When I was younger, I had horrendous menstrual periods. I dreaded every month as the symptoms came on, for it meant two days of agony, vomiting, dizziness, back pain, every kind of torture a girl can go through without dying.
During the 1980′s it was a new thing to discuss women’s health issues openly. Before that, it seemed all the doctors were men, or at least male thought dominated medical opinion, and so women’s maladies were dismissed as “hysterical”, “all in their heads”, or as my doctor told me as a teenager “Motherhood will cure you.”
Yet the pundits of the Women’s Movement in the 1980s’ were no better, especially when it came to gynacological problems. There were statistics about dysmenorea, the fancy word for “cramps”, stating that women who were raised Catholic had much higher rates of menstrual problems.
Since I was raised Catholic, I actually bought this B.S. (I am sure the people who gathered this “data’ were not Catholic.) It was supposed to be a dysfunction of our legendary guilt trip.
It was actually caused by a growth spurt that went wonky when I was 14.
Trying to discover and understand the roots of my problem via the Womens Spirituality Movement, (looming large in the 1980′s) led me down the path of mythology. This suited me as I tend to mythologize everything anyway.
The menstrual cycle is ruled by the Moon. The Moon rules all the watery tides of life, including our blood, but the menses mirror the 28 day cycle of the Moon as well. The Number three is also important, for there are three phases of the Moon: Full, Dark and Crescent. These phases mirror the three phases of life for women: Maiden, Mother, and Crone. I don’t like the word Crone, I prefer something like Mentor which contains the root men, for it is a time when women take natural leadership roles if they have grown wise. Even Elder is preferable, as Crone brings up images of decrepitude for me. Or how about calling us Hekate after the powerful Dark Moon Goddess?
The Moon stays in each phase for 3 days and most womens periods are 3 days long.
This is from the Online Etymological Dictionary:
Moon, month, menses, mental, measure, moon blood, month blood, menisus, mensa, menses,mensuration, my moon, moontime, moon lodge, moo…
The moon, the month, the measure of time…
I studied the moon. I read everything I could from mythology, to Greek Drama, to poetry, to The Moonchild by Aleister Crowely, and Moon Magic by Dion Fortune. On the desk in front of me I have my first book about the moon. It is called Moon, Moon, by Anne Kent Rush, and it was published in 1976. It is one of the books that started me one the path of honoring the Triple Moon Goddess hoping she would heal my wise wound.
In 1989 — such a long time ago now it seems — I brought together a group of close women friends for my first Moon Circle. This was the first time I had led led a ritual involving other people, and it was far from perfect. I wanted to bring my soul into harmony with the Moon in the hopes of healing my problem, but also to explore and address Women’s Mysteries, which are Blood Mysteries having to do with generation, creativity, and birth. Our ability to bring another living being through our bodies is truly Goddess-like, far surpassing the attempts of magicians to create homunculii and Frankenstein monsters. (I never understood that drive considering the means of replicating human life exists everywhere in nature. — through the female.)
I also wanted to bring our Cycle out of the closet — for every female creature on planet Earth goes through some from of menses on a regular basis — over half the human race. So why can’t we be open about it? I wanted to erase the shame that our culture has attached to women’s bodies and mysteries from time immemorial.
Despite my crude initial attempts, four friends stayed with me as I held these circles every Sunday night close to the Full Moon and every Sunday night close to the Dark Moon. To be in harmony with the Moon meant menstruating on the Dark Moon to mirror the process of emptying and purification, and to ovulate on the Full Moon — the time of fullness and fertility. As women do, we began to synchronize our cycles. This told me the Circles were truly generating magical and healing power.
The more I led the Circles, the better they got. I wanted others to learn to lead it as well, but nobody ever stepped up to the plate and so it always fell to me.
These Circles went on for 9 years — then I left for England. There was a steady core group of 4 women, but at one time I had as many as 12. Toward the end I began to include men as the energies had changed for me and I was tired of the feminist tendency to exclude men as if they were the enemy.
These Circles wers o powerful and healing that we hated to miss them. I had also opened powerful portals in my house through which the Faery would visit me in 1996.
Two powerful we did to initiate entry into the Moon Circles was to have each woman make a Moon Bag.
Here is mine:
I used to do a lot of bead work back then as you can see around the rim.
It is a circle of red velvet gathered with a cord. Very simple.
Inside you put your secrets. I can show mine now as I am Hekata.
It is a little muslin bag tied with red thread and symbols are marked upon it.
Herbs, flower petals, little charms are inside. I leave the rest to your imagination.
I also put my animal power inside: a white swan. In silver of course for the Moon.
This is a very powerful little Crane Bag, or Medicine Bag.
I also asked people to make their Moon Lodge shield. You can amke one by stretching leather over an embroidery hoop and painting it.
Here is mine:
Using shamanic techniques, we journied into the Otherworld by opening and calling in the five directions, and drumming. This was immensley powerful as our power animals took us deep into parallel dimensions for healing, inspiration, and teaching.
In another post I will lay out the pattern for the Moon Circles in case you might want to start your own.
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