The Ceremony of Bleeding

In Western culture, our women do not have the societal right to hold menstrual traditions while functioning in society. Whereas in many cultures, women have the foundation of cultural heritage to remove themselves for the “ceremony of bleeding”, our women simply go to work, business as usual. However, in many of the lineages that I have studied with, and now often teach the essence of their “woman medicine” in my work, this “ceremony of woman”, or “ceremony of bleeding” is considered a sacred time. In order for women to channel the cosmic energies present during this time of “death & rebirth”, a woman needs her isolated space, to which she may conduct any rituals, prayers, or meditations, accordingly.

How many women in our society are fully aware of the 4 phase cycle that occurs each month? Has our society made it possible to at least educate our girls so that they are aware of their own fertility and bleeding schedule, and all of the natural forces that it entails? When a woman bleeds in this culture, is it common practice to call her boss and say “I have begun bleeding and will not be into work for the next 5 (or however many) days”? When a woman achieves her first bleeding, is she met with an initiation ceremony, or is she simply handed a box of tampons by her mother?

These examples, from the stories I’ve been receiving from the women in the U.S., are a tribute to how far removed our society is from the fundamental ceremonies and practices occurring naturally in indigenous societies regarding bleeding and fertility. Red Tent has foundations in the Hebrew culture. In Sun Dance (Lakota) a woman who is bleeding must reside away from the ceremony in a special lodge. In Ayurvedic belief, as in a majority of ancient cultures, a woman has restrictive functions while bleeding. Yet, these practices, to an outsider, may appear patriarchal and female suppressive in nature. However, there is hidden power, and a recognition of that power, in these cultures and we only need to be open, putting our own conditioning aside to see this.

vedic women

A Look into Vedic Culture of Women: http://www.hknet.org.nz/seX-Vedic-view-of-women.html

In the Washoe tribe of Nevada, a woman fasts for her first bleeding, followed by an intense initiation of a run up 4 mountains (one for each direction), lighting fires for her tribe to see at the top of each. This is her initiation into womanhood. It is believed, in many indigenous American cultures, that the bleeding time is the time to communicate with the Spirits, to converse with the cosmos, and the Sun Dance ceremony itself was created for men to achieve that great blood sacrifice that women give each month.

A Sun Dancer once told me: “The greatest sacrifice and gift that we can make is that of blood. Our blood, our flesh, is the only thing in Creation that is our right to give. Women give blood once a month and in childbirth, and this is why there are ceremonial rights for such things and it is an honor to be a woman. But we men, we had to create a ceremony to give our blood and flesh. We do this to give to the Creator, and we do this in respect for the bleeding and childbirth that women must bear”. These words were spoken from a man in a ceremonial custom which has a special black lodge, away from all other spaces, where women reside during their menstruation. Yet, this remark clearly speaks reverence, not ridicule or patriarchal mentality. 

Much misunderstanding is birthed from the view of Western mentality when peering into such customs. It seems, to a society attached to feminist ideas, that because a woman is removed and there are traditions that are exclusively for women, that it was somehow a forced concept by male power. Yet, this is farther from the truth than some would realize. In fact, in all that I have witnessed and experienced, such customs are in reverence to the power of the woman, not the inferiority. I believe we are the ones who invoke inferiority concepts to our women because we DON’T respect or recognize this power, and instead choose to replace ritual and ceremony with fast-paced lifestyles that do not allow us to remove ourselves and feel our own power.

A woman is not allowed in Sweat Lodge when she is bleeding because her energy is too powerful. It is believed that menstruation is a ceremony of it’s own: the Ceremony of Bleeding. And, as with the Sun Dance, I have heard from numerous sources within these ceremonial realms that the Ceremony of Bleeding is the inspiration for other ceremonies such as Sweat Lodge (among other reasons, of course).

Because Ceremony of Bleeding is considered a purification ceremony, as is the Sweat Lodge, there is no need for those ceremonies to intertwine. The Bleeding Ceremony is a private matter between Woman and Spirit, and when entering a ceremonial space, her ceremony becomes involved in the energy of the ceremony.

I have heard one Lodge Holder tell me: “The energy of ceremony, all ceremony, is clock-wise in spiral. But a woman who is bleeding carries the counter-clockwise energy of the spiral, and if these two forces collide, the ceremony can be chaotic. That is how powerful a woman is. She can effect the whole ceremony, everyone involved, through her presence and the power she is channeling at that time”.

Yet we are Western women. And so, birth controls replace fertility awareness (and all of the natural intelligence found therein), tampons and shame replace a ceremonial time of holy communion, work and school duties over-ride our women’s ability to fully become immersed in a spiritual time of self and Cosmos. Is it any wonder that upon peering into foreign cultures that we see with ethnocentric eyes a vast ocean of “female suppression” and “terrible actions”?

