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How to you Honor Your Menstrual Cycle in Western Culture?

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Takayu Takayu 1 year, 6 months ago.

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  • #341
    Takayu
    Takayu
    Keymaster

    The Ceremony of Bleeding

    Himba Ceremony Closing

    In Western culture, our women do not have the societal right to hold menstrual traditions while functioning in society. Whereas in many cultures, women have the foundation of cultural heritage to remove themselves for the “ceremony of bleeding”, our women simply go to work, business as usual. However, in many of the lineages that I have studied with, and now often teach the essence of their “woman medicine” in my work, this “ceremony of woman”, or “ceremony of bleeding” is considered a sacred time. In order for women to channel the cosmic energies present during this time of “death & rebirth”, a woman needs her isolated space, to which she may conduct any rituals, prayers, or meditations, accordingly.

    How many women in our society are fully aware of the 4 phase cycle that occurs each month? Has our society made it possible to at least educate our girls so that they are aware of their own fertility and bleeding schedule, and all of the natural forces that it entails? When a woman bleeds in this culture, is it common practice to call her boss and say “I have begun bleeding and will not be into work for the next 5 (or however many) days”? When a woman achieves her first bleeding, is she met with an initiation ceremony, or is she simply handed a box of tampons by her mother?

    These examples, from the stories I’ve been receiving from the women in the U.S., are a tribute to how far removed our society is from the fundamental ceremonies and practices occurring naturally in indigenous societies regarding bleeding and fertility. Red Tent has foundations in the Hebrew culture. In Sun Dance (Lakota) a woman who is bleeding must reside away from the ceremony in a special lodge. In Ayurvedic belief, as in a majority of ancient cultures, a woman has restrictive functions while bleeding. Yet, these practices, to an outsider, may appear patriarchal and female suppressive in nature. However, there is hidden power, and a recognition of that power, in these cultures and we only need to be open, putting our own conditioning aside to see this.

    In the Washoe tribe of Nevada, a woman fasts for her first bleeding, followed by an intense initiation of a run up 4 mountains (one for each direction), lighting fires for her tribe to see at the top of each. This is her initiation into womanhood. It is believed, in many indigenous American cultures, that the bleeding time is the time to communicate with the Spirits, to converse with the cosmos, and the Sun Dance ceremony itself was created for men to achieve that great blood sacrifice that women give each month.

    A Sun Dancer once told me: “The greatest sacrifice and gift that we can make is that of blood. Our blood, our flesh, is the only thing in Creation that is our right to give. Women give blood once a month and in childbirth, and this is why there are ceremonial rights for such things and it is an honor to be a woman. But we men, we had to create a ceremony to give our blood and flesh. We do this to give to the Creator, and we do this in respect for the bleeding and childbirth that women must bear”. These words were spoken from a man in a ceremonial custom which has a special black lodge, away from all other spaces, where women reside during their menstruation. Yet, this remark clearly speaks reverence, not ridicule or patriarchal mentality.

    Much misunderstanding is birthed from the view of Western mentality when peering into such customs. It seems, to a society attached to feminist ideas, that because a woman is removed and there are traditions that are exclusively for women, that it was somehow a forced concept by male power. Yet, this is farther from the truth than some would realize. In fact, in all that I have witnessed and experienced, such customs are in reverence to the power of the woman, not the inferiority. I believe we are the ones who invoke inferiority concepts to our women because we DON’T respect or recognize this power, and instead choose to replace ritual and ceremony with fast-paced lifestyles that do not allow us to remove ourselves and feel our own power.

    A woman is not allowed in Sweat Lodge when she is bleeding because her energy is too powerful. It is believed that menstruation is a ceremony of it’s own: the Ceremony of Bleeding. And, as with the Sun Dance, I have heard from numerous sources within these ceremonial realms that the Ceremony of Bleeding is the inspiration for other ceremonies such as Sweat Lodge (among other reasons, of course).

    Because Ceremony of Bleeding is considered a purification ceremony, as is the Sweat Lodge, there is no need for those ceremonies to intertwine. The Bleeding Ceremony is a private matter between Woman and Spirit, and when entering a ceremonial space, her ceremony becomes involved in the energy of the ceremony.

