I have just read Anna Fedele’s brilliant Looking for Mary Madgalene. It is a beautifully sensitive book, based on her PHD dissertation. The book deals with pilgrimage and spirituality, the sacred feminine – and there’s lots about menstruation.
Anna Fedele points out that the relationship that we how have with menstruation, including us in Cycle Harmony, is very new. Yes, women have always menstruated, but never before have women menstruated as much as we do now. You know, I had never thought of this before.
Before the contraceptive revolution, most women had lots of kids. In my own family, one great grandmother bore six children, another bore seven. Such big families are quite rare in many places today. So, counting the time it takes to bear forth a baby, plus the time before becoming fertile again, there’s roughly a year, or sometimes more, with no menstruation.
Which means that when we think of the red tent, and the moon huts, we shouldn’t think of them as places where all the women gathered every month. It’s us who do that, because our childbearing patterns have changed. We are the ones who immerse ourselves in the rhythms of our bodies, uninterrupted and regular. Which means that the wisdom we are gathering now, is as potent and just as valuable as the women’s wisdom of our great grandmothers.
Just as we need to hear their stories where they are still told, we must tell our own.
Never before have women been so free to do what we will, with our own bodies. This is a new chapter in the stories on women. In days gone by, it would only be a few women who did not bear children and therefore menstruated every month, every year. Now that’s become the norm for so many of us.
What does this new information mean for us? I guess it means we can have greater courage in our spirituality. We can have stronger faith in our own stories and our own traditions. It isn’t as if we’re the make-believes and the ones who went before us are the real ones. We are changing history, and we are changing the world.
So when we go to the red tent again this month, let us do it with joy.
We are the fortunate ones, who have the freedom to delve into the mysteries of womanhood in a totally new way. As I prepare for my monthly bleed, I can feel my body getting ready to shed the blood. I can feel my sensitivities sharpen, my spirituality awakening. I am so much more sensitive and open in this time. And I’ve got the time and space – in difference to my great grandmothers – to enjoy this time of bleeding.
For me, it is sacred time. And I and my sisters are weaving new women’s wisdom in the Red Tent.
Vild Prestegard is an anthropologist, holistic therapist, Reiki master and public speaker based in Norway. She is a regular blogger for Cycle Harmony. You’re welcome to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and comments.