Taino Woods Update – January 2023

Takahi Itaino, 

We have welcomed the Winter Solstice with our own forms of prayer and ceremony, with friends and family, with Creator and Spirit. And as we have made it through the longest night of the year, we can begin to welcome the increasing sunlight in the days ahead.

This time of year, in the Northern Hemisphere, with Mother Earth’s chilly breezes and bare foliage, we can often feel just the same. Cold. Unadorned. And perhaps, solitary. 

In Taino tradition, we have a short story about the Winter Solstice and The Shark Dance; how this time of year can be purposeful in our growth and our personal journeys, even when it may feel the least comfortable.

The Winter Solstice & The Shark Dance: A Battle between Guakar and Yoka Hu;
Guakar is the Lord of Challenges and is associated with the direction of the North in the Taino medicine wheel. The North is the direction of Wisdom; and Wisdom never comes without Sacrifice.

Remember, Yoka Hu is the Taino male spirit of the yucca plant; associated with the Sun and its movements across the Sky. He is the Lord of Life and Energy; the spiritual manifestation of All that Lives, and Life itself. (He is Us.)

Guakar is the energy that fuels our experiences; and these experiences are the things and events that happen to us that we don’t want to happen. It is from these experiences that we must learn how to prevent them from repeating. 

By bow and arrow, Yoka Hu shoots down Guakar! Victorious! 

This victory represents us overcoming our challenges; overcoming difficulty and death, to be reborn in Spring as Yoka Hu does.

Hence, the battle between Guakar and Yoka Hu is the final battle for this seasonal cycle.

To learn more about Guakar, visit: Caney Circle

To be Reunited, After Battle:
As we each work through our own battles during this Winter season, Taino Woods Sanctuary is busily working on events, gatherings, and special ceremonies for us to come back together. 

Here is a tentative list of Purification Lodges, special events, Circle Gatherings, and more!

  • 3/25/23: Spring Equinox Purification Lodge with Nancy Eagle Spirit Woman
  • 4/8/23: Full Pink Moon Purification Lodge – Our First Full Moon of Spring 2023!
  • 4/29/23: 10:00 AM  5:00 PM: Medicine Drum Birthing Ceremony with DRUMDOULA Mia 
  • 5/6/23: Flower Full Moon Purification Lodge
  • 5/20/23: Strawberry New Moon Purification Lodge
  • 6/3/23: Strawberry Full Moon – A Night Purification Lodge
  • 6/23/23-6/25/23: Summer Solstice Danza with Behike Miguel Sague
  • 7/15/23: Sturgeon New Moon Purification Lodge
  • 7/29/23: Sturgeon Full Moon Purification Lodge
  • 8/19/23: Blue New Moon Purification Lodge
  • 9/29/23-10/1/23: Fall Equinox Danza with Behike Miguel Sague
    • *Please remember, these are tentative dates*
  • 10/28/23: Hunter Full Moon & Dia de Los Muertos – Honoring the Ancestors
  • 11/11/23: Beaver New Moon Purification Lodge
  • 11/25/23: Beaver Full Moon Purification Lodge
  • 12/23/23: Winter Solstice Purification Lodge – A Morning Ceremony

Our Drumming/Singing Circles will be meeting on the Fridays of the Purification Lodge ceremony weekends. The PowWow drum has been ordered and is intended to be built in February! It is of utmost importance that we meet together in person so we can practice our timing and coordination to reverently play this beautiful traditional instrument in unison.

For our Fire Keepers Apprenticeship, we will solidify the purification lodges in the upcoming weeks to ensure you enough time for scheduling your seven sweats. If you are interested in participating in this year’s apprenticeship, email us at tainowoodsny@gmail.com.

For Families, we have a Taino Woods Sanctuary volunteer nanny who is offering to assist with childcare needs; so you loving parents and caretakers can pray on the Land with the ease in your heart of having your little ones nearby. It is best to reserve her services ahead of time. Email tainowoodsny@gmail.com to express your interest. 

More to Come: 
In the Spring, we will be building a Garden and a Tipi! Tending to the Land, organizing retreats and youth programs, Women’s, Men’s, and Children’s Circles, and creating forest baths and foraging experiences. 

We are looking for those interested in facilitating and assisting in the projects and events listed above; as well as those who have inspiring ideas to bring to Taino Woods Sanctuary. Email tainowoodsny@gmail.com to share your ideas!

Salute to another year, familia! 

(And remember, Yoka Hu defeats Guakar.)

Han hankatu!