    I have heard one Lodge Holder tell me: “The energy of ceremony, all ceremony, is clock-wise in spiral. But a woman who is bleeding carries the counter-clockwise energy of the spiral, and if these two forces collide, the ceremony can be chaotic. That is how powerful a woman is. She can effect the whole ceremony, everyone involved, through her presence and the power she is channeling at that time”.

    Yet we are Western women. And so, birth controls replace fertility awareness (and all of the natural intelligence found therein), tampons and shame replace a ceremonial time of holy communion, work and school duties over-ride our women’s ability to fully become immersed in a spiritual time of self and Cosmos. Is it any wonder that upon peering into foreign cultures that we see with ethnocentric eyes a vast ocean of “female suppression” and “terrible actions”?

    In the West, a majority of women are so far removed from such rituals, and our mentality of feminine power so preoccupied with “ending sexism” that we have disempowered our very right to be separate in power. Furthermore, as I travel to women’s groups in the U.S., I am finding more and more a vast body of women that feel WE are the suppressed ones, as our society has birthed a system of living detached from nature and we must keep in the rat race to keep ourselves afloat in this system.

    In our Western culture, the deeply attached idea that women are suppressed and we must work and push forward to prove ourselves equal with men, is not a concept that I personally resonate with. Nor do I feel that we were ever suppressed, as that is a concept of the mind. Because women have adopted such ideas here, I feel is the very root of the ignorance many of us women now hold regarding the sacredness of our femininity. We do not isolate ourselves for a week when we bleed, our fast paced society does not allow such a removal when in a working/studious position.

    The menstrual technologies that we have adopted are sometimes quite “shocking”. We promote the use of bleach-laced cotton to be inserted into our vaginal canals to block the blood flow, which has led to serious cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome where women have lost limbs. I have learned from the Vedic lineage (Maya Tiwari), that there are ancestral practices to actually control blood flow during the cycle. A woman can hold mudras, yoga poses, and chant mantras, to channel the release of blood, which is done by squatting on the earth. No menstrual technologies needed.

    In my experience, it is not a common practice for Western Women to track their cycles, giving them empowerment in knowing their own fertility, how it aligns with the Moon and natural forces unique to each woman. Through fertility awareness, we not only can know when we are fertile and may become pregnant or not, we also begin to recognize the intricate nature of each phase in our cycle: Virgin/Warrior/Spring (post menstruation, pre-ovulation), Mother/Summer (ovulation), Shamanic Woman/Fall (post ovulation, pre menstruation), and Crone/Inner Lover/Winter (menstruation). Each of these phases can be observed, powerfully, each month, and are reflective of the totality of nature, a wisdom and communication that can be channeled during these times. I have even encouraged the adopting of totem animals or spirits for women to ritually connect to their own experiences with these changing energies. Each phase is unique in energy (i.e. hormones), and thus we transform as our bodies undergo these cycles. Yet, a majority of Western women are ignorant to this. We have, after all, replaced this awareness with birth control, the only modern aim for understanding our cycles.

    When Western women bleed for the first time, a subject matter of most interest to me, they are not met with a ceremony or initiation rights, but with a box of tampons and a lack of elder women to guide their experience through the passing of knowledge, ritual, or rites of Woman. We are a lost nation of Women. The Washoe women are not the only women who have initiation ceremonies for women coming of age, they are found all over the world. In these societies, there are also elder women, “Wise Women” as they are generally called. When a woman becomes of age, she learns deeply the arts of being a woman and channeling her energy according to her cultural customs, as passed by the Wise Women. Yet, the idea of this is shocking to most women whom I have heard their personal stories. It seems as though the subject of bleeding is one that our conservative culture wishes to avoid, maybe because of discomfort in addressing the issue, maybe because of ignorance to the depth in which it effects our lives as women.

