Recently, I’ve been feeling disconnected from my inner goddess due to some high stress from work and study. She used to speak to me regularly during meditation, but I haven’t heard from her in a while.
I really miss her, and I feel a strong desire to go deeper and reconnect with her. Interestingly, many Cycle Harmony friends expressed a similar desire in our most recent survey.
So I thought I’d explore and write about the menstrual rituals from different cultures. Perhaps they’ll give us both some insights on how to connect with our inner goddess from within.
In this post, I’ll share how Yurok women, the native Californians, use their “moontime” to tap into their inner wisdom and spiritual power.
The Ancient Taboo
According to traditional “Indian Law,” a menstruating woman is highly polluting and will contaminate the family house and food supply if she comes into contact with either.
So in the old days, a menstrual hut was built near the main house for a family’s menstruating women. They went into seclusion in the menstrual hut for 10 days during and after their flow, cooking and eating their own food, all by themselves.
A Spiritual Practice
The enlightened women of the Yurok tribe created a different interpretation of this rather disempowering law, however. And they taught their daughters a new way of utilizing the solitude during their moontime. According to the Yurok…
- A menstrual woman should isolate herself because this is the time when she is at the height of her powers.
- This time should not be wasted in mundane tasks and social distractions, nor should one’s concentration be broken by concerns with the opposite sex.
- Rather, all of a woman’s energy should be applied in concentrated meditation to find out the purpose of her life, and toward the accumulation of spiritual energy – going into herself and making herself stronger.
- The menstrual blood serves to purify a woman, preparing her for spiritual accomplishment.
The Moontime Rituals
In the Yurok tradition, a woman uses a comb-like implement to scratch her body as an aid to help focus her full attention on her body. It’s a natural, spontaneous, yet fully conscious and intentional practice.
There is also a “Sacred Moontime Pond” where in the old days women went to bathe and to perform rituals at the new moon – when they were all menstruating together. From there, they also brought special firewood back for use in the menstrual hut.
Some girls performed these rites only at the time of their first menstruation, but most went to the pond every month until menopause.
It’s also said that if a woman got out of sync with the moon and with the other women in the village, she could get back in sync by sitting in the moonlight and talking to the moon, asking it to balance her…
Food for Thought
It’s such a precious gift to be able to find a time of solitude to connect with our spirit, purify, and make ourselves stronger.
No doubt, this is quite a challenge in our busy and crowded modern cultures.
But I long for such time, and such space, to connect with my inner goddess and with other women. How about you?
This post is written based on the findings of anthropologist Thomas Buckley during his field visits to Yurok villages in Northern California in 1976. For further reading, check out his book Blood Magic: The Anthropology of Menstruation