Let’s talk about something we don’t typically talk about in much detail: periods.
Periods have a long history of being taboo, unclean, even deadly (I wish I was kidding). All of that is, of course, bullshit. It’s time we talk about the truth.
Here, I aim to express that the menstrual cycle is a sacred gift. It is my hope that more women will tune into the wisdom and power of their periods.
This past year, a year of severe growth for me, I drastically changed the way I perceive periods, or “moon time.” That change of perception totally altered my relationship with my moon time and the way I now experience it.
My Period: Before Awakening
Let me start from the beginning. I got my first period at 12 one day while I was home. I knew it was going to arrive soon because: hello, pubes. However, I still didn’t quite understand periods and I got sort of freaked out that day.
Despite feeling quite awkward, I knew I had to tell my mother about my surprise visitor.
She seemed happy for me, and being a spiritual person, she congratulated me.
I felt even more awkward. “Congratulations” is for special occasions. This couldn’t possibly be one of them…
Dealing with my period at school was tough. I was able to get away with wearing one pad an entire day at school, but after my body adjusted to the cycles, my flows got heavy. And I learned, in the hardest way, that I couldn’t get away with just one pad anymore.
Soon, in addition to the heavy flow, my periods got painful. Like shitting-and-throwing-up-at-the-same-time painful.
I went home early from school many times as a teen due to the crippling pain. In 2010, it got even worse, and for two or three cycles in a row, I was borderline hospital-bound. Eventually the thought of enduring one more period made me burst into tears.
I couldn’t live a normal life, so I made my first appointment with a gynecologist to go on oral contraceptives—aka the pill.
The pain subsided drastically but it was still there, twisting my insides into knots on the heaviest days, still holding me back in my life at times. I tried several pills and the pain was consistent, but at least it wasn’t as bad as before. So I continued on with the pills.
Eventually, I began to skip my periods all together (a legitimate, safe option while on the pill since the body isn’t ovulating just FYI). I loved not having a period. But every once in a while something nagged at me that I should endure it, and sometimes I would. Then I would regret it when the pain and discomfort started.
The Spiritual Side of Menstruation
My views on menstrual cycles began to change when I first learned about Red Tent gatherings.
“The Red Tent is a place, a space, that women retreat to when they are bleeding, menstruating, when they have their ‘moonflow’. The Red Tent or Moon Lodge or Blood Temple can be an actual space or a virtual space, or a state of mind, one way or another it needs to exist.” (source)
This was my introduction into the spiritual side of menstruation.
The reason for retreating is to tap into the inner wisdom that naturally exposes itself during menstruation. We become more sensitive. We even become more open to receive prophetic, telling dreams. We become more susceptible to receiving the messages we need to receive.
“In the native American tradition if you wanted to destroy a village you simply destroyed the Moon Lodge – the place where the woman gathered every new moon to intuit insight to govern the tribe. So it stands to reason that the fastest way to rebuild our global village is to re-instate the tradition of the Moon Lodge or Red Tent.” – Tanishka
The feelings we have felt throughout the previous weeks will bubble up during moon time. It is a time to be reminded to work through our emotions, to be in tune with what’s going on inside our hearts and bodies. Moon time is a time of cleansing and purification, both literally and figuratively. It is a time to take it slow and honor the sanctity of rest.
It is said that whether or not we take time to rest and reflect during our flow influences our fertility, hormones, and the difficulty of menopause.
Our moon time is a cycle within a cycle within a cycle…
“The year has its seasons, and the weeks that compose our cycle mimic those seasons. Week One (day 1 – first day of bleeding – day 7): Death Rebirth Phase
Week Two (day 8-14): High Energy Creative Phase
Week Three (day 15-21): Coming Down and Harvest Phase
Week Four (day 22-28):Distillation and Clarity Phase
By honouring her cycle a woman honours the feminine, the dark, the juicy, the mysterious, the feminine power of creativity, sexuality and our Mother Earth.” (source)
Our periods also cycle with the moon. It is no coincidence that both the lunar and feminine cycles are about 28 days long. The moon’s light affects our cycle, but with electricity so heavily used in our modern lives, our bodies become out of touch with the moon’s phases. If you’re interested in reading more about this phenomenon, here is an academic study of night light altering menstrual cycles.
My Period: After Awakening
After recently researching and journaling on the sanctity of our moon time, I deeply felt the urge to go through with my period. Luckily, I was just about to hit the placebos in my birth control pack.
I spent time reflecting and meditating and honoring my womb during that period. I tapped even more into my power as a woman, as a goddess, as a bearer of life. I felt the energies of my womb, an odd but familiar sensation from a previous and intense LSD trip.
I suddenly started to “get it.” I felt connected, grounded, sacred. I felt powerful reveling in my holy womanhood.
This may sound kind of crazy, but that period was actually pain free. It was the easiest period I had in ages, maybe even ever. I haven’t gone through a period again in the few months since then, probably more out of habit, but I no longer harbor any negative feelings toward my period.
I realized the intense pain I was feeling before was a reflection of the depression and anxiety I was experiencing inside on a constant basis. I have become even more aware of the interconnectedness of the body and mind. Before, I just assumed I had bad genes because many other women in my family experience difficult periods. Little did I know, there is much more to periods besides biology.
Honor Your Womanhood
We are told to be ashamed of our menstrual cycle and that it is something to dread. These social and cultural messages suffocate our divine feminine spiritual growth.
Women are so much more powerful than they are given credit for in our society. I hope over time, more women will spiritually tap into their moon time and make the most of it. This will certainly help fade the stigma associated with our bodies and our cycles.
I want this to be a culture in which women empower themselves with their own divine intuition, and in which communities uplift and respect their women. The wisdom of the woman is under-appreciated and oftentimes neglected, ignored.
Women: how many times have your feelings been dismissed while you were feeling particularly sensitive? There is wisdom in those emotions, but society views them as annoying and inconvenient. And what else do we view as annoying and inconvenient? Our periods.
Many native communities honor and celebrate a girl’s first period. The Apache tribe’s traditions stood out to me during my research. They dust their girls with pollen, a symbol of fertility, before a four-day long ceremony to complete the transition into womanhood. Get an intimate inside look at this ceremony here.
Now as an adult, I realize why my mother congratulated me when I got my first period. If I ever have a daughter, I will teach her what I know now if she’s open to it, and on the day she “becomes a woman,” I will feel happy for her the way my mother was for me.
I noticed I am writing this article in the midst of the closest, biggest super moon since 1948! How fitting.
I challenge you to tap into your divine feminine energy at any time during your cycle, but especially during the winter week of menstruation. Men may also tap into their divine feminine energy, as we all have both masculine and feminine energies that need to be honored and balanced.
Tell me: Do you perceive your moon time differently now than you used to? If so, how?