    And so, what would our world, as Western Women, be if we were to begin the re-surfacing of ancestral customs regarding feminine spirituality with our bodies and the Cosmos? What would our world be if our girls were initiated, educated in the arts of reading and communicating with nature through their cycles? What would our society see change if women were firm in their power, yielding not to societal expectations of working class? What would your life be like if a Wise Woman had mentored you in the Arts of being a Woman, handing you a sacred torch of ritual, ceremony, and power? What would our world be like if our women gathered for rituals and prayers, support and acknowledgement, and sharing of magic found therein?

    I believe our world would change. And I believe, because these practices are derived from indigenous and ancestral cultures, that we can see past the veil of conditioned illusion when peering into the complex nature of descended feminine customs.

    Himba Initiation

    And so, in closing, I encourage women to contemplate their own cycles, fertility, and Ceremony of Bleeding in a ritual fashion, seeking ancestral wisdom through empowering ourselves into our born shamanic roles. Sisterhoods, arising all over the Western world, are vast in network and we can re-surface our rights as women through our connectivity. I also encourage a deeper look into some of the ethnocentric projections we place on cultures holding seemingly “feminine suppressive” practices, for their root is anything but. There is wisdom in the roots of humanity, and we have never been severed, else our tree would no longer live.

    Resources:

    Initiation into Womanhood ceremony in HImba Tribe Culture
    The closing of a Himba Initiation Ceremony; an Elder Woman crowns the initiate.

    Look into Vedic Culture of Women

    Moon Chart for Tracking Cycle Phases

    Moon Cycle Chart

    Earth Time Medicine 2015

    • This topic was modified 1 year ago by Takayu Takayu.
    #499
    Louise
    Louise
    Participant

    I totally agree with your thoughts on this. What a shame that young women are raised to fear when our cycle is due, they’ve learnt to dread that time because they feel they’ll be restricted from their every day pursuits. I read a book called Her Blood Is Gold by Lara Owen, she goes into what you stated about the women going away to a place where they can collect their thoughts and receive messages from spirit because that is the time when we’re most in tune. I’ve become aware of what I’m doing to the planet during my menses, instead of purchasing and throwing away plastic pads and sought out sanitary alternatives such as sponges and mooncups, not dealt with the cups yet, but it looks like a great way to collect your menses to use in ritual. Initiation would be great, for esteem, sense of belonging and for that sense of pride that comes with knowing your roots.

    #500
    Takayu
    Takayu
    Keymaster

    Thanks sister for your thoughts….Yes we have been lead to hate our magick…but it’s time now to use it again….

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by Takayu Takayu.
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  • Katrina Taylor
    Katrina Taylor February 15, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Don’t see how to share the pic :/ but just know your ‘work’ is right on time! Divine feminine sparks! Beautiful expanding

    • Takayu
      Takayu February 15, 2017 at 11:46 am

      Thanx sacred sister…

  • Katrina Taylor
    Katrina Taylor February 7, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    I got some mugwort & valerian after watching your video. Made some cute vials and pouches. very soothing. Thx

    • Takayu
      Takayu February 8, 2017 at 3:00 am

      I’d love to see…Yeah mugwort is among many….one of my favorite herbs….just saying “add a pinch of mugwort” I feel the Magick already happen 🌿

  • Wyzdom D Vine
    Wyzdom D Vine October 6, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Can you provide some insight and guidance on the items in this list for me. I watched one video but I’d to hear perspectives from my Sisters here.

    • Takayu
      Takayu October 7, 2015 at 12:30 am

      1-Book Of Shadows-This is a personal book that you will write your spells,chants,potions and personal magick rituals.

      2-Set of Crystals-Crystal can be used for healing, scrying, protection or divination.

      3-Herb Collection-Used for makings potions,healing remedies or used in spells and protection.

      4-Ritual Garb-Attire worn to invoke a feeling of spirituality

      5-Chalice-Used during ritualistic ceremonies or personally to drink your potions

      6-Wand or Athame-Used to direct energy of a more concentrated nature

      7-Caldron-Used with water for making potions and elixirs or with fire for aromas,fire or air magick from smoke.

      8-Candles-Burned during meditation,visualization,spell,divination and speaking with your spirits.

