Menstrual Lunar Asynchrony –
what is the Earth Mother asking of us?
Jane Hardwicke Collings
The blueprint for women's menstrual cycles is to be in synchrony with the moon, the lunar cycle. Women are 'designed' to ovulate with the full moon and bleed with the dark moon. For many centuries due to light pollution, diet and our modern life styles, lunar menstrual synchrony for many women, has not been the case.
One of the graduates of the School of Shamanic Midwifery1 asked the question:
Menstrual Lunar Asynchrony, what is the Earth Mother asking of us?
I sought the answer…
Is this just a modern aberration?
Or is it a call from the Earth Mother to be the women She needs now?
According to the film The Moon Inside You2, 25% of women are menstruating at any one time.
There are approx 2 billion women (that's 2000 million) in the world between the ages of 12 and 50, the average ages of the menstrual cycle, so that means there are approx 500 million women bleeding at any one time. The point is that our blood is flowing around the month, not just at the dark of the moon which is our physiological blue print.
Prior to electricity, in the late 1800's, all women ovulated according to their physiological and hormonal response to the amount of light in the night sky. Our biological blueprint is to ovulate when there is the most light in the night sky – the full moon. This then leads to the bleeding time corresponding with the dark moon. We have a physiological feedback loop in our bodies that regulates our melatonin production, which influences many things including the hormones that ripen and release an egg from our ovary, according to the amount of light we are exposed to at night. With electricity and the resulting and increasing light pollution, as well as the physical stresses of travel, modern life and the chemical pollutants in the environment that we ingest and breathe, women now bleed and ovulate not only at different times to each other (unless they live together), also at different times to the moon's signals.
The moon creates the tides on the Earth as well as ours, it interacts with the electromagnetic fields of our body's and effects our internal physiological processes. Many women who understand the relationship between the moon and their menstrual cycle seek to align their cycle with the moon, but mostly this isn't what happens.
If we know that everything happens for a reason and that everything is in Divine order, the question to be asked is 'How Does This Serve?' What is the Earth Mother asking of us with this other than biological relationship with the moon that many women experience?
How does it serve that women bleed at the full moon and ovulate at the dark moon, and everything in between?
Many have written on this:
Miranda Gray, author of Red Moon and The Optimised Woman, writes of the White Moon cycle – when women ovulate at the full moon and bleed at the dark, new moon. She says when the fertile power of a woman and the full moon coincide, it provides 'the best conditions for her to express her creative energies in conception.' She says that this 'White Moon cycle became the cycle of the 'good mother', the only aspect of womanhood acceptable to the patriarchal society.' And the Red Moon cycle happens when a woman ovulates at the dark moon and bleeds at the full moon. This cycle, according to Miranda, 'shows an orientation away from the energies of procreation and the material world and towards inner development and its expression.' She says that 'this cycle was seen by men as more powerful and less controllable, and it became the cycle of the 'evil' woman, the seductress, the wise woman or the ugly witch, who's sexuality was applied to something other than the formation of the next generation.' She adds that 'both cycles are expressions of the feminine energies and neither is more powerful or more correct than the other.' And we know from the experiences of women who chart their cycles that, shifting from the White Moon cycle to the Red Moon cycle and back again, is what happens.
Luisa Francia, author of Dragontime, writes of the experiences of waxing moon, full moon, waning moon and dark moon menstruation.
Waxing moon menstruation: inward, self nourishing. Time to think, to learn, to read, time to make new discoveries and to receiving information from other women.
Full moon menstruation: outward, world nourishing, time to learn how to transform energy, to turn rage into creative action, belly cramps into sensuousness. 'You have to be a real bundle of energy to be happy and satisfied with your work under this charged condition.'
Waning moon menstruation: outward, world nourishing, time to create in the world what you have already created in your imagination. Time to substantiate your discoveries, verify knowledge, develop plans and projects and stabilise existing conditions.
New moon menstruation: inwards, self nourishing, into the cauldron. During this time anxieties, memories and experiences may rise up, eager to be dealt with, it is a strong time for healing.
Penelope Shuttle, co-author of The Wise Wound, says that she found her creativity to be particularly pronounced when she menstruated with the full moon.
Lara Owen, author of Her Blood Is Gold, writes, 'when I bleed with the full moon I am full of sexuality and creativity. I am a channel for the bright light of the moon and I sense her glow all around me. I usually require a time of peacefulness, but I need less time than when my period coincides with the new moon. When I bleed with the new moon I go very still and slow and retreat deep inside myself. It is a more of a cleansing, a purification.'
Christiane Northrup writes in Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom that 'getting my period at the time of the full moon results in a more intense period, I am more emotionally charged than usual, and my bleeding is often heavier than normal.'
The other situation that influences our cycle is our natal lunar phase. Each lunar cycle, when the moon is in the same phase as it was on the day we were born, we have the potential to ovulate. The blueprint is for this to coincide with the full moon, when our foremothers ovulated and conceived at the full moon, and then gave birth on the tenth full moon from then. However, these days, not everyone's natal lunar phase corresponds with their cycle ovulation day, and so this presents another opportunity for a potential conception or another fertile time to be aware of for contraception. As women cycle through their years sometimes their cycle ovulation and their lunar ovulation line up and this is seen and felt as a 'turbo' charged fertile time. Meditations and intentions can be done to align your cycle with your lunar ovulation, Francesca Naish3 in Sydney does this work.
