Modern Day Menstrual Rituals and Herb Use


I asked women in my herbal and shamanic communities the following three questions and I was excited to find that there are many modern day menstrual rituals happening.  These powerful and empowering rituals are alive. They may breathe underground or behind closed doors, but they are there. The intentions of the rituals, even sometimes bleed into the community as more and more women are reclaiming their moon time and the power of their menstrual cycle.  

1.     Do you have any menstrual rituals that you follow monthly/or less often or perhaps with your daughters (ie. feed your plants your blood, stay home from work, make art, celebrate menarche, gather with women, eat a special meal/food etc) ?

2.     What herbs do you use as allies/assistants during your Moontime? 

3.     Any beliefs/attitudes/feelings you have about your Moon(menstruation)?


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From A.G.:

I do not have any rituals around my moon, but rather embrace it. I honor its power and know it is my connection to the Divine Feminine. If I have a difficult cycle, I look at the issues of where I am resisting this power in my life. I feel on a very core level that any woman that has problems with their cycle, it is because then are not connecting to their Divine Feminine. I will be sad when I move into my crone years because I love my moon that much.
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From E.M.:

1. Do you have any menstrual rituals that you follow monthly/or less often or perhaps with your daughters (ie. feed your plants your blood, stay home from work, make art, celebrate menarche, gather with women, eat a special meal/food etc)

No, but that sounds cool!

2. What herbs do you use as allies/assistants during your Moontime?

None

3. Any beliefs/attitudes/feelings you have about your Moon?

Overall, I'd say I'm fairly neutral about it. It definitely feels like a nuisance sometimes, however I also appreciate the amazing powers of the body to regenerate and support itself and its fertility.
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From L.S.M.:

1. Do you have any menstrual rituals that you follow monthly/or less often or perhaps with your daughters (ie. feed your plants your blood, stay home from work, make art, celebrate menarche, gather with women, eat a special meal/food etc)?

Most regularly, I sleep and talk to my children about menstruation. Less regularly, write. When our daughters begin bleeding, the women in my community gather together to celebrate. Last time we ate red foods and wore red clothes.

2. What herbs do you use as allies/assistants during your Moontime?

I have used:
Crampbark
Horsetail
Yarrow
Ginger
Hops

3. Any beliefs/attitudes/feelings you have about your Moon?

I am grateful for the ability to menstruate. I often feel my monthly blood is a gift and is sacred. My mother’s experience with her moon was miserable and the input I had about menstruation was mostly negative, growing up. I don’t know why I did not internalize the rhetoric, however, I have not every felt uncomfortable in/with my body surrounding menstruation. Moon time brings me into my body and I feel vital. I appreciate the “pause” it gives to myself and my partner.
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From A.N.:

i prefer to curl up in fetal position and rest on the first day i begin menstruation. i often have cramps and hot tea of any kind soothes me, but the best soothing agent is a rubber hot water bottle that i wrap in a piece of clothing or tuck under my sheets, placing it against my womb. i don't use any herbs or particular herbal remedies or tinctures -- i actually take an Alleve or ibuprofen the night before I feel the cramps coming on, and the first day of my period.

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From W. K:

1. Do you have any menstrual rituals that you follow monthly/or less
often or perhaps with your daughters (ie. feed your plants your blood,
stay home from work, make art, celebrate menarche, gather with women,
eat a special meal/food etc)?

This has varied over the last few years. Recently I have been collecting my blood and then offeringit to a body of water on the full moon of that month. I am connected to a community of women throughsome African spiritual work, and we have been guided to offer our menstrual blood to the Goddess of the Water element each full moon. We offer our blood after doing an invocation to the Ancestors, and
the offering is for peace and for the healing of the Divine Feminine throughout the world.

 2. What herbs do you use as allies/assistants during your Moontime?

VETIVER essential oil on my womb. Every month. I LOVE it.


3. Any beliefs/attitudes/feelings you have about your moon?

I had an incredibly rich experience during my moon a month ago. It brought the idea of "sacred" moontime into such visceral direct experience. I would like to share it with you.

I was at home, giving myself a full day sewing retreat during my second full day of bleeding. I had already been tapping into a deep, liminal space the day before, as my friend gave me one of her signature "moontime massages" (she is a massage therapist, and deeply attuned to honoring women while on their moon). I was feeling in-between realms.

Over the course of the morning, each time my blood would come down, I needed to stop what I was doing and just bleed- just close my eyes and connect to the ground. My legs were heavy. I felt the power in the descending blood.
At one point I had the strong intuition to put some of the blood that was coming from me onto my 3rd eye.
When I did this, I could feel the power in the blood, the sacred quality of it. I felt I wanted to cover my whole body in it. From my 3rd eye began to emerge an image. It was an image of my dear sister Yetunde, handing out something to myself and the group of women we are connected to. I watched for a short time, realizing that I needed more blood in order to continue the vision! No more blood was available at that moment, so it was all that I caught. It felt powerful, yes.
This continued throughout the morning. My blood descending, and needing to stop everything to honor its arrival. Then, applying more to my 3rd eye.

