with educators, business owners, healthcare practitioners, students, and community organizations to bridge gaps and eliminate stereotypes and stigma.

A former paramedic, B is an accomplished speaker, educator, and facilitator and his company, Just B Diversity & Inclusion Consulting is well known for providing safe and non-judgmental spaces for groups of all kinds to learn and ask questions comfortably. B uses his life experiences, sense of humour, and passion for advocacy to connect with people from all different backgrounds.

In his spare time, B loves spending time gardening, camping, hiking, and anything else in the fresh air. B is happily married to his partner Alix and together they have a family (i.e. zoo) of foster fail cats, an assortment of aquatic creatures, a rambunctious mutt named Lola, and her little brother (rescue puppy) named Maskwa.

Safety Check-Up: Quick Tips from a Car Seat Tech

Car Seat Safety Basics

How do you know if you are using the car seat correctly?

Straps: For a 5 point harness, the straps should be sitting at or below the child’s shoulders for rear facing and at or above the child’s shoulders for forward facing.

Ensure the chest clip is positioned over the child’s sternum (usually around armpit or nipple level)

Are my car seat straps tight enough?

Pinch test demonstration.

This now checked with a pinch test. To do this test, pinch the straps vertically at the collar bone. If you can grab excess slack between your fingers and pinch it, then the straps are too loose. (This used to be a finger test but since everyone’s fingers are different sizes this is more universal)

Car Seat Safety starts at Installation

Check that your seat is installed tightly. Your car seat should be installed so that there is less than 1″ movement side to side, and front to back when grasping at the belt path. That means where the seat belt or lower anchor connector strap feeds through the car seat. That is the only place you need to test for movement, not the top of the car seat.

For forward facing- A tether should always be used with a forward facing seat. The tether reduces forward movement for the child’s head and neck up to 6″ in a crash; so reconfigure seats if necessary so all forward facing kids are in a vehicle seat with a tether anchor.

Clothes that Impact Car Seat Safety

Straps may look tight over a bulky coat, but leave large gaps when compressed in a collision.

Remove all bulky clothing- Bulky coats put extra space between the child and the harness which will compress immediately in a crash and mean more distance the child’s body moves before coming to a stop. Remove coats before buckling up, they can be worn backwards over the harness, or use blankets (like a cozy lifesafer mat) in the car instead. There are also car seat ponchos and approved car seat coats you can purchase. The coats have a thin back on them so you unsnap and open them but leave them on, do up the car seat harness, then you can cover child with the front of the coat if cold.

Removing the coat shows the extra space it create between the child and the harness.

Are cloth diapers safe in the car? Does the extra bulk from cloth diapers impact car seat safety? No but ski pants or full one piece snow suits do.  Diapers are bulky but not fluffy like the coats so they don't compress like a coat in a collision.

Extra Tips for Car Seat Safety:

Is your child in the right stage for their age?

Kids should ride rear facing until a minimum of age 2, ideally 3-4 years old; forward facing in a 5 point harness until 5+ years old, and in a booster seat until 10-12 years old. Always check your seat weight and height limits as well.

Once old enough to transition out of a booster seat, there is a 5 point test to try:

1 – Shoulder belt crosses between the neck and shoulder.

2 – Lower back is against the vehicle seat.

3 – Lap belt stays on the upper thighs across the hip bones.

4 – The knees bend at the end of the seat.

5 – The child can ride like this for the entire ride.

Have you checked the date?

Car seats expire anywhere from 4-12 years from the time they were manufactured. This time frame varies depending on the manufacturer, but plastics break down over time and an expired car seat may not protect your child adequately in a crash.


About the Author

Catherine is a single mom of 3, a social worker, health and wellness coach, full spectrum doula, breastfeeding counselor, and certified car seat tech who recently became a full time student.