When sharing this information with other women, it can feel like I'm presenting a completely alien concept and idea. Especially to any busy mums, the idea of taking time out from the world during a period can seem absolutely ridiculous, as though I'm not on the same planet. There may be a rub, a feeling of dis-ease here, and the space that presents is a breeding ground for judgement. In the beginning (and before I had a child of my own), even when other women seemed interested, if they had children or worked long hours, thoughts came to me that I must be self-obsessed and, ‘have no idea what it’s like’. One sister even said to me that she sees any self care as narcissistic.
Why do we feel that any self care is wrong? Why do we as women become reared on the prescription that we must take care of everyone else and ignore ourselves? The neglect of the Feminine - that is the yin, being, rested state - is deep within our bodies, our stories and our world. This work seeks to recognise and restore the Feminine and every time we can share it with another woman, planting the seed, we are coming up against centuries of institutionalised neglect, a world long-ordered by masculine/positiva energy that is obsessed with Doing not Being, Masculine over Feminine, Productivity not Rest. We organise our world by the monthly cycles of the moon, living according to a monthly calendar, a 24 hour day, but have been conditioned to ignore the cycles of our own body. It’s madness. Women have been consistently pushed down, ignored, mistreated, abused, denied and cut off. Being detached from our own internal order is possibly the biggest act of deception of all.
Let's look at a little history...
In the 1920s it was thought that menstrual blood was a dangerous pollution that could "blight flowers and prevent jam from setting, and bread from rising.” This theory about an invisible substance called 'menotoxin' is related to an earlier idea from the early Roman Empire about pollution in the female body and it went on to pop up again in the 1970s with experiments on menstrual blood. Helen King suggests "there was simply a male fear of women’s hidden powers.”
I mean, women and their powers have been estranged for centuries. From the witch hunts in the 1500s killing hundreds of thousands of women to the removal of menstruation via the contraceptive Pill and the rise of eating disorders, the patriarchy have so far done really well at keeping us away from our wisdom.
Between 1482 and 1782 a genocide against women throughout Europe had them burned at the stake. Cited as for outwardly religious or economic reasons, a detrimental by product was the "turning off” of women sharing ideas. The idea of being a homeopath or holistic healer would have been a lethal one. So what happened to these concepts after this period? How long did it take to be OK to be someone working in the holistic field? How did this affect the menstrual gatherings? If I was around today spreading cycle awareness I'd be sure as hell lying on that pyre.
Every woman has their own individual experience of the contraceptive pill, with many perfectly happy. But for many the Pill hasn’t been the saviour that it was sold to be. So many women I know have tried one, two or three types of the Pill before coming off altogether. Many talk of “going mad” or “feeling unhinged.” It’s a kind of sexual freedom, but is it a mental health trap? Yes it gives you protection from pregnancy, but what else comes along with it? Anxiety, depression, worse? Why is the Pill still the first thing that GPs recommend to young women who are seeking contraception? If hormonal contraceptives have been linked to a 70% higher risk of depression and up to triple the risk of suicide as women who had never taken them and that’s OK, are we not still burning women at the stake?
Speaking of burning, an antiseptic soap called Lysol was one of the most popular contraceptive methods in the 1920-50s. However, not only was the marketing of Lysol massively sexist, the product itself often caused internal tissue damage to women and its corrosive effect was linked to a number of vaginal burn injuries and even poisonings and deaths among women.
The other pretty big thing about the Pill is that it turns off your natural ability to menstruate (the monthly bleed on the Pill is synthetic). This means your natural menstrual cycle powers (of which I teach) are also switched off.
We all know how much women have been coerced into hating their bodies. It’s the biggest tragedy of the modern woman that while Feminism has risen, the bodies holding the placards have shrunk. We’ve been conditioned to loathe, scold, hold to account, punish, restrict or even detach from the vessels we inhabit. In the late 1990s and early 2000s things really started to intensify with the rise of the dreaded Size 0. In England there was an 80% rise in the number of young girls admitted to hospital with anorexia during that decade. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. What are we doing to our women, once again? Incidentally, eating disorders can suppress your hormones so much that they turn off your ability to menstruate.
Taking our power back
All this has been happening while we have lived in a patriarchal, capitalist society that has no interest in reviving cyclical living.
But we are witches. We are wise. We have an inbuilt intelligence coded into our being. Into our bodies.
Living cyclically with my cycle as a guide has given me a new appreciation of my body. It's levelled up my approach to self care and changed my life in a way I could never have predicted.
We can all learn and access this way of cyclical living, and say no to the suppression and shaming of our bodies. So I ask you one question: are you in? X