In the West, a majority of women are so far removed from such rituals, and our mentality of feminine power so preoccupied with “ending sexism” that we have disempowered our very right to be separate in power. Furthermore, as I travel to women’s groups in the U.S., I am finding more and more a vast body of women that feel WE are the suppressed ones, as our society has birthed a system of living detached from nature and we must keep in the rat race to keep ourselves afloat in this system.

femmi1

In our Western culture, the deeply attached idea that women are suppressed and we must work and push forward to prove ourselves equal with men, is not a concept that I personally resonate with. Nor do I feel that we were ever suppressed, as that is a concept of the mind. Because women have adopted such ideas here, I feel is the very root of the ignorance many of us women now hold regarding the sacredness of our femininity. We do not isolate ourselves for a week when we bleed, our fast paced society does not allow such a removal when in a working/studious position.

The menstrual technologies that we have adopted are sometimes quite “shocking”. We promote the use of bleach-laced cotton to be inserted into our vaginal canals to block the blood flow, which has led to serious cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome where women have lost limbs. I have learned from the Vedic lineage (Maya Tiwari), that there are ancestral practices to actually control blood flow during the cycle. A woman can hold mudras, yoga poses, and chant mantras, to channel the release of blood, which is done by squatting on the earth. No menstrual technologies needed.

In my experience, it is not a common practice for Western Women to track their cycles, giving them empowerment in knowing their own fertility, how it aligns with the Moon and natural forces unique to each woman. Through fertility awareness, we not only can know when we are fertile and may become pregnant or not, we also begin to recognize the intricate nature of each phase in our cycle: Virgin/Warrior/Spring (post menstruation, pre-ovulation), Mother/Summer (ovulation), Shamanic Woman/Fall (post ovulation, pre menstruation), and Crone/Inner Lover/Winter (menstruation). Each of these phases can be observed, powerfully, each month, and are reflective of the totality of nature, a wisdom and communication that can be channeled during these times. I have even encouraged the adopting of totem animals or spirits for women to ritually connect to their own experiences with these changing energies. Each phase is unique in energy (i.e. hormones), and thus we transform as our bodies undergo these cycles. Yet, a majority of Western women are ignorant to this. We have, after all, replaced this awareness with birth control, the only modern aim for understanding our cycles.

moon chart

A Moon Chart for tracking cycle phases http://www.mymoontime.com/

When Western women bleed for the first time, a subject matter of most interest to me, they are not met with a ceremony or initiation rights, but with a box of tampons and a lack of elder women to guide their experience through the passing of knowledge, ritual, or rites of Woman. We are a lost nation of Women. The Washoe women are not the only women who have initiation ceremonies for women coming of age, they are found all over the world. In these societies, there are also elder women, “Wise Women” as they are generally called. When a woman becomes of age, she learns deeply the arts of being a woman and channeling her energy according to her cultural customs, as passed by the Wise Women. Yet, the idea of this is shocking to most women whom I have heard their personal stories. It seems as though the subject of bleeding is one that our conservative culture wishes to avoid, maybe because of discomfort in addressing the issue, maybe because of ignorance to the depth in which it effects our lives as women.

himba initiation ceremony

The closing of a Himba Initiation Ceremony; an Elder Woman crowns the initiate.’ http://magazine.africageographic.com/weekly/issue-15/gallery-himba-women-namibia-alegra-ally/

And so, what would our world, as Western Women, be if we were to begin the re-surfacing of ancestral customs regarding feminine spirituality with our bodies and the Cosmos? What would our world be if our girls were initiated, educated in the arts of reading and communicating with nature through their cycles? What would our society see change if women were firm in their power, yielding not to societal expectations of working class? What would your life be like if a Wise Woman had mentored you in the Arts of being a Woman, handing you a sacred torch of ritual, ceremony, and power? What would our world be like if our women gathered for rituals and prayers, support and acknowledgement, and sharing of magic found therein?

I believe our world would change. And I believe, because these practices are derived from indigenous and ancestral cultures, that we can see past the veil of conditioned illusion when peering into the complex nature of descended feminine customs.

And so, in closing, I encourage women to contemplate their own cycles, fertility, and Ceremony of Bleeding in a ritual fashion, seeking ancestral wisdom through empowering ourselves into our born shamanic roles. Sisterhoods, arising all over the Western world, are vast in network and we can re-surface our rights as women through our connectivity. I also encourage a deeper look into some of the ethnocentric projections we place on cultures holding seemingly “feminine suppressive” practices, for their root is anything but. There is wisdom in the roots of humanity, and we have never been severed, else our tree would no longer live.

162 responses to “The Ceremony of Bleeding

  1. Truthfully, what I read here profoundly horrifies me.

    I live in and amongst third world people who have lived through these so called spiritually superior practices you seem to hold so high in your estimation of value.

    I also see an overwhelmingly white middleclass presence in this thread, women who have the luxury to romanticise issues they will never ever face or have to live through.

    Girls miss out on school to “bleed into the earth” and are trapped in profound poverty for the rest of their natural lives. Women are isolated due to their menstruation, in Xhosa culture, not because they are “powerful” but because they will spoil the milk and cause illness in herds. That is not respect for a woman’s power.

