The Power of our MoonTime
In my former women’s group, we talked about so much but after a while I noticed that there was a subject we rarely discussed — our periods, known by many names such as MoonTime, Flow, and even “the curse”. This omission somewhat surprised me. Were they embarrassed? Or perhaps it was that many of us were post-menopausal and perhaps they might have thought that made the discussion not relevant? But is it irrelevant? Do some dismiss the power of our wombs just because we are no longer fertile?
I previously shared some of the thoughts below with my group, but thought they may benefit a wider audience, and a starting place for others to consider their relationship with their Inner Cauldron, their womb… their uterus… the place of their Divine Feminine, regardless of whether or not they have one and regardless of where they are in the cycle of blood mysteries (onset of menarche, childbirth, menopause).
As we approach the New Moon in Virgo on September 14th, it seems an ideal time to begin or revisit that conversation, as the Dark/New Moon is — for some women — the time when they experience their flow, their Moon Time.
Red Moon and White Moon Cycles
In earlier times, women cycled naturally with the Moon just as the oceans do, the tides surging higher or lower corresponding to the phases of the Moon. Many women started their cycle at the New Moon and ovulated at the Full Moon, while for others it was/is the opposite. For others, there was no consistency at all.
That original cycle is still embodied and honoured in the traditional energetic flow of our lunar cycle. The Dark/New Moon is considered our beginning, a time of deep reflection and shedding. Our energies rise throughout the first half of the cycle, peaking at ovulation/peak power and creativity at the Full Moon, when we are most fertile — however that expresses itself, such as through ovulation or creativity. And in the second half of the lunar cycle, our feminine yin energies rise in preparation for the return of a new cycle. But even though our energy may not flow with Grandmother Moon’s it doesn’t mean we are out of sync with Nature… just that our creative energies are expressed in a different way.
I recently looked back at my first MoonTime (yes, I remember the precise date) to see when it was relative to GrandMother Moon’s journey. It was at the Full Moon. That is considered, by some, to be a Red Moon Cycle, while flow at the New / Dark Moon is considered a White Moon Cycle.
Apparently many believed that the Red Moon cycle “belonged to the medicine women, to the midwives, the magic-makers and the wisdom keepers of the community. These women were not focusing their feminine energies to give birth to children. Rather their energy was used to empower other women and their communities. ” (source) Sounds good to me. I followed this path in my life, and did not choose motherhood.
In the Red Moon / White Moon paradigm, the White Moon cycle represents “the fertile power of women and was considered the cycle of the ‘good mother.’ These women were the ones who were celebrated in patriarchal times under the full moon fires with ceremony and fertility rites.” (source)
In her book Red Moon Miranda Gray says, “A woman with the White Moon cycle, bleeding with the dark (new) Moon, becomes linked to the deepest levels of her awareness, reminding her that there exists more than just the world she sees, because she is the carrier of the seed of life. A woman with a Red Moon cycle, bleeding with the full moon, brings the energies and mysteries of her inner darkness out into the world around her as a gift and an offering of the depths of her learning.” (quoted here)
Connecting to your Moon Time Energies
For those of you still experiencing MoonTIme / menstruation, raise your awareness to the times of menstruation and ovulation. Some of us use apps to do so, or simply note in their diary, whilst others like to make a monthly Moon Wheel, like the ones created by Shekinah Mountainwater, pictured above. You can read about her Moon Wheels here in this blog, or in her book Ariadne’s Thread: A Workbook of Goddess Magic (affiliate link, Amazon Canada)
While looking at the information you have gathered, ask or meditate on questions such as:
- Are my periods regular? Short or longer duration?
- Are my periods aligned more with a White Moon cycle or the Red Moon cycle?
- How do I feel energetically, emotionally and mentally during my flow or during ovulation?
And then meditate on whether the descriptions of red/white cycles above relate to how you experience your cycle. Perhaps you have different associations. Perhaps you have different experiences. Raise your awareness to the qualities associated with your cycle.
For those post-menopause, know that even though neither ovulating nor menstruating, your womb is a vital functioning organ with hormonal energies still at work and relating to the ebb and flow of the lunar cycle too. Raise your awareness to how the energies of your body and mind might change over the lunar journey, at the dark moon and the full moon. Is there a pattern? How can you work with that pattern, and (re)create a relationship with your inner Cauldron, your womb?
Moon Time as Sacred Ritual
Some time ago, I had a powerful reminder of how sacred our Moon Time is. I participated in a workshop led by The Medicine Collective, a group of local First Nations elders and wisdom-keepers here in Vancouver. We were preparing blends of sacred herbs and tobacco, which will be shared with the local community for ceremonial use throughout the year (and a pouch to take home for our own rituals).
Before we began the opening ritual, a woman in the workshop said it was her Moon Time, and that in her people’s traditions — the Cree — women did not participate in ritual at that time, so she asked for a blessing.
This opened us all up to a beautiful discussion on women’s blood mysteries and how the Moon Time was/is respected in First Nations’ traditions. And by the way, this particular workshop was led by the male Elders of the Collective, who spoke so powerfully and lovingly about their wives, daughters, sisters, aunties, and grandmothers, and their powerful role within their Nation.
Moon Lodges / Red Tents
You are likely familiar with the First Nations’ concept of the Moon Lodge, and/or the Grandmother Lodge. Starting with a woman’s first flow, she would join the Moon Lodge every month, sitting with other women and with the elders in ritual, reflection, renewal, guidance from Creator, and ceremony. In other cultures, these had other names too, such as Red Tent.
