How many of us consciously menstruate? Like, are really aware of how and who we are in & with our cycle? How many of us can confidently say, I’m on day x of my cycle? How many of us touch our own blood (without cringing)?
I bet not all of us.
I used to be the same, so I’ll tell you a little story.
My curiosity about the female body and its mysteries developed early when I was mystified with a little cardboard box (of tampons, I learned later) that was on the shelf in my Mum’s cabinet in the bathroom. Each time I asked what they were for I was told to wait another year. Each year I grew hungrier to learn what that box was and what it meant.
When I found out what that box was (tampons) and what it meant (periods), on a long dog walk of many dog walks to come, I asked pretty much every question I could think of on the subject with my limited but imaginative ten-year old brain. When I thought I knew it all I remember regaling my friends at school over lunch, thinking the egg was literally egg-size and that was what all the blood was about. So, it took a few goes to get all the information truly understood.
After that, I couldn’t wait to get my first period and frustratingly I had to wait until I was thirteen, after all of my friends, until the day came when I was away at a camp with school. Typical. With the news, I remember going to find a pay phone in the cafeteria to ring my Mum, I was so excited it had finally arrived! All that anticipation and it was finally here, hurrah!
The first few years my period (Moon Time/bleed/menstruation) was still a novelty and I proudly counted to the hour when I needed to change my pad or tampon – the fear of dying from Toxic Shock Syndrome a very real worry to me. And each month I knew exactly when my next period would come – I was, and still am, very regular, to the 28 day mark, give or take a day or two. But as the years went on, I became more and more dissociated with my period. I grew to think of it as a burden; a curse.
I think it started in my mid-teens when I was told, I “couldn’t” or “shouldn’t” do certain sports at “that time of the month” and best not swim “just in case”, as if it was a weakness. So along with the subliminal fear that there was something debilitating and undesirable about being on your period, it also made me use my period as an excuse not to do sports when I didn’t feel like it, too. I was never much of a sporty person.
When I started having sex, my period also became an “inconvenience” and something to be “ashamed” of; I was shy and awkward telling my boyfriend that we “couldn’t”, I’m “sorry”, and having to compensate in whatever other way I was “supposed to”. Ick.
Just look at those words. Those beliefs. Those pressures.
My innocent curiosity as a child was slowly but surely overridden by conditioning and beliefs from a patriarchal society filtered through conversations, advertisements, movies, and heresay that I absorbed like a sponge.
Where and when did all of that change, to talk about one of the most natural and normal bodily functions, EVER, in that way? A function that, actually, without which humxns wouldn’t even exist.
Our menstrual cycle has been taboo for so long now & isn’t it interesting to note the word taboo, which nowadays means that which is avoided or forbidden, actually used to mean sacred? And this is true in our society and for many cultures around the world where having your monthly cycle is taboo; something of a curse rather than a blessing.
This wasn’t always so. Millenia past, when womxn were on their Moon Time (their bleed) they would gather together in ceremony in Red Tents - the days a woman is on her period her aura is the most expansive and the veil is at its thinnest meaning womxn are open vessels to receive from this expansive state from higher consciousness and the Divine. In these Red Tents they would hold rituals, meditate, receive these messages, also interpret their dreams and any other symbols intuitive to them. The womxn of the tribe or village would come away with so much wisdom from the days they were bleeding and pass it to the elder men of the village, who held any menstruating womxn in high esteem due to her powers to commune with nature and the higher realms. So much so they would make decisions about their tribe based on the messages from the Red Tent. Everyone was so much more connected to this sacred cycle, as a community.
Then along comes religion, the witch hunts, & the systemic oppression of womxn through patriarchal laws that began stripping womxn of their true nature by outlawing many of their practices like gathering (as they did in Red Tents) and working with plant medicine. Along came science and industry, left-brain dominant thinking, overpowering the creative, the natural, the intuitive, & that of any and all connection to higher realms aside from God.
If you were a womxn, true to her intuitive essence and being, you’d most likely be burnt at the stake or drowned.
So, is it any wonder that we have grown up in our society now to believe that our periods are something of a burden, a tax on womxn, something we have to “put up with” for over half of our life? Is it any wonder that we are passed down beliefs, even by our own mothers, that our blood is dirty, is disgusting, that we should hide it, that it’s unbecoming for anyone to know you are on your Moon Time? And with common phrases like being “on the rag” and having “the blob” – & worst of all, “the curse” – used for the menstrual cycle, it doesn’t exactly elicit a positive relationship, does it? Especially when a womxn herself uses it about her own blood.