    Women with circumcisions live in torturous pain all their adult lives, or are prohibited from experiencing any orgasm ever (since a percentage of all women are unable to experience orgasm without stimulation of the clitoris), not to mention the inherent cissexism and heteronormativity of claiming it brings male and female together to cause physical harm to another.

    There is no way that this is a better future.

    What is a better future is to have a real change in the way we view men and women. Equality well beyond even fourth wave feminism, of the kind that has grown comfortable enough with itself to acknowledge that equal does not mean identical and which can celebrate again the inherent nature of all peoples and their capacities.

    We do not need to delve into historical, unscientific or barbaric practices that harm individuals and impair the freedoms or health of persons to do so. By examining ourselves, intensely observing our personal rhythms and knowledges and spending time meditating upon ourselves and reality can rediscover rapidly that which has been lost to us in terms of awareness of our essential humanity.

    What is wrong with the west is not it’s advances in human rights or science. It is it’s abandonment of the practice of meditation on reality and self. To impune the worth of modern adaptations to female reproductive health in an attempt to produce better spiritual and cultural outcomes is simply a cargo cultish attempt at recapturing a skill that cannot be attained by mimicing other cultures but must be attained by deeply examining and studying our own.

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    • Dear Christel,

      Thank you for your reflections and I appreciate your bringing forth of these viewpoints, as these are most relevant to this topic. The purpose of this article, to the contrary of persuading, was to open this topic for Western women to explore for themselves why we do what we do, as well as shed light on some misinterpretations that I commonly come across in my work. So, thank you for offering this viewpoint, as it offers much to this discussion. I feel inspired to address some of the points that you made here…

      As a woman who also frequently lives in other countries (I prefer not to categorize and label countries by Western standards), and have spent, up to a year, living in wilderness areas of South America (in service to humanitarian work), I too have seen tragic evolutionarily developed mentalities surrounding bleeding customs. The purpose of this article was not to persuade people that one way is better than another, but merely to present a topic from a medium of inter-cultural knowledge. No, I do not believe that ALL currently practiced, indigenous practices surrounding birth, bleeding, or gender role customs are superior to Western customs (nor do I see them all as humane on either front), but I feel that we have so much to learn in getting out of our Western superior, colonizing, “we know better than the other” mentality regarding these issues.

      I’ve sat in sweat lodge where women were offended because they could not attend due to bleeding. This is NOT a sexist custom, as it is perceived by the Western women who were turned away. There are deeper cultural roots to be viewed. The purpose of this article was to offer a revision of these misconstrued views, as they have become a center focus for my research and experiential explorations. Yes, in some Peyote lineages, women are not allowed to attend for sexist reasons, but I’ve done my homework and I’ve spoken with elders, and I’ve seen patterns that lead me to believe that this was not always the reason. Only some lineages believe this, why is it that it is a common outsider view (mainly Western) that this is the only way in which it is done?

      On the topic of circumcisions, I actually never touched the topic in the article because I know nothing of it. This article was about bleeding ceremonies, bleeding technologies, and societal consciousness of menstruation. Though the topic has seemed to spark much heat in this discussion, I personally don’t have experience with it and the thought of the subject was not present when I wrote this article. I feel it has been brought up due to the photos that I chose to use. But in the captions, I am referring to their initiation of menstruation ceremonies, not their circumcision practices. I, therefore, was not suggesting that this was a “better future” for American women.

      As a former medical anthropologist, biological scientist, and published researcher, I have found that, for me, a medium of thought best suits our world. To say that things unscientific are irrelevant or that because something is unscientific, science offers a better answer, for me is a harmful approach to life. So is only abiding by esoteric viewpoints. All lenses are relevant, and to abide by “right” and “wrong” concepts represents dualistic mentality, a common conditioning in Western culture that has led to harmful views as well as reflective of colonizing mentalities.

      When I read articles on other cultures customs of female-oriented practices and see that, though they may be portraying factual information, the language used is reflective of dualism, which represents at a deeper level separation, that WE have the right to decide what is right and what is wrong, and we have the right to condemn what we like based on ethnocentric lenses, to me is ignorance stemming from ego.

      As for my personal approach to life, yes, I have adopted such practices and I teach such practices. There is a beautiful humility, surrender, and expansive nature to this work of inter-cultural exchange, but it is also “new” technology that doesn’t have roots in indigenous systems. I have seen it do wonders for the women who participate, and I can personally verify that it has changed my life and consciousness surrounding being a woman in the most profound way. In fact, I wouldn’t have written this article without the numerous voices of women all over the U.S. whom I have heard express a call for consciousness in reviewing our current bleeding customs.

      I personally do not feel resonate with calling a reflection of questioning our current state as women “cultish”.

      “By examining ourselves, intensely observing our personal rhythms and knowledges and spending time meditating upon ourselves and reality can rediscover rapidly that which has been lost to us in terms of awareness of our essential humanity.” This is a profound statement! And I believe in this too, wholeheartedly. Many of my own practices, and what I see evolving in this area of human consciousness is reflective of this principle and I sincerely thank you for wording it so beautifully!

