Posted: September 3rd, 2013
Apache and Australian Women
Upon reading the ceremony of the Isanklesh myth and ceremony by the Apache, I first had the impression that Apache referred to a cult warrior considered an icon in society. However, I was dismayed when in reality, Apache refers mainly to females. In this culture, the Apache ceremony involved Isanklesh, who was a divine being among five others who oversaw creation. Isanklesh was responsible for controlling all growing things in the earth. She was the provider of information and wisdom to all those who were in distress, injured, or ill. When Isanklesh made her first appearance from the floods, her body was in cattail pollen and white earth was used to decorate her lower face.
This is considered important in the Mescalero’s Apalche’s culture. It is thought that this myth was handed to them by Isanklesh herself. The ceremony involves the initiation into puberty to a girl in Apache. The Apache of Mescalero have a belief that with each ceremony, each pubescent girl is transformed to a being similar to Isanklesh, the earth’s mother and that this transformation leads to the earth’s rebirth. In this case, every time a girl is ushered into puberty, the ceremony is thought to celebrate earth as well. The important aspect in both cases is that it has a changing effect on the harmony, symmetry, and balance achieved in the natural world. The most fundamental criteria where the human body, the female in particular and Isanklesh herself at thought to become one being. Isanklesh bestows her womanhood into the body of the young pubescent Apache girl in exchange for her youth. This is considered to give Isanklesh her ability to live forever from the sustaining youthfulness she receives from Apache’s girls.
In the same myth, the Mescalero declare that their ancestors witnessed the rise from the floodwaters by Isanklesh. They created sings and dances to commemorate this event. It is thought that Isanklesh took a long time emerging from the waters. In this time, she was vulnerable and the people took it upon themselves to take care of her by clothing and feeding her. Each part of the ceremony has a significant meaning and representation to the Isanklesh myth. The young pubescent girls wear specific artier and adorn specific paint representing what Isanklesh looked like when she first appeared from the floodwaters. According to one elder woman from the Mescalero culture, the people from Apache will continue to live prosperous lives as long as they do not abandon the practice of honoring the Isanklesh ceremony.
Young female pubescents are taught in these ceremonies to handle issues maturely from the modern world. The ceremony itself is fundamental because it teaches the ceremony itself benefits the girls by handing them a broadened view of how to adapt to changes in society as well as the rest of the world. When the myth was created, Isanklesh herself described the significance of the community conducting this ceremony to fall upon the young participating girls in the tribe. According to the myth, Isanklesh described the dancing and the singing as practiced that wielded power of blessing and guiding the young girls towards the paths of becoming strong willed women in society who would go on to live long and prosperous lives. Following these instructions and the sacred knowledge from Isanklesh is an assurance that the culture will survive and be passed down many generations. The ceremony is considered significant for the continuation and survival the people and culture from Apache.
In accordance with the Victorian River people, the entire earth was immersed in water at the very beginning. The shape changing and creative ancestors through their dreaming shaped, marked, and named the world, and established people and their ceremonies into the world. The human population was defined through men and women genders and their distinct actions were determined through gender geography. The dreamings were also responsible for the creation of countries and the distinct people races occupying certain countries. In this case, when giving life to an embodied being, work accomplished through rituals involved a metamorphosis. S
Motion in this myth is considered integral with the world creation. Therefore, this myth asserts that both the artifact and origin of earth of connected to dreaming and motion. From the motion point of view, the analysis is based on directive of gender difference and their reactions to motion. Through this myth, there is the notion that women bled from their traveling expeditions. Women and bleeding is considered prominent life traces in the Australian Aboriginal culture. Religiously speaking, the Australian Aboriginal culture considers the first episode of menstruation as the turning point of a young girl from childhood into adulthood. It lies within the significance of menstruation itself. In fact, prior to the missionary contact with the aboriginal culture, parallels between the first episode of menstruation in a girl and male initiation were well obvious. However, the missionaries had a major impact that seemingly made menstruation ceremonies less significant compared to boy ceremonies.
In the Australian Aboriginal culture, the menstruation onset was considered ambiguous and feared but nevertheless celebrated. It was a special event that warranted rituals to commemorate it. The Australian Aboriginal culture, even though primitive, was much appreciative to the first menstruation occurrence. The celebration was a graceful commemoration of the menstruation life crisis. It is also implied that the Australian society was more appreciative of the structure of the female body and the potential procreative and childbearing power. The implication of menstrual blood in this society is considered as the ability to give birth, and they saw it fortunate to enrich and deepen their life experience by increasing their self expression totally.
However, in the Australian Aboriginal cultures, there were several controversies regarding the menstrual taboo. In this case, childbirth and menstrual taboos were seemingly imposed on society’s women by men. Men in this society were thought to hate and be intimidated by the natural physiological events occurring in women. Men considered women’s rituals as insignificant and uninteresting. The view however that the female transition was more of a less religious, uninteresting, and less significant was just a gender biased opinion. The woman’s unique transition from childhood into adulthood and childbirth in the Australian Aboriginal society is a religious and unique experience.
When I compared the two cultures, I noticed that the main argument revolved the natural process of a young girl experiencing her first episode of menstruation. The main difference however lies between lies between the explanatory myths behind the process. The Apache myth speaks of a god known as Isanklesh who instigated the ceremonies commemorating young pubescent girls. The Australian Aboriginal society on the other hand considers a myth where humanity was begotten through dreamings from extraordinary beings. This myth asserts that traveling was inevitable and since women were the more vulnerable, they bled in their expeditions. However, the major difference I was able to note is the acceptance of the natural process between the two societies. The Apache society, both men and women are appreciative of the transition process occurring in the young girls. However, the Australian Aboriginal society was seemingly one sided in that men were biased to prioritize boy rituals to the girl menstruation rituals. Men in this society considered these rituals as insignificant and uninteresting
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