Honouring Our Premenstrum and Bleeding Time
Understanding the Magick Inherent in the Winter of Our Menstrual Cycle
“Preparing for the descent, I recognise my patterns. Of course that’s the point. I’ve gotten better at this over years, taking less heads now and seeing it for what it is. There’s no avoiding it and so the choice is whether I take the path inward and down with awareness or not.”
The Red Tent has been, and in some places remains, an actual place. It may also be referred to by it’s Native American name – the Moonlodge. In our modern western patriarchal culture it has almost disappeared in terms of it’s social acceptability, however it remains in our hearts and souls as the place we retreat to during our bleeding time. The Red Tent must live on, either literally or metaphorically – how ever you can manage it – in order for you, and therefore ‘all your relations’, to honour the wisdom of the cycles and the opportunities that the Earth, The Goddess, provides for us.
In the old times before electricity and when we lived together as a community, the women all bled at the same time, the dark of the moon. They would retreat together to the Red Tent, and enjoy their bleeding time free of the chores and concerns of their lives. They usually spent 3 days away from their families, just with the other women. They would talk together, rest, dream, care for themselves and each other. It was a nurturing environment that they all loved and appreciated. During this retreat time they would often together discuss and figure out any problems that were occurring in their lives or in the community. Many of the women would have prophetic dreams during this time. The women would be blessed with a vision on their third day of bleeding and this would be shared with the whole community on their return. The community hugely valued and relied on these visions the women would return with and used them as instruction for direction and focus for the community.
Our menstrual cycle, day by day, is the creatrix of the quality and level of our energy -physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. The dance of our hormones, the rise and fall, the wax and wane, the ebb and flow affects us completely, is us. To ignore this is to invite pathology.
The second half of the last week of our menstrual cycle, day 24-28 (average numbers) and the first half of the first week, day 1-3, are as if the winter season of our cycle, as if the balsamic old moon to the new crescent moon phase equivalent of our menstrual cycle. To not see this is to miss the opportunities it has, and insists on, and instead create havoc.
During the last few days of your menstrual cycle, just like in the beginning of winter and the balsamic lunar phase, the ‘lessons’ or ‘results’ from this cycle we are nearly finished, are available. The harvest is in, and ‘the fruits of our labour’ from this cycle are what we have to sustain us for the winter and early spring. Our ‘garden’ will soon sleep, nurturing the seeds that have resulted from this cycle’s growth for the next cycle. These will sprout in the spring, and will reflect how we used the opportunities of this phase.
The feelings you may be experiencing during this winter phase of your menstrual cycle can be either – glad of where your at with your life, or fed up. You may be feeling ready to let go and surrender or feeling frustrated and annoyed. You are less interested in everyone else and less available emotionally to others. You feel inwardly focussed.
“Don’t ask me to do anything”, “Leave me alone”. You are preparing for the descent into the dark of your personal winter. This can be seen as the ‘Distillation and Clarity Phase’. You may be hearing yourself thinking “I get it now” and hopefully “I’m letting go of this and not taking into my next cycle”.
Herein lay the magick.
Magick is using your will and intentions to change or manifest things or situations in flow with the energies of Nature. Our menstrual cycle, which mirrors the lunar cycle, gives us the opportunity each cycle to perform transformational magick. In week three and four of our cycles – the metaphoric autumn and early winter of our cycles – anything that no longer serves us, be it a mode of behaviour, a belief, an attitude or a fear, shows up in our daily life as irritations and annoyances. We seem no longer able to tolerate certain things. We want for these situations to change. Unfortunately, our inner desire and need for this metaphoric ‘late autumn pruning’ – chopping off the parts that get in the way of the best growth of the whole tree – have been misunderstood and labelled as pathology. It is called Premenstrual Syndrome, and is collectively seen as a time when one expects a woman to be cranky, in a bad mood and perhaps experiencing all sorts of different unpleasant physical symptoms. The idea is to keep well away from her. If you are her, then you may feel lost in a whirlpool, feeling out of control, short tempered and with little tolerance for things that you usually do tolerate earlier in your cycle.
Rather than seeing this as a problem, it is an opportunity. What ever is showing up in your life in the late autumn, early winter phase of your menstrual cycle, as no longer working for you, as being intolerable, you can take the opportunity to review. Ask yourself “How does this serve me?” It serves to show you what you need to change about yourself so that you can let that go with your blood and transform the energy into something else. When a woman can decipher from what irritates her, the things about herself she needs to change, she can let these go with her blood and not take them into her next cycle. But that’s mostly what happens, we miss the opportunity for the transformation and instead take the same energy, instead of a transformed energy, into the next cycle and it grows bigger. A lifetime of this leads to women feeling like they are on a treadmill, ‘same old, same old’, nothing changes, and actually their problems just feel like they get bigger and bigger.