      9-Oils or Incense-Used to set a relaxing tone, relaxation, or aromatherapy.

      • Wyzdom D Vine
        Wyzdom D Vine October 11, 2015 at 11:23 am

        Thank you so much. I am already working with most items on the list. I just need to grab the rest. I have only recently started studying and practicing a true craft. Before this I just performed, spoke, used whatever felt natural or “came” to me. Now, I’d like to focus and strengthen my craft. You are an inspiration dear Sister Goddess.

        • Takayu
          Takayu October 11, 2015 at 9:58 pm

          Thanks so much…which items do you have left to collect?

  • Jamila
    Jamila October 4, 2015 at 8:05 am

    Yep all those wow what a great quiz. I am glad to know I am not the only one.

    • Takayu
      Takayu October 5, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      Girl there are more of us then we think….

      • Jamila
        Jamila October 5, 2015 at 5:43 pm

        Takayu you have been teaching me that and so much more over all these years. Did you have a chance to celebrate the Fall Equinox

        • Takayu
          Takayu October 6, 2015 at 11:19 pm

          I will actually be celebrating the week of Halloween. What you been up to sacred sister? What did you do?

          • Jamila
            Jamila October 9, 2015 at 6:32 pm

            I made a corn wreath for my door and made an altar for Mabon. Also had a lot of cleansing/clearing things happen that week. Dusted the spiritual cobwebs. So feeling good for this time of year.

          • Takayu
            Takayu October 11, 2015 at 10:11 pm

            Sounds kool sis

  • Tracey
    Tracey September 15, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Nice!

  • Tracey
    Tracey September 15, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    You know I had a good laugh with this one. I seen myself all 3 actually. The first 2 were needed to push through some of the patriarchal world philosophy and the bullshit in my thinking and in my life. The Waking Goddess is where I am now. She’s very confident and pure because the first 2 Goddess taught her well. 😜😜😜

    • Takayu
      Takayu September 15, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      I laughed as I wrote this one as well…cause on my journey to higher energy expressions I have come in contact with many many different types of goddesses and I learned a lot. I just had to write this because there are a lot of sisters who get the goddess knowledge and run with the EGO…But we all live and learn

  • Tracey
    Tracey September 15, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    I got 9 out of 10. I’m not surprised. I’ve accepted my inheritance and birthright. 😘

    • Takayu
      Takayu October 6, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      And you know this….LOL

  • Takayu
    Takayu September 15, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    I am a Empathic Eclectic Herbal Witch…among other things…LOL But I use Herbalists as not to scare the masses…LMAO

  • Tracey
    Tracey September 15, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    I am an Oracle, Herbalist, Seer, Mystic, Priestess, Dark Goddess, and Bad Ass Bruja…. and I LOVE IT!!! What you say now!!!

    • Takayu
      Takayu September 15, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      @ Tracy I love it 2 sistah

      • Tracey
        Tracey September 15, 2015 at 2:54 pm

        Much love to you for this space. BIG HUGS 💋💋💋

        • Takayu
          Takayu September 15, 2015 at 4:55 pm

          Thanks….I feel so fulfilled doing this work…and thanks for your support

  • Shannon
    Shannon September 15, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Awesome Video. Its a shame that all these years i was taught that it was evil. That isn’t even the right Symbol HAHA smh

    • Takayu
      Takayu September 15, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      Thanks sis…I know right? We have been misinformed about a lot of our ancient knowledge and symbols. Usually what seems scary was demonized so we would not get back into out ancient sciences.

  • Felicia W Gary
    Felicia W Gary September 13, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    I identify as a sacred goddess, root worker, healer, seer, wise woman, empathy, kitchen and garden witch, witch of nature, strega or bruja, soothsayer, oracle, pagan, shaman, medicine woman

    • Takayu
      Takayu September 13, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      LOL that is so good your know what kinda witch you are…some women are still afraid to identify with the term witch at all, but lean to the more acceptable terms like shaman, light worker, herbalists…there are all aspects of the goddess. I like to think a true witch cultivates at least three of the witch traits…See blog Uh Oh Am I a Witch Quiz

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