Our lunar return, is perhaps the fertile time of the cycle we've come for this lifetime, given to us at our birth it becomes the mid point for our embodied cyclicality. Perhaps this is a clue, since the range is spread across the 29 .5 day lunar cycle. Does this shift us from a collective menstrual cycle experience to an individual experience, and how does this serve?
I asked some questions of a circle of women, to hear their experiences around menstrual lunar asynchrony.
There were 19 women, all who charted their cycle, more than half for over six years, with two over twenty years. Most were aware of when they ovulated and three quarters of them were not in synch with the moon when answering the questions. Almost all reported having been in synch with the moon previously.
The most common experiences that changed their cycles were – childbirth, trauma, paying attention to the moon and increased self care. Almost all found bleeding at other than the dark moon – more difficult, more painful, confusing, less deep an experience, and feeling 'out of sorts'. The most common comments about ovulating at other than the full moon were – felt less outgoing, less excitement and arousal, confused.
So How Does This Serve?
In what way does this experience teach, inform, enlighten a woman?
What does it show her that she might not otherwise notice?
The women who answered the questionnaire wrote about how their experiences of being out of synch with the moon, enabled them to see, feel and know the flow of energy that is the lunar cycle and the flow of energy that is their menstrual cycle. They were able to differentiate the two cycles, and in the process come to know themselves more fully as well as know the effects of the lunar cycle.
"Knowing my capabilities through the knowing of my cycle, that has come from learning about it, has given me powerful knowledge on how to work with the rhythm of my life in a way that is Taoist in essence. Grow things as need be and let go when needed. Letting go is challenging, hugely challenging, but so liberating for me too. This came into effect after my second birth and realising that I cannot control my life. Far from it. Surrendering to the rhythm of the cycles, mine, the moon and seasonal rhythms has given me much more freedom in my life. I know when I go against the grain of my rhythm or the rhythm of the moon and earth, I cannot expect my energy to be great or effective in my life." 4
The majority preferred to cycle in synch with the moon, feeling that as being more in flow with the outer energies that everyone else was effected by, and feeling their own cyclic energies enhanced by the lunar energies, and feeling 'in flow'.
So, what is the Earth Mother asking of us through this varied experience?
My experience and observations
During my years of exploring and teaching the women's mysteries I have seen and felt the juxtaposition of menstrual lunar asynchrony. It has felt to be the case over and over that a full moon ovulation is when you are in the baby-making phase of your life, and dark moon ovulation is when you are not and you are birthing deep parts and aspects of yourself rather than babies. Bleeding at the dark moon aligns with the energy of the moon at this part of her cycle and supports retreat, enables release, purification, cleansing, renewal and rebirth.
Bleeding always lures us inward, into our cave, for a time of contemplation, release and renewal, when the moon is full and we are bleeding, it is as if the lights are on in our 'cave' and we cannot hide from the parts of us that we 'need' to face and let go of.
My own experiences of my cycle and the lunar cycle have given me much to learn from. In my journals I find my musings.
February 6 2004
Full Moon and ovulating:
"Full moon blaring
You come onto me
My egg cracks
We are sticky with love."
This feels so easy and luscious to me, in synch with the moon, ovulating at the full, I feel juicy, loving, excited and in the flow, everything is good!
February 20 2004
Dark moon and bleeding:
In my journal there are contemplations on death –
"I fear the death of a mother or baby in my midwifery practice, is the protection and direction I can give enough to stop death? Theorectically yes, but what if it is that individual's journey, to die then? And I am but the midwife? What needs to be in place to accept death? To see death not as failure, not as my fault as midwife, but as that soul's choice?
And big ideas come that are the results of the cycle's figurings – 'Spinning Wheels'.
August 4 2004
Full moon and bleeding:
"light shines into the very deep crevasses of my stored fears, hurts and pains.
I 'see', light from the full moon shines on issues, fears etc that I thought were long gone. Add winter to the mix and its no wonder I am toiling around in my roots. Rising up from my depths is my resentment of not being able to pursue a career, have a' proper' job, because I have to stay home and look after the kids, the house etc etc ie do everything! I am feeling unappreciated. Wow, I thought I didn't feel that, but right here right now, its here, and I let go of that."
September 11 2004
Dark moon and ovulating:
"I feel a creative urgency and I dedicate my egg to the many projects I'm involved in as they near completion. This process enabled me to choose what I want to focus my energy on and what I want to let go of (dark moon energy). A baby is due and the fear of its death is prevalent in my meditation and in the mother's psyche. I have a shamanic meeting with Owl and she takes away the fears."
