The word menstruation is derived from the Greek and Latin words meaning month and moon. The woman’s cycle not only ties us to nature, but also connects us to ourselves, giving us insights about our body’s natural rhythms and needs. Just like the seasons of nature change, so we too change in our inner states of emotion and being, and there is no one right way. We all have our own unique bodies and as we learn to listen to them, we find ourselves more in tune and empowered in our true feminine expression of self.
There is usually a lot of shame that some women feel about their menstrual cycles and it is almost still a taboo to talk about it. There is also the issue that much medicine and beauty products are actually mainly tested on men, and so the effects on the female body are often under-researched. For example, it is known that even something like Advil has quite different side effects for the genders, and due to the female biology, it affects women more strongly. And we are just now beginning to research the link between the vaccines and menstrual cycles as there were no initial testings done on that topic, and more and more women spoke out on the dramatic changes they experienced with their cycles following inoculation.
Even in their everyday life, many women still feel uncomfortable sharing that they have cramps or need some alone time because they are going through a hormonal or emotional change each month. And there are still many men who find it uncomfortable to hold space for a woman’s totality, which includes her menstrual cycle. The truth is: even if you are in menopause dear woman, you are still going through your own cycles of the body that is your land, each month, even if it’s not externalized in the way it was once before. All phases and all cycles are beautiful and carry within them our innate wisdom. It is important to change our attitudes towards period blood – and resurrect it from its state of shame.
At the same time, I’ve sometimes seen rather strange campaigns in North America on the topic of spreading awareness about menstrual cycles. I am not quite sure how taking photos of bloodied panties is making a difference in our world – but how about donating to an organization that provides pads and sanitary products to girls in marginalized regions of the world? In Kenya for example, as of 2019, 65% of the girls in the Kibera slum have traded sex for sanitary products. I am not saying that social media campaigns aren’t important, because all has its time and place and purpose, but I find that sometimes the real message gets lost in the noise or images or needs for self-importance and desires for more popularity likes.
I also think that the menstrual time is a time that can be meaningful for both men and women. When she isn’t feeling her best, he can be there for her, caring for her, allowing her some relaxation time, taking care of chores, and understanding her on a deeper level, holding space for the totality of her. Through this – they will both connect and bond on a deeper more intimate level. It could be a beautiful time.
In the old days, young girls would go through initiatory rites of passage, or celebrations, at the start of their periods. When a young girl would first get her period, the women in her family and even community would hold space for her guiding her and celebrating her passage into entering womanhood. In some Indigenous tribes, it would even be a few day honouring in which the girl would first be made to run in all four directions of the community – and while running, she would have to pray for her family and all people in her community. Next, she would bake a cake with which she’d feed others. And lastly, she would be given a whole day of caring such a massage. As she was then initiated into her next phase of her womanhood, she would be guided by the older women who would encourage her creative abilities and intuitive development. She would learn to embrace her feminine nature as well as not only care for others, but care for her own needs and honour them at any time.
I find this very beautiful and symbolic. The prayer and running represent the faith and perseverence; the baking – the humility and caring for others; and the massage she receives – teaching her that she too needs to be taken care of.
In my article Womanhood and Rites of Passage, we talked in detail about the various cycles of womanhood and how we can understand and connect to ourselves more deeply.
In traditional cultures menstruation, also then called moon time, was considered a very sacred time for women. During this time of the month, the women would retreat to a lodge where they’d spend three days together, known as their sacred time, where they would laugh, reconnect, and share stories, and would also give gratitude, honour and celebrate whatever they were doing in their life, at that particular point in their life path. The rest of the tribe and the men would take over their duties, tend to the children, to honour and the support the women’s sacred time away.
