There's a sign in the bathroom of a local shop that reads, We know having your period is a bummer but if you flush your feminine products down the toilet, we have an even bigger bummer on our hands.
I've only seen it a few times but the sign has stuck with me. It leaves an unsettling feeling in my body. Why do we associate our periods -- or our "moon time" as I like to call it-- with negativity? In our society, our moon time is seen as a burden, those five or so days each month that make life more annoying or more of a hassle. it may even be seen as gross and if it's talked about, the topic is brushed off or met with a disgusted look.
We, as women, have to worry about taking care of it in public, at work, or in some other inopportune time. We have to worry about leaking or having to run out of a meeting to take care of our situation. We are inundated, through the media, with messages of how to "take care" of our moon time or even stop bleeding completely. Nadine Artemis, creator of Living Libations, mentions how one ad for birth control proclaims, No more late night trips to get a box of tampons! when advertising how their product stops bleeding time all together.
When did our bleeding time start to become a problem rather than a celebration? When did we stop recognizing it as a symbol of creation and start seeing it as an unwanted surprise each month?
The red Tent
In many ancient cultures, red is a symbolic color for feminine strength and power. Women were seen as having shamanic powers during their menstruation or bleeding time and it was believed that their psychic powers were heightened during this time as well. Some men even feared women during their bleeding time because of their great influence and power. A woman on her moon time represented the intense powers of childbirth and the dark mystery inherent in every woman, in every womb.
Lodges were built for women to gather during their moon time. Eventually this became a space where women gathered to celebrate each other, take care of one another and build stronger relationships with themselves, with each other and with their community. It was a time of retreat where a woman could safely commune with her body, restore her being and relate to other women. Stories were shared-- powerful stories.
The modern day red tent is still a place of celebration and can vary from community to community. Women tell stories, give massage, practice yoga, engage in sacred self-care, share food.
Red tents are a symbol of our exquisite gift of creation and how this gift is the strongest connecting thread between all women.
Honoring our moon time
I used to dread my "time of the month." It came at such inopportune times, my cramps were painful and everything felt just heavy and gross. I didn't really talk about my bleeding time with friends and the only indication of it was if I asked for a tampon. over the years, as I've started a deeper conversation with my body, tapped into the cycles of the moon and began holding women's circles, my bleeding time means something completely different.
My bleeding time represents five days where I have total permission to enter a more gentle and restorative space. It is a time where baths and supportive herbs are high on my priority list and ritual becomes extra potent. It is a time to tune into my body's messages and take note of what she wants or needs. It is a time of deep gratitude for my ability to create-- to create life, projects, relationships, visions, dreams, art. My bleeding time is now a sacred time.
My bleeding time roots me so deep in my feminine body that my pride for being a woman floods me. I find that when I take the time to appreciate my cycle each month, the pain from my cramps subside and the act of taking care of my "situation" is not a hassle but another form of ritual. It is a time that bonds me to other women.
We all emerged from the dark, nurturing womb. Creation, that divine spark, is the source of our existence. I believe it is so crucial as women to honor our incredible gift and power of creation. To honor that gift is to honor our moon time, the monthly reminder and symbol of that gift. Each month we have the opportunity to cleanse and shed from us what no longer serves us and to create space to invite in what we desire or need.
We are all pregnant with potential, carrying the capacity to create.
It can be hard with jobs and families to take time to truly rest during our cycle. Some of us can't afford to take time off when the cramps are painful and all we want to do is lay in bed. But even simply placing your hands over your belly and taking deep breaths into your womb can be enough. I've found in my own experience that just changing the thought pattern around my moon time has softened the physical pain associated with it and illuminated the beautiful aspects.
These are some of the ways I honor and create a ritual around my own cycle each month. I share them with you because I celebrate all of you-- all of your uniquely feminine qualities and your miraculous gift to create, not just a human life but all those other living, breathing forms that fill our existence. This is about shining the brightest light on your potential. It is about bathing yourself in the necessary darkness of retreat, of inward exploration and restoration. These are ways to celebrate you in your abundance.