The other vision that appeared brought me back to a full moon women's ritual that I was a part of in Burkina Faso, W Africa in 2010. It is an ancient women's ritual of the Dagara people that is offered by the eldest women in the village. The elder women bathe the younger women in gold-flecked earth and water, under the light of the full moon.
The vision/memory carried with it the sense of the ANCIENT connection that our blood carries- how our blood connects us to each other and to the ancient lineage of women who honored each other as such. POWERFUL!

I have been involved in the Boulder Red Tent and been in conversation about the re-weaving of the sacred awareness and honoring of moontime for a few years. Never have I ever had such a direct experience that brought me to such awareness and awe. I now honor my blood so much more deeply! YES!!
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From j/j H:

on my bleeding
j/j hastain, 2012

unfortunately, I started my period while at school (in elementary school). I remember the stark sun. I recall feeling overwhelmed by a pain in my stomach, low back and thighs that made me think that I was sick with what my family called “the barf flu.” I remember in sort of a panic, running to the school bathrooms (which were made of cement, dark and always filthy) in preparation to throw up or have explosive diarrhea.
as a young person, there was no menarche celebration for me to come home to. there was no mother who openly talked about these things. I remember that I was told it was not my fault, that it was not a big deal and was nothing for me to be worried about. as a person who relates to planar living by way of ritual and devotion, to say that this simple (diminutive) response to my bleeding from my own mother was not enough is an understatement. I am not sure if I hold this limited response against her. as a strong (in some ways masculine personalitied person) in modern settings, I am sure she simply thought of her own bleeding as a pain in the ass, as yet another thing (in addition to her kids) that took her time away from her. regardless of whether or not I hold this against her I am positive that I did not get what I needed in regard to a community or presence, coupling with me in regard to my bleeding journeys. perhaps this is why later, I even considered cutting.

as a queer person, I reflect on my menstrual experiences as an area (psychic, physical). this area has been complex for me for as far back as I can remember. at times in my identity/embodiments I have related with my period. at times there was nothing about my period that I could even remotely relate to. I know this on and off (in regard to relating to my own blood) had to do (for me) with not having experienced my blood by way of another, by way of a lover celebrating and exploring it in ways that allow that blood to be something that is reflected back to me in shamanist ways, as raw beauty. as a person who identifies as a hybrid, there is something important about best being able to relate to my own menstrual blood when it is reflected back to me by another as something that is pure.

do you have to identify as a woman, to create rituals for your menstrual blood? my body is proof that the identity of "woman" is not at all necessary in order  to experience this inner impetus to celebrate blood for the sake of its carnal qualities. my lover and my relation to my blood is proof that what a bleeding person craves might have nothing to do with the title or term “woman” at all.

I always stop bleeding on the third day. why? because Christ rose on the third day? because of primary colors? due to the triadic pattern of angels in regard to celestial intelligence? once I stop bleeding on the third day I do not start bleeding again unless my sweetheart and I have sex (in a very particular, feminizing, ritualistic way). in this way, it is possible for my lover and I to control how much blood I experience. lately (based on my identity) I have found that I have been ravenous to experience my blood in the deepest duration possible. is this because winter is coming? is it because my lover is expressing more and more to me, how loving my blood, how tasting, drinking my blood, is deifying?
I have been turning all of our towels red, collecting my blood in rags, using it to paint silhouettes, then filled in figures.

lately I love the smell of my own blood so much, that I often just rest there, my face close to my clots. for quite a while now, on particularly stressful days I have been going to farmer’s markets to collect fresh vegetables. as soon as I get somewhere where I can do it, I hold the beans (for example) in my lap, let them rest as a weight on my arms and legs. I can’t express the calm that this type of act makes in my body. I like to explain it in the context of there still being ‘jazz’ left in the form. lately, I have been experiencing the same type of relief, with my clots near me. I mean, they are technically always within me, but I find that my clots outside of my body, kept close to me, are a nearness , a proximity.

how best to let the wild loose in domestic settings? use red sheets so your bed can swallow up your menstrual colors, have your lover paint you with your own blood (their beautiful mouth smeared with your color, your copper), wipe your blood into the clotty pomegranate you are eating (so you can’t tell which is a clot from you and which is a clot from the pomegranate (pomegranate seed). if you are trying to plant and keep herbs alive inside of your house during the cold seasons, it is suggested that an eloquent match of sunlight exposure from above, and darkness to root in below will suffice flourish.
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From J.J.W:

1.  I have no daughters.
But when I switched to sponges about 6 or 7 years ago it changed my ritual experience.  It went from tampons and never touching my blood…..simply yanking it out and disposing of it…..to having to touch and experience my blood during my entire bleeding…..I began to notice the sensation of clots moving in me as I would connect the physical sensation to what I pulled out.  The texture, warmth…..feeling the lining of my vaginal opening.  The rich red……
Granted there are times I am wiped out by it and just flat out drained…..but that will not change how profound it is to have that blood and warmth on my hands.
So….I don't make art or sleep in a blood tent…….but this act of getting my hands in it has forever made it sacred time and it slows me down to the process as I must clean and caretake with such care.
and I did make a sculpture with a blood clot once…..it dried and was like glass.  gorgeous and really enormous.