The women would rejoice in their womanhood for they were aware of the mystery and magic of their sacred moon and sacred spirit and body; and with the wisdom of life that was accessible at this time of going within, they would support one another through both their joys and pains. They would honour their emotional sensitivity, bringing to their awareness emotions that needed to be felt, which they could not have shared the rest of the month. They understood that the pain sometimes felt deep within was proof that they were the vehicles of life in their readiness to bring forth a new manifestation and experience of life. This pain that was shared and understood amongst the women bonded them further as they were able to empathise with each other, and learn that we all go through our own emotions and experiences. Meanwhile, all the rest of the tribe were eagerly waiting to have their women return from the lodge, with their newly found wisdom and clarity, which would be for the benefit of the whole tribe.
Such ceremonies and rituals help us all to feel better; to be better people, to be more connected, to feel more supported, to celebrate their unique selves, to pass wisdom to one another, to be more responsible, and to build trust and faith. Due to the symbolism of the ceremonies or rituals, they leave an everlasting imprint on the psyche and inspire a sense of awe for everyone else. We don’t have to do something extraordinary – but we can certainly do small things to celebrate one another, such as making a cake or buying flowers to mark a special occasion, and taking some sacred time each month to reconnect and support one another in our emotions and unique experiences on our life paths. More than anything – we must listen to our bodies, and when we feel like we need some alone time, that’s fine, and when we feel we are emotional, that’s fine, and when we have cramps, that’s fine, just take some rest as long as you need without feeling shame.
T h e M e n s t r u a l C y c l e s
On a physical level, menstruation is the bleeding that occurs in women as a result of their monthly fertility cycle. The average cycle for a woman lasts between 23 and 35 days, and the bleeding may be between 3-7 days. I want to emphasize, again, that there is no right or wrong – we are all different and our cycles can change too. And when we say fertility, I want to remind us all that for women who are in menopause, their fertility manifests as creative power during their times also. They may not be birthing babies, but they are certainly birthing ideas and anything new, in whatever shape or form.
A woman’s monthly fertility cycle begins with a period and there are a lot of writings out there about how phases are separated. They can be separated into seasons, such as spring, summer, autumn and winter; or as moon cycles such as red moon cycle, white moon cycle, pink or purple; or as phases of womanhood such as maiden, mother and crone. Again – there is no right or wrong, and it is about the essence of the energy, our unique landscape of our body, and how we feel. There is also no space for judgment and shaming another woman if she experiences a completely different period than ours, and I would suggest that you be discerning when reading articles on the topic especially if they have the perspective of what’s “right” or “better”.
Seasons change and our cycles also change. This is why I think it’s most important to focus on the essence of the energy and how our bodies feel and need during our everyday – to understand and be in tune with our natural cycles of our land. Some people say that when the period starts, spring starts, and others say that their new energy starts when their period ends.
For me particularly, I feel that my own spring begins at the end of menstruation. Spring is the time when things begin to have more energy outwardly and new ideas may enter – we feel cleansed and fresh. Then comes summer, which for me is my ovulation phase – I am in my fullest of creativity, sensuality, excitement and sexual power. My autumn follows, which is a quieter time with more introspection, and then comes winter, which is my menstruation, and it is a time of rest, release, cleansing and tending to whatever pleases me, even if just binge watching Netflix. I actually feel very powerful and sexual sometimes, in a specific sort of way – which is a quiet power. And my intuition and ability to see beyond the veil becomes even more powerful, especially if I’ve synced to the red moon cycle. There is also an incredible sense of peace and calm that falls upon me when my menstruation begins. This peace is just diving into the sea and relaxing in the waters, floating, and then a clarity comes. Suddenly everything I was worried about, particularly in the week before my period, is just evaporating.
Like I said, it is important to understand our bodies and natural flows. Let’s say you are having cramps. What is your body telling you? It is telling you that you need to retreat, stop moving, focus on yourself, be present with how you feel, and how with every cramp a built-in pressure or limitation or stress from the prior weeks that’s been accumulated, is now releasing itself, and taking you into greater inner peace. Sometimes when we’ve been focused too much on the external, our bodies start giving us signs such as subtle pains that we need to slow down and just do something that pleases us. Tend to what pleases you – is something to remember especially during your menstruation. These pleasures and experiences will then create the clear vessel through which something new will begin to birth in your spring phases.