      Thank you again for your reflections! There are some beautiful insights here! To be transparent, I feel that maybe I wasn’t interpreted in the way in which I felt was my essence, but I have seen this occur a few other times since the release of this article. It is an honor to accept the criticisms, to receive further wisdoms in other’s views, and to see another perspective of these topics! Thank you again ❤

      -Jessica

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    • No smack of white middle-class presence here, or Western ideas about something you’ve “never had to live through”, right?

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  2. Ok so while I can get behind more support and sisterhood and raising our girls to have a better understanding of their bodies and fertility, and it saddens me that we’ve lost the tribal bonds between women in modern society, I have a few issues with this article.

    1. What space do you leave for women with infertility? Am I innately powerless because I don’t have a menstrual cycle? Do I retain any womanhood at all?

    2. Yes it would be wonderful to be able to spend time with each other but this is the real world and no one is ever going to be able to call out of work because of period. Imagine the chaos to the workforce.

    3. While perhaps in some Native American cultures there is great power and women are respected for it, this is not the case in every culture and I think you are romanticizing tribal cultures. What do you say to the girl who isn’t allowed to go to school while she is menstruating? There is a patriarchy and it is alive and well. You say that persecution is a product of ones own mind or POV, which can be argued in some cases but to discount it completely is to take a very naive view of culture and history. I am very against the victim mentality that seems so pervasive in our society (see the uproar at Yale over that Halloween email) but sexism is out there and is alive and well.

    I believe that we do have power as women and that we do not have to try to be equal or behave masculinely to achieve it. I love reading about the goddess worship in Minoan culture and believe that it is just as important to stay home with your kids as it is to have a career. But I just can’t get behind this article for these reasons.

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    • Hello ALittleSunlight!

      Thank you for displaying your truth here! It has been a blessing of grace and humility to see topics raised which I myself was not considering when writing this article, and for all of the women who have stepped forward to do so, thank you all!

      To be completely transparent, the matter of addressing issues that this article did not encompass, yet are being brought forward in a seemingly negative or opposing tone, is a bit of a new way of maneuvering for me, and I hope that I am able to address all topics gracefully. I did not invoke the topic of infertility, female circumcision, or declare “ALL NATIVE CULTURES” as being superior to Western culture, yet these topics have been directed at me with heat after the writing of this article.

      I’d like to take a moment, to call attention to everyone experiencing negative opposition and feeling the need to lash out, and ask, with heart and respect, for people to look at where this is coming from within themselves. It seems that, from my experience on this blogging thing, that a majority of people reading and blogging are looking for something that either opposes their personal view or reinstates it, and then driving whichever element into flames for the purpose of being heard. I respect all peoples rights to be heard, and I recognize that this topic has turned out to be quite a provocative one, AND I also appreciate and respect all views being presented. However, to be transparent, I feel that many of the topics being repelled back in my direction are creations of the reader, stemming from their own opinions and views (to which they are seeking agreement with or opposition from blogs), from which my article merely sparked yet did not actually address or state. And I state here, that I do not in any way take credit for these accusations, opinions, or topics that were not directly presented and explained in the article. Female circumcision is what it is, and I did not mention it once, yet somehow it is tied to this article, and I see now that an endless amount of other topics can as well, seeing as this is a broad topic that addresses all women and therefore all female-oriented issues can become a part of this. I however, separate myself from being a part of this process.

      So,

      ALittleSunlight,

      You have brought forth some very interesting topics, to which I would like to respond in the most humble way possible, and I hope to address each with the highest representation of my knowledge and/or intuition based on what I have seen and experienced within this world.

      1.) Infertility, to what I understand, is taken two basic ways of being seen in HG cultures and peoples of Earth-based living practices. 1.) Is that it is seen as a different lifeway, just as the Two-Spirited Ones of North America were seen. The idea of “normal” and “abnormal” members of society is and was not present, yet for people who did have a role that was outside of “standard” there seems to have been specialized rituals and roles in which they could embark upon. As with the Two-Spirited Ones of North America, women who were infertile were considered to have a unique energy niche for the community, and oftentimes this woman was skilled in the arts of herbalism, midwifery, and other more mysterious arts. From my deep study of the intricacies of the Witch hunts of Old Europe, the records seemed to have had an interesting pattern: that women burned as witches were older, childless, healer (herbal & midwife) women of the community, a role limited to a few, if not just one, woman per village. This position was also often held in MesoAmerican Indigenous societies such as the Aztec, Nahua, Zapotec, and Toltec, according to sources specifically studying the roles of female healers and fertility.

      So, unlike Western culture, where we tend to like a normalized view of people and compare people to or from it, in other societal structures, roles are born from those who in some way held their own roles: from trans-gendered persons of Native America, to the childless healer elder women of Ancient Europe. Somehow everyone found place, which resulted in specialized roles and contributions to societies, even specialized sects, rituals, and ceremonies. Infertile women were also the most common women to join priesthoods in their later years (most cultures, priesthoods were joined by chosen infants, yet in some cases older women were able to join if they remained childless). Yet, to not be mistaken for a romantic, these are a few examples of what I know and do not apply to all cultures across the board.