We don’t do ourselves any favours, either. Due to the products in place for this “burden”, we avoid touching our blood at all costs, shoving toxic bleached tampons “up there”, preferably with a plastic applicator so we don’t have to use our finger, and then drag it out carelessly by its string. We also choose chemical birth control to save us from having our period for months at a time, even years. Birth control that causes cancer, that causes crazy hormonal imbalances, and a whole other range of side effects and ‘cons’ even though all we usually consider are the ‘pros’. But if it means I won’t have my period, that’s worth it, right?
WRONG. And so wrong. Since developing more of a connection to my womb and my monthly cycle and the changes that happen along those 28-ish days, I understand my body and what it means to be a womxn like never before. I am more empowered. I feel more embodied. I know what’s best for myself. I trust that I have everything I need within me. I know me. Period.
By taking back my period from everyone else and their conditioned Old Paradigm beliefs, I actually realised, hey, there is nothing “gross” about my blood. There is nothing “burdensome” about my period. There is nothing “awkward” about having my Moon Time.
It is sacred. It is what connects me to all the other womxn on this planet.
Practically, too, since moving away from tampons to using the reusable menstrual cup I am more used to sticking my fingers “up there”, getting bloody, and “dealing” with a lot more “mess” than before. It's natural. That’s the way it should be. Not some sterile process where we insert, remove, bin. Repeat. Where’s the awareness in that?
Touching, seeing, even smelling, our blood is so important for our connection with our menstrual cycle and our wombs and, more importantly, in knowing how our womb health is.
How will we ever know what’s going on in there if we never look at our blood, if we don’t monitor the colour, the consistency, the texture, the scent? How will we know what the inside of our yoni (our vagina, passage, cervix, womb, the lot) feels like if we don’t get familiar with it (aside from a self-pleasure practice)?
But this connection doesn’t happen overnight. Or at least it wasn’t for me. It took a while to get comfortable about talking openly about periods and even making friends with my own Moon Time. I also was the one who hid tampons up my sleeve and scurried to the bathroom, embarrassed in case anyone should guess I was on my period. I, too, hated “that time of the month” and all that came with it, the cramps, the tenderness, the mood swings. I would openly lament and curse each time it came around.
Also, not surprisingly, my resistance to my bleed was making my symptoms worse, which were actually the effect of my diet and my lifestyle leading to the hormonal imbalance not actually my womb. Fact: we actually should all be PMS-free, but it’s the way we are living our lives that is causing us the pain. Not our bodies. Our bodies wouldn’t do that to us if there was nothing to draw attention to. Read up on gut health – game changer.
When we get to know our periods more intimately and can follow our cycles, we can learn about how connected we are, collectively, to womxn past present and future, and also to Mama Earth. We can learn about our archetypes through each phase (of which there are four). We can learn about the associated Hindu deity relatable to our phase, if you believe in that; we can embody a season (winter, spring, summer, autumn); the phase of the moon; the feelings and the moods common with the phase; the cravings, the desires; the intro- or extro-version we will experience. We can map it all out. It’s a beautiful cycle and we flow through it every month, so shouldn’t we get to know it a little better?
We aren’t linear beings like this society would have us be, we are womxn. It’s impossible for us to be linear or even fit inside a box. We need freedom to expand, to contract, to feel, to ebb, to flow, to release, to retain. It’s no wonder we suffer with our periods when we “have to” go to work on our heaviest day; when we “have to” go out and see that friend but we’re feeling lethargic and antisocial; when we “have to” go to that meeting, but our body and our mind is feeling uninspired because we’re not in our creative phase.
There are rhythms we flow through whether we are aware of them or not. The phases are common to us all, phases that link us together as womxn during this powerful cycle, each bringing with it its own mystery and magic.
How lucky we are to have our periods? How lucky we are to have a natural deep cleanse each month? How lucky are we to have the opportunity to consciously release and shed, with our lining, that which is no longer of service to us – symbolically? How lucky are we to have this life-giving portal within us to birth everything from babies to creative projects? How lucky are we to be born with this power centre?
Just consider that for a moment.
So, how can we work on our relationship with our period? How can we become more intimate with our womb space?
I invite you, next time you bleed to just notice. Pay more attention. Tune your awareness more to your body, your blood, your moods, & your feelings; your dreams, your desires, your energy, your likes and dislikes. Everything! I invite you to start keeping track in a journal, with Day 1 being the start of your bleed, and fill in each day like a little diary. See if after three cycles there are patterns, habits, similarities in each cycle. Notice if the womxn around you are also bleeding when you are. Notice the moon. Just begin to notice.
The move towards conscious menstruation – ie, awareness – of your cycle can gift you so much if only you are open and willing to receive the magic. For it is within you anyway, whether you realise it or not.
And don’t worry if you feel it is too late, it’s not. There is all the time in the world. Do it for you & also womxnkind.
I'd love to know what your relationship is like with your period. Feel free to share in the comments!
Coming soon: rituals around bleeding consciously & getting to know your phases better