“At one point expanded, then introverted; reaching out and going within; we descend to depths of unfathomable complexity and return to the world empowered and ready to begin again” – Vicki Noble, The Double Goddess, p.15
Menstruation is not often celebrated in modern American society. In fact, many women hide this part of themselves each month: they don’t tell people they are bleeding and they continue on with their life, business as usual. I used to be that way – I was prescribed prescription birth control pills at age 15 to alleviate depression and clear up my skin. If i didn’t want to have a period one month, or saw it as somewhat of an inconvenience to my social life, I would skip the placebo pills and continue taking the hormones – bypassing my cycle all together. I didn’t see any value or point in it – my monthly cycle was merely an inconvenience that now I could completely control the presence of by the use of synthetic medication.
In my late teens I started exploring yoga and meditation and learning about traditional ways of healing. I opened up to the world of herbs, Ayurveda, and nutrition and I no longer “felt right” about taking a pill every day. I didn’t want to be dependent on a pharmaceutical. As I started hearing stories of women who bled naturally without the use of hormones, I felt adolescent in their presence. I felt like they embodied a sense of womanhood that was just out of my reach.
What is this power that they hold, and will I ever be wise enough to attain it?
I tried to come off of the synthetic hormones, but months would go by and I wouldn’t bleed. After 8 or 9 months of no blood I’d go back to my western medical doctor and he’d tell me that my only option for regulating my cycle was to go back on birth control pills. And so, discouraged and disempowered in my own process of healing, I would go back on the birth control pills. Several months down the road, I would have the same realization again that I did not want to be on prescription meds and I would stop. Again, no blood. This cycle of going back on hormones happened a few times before I made the commitment that I never wanted to be on these pharmaceuticals again. I was willing to do whatever I needed to get my cycle back.
Without the power of pharmaceutical birth control keeping my endocrine system in check, everything seemed to fall apart. My skin erupted in crazy breakouts, I experienced extreme depression, and months went by with still no blood.
Going back on birth control pills was the only answer western medicine was giving me, and so I had to search elsewhere for healing.
I had never really had to take responsibility for my own healing before.
I grew up in a world where if I got sick, I was put on antibiotics so that I could go back to school as soon as possible. I’d never considered the possibility that sickness could be a messenger alerting me to a greater emotional or spiritual imbalance.
My journey through healing has been a long one and is never ending.I’ve realized more and more over time that to really heal I can’t hide anything.
No parts of my psyche can be ignored. No instances of shame can be swept under the rug. Nothing can be hidden or else it festers and grows – the more that I can share aloud the parts of myself that I am ashamed of (and when those parts are met in witness with loving compassion), the faster they can alchemize and transform.
It’s been eight years since being off pharmaceutical birth control pills and I am still working on regulating my hormones. After experiencing years of no blood, I’ve developed a sacred reverence for my bleeding time. I’ve prayed and sang songs and done ritual to call the blood back. I’ve snuggled with my Sisters who are bleeding and asked them everything about their cycle. I’ve read literature on blood mysteries and menstrual traditions around the world. I’ve learned the connection between menstruation and being a sexual being.
When my blood finally came, it was like an answer to an ever pervasive prayer. How could I do anything but honor this time with complete devotion?
I’d call off of work and remember my Mayan Abdominal Massage practitioner’s advice to rest and dream as much as possible. And so I would do just that – lay and dream and journey into the corners of my subconscious mind. The blood time felt like a rite of passage and a gateway into a shamanic world. I greeted the blood as a sacred teacher, and honored it’s presence by giving it my full psychic attention.
I feel blessed in many ways to have had such a conscious experience with my menstruation. I feel like I went through puberty at age 25 and that I’ve really had to work on myself to become a fully embodied woman. It didn’t come easy, but hey, rites of passage are supposed to be challenging right?
It’s been two years now of having a consistent bleeding cycle. I still have to do the work to keep my cycle in check – make sure I’m eating enough, getting enough rest, expressing my emotions, not engaging in unhealthy relationship dynamics… Something my blood has taught me is that I need to be in alignment for it to come. If something is off – energetically, emotionally, physically – that will be communicated by the presence or absence of blood, as well as the duration of my cycle.
I’ve learned how intricately connected the bleeding process is to my psychology, and the greater I understand my blood the greater I understand my own mind.
Every cycle more wisdom comes. More practices, more information on how to release energetic imprints (particularly romantic relationships), more affirmations and realizations in my life’s direction. It’s a time of being in my power and building those reserves. I know that diving into the depths of my psyche each month in bleeding time supports my full creative potential in the world. For a snippet of one of the practices that’s come through during bleeding time, check out my post on flowing with the moon.
Thank you for reading this version of my story – as always there are things left unsaid and details omitted – how can you say it all? I am always eager to pass on the wisdom I’ve gained along my journey, so please reach out with any questions you’d like answered. I hope that this sharing in some way resonates with your own experience or sparks some potential within you.
I fully believe that the more we share our stories with each other, the more we awaken to our shared power and strengthen the web of Sisterhood.
Please share your experiences with me in the comments below.
Lunar Blessings in the dark of this Scorpio New Moon,
Some recommended reading & links to check out:
This *amazing course* for a Coming Off the Pill Detox
Lara Owen – Her Blood is Gold
Moon Song – The Spiritual Practice of Menstruation
The Red Web – Reclaiming your Cycle
The Arvigo Technique of Mayan Abdominal Therapy