      2.) The second way in which I know of society to interpret childless women is the most common of “the witch”. In Mark Simmons’s Book ‘Witchcraft in the SouthWest [United States & Mexico]’, he states very clearly that in the centuries following indigenous NA’s exposure to European belief systems, that dark magic and witchcraft were most associated with older, childless women. This, to me, and as it was to Simmons, a representation of infiltration of European thought patterns. Before European influence on culture, according to both Simmons and Patricia Gonzales Ph.D, there was not a gender associated with dark arts, supernatural powers, etc. That men and women had the power to hold complex ritual of communion with the forces of nature. Thus, the target of women as witches, both during the Mesoamerican witch hunts of the Spanish Inquisition, following Spanish conquest, and the descended mentality of childless women being “witches” by indigenous peoples by the 18th, 19th, & 20th centuries, was a by-product of European thought stemming as far back as the patriarchal domination of Goddess oriented spirituality in Indo-European history, where caucasian female-oppression first began.

      Thus, from my extensive research in the witch hunts and how it related (in both the old worlds and the new) to female persecution brought on by the domination of matriarchal societies & religions by patriarchal societies and religions, the idea of infertile women being associated with such titles seems, from the evidence we have, to be associated with white-faced colonization and domination of cultural ideas. Yet, not to be taken as a romanic, this conclusion comes from the evidence and sources stated here and does not apply to the world of native cultures and system domination at large (I really hope it’s not expected for me to release EVERY single source of information about this topic). However, it would seem that in the cultures of Indo-European, and MesoAmeican, to which I have studied, pre-colonization, there is evidence that childless women were trained even more deeply in the arts of healing, priesthood, and sacred rituals, as that was their form of birthing energy for the community.

      SECOND TOPIC

      2. Yes it would be wonderful to be able to spend time with each other but this is the real world and no one is ever going to be able to call out of work because of period. Imagine the chaos to the workforce.

      For me, and all that I have witnessed in the area of consciousness shifting and transformation of Western peoples, I am hopeful that what I have seen is a collective shift in what we feel is appropriately healthy for our workforce, lives, and community living. I personally made a conscious choice, long ago, to step away from a handed down system that in no way had my best interests at heart. Because I have chosen a life of travel, community service and education, and choose not to be held by time constraints or societal expectations which I NEVER voted for and never will get the chance to, I myself wish to remain the creator of my reality and have found large groups of other Western people who are doing the same in the way of taking control of their realities as communities and human beings.

      So, though I remember not being able to call out of work when I was bleeding and still living in service to the paper money and clock, both of which another human or system always controlled, I do not in any way allow for my personal views of health and happiness to be compromised by an external force. In the communities, grassroots movements, subcultures, and sometimes even indigenously woven societal structures where I, myself live, the voice of the recently removed Western woman is that of which I wrote about in this article. We have our red tents and our rituals, our women’s councils, and our moon rituals, we have the right to be women as we see fit. We have educated ourselves and put into practice these rituals and tendencies because WE saw fit to do so, and even still, for every woman it is different. Some women don’t even take time off, and that’s OKAY, that is her way. But the point is that she HAS CHOICE.

      As a community, we as women self-organize in ways that allow us each the time we need when bleeding. Sara does the kitchen work and wash in my stead if I am unable for two days, etc. There have been communities where we chart our cycles together, and hold community events around optimal Nature cycles that are interwoven with our own fertility and bleeding schedules. Again, this is not mandatory but it is an option, it is a right that all women have. And yes, some of these tactics were adopted from studying indigenous systems (not to be labeled as a romantic, but there are indigenous systems that have BEAUTIFUL customs, and we see those as being admirable and worth exploring).

      So, it depends on what kind of workforce we humans want to find ourselves in. This article was not written to encourage U.S. wide strikes around women’s menstrual cycles, but merely to shed light on what could be. The purpose is to have women question themselves in relation to their systems: are our menstrual customs purely of our essence or are they conditioned by someone else to fit an external system of operation? And instead of writing a 300 page explanation for why I was proposing the ideas that I was, where those ideas came from, and what inspired them, I simply stated the essence of the message that wished to come through, as I have heard a call for such a source topic in Women’s Groups across America and in South American communities.

      THIRD TOPIC

      3. While perhaps in some Native American cultures there is great power and women are respected for it, this is not the case in every culture and I think you are romanticizing tribal cultures. What do you say to the girl who isn’t allowed to go to school while she is menstruating? There is a patriarchy and it is alive and well. You say that persecution is a product of one’s own mind or POV, which can be argued in some cases but to discount it completely is to take a very naive view of culture and history. I am very against the victim mentality that seems so pervasive in our society (see the uproar at Yale over that Halloween email) but sexism is out there and is alive and well.

      A:
      As a former anthropologist, I am well aware of the “Nobel Savage” (quote) approach, first introduced in anthropology by Shaftesbury. The definition goes something like “humans are essentially good, it is civilization that makes them bad”, something like that. And when we see others romanticizing indigenous cultures at large, this 18th century concept becomes the focus of the explanation for the topic.