5 tips for a Moon Time Ritual:
1. Supportive Herbs
I like to drink a few different herbs during my bleeding time that support the reproductive system and help soothe cramps. My favorites are red raspberry leaf, cramp bark and maca powder. Supplements high in Omega 3's and beneficial fats, such as evening primrose oil and fermented cod liver oil, are excellent for premenstrual symptoms and cramps.
2. Red, Red, Red
I like to celebrate my bleeding time by adorning myself in red. I like to think it helps me absorb that powerful shamanic vibe that inspired red tents/lodges in the first place. I mark my moon time by wearing red clothing or red lipstick. I know women who put red sheets on their bed during their moon time or wear red underwear. Like I mentioned earlier, red is a historically symbolic color for feminine strength and power (have you read Red Hot and Holy by Sera Beak?) so by adorning yourself in red you can channel that fierce and feminine energy. And I just love how playful and fun it is.
Journaling is one of my favorite ways to cleanse. Sitting in sacred space and putting pen to paper clears my mind and body of any unnecessary debris or information and creates space so i can step into a more creative and inspired state. Usually I free write and let any and all words spill from me onto the page. sometimes it stays that way or takes the shape of a poem or story. sometimes it turns into something like this post (yes, i wrote this on my moon time :)) You can also use it as a time to honor and let go of the previous month and recognize the upcoming month, like you would with the full or new moon. I like to write down something I am ready to let go of and something I am ready to step into or create in the coming month. Journaling is really about releasing the filter and letting anything and everything bubble to the surface and flow out. This is when the powerful cleansing process happens.
4. Essential Oils + Breathing
Sweet Marjoram essential oil is known for soothing cramps associated with bleeding time. Try rubbing some of it over your belly and then applying a hot compress. Lay back, close your eyes and take some deep, full breaths into your womb space, bathing that area with soothing energy.
5. Diva Cup + Reusable Cloth Pads
I use a diva cup and Reusable cloth pads and love them! More studies are surfacing about the harmful effects of commercial tampons and pads. Some contain harmful chemicals and since those tampons and pads are coming in direct contact with the skin, it means those chemicals are being absorbed right into the bloodstream. I don't know about you but I was always weary of that "Toxic Shock Syndrome" warning on my tampon box. Diva cups are a safer, more cost effective and environmentally friendly alternative to commercial tampons and pads. One diva cup lasts about 3 years! The MoonCup is another great option.
I use my diva cup during the day and reusable cloth pads at night. Reusable cloth pads (made with organic cotton) are also cost effective, sustainable and super comfortable. They're breathable, highly absorbent and prevent any irritation that can be associated with commercial pads. They come in all different sizes and colors! Lunapads are a great company that make all different kinds of reusable cloth pads. cleaning your reusable cloth pads can be a ritual itself. at first it may feel uncomfortable to come in such close contact with your own blood but it can turn into a very sacred and powerful experience.
And of course, connect with other women during your moon time! Share what sensations and emotions are coming up for you. Have a ladies night to celebrate your moon! Get all dressed up in red, drink some red wine or have a potluck. dance, move, share stories. join a red tent or start your own with your closest friends. connecting and sharing with other women has been incredibly healing and nourishing during my moon time and in so many other aspects of my life and i know it is for so many other women. when we find the courage and vulnerability to release, we give other women permission to do the same.
Now I'd love to hear from you! What does your moon time mean to you? Do you find it hard to embrace your moon time because of certain stories created around it? Is it hard to find time in your schedule to honor your cycle? or do you already have practices and rituals in place that celebrate your bleeding time? i'd love to hear your thoughts on this, any and all of them! I invite you to release anything that is on your heart around this topic. Sharing your story can be so healing for yourself and other women. I can't wait to chat with you in the comments section!
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my posts and be so present in this community. I am truly grateful for you!
Celebrating your sacred cycles,