In the winter of 2004, Kym and I gave the first Maiden MoonSong workshop to the high school girls of the Bowral Rudolf Steiner School.
There were eleven year 8 and 9 girls, 14-16 years old and their teacher Kate. We invited them to feel free to wear whatever they wanted and took them for a day, off-campus to a charming home up in the hills behind Berrima.
It was a beautiful day, the girls – the maidens, like the spring buds they are – opened slowly, sharing their feelings and thoughts about what it meant to them to be a woman, to feel the sexual energy of their bodies and to bleed.
We showed them the phases of the moon and how they experience the same cycle in their own monthly menstrual cycles.
They heard that the same lunar energy that moved the waters of the Earth also affected their ‘waters’ – their fluids – their blood and their emotions and moods. They saw the connection.
We showed them the cycle of the seasons of the Earth and the vegetation cycle and they could also see that these too played out in their lives.
They heard that they were made of the same minerals that are found in everything of this Earth and that these minerals moved between all life on Earth.
They began to get the message, from all these parallels, that they were part of something far grander than many of them had imagined.
We talked about the special-ness, unique-ness and the once-in-a-lifetime-ness of being a Maiden and they felt honoured.
They felt us bring reverence to this phase of their lives, seeing it as a time to be celebrated and not rushed through on the way somewhere else.
They heard the benefits of ‘going with the flow’ of their cycle, how to nurture themselves, and to know that the feelings they have at different times of their monthly cycle are their body talking to them of their needs and desires.
They heard that to listen to these needs and desires and to flow with them was actually the point of them and that doing so would bring them more peace and harmony.
We taught them more about their menstrual cycles, about their Lunar Ovulation – the second time per month that they ovulate, how to chart their cycle, their feelings, and the moon phases and how this process would deepen their connection and understanding.
It was a beautiful beautiful day; we were all deeply bonded from our journey together.
Two days before the start of spring that year, on the Blue Moon, we gathered again to create a sacred place in the school grounds.
This would be a place the girls could visit for contemplation, to do their blood prayers and to connect with the Earth. Kym brought a large rock from the bush land around her home and planted it beneath an old apple tree near the school’s biodynamic gardens. We called it the Maiden Stone. We carved symbols, ancient and new, on the Maiden Stone, our marks.
We made prayers together, one for the planet, one for our community and one for ourselves. We felt the power and the strength of our coming together to make prayers at a sacred place; it felt both new and primeval.
In the last week of school, as the summer was coming on, we had our last circle of that year.
All the girls from year 6 to year 10 and many of the female teachers gathered around the Maiden Stone. There were around 30 of us, standing together holding hands in the hot sun that day.
We drew energy up from the earth through our feet, feeling the grounding effect of this purposeful connection. We physically joined ourselves together by wrapping red wool around our wrists, passing the ball of wool around the circle as we welcomed each one of us by name to the circle. “My name is Jane” “Welcome Jane, welcome to this circle”.
We broke our selves apart from the main ball of wool, and tied three knots to make bracelets. With each knot we made a prayer and spoke our three prayers into the circle. We closed our circle sending our healing love energy to the girls who needed it.
Over those next few weeks when any of us glanced at our wrists, we saw our red woollen bracelet with its three prayer knots, and felt our link to each other.
SUNSONG –That’s what we called the boys workshop…. As we got into the cars, I passed each of the boys a scroll, it read: “Welcome to this special day we’ve called SunSong. We are travelling now to the home of one of our school families who have generously invited us to spend the day there. Once we arrive you will go on an individual silent walk into the bush. Your mission is to find – or let it find you -a symbol from Nature that represents where you feel you are on your life’s journey. Bring it with you to the ‘Temple’ and we shall begin.”
The 12 boys of the Bowral Rudolf Steiner School, years 9 and 10, their teacher Ben and Kym and I, gathered at Temple Attunga, sat in a circle on the floor and ‘opened the door’ of the House of Women’s Mysteries and Feminine Wisdom. It was the end of winter, they entered the ‘Temple’ – the sacred space that Kym and I had created with their symbols from Nature, mostly sticks and mostly big! And one with spring wildflowers. It was an honour to accompany the young men on their discovery of the mysterious feminine energy that they had witnessed their female friends become absorbed by.
Knowledge is power and this knowledge seemed to empower the boys with an empathic reverence for Women, and all this was a gift from their female classmates.
This day with the boys came about primarily because the girls, after ‘doing’ Maiden MoonSong, asked us to PLEASE tell the boys in their classes this information. The girls thought the boys really needed to hear it. They were a tight-knit group; about 15 girls and 10 boys and most of them had grown up together. Once the girls shifted into Womanhood with their menarche (first blood) their lives changed and they felt the boys never really understood.
The girls hoped that with the MoonSong information, the boys would ‘get it’ and most importantly respect it. We told the boys that not too long ago in our collective Human story, they would have been privy to the Women’s Mysteries and the wisdom inherent in the cycles, they would have grown up being part of it all from their Mother’s laps and via their sister’s experiences until they themselves reached puberty and then became part of the Men’s ‘camp.
When we lived communally, not that long ago, together we would have celebrated and honoured the seasons, the grand cycles. This particular aspect was not new to them because they celebrate and honour the cycles of the seasons at their school. We talked about the patriarchy in which we live; about it’s effects on the feminine and on us all.
I read them the Herstory that speaks of the abhorrent treatment of women through the ages. We talked about rites of passage and the lack of these in the modern life. We taught them, actually reminded and reconnected them, to the energies of the Earth’s seasons, and how this was reflected in their life seasons – son, father, magus and wise man.
We taught them about the moon’s phases and how they could align and work with them. The boys were most interested in our talk about sex, about sperm and about when young women are most likely to get pregnant. They now know more about the menstrual cycle, when women ovulate and how they (mostly) feel and behave at different times of their cycle.
They loved the information about the three types of sperm that they each made – blocker, killer and fertiliser; the fact that they produced 400,000 sperm each time they ejaculated and that the sperm could live up to five days in the right environment. They seemed quite empowered by this information! – In a reverential way.
The boys asked lots of questions about their female classmates moods and behaviour and on connecting it to their cycles and they understood. They also seemed to understand, on some level, the very different experience it is to be female in our world. The boys were so thankful for their day together with Kym and I.
Many of them had strong reactions and feelings about the mistreatment of women and it felt like through bringing their awareness to this, they would not participate in its perpetuation. The girls greeted the boys back, ‘sniffing’ them to see if they’d changed. It was a privilege to participate in this. We have continued the Maiden Moonsong and Sunsong workshops each year since for the years 7, 8 and started a maiden circle that has met monthly at the new moon.
A self selected group from the many girls we’ve taught the wisdom of the cycles to, gathers together with Kym, Kate and me after school. We share where we’re at, dialogue on the cycles and deepen our knowing and connection. It’s a beautiful thing.
Our community meets regularly on the seasonal sabbats and at Beltane we conduct the rites of passage for the boys who’ve turned 13 that past year and welcome to womanhood the girls who’ve started menstruating. They feel so honoured and special. I believe they will use this ‘food’ and grow strong and capable, precisely what the Earth needs of them.