      Maybe so, I am romanticizing indigenous cultures, but it is not done without extensive research, both experiential and literary, in the field and in the libraries, and in no way do I apply it to ALL NATIVE CULTURES, at least in the light that we see them today. However, there is leading evidence in spiritual worlds of past peoples that most indigenous cultures began as matriarchal and Earth-Based cultures, that the introduction of patriarchy that created such extreme gender stratification and so forth. This idea was first introduced to describe the Native People of Europe: Pagans, Celts, etc. (to which I have been conducting on-going research in the light of understanding how Witchcraft is a societal projection of fear onto Earth-Based traditions of past indigenous origin-very similar to proclamations made by both Simmons and Gonzales in relation to European colonization projections onto indigenous ways of thought). Earth-based Goddess worship (to which we have statues of dating as far back as 30,000 ky) is seen to have been the indigenous spiritual pathway of Europeans before Middle-Eastern peoples migrated in with Hebrew-related (and actual Hebrew) religions, which also incorporated patriarchy. Once dominated, the indigenous peoples way of life changed to fit the new system.

      In Africa, it has been stated (By HILA in this discussion forum) that female circumcision was actually a product of matriarchal systems, for both male and female for religious rights. I do not have the evidence to say for certain if this is true or not, but I can say that IN ALL OF THE WORLD, a majority (not all, we cannot know that for sure) of first cultures (many of which have been tainted by patriarchy) tend to be more expressive of feminine empowerment and egalitarian social structures than those of developed nations. It seems that without a proper thesis or thorough, endless explanation, any attempt to relate customs of native people to a more conscious viewpoint than that of modern Western thought will be seen as extremist and romantic. Yes, I believe that there is more to uncover in the light of ACTUAL first cultures, not what we see of them as they have been tainted by patriarchy. Bleeding Sheds, Bleeding Tents, Red Tents, Black Lodges, and so forth, are all products of some bleeding custom or another, and I believe that there is deeper insight than current feminist conditioning is allowing us to see.

      Persecution is real, yes. Yet, I believe in mysterious timeliness of human evolution in collective consciousness shifts. We are in a time, in my belief, where we are in the midst of awakening to our potential as creators of this reality. I see this in grassroots movements, subcultures, and in my travels.

      As far as the idea of suppression goes, I have been receiving quite a bit of heat for that remark. Yet, from where I was coming from in the expression, it is more in the sense of teachings I have received from Tibetan Buddhism lineages. The lineage, to which I am connected, teaches the transcendence of “victim mentalities”, which is done through taking complete responsibility for all elements of reality. There is no “they did this” or “this was done to me” (externalizing the process) so much as “this exists and it is completely linked to my existence, thus to change in the self is to change the external”. The Tao Te Ching, in 39 states “do you think you can change the world? I do not think it can be done…..the true master resides in the center of himself and radiates the change from within”.

      To accept the idea of suppression, for me then, is to accept that I am suppressible. Because I am not suppressible, and I encourage my sisters to empower themselves, the battle is with overcoming victim states of mentality, within the self, that accepts that an external force IS capable of suppressing us. We are in a time of history that is completely attuned for transcendence and enlightenment within the collective consciousness of humanity; many prophecies and teachings for this time are all aligned with this notion. Where once, the intelligence of the Universe was not in the state in which it is now (enlightenment & liberation), it can be said that the mental states and realities of the people in the past were not attuned to such energies that are present now. To continue to feed the notion of “suppression” is to continue to hold on to a mental perception of the past that is no longer useful, nor does it relate truth, when addressing our states of existence in the current.

      And so, from what my Tibetan Buddhist teachers have taught me, we are responsible for radiating change through our transcendence within the self. If I continue to feed the notion of suppression, I am continuing to victimize myself and Women as a whole, which defeats the purpose of transcendence in this area of human consciousness evolution.

      Again, thank you so much, sister for your reflections, feedback, and presence within this discussion ❤

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      • I agree in having deeply considered, specialized, compassionate policies for persons in specialized roles. Like the ones you described, which you came across in indigenous cultures.
        I agree that we are on a turn for the healthier, I witness it every day in the thriving of holistic business and progress in human rights. Collective consciousness shift, sure. Also scientific progress, education, and governing policies in favour of human rights. I also think that my model of the world is largely influenced by the community I’m in, and to a majority of people, this whole consciousness shift thing is not present, they don’t know about it cause they never heard some New Age person talk about it.
        I agree with lots of things you said, including the philosophy of taking responsibility for everything in your experience.
        I do have some gaps in understanding some things you said.
        What has made you arrive at your conclusion, that we are at some tipping ‘awakening’ point, what do you mean we are ‘attuned for transcendence’?
        — “Where once, the intelligence of the Universe was not in the state in which it is now (enlightenment & liberation), it can be said that the mental states and realities of the people in the past were not attuned to such energies that are present now.”
        This sounds decidedly superior to the past. If there’s anything that is true, it’s that anybody who thinks their culture is on the up-and-up thinks that their people are better, or in your words more ‘highly attuned’ than all the rest before them. And somewhat rightly so, cause progress is progress, if your culture is doing better than it was before than they are in some way above the past. But what does this have to do with the Universe, and ‘being attuned to energies?’