Woman, the creatrix, is herself reborn each cycle. Reborn in an evolving state if she takes this innate opportunity to let go of that which no longer serves her, spiralling forward on her path of evolution. Or she is reborn back into the circle of the same issues and same energy if she does not.
When you recognise what needs to change, write it down. Have a special book for this. Write down what you will be letting go of with your blood and what you want to have that energy transform into.
“I let go of my impatience with my children”
“I let go of always wanting to be right”
“I give thanks for my loving, trusting, knowing of the perfection of everything and every moment”
“I know what’s right for me”
When your blood comes, day one of week one of your new cycle, you are literally letting go of all that you created in your womb the past cycle, and you can let go with your blood, whatever you need to.
When you start to bleed, starting your new cycle, the energy is similar to the last half of winter. You are content to stay home, you would rather not be rushing around. It’s the ‘Death Rebirth Phase’. You are inwardly focussed and engaged in life review. You are assessing what works and what doesn’t. Your preference is that you be alone, and ideally on retreat, in the Red Tent. Many times what we do if that’s not possible is create situations so that we are left alone, like having fights with those around us!
During our bleeding time we can call for or have spontaneous visions of how it might be this new cycle. It is the time to metaphorically plant seeds for the new cycle.
During your bleeding time you will probably feel quiet and inward and like hanging out the “Do Not Disturb” sign. Your life circumstance may make retreating from your usual life during your bleeding time impossible. The Red Tent can be just as much a state of mind as a literal place. Taking time during your bleeding time to feel how you feel, to care for and nurture yourself, to journal, to read, will have a huge effect on how you feel the rest of your cycle. The Red Tent as a way of being could be simply a special bath, a massage, quiet time to read and write in your journal, maybe even an early night to bed.
Collect your blood and make a ceremony out of reading your blood prayers to the Goddess. Read out what you are letting go of and what you call forth as you pour your blood on the earth. You could use a pot plant or your garden. The Earth will change your blood into pure energy and use it as nutrition, fertiliser for new life. The magick is enacted, what you are letting go of with your blood will be transformed and will energise your prayers.
Collect your menstrual blood with a menstrual cup, or by soaking your cloth pads.
Do this blood prayer ceremony on day 4 or 5, or when ever you want to.
After bleeding you will feel soft and a bit vulnerable and like you’re peeking back out at the world.“Here I come again”.
How you care for yourself during your bleeding time will be reflected in the rest of the cycle. Using the gardening metaphor again, how the new seeds are nurtured, or not nurtured, will be seen in the results of the harvest.
Let Nature, The Goddess, be your guide. Let your leaves fall in autumn, rest in winter doing the inner work, be reborn in spring
Here are some questions to contemplate and journal on:
How am I managing the call inward?
How am I sharing out my responsibilities this week?
How is my energy level?
What do I want to let go of and not carry into my next cycle?
How will I retreat during my bleeding time? What would be perfect?
What is my vision for my next cycle?
Do I feel the desire for inner quiet time, retreat time?
How do I negotiate, claim my retreat time?
What am I letting go of in my life, my work, my family, my relationships?
What are my prayers and intentions for this new cycle?
Suggestions for connecting with your cycle:
Chart your cycle and observe your waxing and waning times.
Make your own pads.
Create an altar dedicated to the feminine. Decorate it with treasures that remind you of the energy of your cycle. Light a candle on your altar each morning or night as you make your intentions or give thanks for your day.
Journal. Answer the questions for each week (see Thirteen Moons on www.moonsong.com.au).
Journal your memories of your menarche and early menstrual experiences.
Be ready for your approaching bloodtime, adjust your plans around it.
Cook in preparation for your bleeding time. Make a pot of hearty soup that you can easily feed yourself and everyone else from during your bleeding time.
When your blood comes:
Slow down when you feel to.
And the end of one cycle imagine how you want your next cycle to go.
Experiment with dreaming by asking particular questions of your dreams.
Invoke a particular Goddess archetype to be with you during your bloodtime, perhaps Maeve or Kali
Draw or paint.
Meditate – with or without questions and perhaps focussed on what it is you will let go of with your blood this cycle.
Do gentle exercise such as walking in nature and consciously connecting with it.
Feed yourself well.
Use special linen at bloodtime, like red coloured!
Be kind to yourself – go with your flow!
“The whole menstrual cycle is an alchemical process in itself, during which every woman who bleeds goes through a transformation inside herself. To menstruate means to live through a cyclical transmutation in which the past is shed and the new in embraced. Experiencing this transformation through conscious ritual awakens us to our connection with the cycles taking place all around us and to our relationship with all life.” Lara Owen – “Her Blood is Gold”