The modern woman has so many ways at her fingertips to control her cycle, she can regulate it, choose to bleed when it suits her or choose to never bleed again. All this of course is through the use of synthetic hormones either ingested or implanted in her womb or beneath her skin, or by surgical removal of the lining of her womb. Perhaps with such options that negate the wisdom of the cycle, women 'need' the experience that menstrual lunar asynchrony provides, showing them through their direct experience, what the energy of the cycle actually is. Maybe through noticing feeling 'out of sorts', not in flow, a woman begins her search for information and arrives at coming to know the power of the cycle and of woman. That is of course unless her search leads her to the doctor's office where she comes out with a prescription for The Pill. But as we know all paths lead us, whichever way, forward on our life journey, our journey to wholeness. And we will have the experiences we need to have to teach us what we need to learn to take us to the next place on our journey. Our menstrual cycle is our barometer of our being, it is directly effected by our life style, health and stresses. It will get us to the right place at the right time. The journey to know this uncovers the women's mysteries and takes a woman forward on her path of personal awareness and shows her the interconnectedness of everything. Through exploring her menstrual cycle she is invited into the realm of feminine wisdom, power and strength. She comes to realise that she needs to take responsibility for her life.
Is the Earth Mother inviting us on this journey within, to self reflection and responsibility, as a way to have us womenfolk know the importance of harmony, of flow? Is She offering us the opportunity to know this level of insight, of responsibility so we know this also for our rites of passage? So that we bring more consciousness to our daughter's menarche, to our childbearing and to our menopause?
The experience of 25% of women bleeding at one time, creates a less collective experience than our ancestral blueprint, than our ancestor's experience. This invites individual enquiry and so opens a woman to her connection with the moon.
Could it be through exposure to the letting go and renewal opportunity twice in a month, through her menstrual cycle and through the lunar cycle, that a woman can process more, more often, more quickly? Could this be part of a basic pattern in play to raise consciousness? Could it be that if a quarter of the fertile women on the planet were bleeding at any one time, that there would be a sustained focus of feminine power throughout the lunar cycle, therefore increasing awareness, raising consciousness and healing societal ills?5 And likewise for ovulation and waxing and waning phases, with 500 million women at each of these phases all of the time, could this be contributing to the increased energy required to shift consciousness?
Could there be a connection between a woman's natal lunar phase, and her related lunar fertility each moon cycle, and her menstrual cycle's asynchrony with the moon? Is each woman's cycle more likely to synchronise with her own body's encoded relationship with the moon, her lunar return as the peak of her cycle, her ovulation? steering her toward the soul work she has come to do this life time as indicated by her chosen birth day and the related significance of the lunar phase on that day?6
Are we, the women of the Earth, at this critical time in humanity's spiritual evolution, receiving through our menstrual lunar asynchrony, the impulse to live more consciously, to do our inner work called of us as we experience the asynchrony, to co-create the outer change so many of us know is required for living sustainably on Earth?7
I facilitated a workshop with a group of women at the Australian Goddess Conference8 in Queensland in 2011, on this subject. We reviewed the lunar cycle and the menstrual cycle, how they reflect each other and the wisdom within that. And we examined the effects of menstruating at the full moon, ovulating at the dark and all the variations that the group represented.
We sat in a circle according to where we were in our menstrual cycles and felt into the effects the current lunar phase was having on our menstrual experience. The phase of the moon during the workshop was three days past full, the Disseminating Moon, (sometimes called Waning Gibbous). The women did a shamanic drum journey to connect with the Earth Mother to receive information about how to best flow with these effects. Half the group were close to or in synch with the moon and half were not.
Of those who were in synch the messages included:
"This is what you asked for!"
Of those who were not in synch the messages included:
"I need to let go RIGHT NOW."
"I must hold more light for longer."
When we talked about the messages they received, and how their current cycle alignment with the lunar phase was working for them now, it became clear that their cycles were how they were for their own life specific personal, life journey, reasons. The idea that nothing was 'wrong', that in fact they were in the 'perfect' place for their life journey right now, and that was reflected by their menstrual cycle, was a profound realisation for us all. Of course that's obvious, however in a culture that pathologises everything9, and a sub-culture that sees menstrual lunar synchrony as the ideal, to be reassured that we were all exactly where we needed to be was heartening.
These questions that we ask because we notice what's going on with our bodies and our relationship to the cosmos, are the questions that will lead us to a greater and fuller understanding of the way of things. This in turn gives us greater choice in the way we behave and live, enabling us to raise our consciousness and be the women the Earth, our Mother, needs right here, right now, grounded in deep feminine wisdom.
Thanks to the women who asked and answered the questions.
Thanks to the Earth Mother.
4 Sophia Cece
5 Ideas from Pip Cooper
6 Ideas from Melinda Whyman
7 Ideas from Sophia Cece
9 mild exaggeration
The Wise Wound – Menstruation and Everywoman by Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove
The Wild Genie – The Healing Power of Menstruation by Alexandra Pope
Dragontime by Luisa Francia
Her Blood is Gold – Reclaiming the Power of Menstruation by Lara Owen
Women's Bodies Women's Wisdom by Dr Christiane Northrup
Natural Fertility by Francesca Naish
The Lunar Cycle by Francesca Naish
Red Moon by Miranda Gray
Optimised Woman by Miranda Gray