C y c l e s + P h a s e s
To understand the moon cycles better, I would recommend that you read Womanhood and Rites of Passage where we go into detail about each phase: maiden, mother and crone. All of these phases also carry specific energies, and these energies can be embodied and experienced monthly throughout the woman’s cycle. For example, after the end of the menstruation, a woman can begin anew with the maiden phase, moving towards ovulation as the mother, and then entering a waning energy as the mystic or crone. A woman can also summon these energies during particular parts of her life, to support her. For example, she may want to start a new project, and so attuning herself to the energy of the maiden may be beneficial.
This is known as mystic phase where we go inward as our bodies cleanse. Whatever pressures and worries we’ve built during the month will now be released, which is why our period will change according to that – it might be heavy, or painful, or light. Usually in the week prior, we are more prone to stress, anxiety and worry, because everything is now building up higher and higher, and we are waiting for its release. Once the period begins, there is usually a sense of peace that unfolds and we need time to rest and relax.
This is a time of great insight and intuition as the channel within is becoming cleared – and now allowing for more insight to flow through us. Everything that we’ve learned and experienced in the weeks prior is now being organized within also, and we can be more in tune to our deep innate wisdom. We can reflect on all the things we’ve done, no matter how little, they are treasures we must honour and acknowledge, and feel our emotions freely. Too often as women we are just so hard on ourselves, thinking we are not doing enough, and it is now time to appreciate how much we are actually doing, just by holding space for others and caring for them. It is no small thing to care and listen. It is no small thing to love. It is no small thing to be beside our family and laugh with them so that they feel seen and appreciated. And it is okay to feel like there are still things we haven’t done or that we’ve disappointed ourselves by not accomplishing something – let it flow out of you and trust in the unfolding of your life, in the timing of your life – trust and deeply know that you are exactly where you need to be.
For women who are no longer menstruating: dear woman, you are holding wise blood. The strength, vitality and creativity don’t leave when blood leaves, it is wise blood, and is creating magic continously, just in different shapes. Menopausal women are actually known to experience incredibly strong creative and sexual power, and many of them become their most magical selves post menopause. Our modern society doesn’t support post-menopausal women as much as needed, and the changing bodies aren’t celebrated, and there isn’t even much information on how we change with age. There is a deep internal beauty and wisdom as we age, and it is one to be honoured and celebrated just as much.
White Moon and Red Moon Cycles.
The terms white moon and red moon symbolize the different ways a woman’s cycle is currently flowing with the moon. And this will often change throughout a woman’s life as she enters different phases and energies.
White Moon: This is when a woman menstruates around the new moon, and ovulates around the full moon. Traditionally, most women had their cycles aligned with the new moons and were known to be in their mother phase of womanhood. The moon wasn’t seen in the sky, and they too retreated into themselves. And when the moon was full, they were seen as most abundant and their sensuality magnified. In the old days, these women were favoured by the patriarchy because they were focused mainly on men and children.
If you are finding yourself in a white moon cycle, then you could be drawn towards being more nurturing towards your family, being in a role of homemaking and caring, and perhaps wanting to birth whether children or new creative projects. This energy might also be guiding you towards more self-love and self-care, and devote your energy inward for a while. Many women who are white moons for a long time, usually are walking a path of learning about self-love, which is similar to having Venus as a Morning Star.
Red Moon: This is when a woman menstruates around the full moon, and ovulates around the new moon. This usually aligns to the energy of the mystic, and many red moon women comes from lineages of high priestesses and healers. These women have innate wisdom within them, and powerful intuitions, and in the old days, they were feared by the patriarchy and even burned by being called “witches”. This is a less common cycle then the white moons, and it is focused on intuition, self-actualization, creative power, and empowering others through their innate wisdom.
All the power within that as women we all possess, is released during a full moon. Imagine how magical this is and how powerful as manifestation. This is why in the old days, it was precisely red moons that were the high priestesses, mystics, medicine women, wisdom keepers and healers. All their creative and sexual energy is released outward, rather than inward like the white moons. Red moons are also similar to Venus as the Evening Stars and often lead mystical lives. Red moon women also possess powerful sexual energy, which was another reason why patriarchal societies feared and tried to ban these women.