The women did not participate in other rituals at their Moon Time because their flow was the ritual, a sacred ceremony, recognizing the spirituality of creating life, of the blood mystery itself, of the purification it represents. Elder woman also joined Grandmother Lodges, recognizing that even though their flow had ended, energetically that flow was still there… ebbing and flowing within their body, expanding and contracting, maintaining their connection to Grandmother Moon.
So, each month, women sat together empowering each other, sharing, inspiring, learning, mentoring and supporting each other in the transition from Flowering Maidens (this was also part of the many groups within Celtic cultures) to the Fruit of Motherhood/Woman to the nurturing Seed of the Wise Woman.
Can you imagine what it was like to welcome your menarche in this way? And all the blood mysteries, including childbirth and menopause? And to have the support of women in Circle 13 times a year, every year?
In your Soul Work at this New Moon, reflecting on the Blood Mysteries in your life, and your relationship to them, how you honour them, how you felt about your own menarche or your own menopause. Reflect deeply on the relationship you have with your womb. Most importantly, ask your Self if you are content with your current relationship to your womb, or if would you like to manifest a new relationship with it.
And let’s not assume that this is a simple or easy reflection.
Many of us have very complex relationships with our body, and with the Inner Cauldron of our womb. For instance, all my life, I had extremely erratic periods. I suffered from PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome), and was told I likely could not conceive. So, I chose a different path, and was very happy with it. And perhaps even without the PCOS, I might have made the same choices.
Others experience complex and challenging relationships with their Inner Cauldron. For instance, some have an inability to conceive. Others have painful periods due to endometriosis, cysts, miscarriages, or other conditions, and may even have an absence of a uterus. This may create a spiritual crisis for some — manifesting in anger, despair, depression and other emotions — while others may channel their energies and heal in a different way.
For those who are mothers of pre-menarche girls, do consider how your relationship with your womb might be influencing how you counsel your daughter when it comes to her MoonTime. Would you like her experience to be similar to yours, or different? What do you wish you had been told by your mother or father? And what might you want to share with your sons about women’s cycles?
A Caution: Mythology and Misinformation
Something else to consider in your meditations, or in a moon lodge / rent tent session.
It is important to consider the mythology of one’s cycle, the misinformation you may have received, and the cultural influences that abound when it comes to both menstruation and menopause. For instance, if something is called “the curse”, would you embrace it as a positive element of your life?
Science is still lacking when it comes to women’s health, and for many years various studies (and treatments, when required) on women’s reproductive health — fertility, childbirth, menopause, and uterine/ovarian diseases such as endometriosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, cystitis, etc — simply did not exist. Studies on drugs and other treatments for more universal health conditions were woefully imbalanced, focusing often just on groups of white male volunteers (this is changing, finally).
And science didn’t always get it right: what comes immediately to mind is the ancient concept of mental illness as “hysteria” (the Greek word for uterus) being rooted in a floating or displaced womb of raging hormones, causing madness! (additional reading on this). Although most early scientists, medics and philosophers, including Hippocrates, saw this illness as exclusively in women, one ancient philosopher — Galen of Pergamon (AD 129-99) — did describe a male version of that, caused by sexual abstinence, causing “retention of sperm”. And don’t get me started on Freud!
But yet, many still look at women and our so-called “raging hormones” as a reason to dismiss our opinions or abilities as invalid. These types of beliefs have been used to influence voters, juries, employers and health service providers. The transition through menopause has spawned an industry based on hormone replacement to calm the fluctuations.
But are hormones even related to mental health? Tania Elfersy in her The Wiser Woman blog post Perimenopause, menopause and mental health notes that “no studies have succeeded to confirm a causal relationship between hormone levels and mental health. …. While hormone levels DO NOT determine mental health, hormone fluctuations do create a sensitive time. As I have previously discussed in this blog, women journey through sensitive times during adolescence, pregnancy, postpartum and during midlife change. If our lives are out of balance at these times, we can quickly experience intense feelings and symptoms.”
So this is something to consider, and we cannot use this rampant misinformation / disinformation is to define our own expectations, or even see them as valid or universal for all. For instance, my menopause was barely noticeable — no hot flushes, no night sweats, no emotional tides or fluctuations — whilst many of my friends had very different experiences.
During your meditations or discussions, do consider what is true and what is myth, and how not knowing which was which may have impacted you… and what you might do to change that.
A Final Word
Whatever path your journey through the blood mysteries has taken you or is taking you, do consider connecting with other women — in a Moon Lodge / Red Tent virtual circle or just over a cup of tea with friends or family — and opening up conversations about our connections to our Inner Cauldrons. We can learn so much by connecting with others and sharing our experiences, fears, joys, insights, positive thoughts and support.
Header Image, “Dancing Women by Métis Artist Leah Dorion
Women And Hysteria In The History Of Mental Health by Cecilia Tasca, Mariangela Rapetti, Mauro Giovanni Carta and Bianca Fadda; Dipartimento di Storia, Beni Culturali e Territorio, Università di Cagliari, Italia
Perimenopause, menopause and mental health, by Tania Elfersy
Red Moon by Miranda Gray (Amazon affiliate link)
Ariadne’s Thread: A Workbook of Goddess Magic by Shekhinah Mountainwater (Amazon affiliate link)