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      • Dear Aly,

        I absolutely love your thoughtful response and presentation of the ideas and concepts that seemed to speak to you most. Your words are graceful, direct, and clear, so I thank you for contributing to this forum in such a way 🙂

        To answer your question (which I hope the following response does), I would like to share some knowledge that was passed to me and my own intuitional perspective of the matter…

        “Where once, the intelligence of the Universe was not in the state in which it is now (enlightenment & liberation), it can be said that the mental states and realities of the people in the past were not attuned to such energies that are present now”

        This comment was partly inspired by a teacher of mine. His direct statement was (translated) “We, as human beings and part of the Earth, would not be in such a time of ignorance and darkness that we see now if it were not for the sole purpose of transformation”….”We must first go through darkness to become aware of how to be light. And in this, everything is perfect, including the darkness because from the history of darkness can the time of light be remembered”. This is a basic, more or less, direct statement from one of my teachers who both belongs to a Buddhist lineage as well as travels in the Amazon to learn from elders.

        What I believe it to mean, and how it was presented in this article, is not to say that past peoples were in some way lesser that people are at the present time. But that the Earth Herself has a natural intelligence to her, and all forces of life (including human activity) is governed by Her flows of energy. We may look at them from many perspectives but let’s just say that Yin & Yang energy (Feminine & Masculine), can be what we use for this discussion….

        The Yin & Yang energy that governs the planet (Isis & Horus Energy, Divine Masculine & Feminine, etc.) have been out of balance for, what I believe through the teachings of my teachers, for a thousand years or more. The Feminine, in her unhealthy state, can only be out of balance if the Masculine too is out of balance. The unhealthy expressions of Feminine Earth Energy is aversion, passiveness, victimization, fear & avoidance. Whereas the unhealthy expressions of the Masculine are projection, domination, bullying, aggression, & anger. We even see this “inward” expression (feminine) expressed in the physical genitalia of the woman and the “outward” expression (masculine) expressed in that of the man (which is another topic, but this has a point).

        Thus, when the 2 governing Earth Energies come out of balance, we see the trends of the past 1000 years or more: conquest, domination, rape, passiveness to societal authoritative power, ignorance & aversion to responsability regarding the well-being of the planet, and SO much more. BUT, if we look into the looking glass of the past, it wasn’t until the mid 20th century where the Western world began creating mediums such as “eco feminism”, green movements, sustainable living (permaculture) reintroduction, etc. So, in essence, we see in the 20th century a shifting point in Western consciousness that is reflected in the simultaneous manifestation of reflections regarding Earth Energy awareness. We are Her children, and when Her energy shifts, so do we, collectively, into whatever state is needed for the entire flow of the organism.

        There is no superiority here, in my own belief. What I meant in the article, in accordance with my teacher & observations, is that a time of darkness is as equally important as the time of light if we are to maintain the balance of Earth Energies that are directly responsible for our reality. If we fall into darkness, it is to be reborn for when the time is needed. In my own rituals, I give thanks, strongly, for the times of darkness and those brave souls who chose to be on Earth during those times and played their role in guiding the planet into balance.

        I hope that this was somewhat informative 🙂 Thank you again for your inquisitive and graceful contemplation to this subject ❤

        -Jessica

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  3. Ok so while I can get behind more support and sisterhood and raising our girls to have a better understanding of their bodies and fertility, and it saddens me that we’ve lost the tribal bonds between women in modern society, I have a few issues with this article.

    1. What space do you leave for women with infertility? Am I innately powerless because I don’t have a menstrual cycle? Do I retain any womanhood at all?

    2. Yes it would be wonderful to be able to spend time with each other but this is the real world and no one is ever going to be able to call out of work because of period. Imagine the chaos to the workforce.

    3. While perhaps in some Native American cultures there is great power and women are respected for it, this is not the case in every culture and I think you are romanticizing tribal cultures. What do you say to the girl who isn’t allowed to go to school while she is menstruating? There is a patriarchy and it is alive and well. You say that persecution is a product of one’s own mind or POV, which can be argued in some cases but to discount it completely is to take a very naive view of culture and history. I am very against the victim mentality that seems so pervasive in our society (see the uproar at Yale over that Halloween email) but sexism is out there and is alive and well.

    I believe that we do have power as women and that we do not have to try to be equal or behave masculinely to achieve it. I love reading about the goddess worship in Minoan culture and believe that it is just as important to stay home with your kids as it is to have a career. But I just can’t get behind this article for these reasons.

