Because we are women , we hold a powerhouse of energy within our bodies. With this energy, we create and sustain life, create beauty and ideas, and create solutions. Our bodies follow the ancient cycles. The ebb and flow of our cycles give us the gift of reflection and intuition at one time, and then the creative burst to make our ideas and thoughts to come to fruition at other times. This monthly cycle of ours is in harmony with the tides and the moon. We are meant to be in harmony with nature's ebbs and flows.
In our modern industrial society, it is difficult to achieve this harmony. We have received messages that we must be outwardly productive every day. We must do our work, even if our bodies tell us to slow down because we are tired, sick, or because our energy is being directed inward during the reflective time of our cycles.
We have been told that menstruation is something we have to "put up with " in order to have the ability to have children. It "gets in the way" of our productivity, and there are various products on the market to alleviate crampng, bloating, and irritability. Not only do we try to ignore our signs to slow down and reflect, we can almost ignore our blood with the use of tampons. We don't even have to see it. We plug up our birth canals, and can remove the plug and dispose of it and our blood without even looking.
Could we be trying so hard to keep up the pace of life that we deny our cycles? I think so. I think that it has happened for so many generations that women today haven't realized that we have this special creative gift. We haven't been taught as young girls to surrender to this cycle, and slow down, lie around, and listen to our intuition when it is available to us.
The ancients celebrated three phases of female life: the maiden, the mother, and the crone. The transition from one phase to another had to do with menstrual flow. A girl becomes a madien at menarche, (onset of periods), later a mother while bearing children or bearing creativity or ideas, and bringing them to fruition. The mother became crone when her menses ceased at menopause.
Each phase of a woman's life was celebrated honored by the society. The celebration of maiden's youth, innocence, and vitality is not new to our society, as many of us try as women to keep our youthful appearance throughout most of our lives.
The miraculous creative force of mother, and her monthly cycles were respected. The menstruating women were allowed solitude to reflect, cry, and be one with the earth. They often let their blood flow onto the earth to feel their connection to the larger cycle of their planetary provider. They returned from their solitude refreshed, renewed, and ready to use ideas that came upon them during this special dark time. Many native cultures today still have this practice, as women go to "moon lodges" for their reflection.
In ancient times, the crone was revered as the wise woman of the society. She was the counselor of the leaders. Her wisdom and experience was valued and sought after. She was "the woman who holds the wise blood inside". (as she no longer menstruated) In ancient wedding ceremonies, not only were the maid and mother honored (as with our modern maid or matron of honor) but the crone was also recognized and represented. The crone is not seen as this way today. Elderly women are not generally valued for their wisdom. Menopause is seen as an end to youth, not as a beginning of a new phase of life.
The denial of our cycles has taken it's toll in our society. For example, many women have intense pain while having their periods. Lara Owen in her book, Her Blood Is Gold, states that a woman's negative attitude toward her periods can be causing her much of her discomfort. For example, feeling that her period is messy, dirty, and inconvenient is a rejection of a part of herself, and is reflected back out as increased discomfort. (I, too, have noticed the difference when my attitude is more positive!)
And what about childbirth? It is often seen as a medical event today....a dangerous situation that has to be continuously monitored. Before the onset of obstetrics and current medical technology, birth was seen more of as a natural event, in which female bodies have the wisdom to birth their babies in their own time, under safe, peaceful conditions. (Obstetrics and technology have their place, but they aren't the only, or even the best choice for a nature-intended birth.)
There is an increasing number of women who are learning about their authentic femininity, and reclaiming a valuable part of themselves. I believe that changing our attitudes about being female is essential to the health and well-being of women and babies specfically, and to the whole society generally.
Here are ways we can honor the feminine in our daily lifes...gleaned from reading I have done:
listen to your body during your moontime. If it tells you to slow down, sleep, cry, etc., honor it's needs
celebrate the beginning of your periods with a special treat to pamper yourself..a soothing cup of tea, some chocolate, etc
tell others what to expect of you. Let them know that although you are trying to be peaceful, you feel turmulous, irritable, etc.
If you don't feel like making meals...then go out to eat. If you feel creative...indulge your creativity
let your blood flow out of your body onto a pad...don't restrict it's flow with a tampon. (using a pad is healthier for your body, too)
Think of the blessed gift of fertility and/or creativity your body has while having your moontime.
give our daughters these positive messages as they approach menarche, and celebrate their first moontimes with quiet joy and appreciation. A small gift of initiation into womanhood may be appropiate. (see resources below for ideas)
give our women approaching menopause the space to grow and transform. Hold an initiation ceremony into the crone years. (see resources for this below)
It would be great if we could all go to a moonlodge for even a day during our periods to practice the suggestions above, but in reality we may have only a few minutes a day to do this. That's fine...a few minutes may be enough to help change our attitudes towards our bodies and to honor the feminine in us.
Suggestions for further reading
return to the main every day is sacred page
Her Blood Is Gold -celebrating the power of menstruation by Lara Owen
This can be a life-changing book! It's main intent is to help women change the way they view their periods, and the way they feel about themselves as women. This book is rich with history about the divine feminine, and these "matrifocal"societies of ancient times. It goes on how menstruation became viewed as "the curse", and how women today can reclaim the honor and power of their bodies by honoring their cycles and life stages. Many womens' stories grace this book. Extremely intresting, thought- provoking, and totally against the grain of societal attitudes we hold deep within us. Gotta read it! Isabella says it is out of print, and they have the last copies.
The Menopausal Years- The Wise Woman Way by Susun Weed
This book can be as life-changing as the one above, and one to be read well before menopause. Half on the book is history and ritual of honoring the crone, and how transformational the process of menopause is. It views the crone (post menopausal woman) as a powerful, wise, essential member of society. (Makes me not "dread" getting old, but actually look foreward to this stage of my life). The other half of the book discusses natural remedies and lifestyle/ attitude changes to make the change of life be as free of "negative" feelings and symptoms as possible. Also has ideas of creating your own crone initiation and rituals. Since Susan Weed is an herbalist, there is much information about collecting/preparing herbs.
Snow White and the Seven Menstrual Dwarves
by Rosemary Wyman
Mothering, Fall, 1990 p.61-64
This is a hiliarious article addressing Snow White at menarche, and her mother, Rose Red, who is going through menopause at the same time. Emphasized here is listening to your body, honoring what it needs, and using your gifts brought on by the feminine seasons. I am currently in the process of determining if I can have permission to print it here. This story is truly a gem!
a maiden bracelet to celebrate menarche is available through Isabella or Chinaberry Book Service.
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