In today's culture, moon time (or menstruation) is often seen as a burden, something negative that we as women must endure every month. It is sometimes perceived as disgusting, unwanted, or something to be controlled and even suppressed. Many women experience pain or discomfort around this time, which adds to the negative attitudes. On the other hand, moon time is a natural, important and deeply sacred time that relates to fertility, creativity and purification.
Years ago I was getting ready to participate in a healing ceremony and before it began, the women were asked if any of us were on our moon time, and if we were, then we were asked not to participate. I remember feeling upset about this and felt that it was unfair to exclude women from a ceremony simply because they are menstruating. After the ceremony, I asked more about this in an effort to understand the logic. The answer surprised me, and it was deeply moving and transformed my relationship to my womanhood in general and to my moon time specifically. Several indigenous traditions understand the moon time to be a time of purification, prayer, and reflection. The reason that women are excluded from other sacred ceremonies during their moon time is because they are already engaged in their own sacred ceremony, and to participate in another one would dishonour the moon time ceremony.
So if you feel called to it, I'd like to share a few ideas with you about how you can celebrate and honour your moon time:
1. Take some time, and just tune in to your body and your heart. Do you experience cramps? Bloating? Breat tenderness? Strong(er) emotions? Really pay attention to what is taking place for you in the days leading up to your period, and the days of active bleeding. If you experience physical sensations, where are they? What do they feel like? Do they change from cycle to cycle? What does your body need in this moment? Notice your emotional state. How are you feeling? If strong emotions come up, allow them to be present, sit with them, explore them. What's going on in your life emotionally? What was happening for you in the last 1-3 months?
2. Keep your days as simple as possible. We all have obligations that we must fulfill, but we can choose how much we push ourselves. For example, I still engage in work, but I don't try to get ahead, or get caught up on anything. I only do the things that require my immediate attention. Just be gentle with yourself; these 3-5 days are about honouring yourself.
3. Work with plant medicines to help soothe some physical pains if they are present. Fresh ginger root, raspberry leaf, and cinnamon can all help to ease menstrual cramps. Other nourishing plant helpers for the moon time may include: red clover, nettle, motherwort, crampbark, and oatstraw.
4. Spend some time in stillness, meditation, and connecting with Mother Nature. Go for a walk, sit and enjoy the sunshine/moonshine, listen to the sounds of Nature. All of these things ground us and help us to rejuvinate.
5. Spend time connecting with important women in your life. This can be your own mother/aunt/sister, but it doesn't have to be. I personally find the most comfort in women who are kindred spirits, and who have contributed to my development on some meaningful level. These are women that I admire, respect, and look to for guidance. One of the healers that I work with encouraged me to pray to my ancestors. This was a challenge for me since I didn't grow up with strong connections to my own grandmothers. I began to pray and a grandmother did show up very clearly, first through my dreams, and then more consistently during meditation and times of silence. I've also found that there is a collective female wisdom that is available in abundance if you open yourself to it.
6. Pay attention to your dreams. Some women have more frequent and more vivid dreams during moon time. Really pay attention to what comes up during your cycle. They're all clues about what's going on inside your heart and soul on a deeper level.
7. Treat yourself. Cook a nice meal, bring fresh flowers into your home, take a bath, go to bed earlier-- whatever you feel you need, give yourself permission to indulge in.
8. Follow your body's lead. Your body is actively releasing a part of itself that it does not need anymore. Is there anything that you could let go of or release?
9. Do something creative. Dance, dream, drum, paint. I went through a phase where all I wanted to do was make bead necklaces. It was a lot of fun, and so completely different from my usual daily activities.
A note on pads and tampons: please be cautious of what you're allowing into your body. Commercial tampons/pads are often bleached with harmful chemicals. This is a time of purification and it's important to make sure that we are not polluting the body by using harmful products. What I recommend to my patients is the Diva Cup. I don't work for the company, but I adore their product. It is safe for you (and the environment), it's reusable and it's easy. Just a thought.