PEXSISEN: The Moon of Opening Hands

Pexsisen moon

PEXSISEN, The Moon of Opening Hands, or the "blossoming out" moon, holds the time from mid-March to mid-April in the W̱SÁNEĆ 13 Moon calendar: SḴÁU ȽTE. 

SḴÁU ȽTE, represents the natural laws of the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) people. The calendar depicts the four seasons, the W̱SÁNEĆ 13 Moons and the culturally important plants, food, medicines, animals and marine life to illustrate the flow of activities that occurred when W̱SÁNEĆ people lived a traditional life linked to nature.

At this time of year, all the plants and trees are opening up their hands again and the moon meets their welcome. All of nature is blooming and the Earth renews its strength.

In the book, The Saanich Year, Earle Claxton, Sr. and John Elliott tell the story of SḴÁU ȽTE, the 13 moons, and how they illustrate traditional First Nations respect for the land and the interconnectedness of all living things.

The Saanich Year

 

From the book:

Background

The word for "April" derives from the Latin “Aprilis”, the Roman goddess Aphrodite, and the Greek word “to open”. It should be noted that most countries in the northern hemisphere celebrate the arrival of Spring. At this time of year, the trees open their leaves in welcome, just as the Saanich People open their hands to show thanks.

Weather

There is less rain than previous months and it is warmer. This helps dry out the land and enables the drying and preservation of food.

Economic Activities

During this time, the Saanich Peoples hunted and dried XELXELJ (Brant Geese) for future use. Float nets were placed where the XELXELJ would feed along the tide line to capture the geese. Clams, oysters and mussels were at their best at this time of year, too.

Cedar trees were fallen at this time of year to make boats, among other things. The warmer weather also caused the tree sap to run up the trees, making it easier to strip the bark. The fallen trees were then left to cure and the bark was saved for weaving into mats and clothing.

Before the Saanich People started to raise sheep, they would use goat and dog hair for spinning yarn and knitting. Their primary wool source was a breed of dog that was small, white and woolly. The warmer weather caused the dogs to shed and their hair would be gathered for carding and later, knitting.


To find a copy of The Saanich Year, contact the WSANEC Leadership Council, https://wsanec.com/, or the WSANEC school board, https://wsanecschoolboard.ca/. The VNFC Bruce Parisian Library in Victoria also holds a copy available for borrowing.