If you are currently in a phase of a red moon, perhaps this is guiding you towards sharing your gifts with others, whether creatively or as empowering other women through your wisdom. It is a time of creation and intuition, and the month ahead for you may be beautifully aligned to anything in these fields. The deep connection to sexual energy as red moon women, can also be inviting you to explore your senses and indulge in more creativity, and intimacy with a partner.
One thing that I want to discuss is that I’ve seen some articles say that white moons are more fertile than red moons, because new moon menstruation is the “right” way of syncing. This is absolutely false. I want to emphasize that red moons are just as fertile, and many women conceive on a red moon cycle. A woman’s fertility has nothing to do with the moon above us. If she has a regular cycle, whatever regular for her uniquely is, then it is all fine regardless of the moon.
There is actually an interesting thing in astrology though that I’ve read about and also seen in many pregnancies – and it is that most women conceive during the phase of their natal moon. For example, if you are born on a new moon, then you will naturally be more fertile on the day of the month when the moon is new. This means that if you are currently a red moon cycle, your ovulation would be on a new moon – which is your natal moon phase, and could be a magical time to conceive. And research has shown that babies conceived during red moon cycles were almost always girls! This is because red moons were those of the priestess lineages, and they’d continue the lineage through their daughters, passing on to her their innate gifts of intuition, wisdom, creativity, and empathy.
Is one cycle better than the other?
Absolutely not! In fact, unless your cycle is always 28-29 days, it will change throughout the years. There is no better or worse, no “normal”, and we are all unique. I’ve met women throughout my life who’ve often been so judgmental towards other women who’ve had cramps, just because they themselves didn’t have them. They’d say things like, “Well, it’s no big deal, I don’t have cramps or they don’t hurt so much. What are you complaining about?” Such statements are ignorant and we should move away from such ignorance. Every woman is different – that’s the only truth there is on this subject.
And things are constantly shifting, like the seasons. If we are open to receive and allow what comes up for us each month, then we’ll experience new insights about our cycles and learn more about body and energy. We’ll also become better at tuning into ourselves and our innate wisdom. Changing moon cycles is nothing to worry about – it is just a new way to embrace our natural rhythms.
I remember that I published my book during a white moon cycle, and a beautiful man reached out to me and we re-connected, sharing a new beginning of romanticism. And during my red moon cycle, I was deep into writing my book, imagining and channeling images and metaphors, and having many mystical experiences. And I was also connected to that same man, and we had a lot of conversations of emotional depth. As you see – you can have any experiences during any time, love is love at any time, creativity is creativity at any time, but these moon cycles are just another way to see where perhaps our energy is more easily flowing and how we can work with it shaping it in new ways.
What if my cycle doesn’t follow the full or new moon?
Then we find ourselves as pink or purple moons.
Pink Moon: This is when our menstruation starts during a waxing moon – which is between the new and full moon. It is usually a transitional phase when we are moving from introspection towards more light and expansion. Perhaps we’ve been delving into our red moon working on a project, and now it is time to be more expansive as the project begins to take on a more tangible shape. Perhaps we’ve just met someone new as a romantic partner and we are getting opening ourselves to more love and romanticism.
Purple Moon: This is when our menstruation starts during a waning moon – which is between the full and new moon. It is a transitional phase when we are moving towards more rest, quietness and working behind the scenes. It could be a great time for cleaning out the closet, going to spas and retreats, and delving into spiritual and mystical topics.
We are all unique and beautiful in our own ways – and this is where our sacred is. The more we embrace and embody our unique expression of feminine self, and the more we allow ourselves to flow within the natural cycles of the land that is our body, learning what messages it is telling us, the more pleasant we’ll be and the more pleasant our periods will be. It is a beautiful time of our life, it is a part of who we are, and it is essentially cleansing and calming, and relieves us into greater peace and harmony.
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Cover Photography by Jonna Jinton.