Our Sacred Portals: moontime, pregnancy, and menopause.
Most of the time we look at our hormonal fluctuations as a time of emotional turbulence, unpredictability and maybe even physical discomfort. My perception is that these three important stages of a woman's life (first moon and subsequent moons, pregnancy, and menopause) are precious gifts that call us back to ourselves, and often ask us to step more fully into our own authenticity and power. In short, these are sacred portals.
In a world where we are often actively discouraged from recognizing and listening to our own wisdom, the times of hormonal shifts present us with an opportunity to rest, return and listen. Many cultures around the world historically viewed menstruation, pregnancy (labour and the immediate post-partum) and menopause as sacred and important times in a woman's life when she could go off alone or with beloved other women, for a time of reflection, visioning and rest. In our modern world we have lost this and it's up to us as individuals and communities to reclaim it if we feel called to do so.
Here are some ideas of some practices you could engage with each portal:
This is a time when your body is letting go of something that is not needed (your uterine lining).
Offer your menstrual blood to Nature. This is an old and traditional practice that can feel quite powerful when done regularly.
Tune into your body and notice any sensations that arise. If there is physical pain or discomfort, focus your attention on it and ask your body to show you more. Really feel into it without trying to resist or manipulate it in any way.
Get a massage, do some hydrotherapy, treat yourself to anything that makes you feel secure in your own body
Drink herbal tea! This is a great way to connect with Nature and also to relieve some pain if you're experiencing any. Favourite plants to work with include nettle, ginger, and red raspberry leaf.
Connect with a beloved friend or relative.
Journal about what this moon cycle has been like for you. What has come up?
What can you let go of this cycle?
Have you been dreaming? Write down your dreams.
When you tune into your heart, what, if anything comes up?
When you tune into your womb, what, if anything comes up?
This is a time when your body is literally growing new life. Every single second of the day your body is physically creating a human being out of the air that you breathe and the food that you eat. Nothing is more sacred. Unfortunately in our modern world we've completely lost touch with this. Women aren't taught or encouraged to view pregnancy as ceremony. Instead for many women it is a time of frequent medical appointments, increasing medical interventions, and many physical symptoms. In my experience when a woman goes into pregnancy in a state of optimal health, the pregnancy, labour and delivery tend to be smooth. Many women even feel their best during pregnancy and in the immediate post-partum.
Here are some ways for you to honour this precious time in your life:
Spend as much time in Nature as possible. It has multiple healing benefits and allows you to be active. If you don't have access to natural spaces, you can listen to nature sounds.
Tune into your body and nurture in whatever way you feel called. This could be a massage, it could be rest, it could be movement. Trust your body's needs.
Work with herbs: plants can be wonderful allies during pregnancy, but speak to a naturopathic doctor who is well-versed in plant medicine if you don't have adequate knowledge of the use of plants during pregnancy.
Check in with yourself frequently. How are you feeling? Is there any stress, worry, fear or other challenging emotion present? Do whatever you can to return to a place of calm, trust and joy. A baby's brain develops extremely rapidly during pregnancy and the mother's emotions can hinder or help that process. We all go through unpleasant emotions (let's be real, pregnancy is a time when even the calmest woman will usually experience some degree of fear or worry), we just want to make sure that we're not in fight-or-flight chronically during pregnancy. NET, tapping, breath work, homeopathy and other tools can be very helpful in this regard.
Keep a pregnancy journal. This is a good way to keep a record of your experience, as well as connect with your baby. It's a really neat thing to look back on once your child is older!
Find time every day to communicate with your baby. Speak to him/her, sing, do whatever you feel comfortable doing to connect. Attachment starts in the womb and the more love and attention your baby receives, the better for their health and development on every level.
Doing meditations during your pregnancy is a great way to relax and stay tuned into your body and baby. I recommend meditations that focus on love, health, beauty and trust since these concepts will energetically benefit mom and babe alike.
Record and work with any significant dreams that you have. Women tend to be much more in tune with themselves during pregnancy so the dreams that show up during this time can be especially revealing, insightful and relevant.
Traditionally menopause was seen as a time when women move into their full power and wisdom. They have the benefit of having many decades of life experience (and hopefully psychological and emotional maturation), and traditionally this is a time when they begin to really shift into their role as wisdom-keepers, Elders, and wise-ones in their community. This is, of course, only if through out their lives they were dedicated to ongoing personal and spiritual growth. There are a lot of elderly members in our society but very few Elders. If you have the great fortune of having even one Elder in your life then you know exactly what I mean.
Tune into your changing body. It is healthy and desirable to gain about 1lb/year for ten years in menopause. This often helps with the symptoms of menopause and it is well known that thinner women usually have more severe symptoms of menopause and poorer bone health.
Continue regular physical movement
Continue to work with plants as they can be powerful allies as your body makes this hormonal transition.
Take some time to reflect on what you've learned throughout your life and how you might share this wisdom with younger women, your grown kids (if you have them), your grandkids (if you have them), your extended family (nieces and nephews if you have them) and with your community in general.
Reflect on where you're going. If you go through menopause in your early 50's then hopefully life is generous and grants you at least three or four more decades. That's a lot of time to create changes and positive influences in the world.
After your very last menstrual cycle, even though you no longer bleed, your body continues to follow the exact same patterns as when you did have your menstrual cycle. Use this 5-year period as a time of slow, gentle and deliberate transition into new roles and responsibilities.
Much like menstruation and pregnancy, menopause is a time of ceremony. Work with your dreams, your visions. If possible take some time to retreat. Whether you physically attend a retreat, or create intentional space for yourself, this is a wonderful opportunity to focus more on yourself than perhaps you've been able to in the previous decades.
Yours in Health,