2. Does ibuprofen count?

Sometimes I use….what is it called……hmmmm..(yarrow)….to slow my bloods…..but the ibuprofen seems to give me the direct correlation of slowing flow….and haven't seen direct effect with the herb….probably havn't done a thorough test either.


3.
Mine has been a path of deconstructing what I was taught.  That my 'period' was an unpleasant occurrence that you didn't speak about and tried to hide and flush it down the toilet quickly.
I have learned to talk openly about it…..with men equally.  I don't want it to be awkward, shameful or inappropriate to talk about or mention.
That doesn't feel honorable.
Talking about it and hearing about others feels so empowering to me……
I learned no rituals from any matriarchs…….and what I have learned is to embrace it.
Yes by talking but again by using the sponges…..(which was my body's idea when it clearly shouted NO MORE TAMPONS)……..to be in awe of it every time.  Even the friggin cramps that come.  I am blown away not just by the pain (may it never come again!) but by the series of events my body is engaged in……everything that takes place and the results of it all.
Such is so many things this body does…….

Perhaps in my 50's I will be able to move into the psychic and shamanic arena of my moon time…….but for now I am pretty proud of myself for what I have dismantled so far.  I imagine my 40's will be an intuitive connection more deeply into these realms……and I am delighted!
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From S.P:

When I cycle, I sometimes get cramps, and usually do not.  If I do cramp, I have massaged a drop or two of Pennyroyal oil into the skin surrounding my uterus.  It sort of warms up after a minute, then the ache diminishes.  It literally only takes a couple drops.  I read about a woman who used an entire teaspoon for this sort of massage, and lost all her menstrual blood at once. 

The oil smells strong, but not bad.  Women have miscarried from the smell, so I wash my hands very well and avoid pregnant women if I have used the oil.  Once I had a pregnancy scare and ingested one drop of PR-oil in a cup of tea, which induced my cycle.  I have heard of women dying from ingesting too much.

Not related to this herb, I have also heard that orgasms are a good remedy for menstrual cramps.

I am unsure if this counts as a cycle ritual, but I do bathe more frequently when I am bleeding.
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From A:
Moontime is so very special in my opinion. I didn't grow up with any rituals around it, or anything much involving it at all. I love that my 4 year old daughter is so aware of my moontime though and regards it with fascination and delight. I will have a lot planned for her when it is her time to begin getting her moon. I already have ideas for a women's circle where she is honored and gifted with sacred objects representing her transition. I'll make her fabulous foods, and serve punch sprinkled with rose petals.
For me, I try to take it a little slower during moontime and make sure I let my family know that my moon has begun and I may have some more needs than usual (for a little more patience and a bit of time if possible..I have two li'l ones right now so it doesn't always happen. I like to journal and bathe. I save my moon blood and either water the plants (diluted with water) or pour it directly to the Mother. I have one friend who is very passionate about her moonblood always going back to Mama Earth and loves the warm months when she can bleed directly onto the Earth. My husband gave me a beautiful book called Songs of Bleeding by Spider...you may know it but if not do check it out, I think it may really resonate with your work. I hope this helps :) 

Oh, and as for herbs...I don't use much but in the past I sometimes used ginger for cramping and lemon balm and skullcap for the days before I bled. I like nourishing infusions of oats, alfalfa, nettles and raspberry leaf, which I drink throughout the month and I think that has decreased my need for herbs during and before moontime.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ From M.T:
I do have menstrual rituals. I regularly take time out. I offer my blood to my land. I hold circle with a sister who keeps a picture journal using her blood as the medium. I felt so blessed when she shared it with us. 

On my 33 birthday I had a burial/resurrection. My husband actually dug me a grave. I had three other people with me. They wrapped me in muslin strips and painted runes and symbols on my wrappings with my blood. I had crafted a mouth piece out of clay that left my nose and mouth clear so I could breathe while covered in earth. It was a cold, windy night and I couldn't stay under too long. I did this ritual with the intention of letting things die that were no longer serving me. Until that point there was some trauma and betrayal that I was unable to metabolize and let go. This ritual helped me to release and redirect my focus so I could become the heartbeat of my family. I do feel it may need to be repeated from time to time. Before I did it I was scared. It seemed weird. On the other side of it, it seems like the logical thing to do.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing. I seem to be the only Yahweh or wombman that respects and welcomes my moontime I call my cycle the gate keeper . and during this time I always Google sacred things about her because I know it is a powerful divine time and I desire to tap into that timeless power and love. Thank you for sharing and letting me know other sisters like I exist. Much love to you. Shalom

    -YAHSha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YAHSha, thank you so much for sharing your story as well! You are in good company. Such a powerful time and what a special way to honor it. So many reclaiming and embracing this moon time. Warmly, Lark

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  2. Thank you for sharing. I seem to be the only Yahweh or wombman that respects and welcomes my moontime I call my cycle the gate keeper . and during this time I always Google sacred things about her because I know it is a powerful divine time and I desire to tap into that timeless power and love. Thank you for sharing and letting me know other sisters like I exist. Much love to you. Shalom

    -YAHSha

    ReplyDelete