Friday, January 27, 2012

Pagan Blog Project - Bleeding is Sacred

There are a lot of people, men and women, who feel very uncomfortable with blood. Seeing blood, smelling blood and talking about blood - and as soon as menstrual blood is mentioned it’s all over! We have been hushed about this beautiful and powerful aspect of womanhood. Our conversations are whispered or our questions go unanswered.

Now I am obviously going to talk about menstruation during this post so if you’re squeamish I’ve just given you fair warning :)

When I first began my menarche (first blood) I was told by my mother that this is the ‘curse’ of women. That every month I was going to bleed and that I absolutely had to keep it a secret because it was unclean and inconvenient. Feminine products were hidden and secreted away when groceries were brought inside lest the men see (gasp!) I basically got the idea that while bleeding was normal it certainty wasn’t to be desired, let alone be seen as a beautiful, creative, natural and powerful aspect of womanhood.

I am 27 now. I have carried and birthed three beautiful children, all boys, who each helped teach me the mysteries of my own feminine body. There is nothing like conceiving and nurturing a child in your womb to turn your thoughts to the power of your own creative force. This is not only mentioning the obvious physical forces but also the inner forces - our emotions. Emotions hold great power, anyone who has ever felt the protective force of parenthood or cast a spell while their emotions were running high can understand how powerful an aid they can be for a Witch. Our emotions are governed by the ebb and flow of our hormones, which are linked to our menstrual cycles, our physical ebb (bleeding) and flow (ovulation). This is only so for women. Men hold themselves stable after reaching maturity. Even in advanced age a man can sow his seed (so to say). Our creativity, our sacredness lies in our changes.

Life force is held in our blood, it is essential to support our bodies. Our blood supports us and has the ability to support and nurture all of humankind. We are all here due to the sacred birthing endured by a woman. The first mysteries of womanhood were centred around our cycle - Birth, Life and Death. Pre-Menstrual, Menstrual and Menopausal - and now as a Pagan woman I see in myself the metaphor of Maiden, Mother and Crone. These sacred cycles are universal experiences for us, we can relate to them.

Today our cycles are different to that of the ancient women, for many reasons - medical, our expanding locations and distance from other women. These situations have had a negative impact but they don’t have to spell the end to our mysteries. We can do what humans have always done throughout history. We can adapt. In the western world it is only our biological processes that are acknowledged with our spiritual selves an almost completely foreign language. This creates fractures in who we are as women. If we dismiss all but the physical knowledge then we shall never understand what it means to be women. We will lose our sacred connections to the Earth and when that leaves us we will be barren - a body with no soul.

How many of us take modern medicines to ‘deal’ with our menstruation? How many of us regulate our cycle or prevent pregnancy by taking the pill? (I do) When it comes to timing our menstruation how many of us have tried to alter our bleeding? Only a fraction of women bleed on a 28 day regular cycle. I am fairly certain that many who will read this post don’t have a precise cycle. While the pill is a modern marvel and has given women the freedom to enjoy sex without the consequence of an undesired conception, I don’t feel that we have to necessarily lose everything we naturally are. We have cycles of our physical senses and hormonal fluctuations. These are all natural and normal! These occur even while on medications. I have no issues with taking medications, for some women they have been very beneficial. My only concern is that we may lean to far in that direction and forget what we are. Some of us use medicines to ‘relieve our symptoms’. Pain, bloating and PMS - also known as the ‘bitch’ stage - (a term I find very degrading) Have we taken the time before hand to notice our bodies? Have we stopped to appreciate the way our bodies ready themselves for the next bleeding? Do we understand the reasons for these changes? Before our bleeding time all of our physical senses become heightened - touch, hearing, taste, smell. If we are experiencing this heightened awareness (or unawareness) and have not the time or understanding to process what we are feeling then yes we will become irritable - it’s a natural reaction to our flowing hormones and overload of our senses.

We bleed, sometimes in rhythm with the Moon, sometimes not so. We need to find that balance between medicines and within ourselves and not try to push our bodies to conform so much. Our bleeding is primordial and is our intense connection to nature. Our communion with the Moon is intensified as it pulls upon our bodies as it pulls upon the oceans. Our womb is an ocean of blood so it is not unusual for us to feel the pull of the Moon’s energies upon us physically, psychically and emotionally. Ultimately we belong to nature. If we remove our nature we are doing ourselves great harm.

It’s not only our physical senses that ebb and flow, but our psychic abilities are as well - we are a lot more than just our physical self. This sacred monthly cycle can heal, it has the ability to inspire. With our flow we hold potential within us. This experience belongs to us women. Our bleeding is our creation. I wonder how many of us lose ourselves in this sacredness. How many of us take time to explore ourselves during our menstruation. How many know what they are truly capable during this time? In the sacrificing of our blood we can be honoured with an increase of psychic ability. During these days we are able to enter easily into altered states of consciousness, have the gift of foresight, the ability to discern between illusion and truth, prophetic dreams and increased intuitive sensitivity.

Use your Moon-time to express yourself and revel in your femininity! Perform a spontaneous Moon-time rite centred around your bleeding! Take a ritual bath! Create art (yes you can use your menstrual blood if you so wish), make love, make offerings to Goddess, yourself and all that is feminine by pouring your blood upon the earth, meditate and journal. Record how you feel during certain points of your cycle - note when your intuition peaks and use this time to your advantage! Dance naked to enchanting music. Don’t worry if you think you cannot dance. Use music that evokes great emotion within you and allow it entrance you, to carry you away. The most important thing is to take time for yourself. Even 10 minutes!

Menstruation is a perfect time for rites of healing. The releasing of our blood can be a very healing experience, strip your wounds bare and use this time to rid yourself of any negative thoughts and feelings about your body and your bleeding. When we bare ourselves we are presented with an opportunity to truly heal. I experienced an extremely distressing and physically traumatic first birth that was healed by re-connecting with my body during menstrual times. The subsequent births of my younger two were extraordinary because I had taken time and learnt to trust my body, it’s rhythm and its powerful process of Birth.

When I speak of our power as menstruating women, I speak of the inner self. Power that lies within - the desire to understand ourselves and to experience the entire spectrum of womanhood. We are a symbol of life and death. I dislike the terms of light and dark. I feel that they do a deep injustice. The emotions of anger need not be consumed in darkness as the emotions of love should not be held solely in the light. All of our experiences and interactions in this world, righteous or not, are the sum of our power. Our mysteries are entangled in the web of life- as are we. These are the Divine powers of a woman.

Creating a personal connection with our soul and body - these are the Mysteries. There is no hidden knowledge scrawled in ancient tomes. The knowledge is held in the experience. The discovery of oneself and the truth that -

We ARE Sacred, We are Divine and so is our Blood.