Waxing moon, August 2007
for Grandma Twy from Susun Weed
Yewehnod Two Wolves, She Whose Voice Rides the Wind, Twylah Nitsch, Grandmother of the Wolf Clan of the Seneca Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy has left her body behind. We who continue on in form remember.
I remember teaching at Omega Institute in 1984. I wanted to offer a class called "Women, Witches, and Weeds" but they felt "Women and Weeds" was sufficient. The idea of a woman-only, woman-centered class was new to them. That surely explains the presence of a man there to do the tape recording. When I complained, I was told there were no women who could do the taping. Fortunately for my temper, one of the women in class offered to take care of it.
I might have felt alone in my feminism and my insistence on woman-only space, expect for the presence on campus that week of a much older woman who shared my beliefs. I met walking along the path to our cabins. She was fuming, talking to herself with outrage. I caught up with her and asked what was amiss. "The lying men on the Elder Council," she replied without hesitation. "I am going to quit participating in that mockery. Instead, I will sit under a tree and teach any woman who wants to learn."
We continued on to her cabin, where she told me stories of her connections with plants. A firm friendship was taking root and my heart smiled. I always like to have older women to look up to, to emulate. Grandmother Twylah did as she said and we stood firm together in our understanding that some teachings are for women only.
It's a long drive from my home near Woodstock New York to Grandmother's home on the Brant Reservation south of Buffalo. I did not go often; she did not come to the Wise Woman Center often, and yet my inner sense is of always being connected to her from our first conversation on.
I remember the time I visited her after giving workshops in Toronto. She asked me how long I could stay. "Only tomorrow, then I must return home to the goats and the apprentices." Her gaze grew deep. Was she displeased? A faint smile played on her lips. But she said nothing further.
When I awoke the next morning, I was told to prepare for my initiation. Grandmother and her cronies had worked all night to bead the initiation medallion and medicine pouch for me. I was honored and awed to become a member of the Wolf Clan and an adopted daughter of this woman I loved and respected so deeply. I took the name she gave me -- "Onada" (Spirit of the Leaf) -- into my core, where it vibrates even now.
And I took to heart the assignments she gave me:
"Wolves make the trails to the water and all the other animals follow them. Make trails."
"Wolves don't just howl at the moon, they sing about everything. Sing."
"Follow the Rainbow Path of Peace; Honor the Seven Directions and the Twelve Parts."
"Honor everything, especially the rocks and the trees."
"Listen. Listen. Use the Talking Stick and listen."
"Have an Attitude of Gratitude."
I remember the winter visits: All the miles through the snow, the big buck in front of the car who leaped over us in a flurry of flakes just as I thought we would surely crash , and the goat curry my consort Michael cooked for Grandmother, thickened, to the great delight of the "natives," with powdered sugar because he thought it was flour.
I remember the summer visits: I remember darkened lodges where we spoke in turn a word each until the prayer was spun into being. I remember the teachings of the stones. And the medicine of the colors. I remember picking wild salads. And celebrating the opening of the new teaching lodge. Women's gathering. The special maple tree out front. The wee ones. So many memories.
Grandmother and I were blessed to have rich and special times together. A picture of her at one of Sun Bear's Medicine Wheel Gatherings -- where we both taught -- hangs in front of me in my writing space. She is here with me. Empowering me. Loving me. Always. Forever. Sending her message of Peace out to the World through the Rainbow of women she taught.