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  4. This is a lovely read, thank you. I found its timing almost serendipitous due to thinking of the explanations I will give my daughter about her cycle in the future as well as seeing the end of mine before too long. I felt what I thought was your intended, positive purpose of a message of power for the individual female and much needed bonding of the feminine as well. I’m sorry people have become so filled with self dislike and overt sensitivity in recent times that they are missing such a helpful movement. Continue the peaceful education please and know their are many of us waiting for the bigger wake up. Xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, sister! Your words of encouragement are a blessing to the continuation of this work. I feel the beautiful consciousness resonating from your words, and thank you for your soulful presence among the Walks of Woman. Prayers of blessing to your daughter upon her awakening, and prayers of blessings to you upon your walk into the Elder Spectrum of Life. Many thanks & love to you!

      -Jessica

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    • Also, you may find the recent blog posts entitled “Cycle Energetics” helpful for your daughter. Broken into 4 parts (one for each phase of the monthly cycle), I have found their archetypal representations very helpful in achieving full consciousness of my cycle. Blessings ❤

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  5. Hello again, Jessica – I wanted to say that I agree without about the contamination of our food supply with chemicals and especially hormones. I experienced precocious puberty – I developed secondary sex characteristics at age 3 and my doctor was afraid that I was going to begin menstruating at 5. They managed to hold it off until age 9, but this condition has terrible effects on the body – the child tends to be overweight, shorter than they would have been with uninterrupted development, and there is no natural progression of the gradual changes that occur in normal puberty. I also believe that our exposure to hormones in particular add to the current problems in fertility and the increasing frequency of postpartum psychosis. Humans started getting bigger at the same rate that our cattle did, and I believe the key to the trend of Obesity in Americans is a direct result of consuming foods with the unnatural levels of estrogen, as is the increasing tendency for some women who are particularly sensitive to estrogen experiencing debilitating cramps and nausea during menstruation. Through my experiments with naturopathic diet I discovered that women with terrible cramps often find relief if they forego beef and dairy in their diet. I also discovered that the horrible cystic acne some teen experience is created by eating cured meats containing Sodium Nitrate and that this condition becomes worse with exposure to hormone laden animal foods. I believe that women who experience infertility are well advised to avoid animal foods altogether unless the individual has a bodily need for protein. I know most people can live on a vegan diet but I have met women who become ungrounded and dysfunctional if they don’t eat a little meat regularly. No one diet is perfectly suited to every body. We are the first generation who has been bombarded with chemicals unknown to humankind prior to 50 or 60 years ago and I think these problems are just the tip of the iceberg – I believe that we are changing our own evolutionary development and that there will be enormous growth in medical problems as we start to see the unexpected physical changes that must come from our chemical laden lifestyle. Namaste~

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  6. This article showed up on my Facebook feed…

    Wanted to weigh in, as a female…
    I might, perhaps, be an unusual case here, but I have never ever in my entire childhood OR adult life, ever felt any remote connection to the bleeding, or the uterus, or motherhood, or any of that. And, as a person who has always been very introspective and in touch with my inner psychology and emotional landscape- the cycle has never read as important to me, spiritually or physically.

    I’ve perhaps always been a little more masculine anyway- call it what you want… And if I were to go meditate on my bleeding for a week I think I’d go mental.

    It’s a fact of my life, sure- like me having green eyes and a wart on my thumb and a weak digestive system. But it’s just that- a physiological aspect of me that I recognize and sit with as I am a human here on earth.

    I in no way wish to condemn people who ARE very connected to this part of them.., just want to draw attention to the fact that, though the western world has gone away from rituals and such, doesn’t mean that everyone is being robbed of their freedom to be mystical within their bodies.

    I’m pretty mystical, and it is in connection to basically anything BUT my menstruation and ability to be a mother. I have no desire for this, and never have…

    I agree with a few other comments which have been posted- if I, personally, were to have ceased all activity around my personal ambitions and career and athletics and school work and home obligations for a week a month to focus on this- I would not be where I am now. For me, personally, I would feel enslaved by my womanhood. Instead I’m out in the world living freely, getting a shit ton done while I’m on my period, because I happen to be a female who doesn’t connect to that part of myself.

    Just to let you know. Traditions are beautiful and powerful but, they won’t translate to everyone- just like my way doesn’t translate to everyone.

    I rather enjoy the sport strength tampons myself! Lol.
    Cheers

    Like

    • Dear Gillianleeartist,

      Your response brings a smile to my heart, because in every area of your words, I feel the essence of who you are. Of course not all of us feel the same way about our bleeding as the woman next to us, its a completely unique experience for every woman! And I respect and honor everyone’s way of expressing their womanhood, encouraging all women to embrace what is right for them.

      Thank you for your expression, thought, and grace in doing so here. I highly appreciate women who can express here, their own experiences, in grace. My way is not every woman’s way, and much of what I wrote about I myself have not even embodied completely, it is a practice in evolution. Yet, this article was to bring forth perspectives that may have not been mulled over by a majority of society, and does not encompass every aspect of what it is to bleed for every woman.

      Keep rockin’ those sport strength tampons, lady! And thank you for being the unique expression of feminine beauty, as YOU have chosen to embody and express it 🙂

      Cheers!

      -Jessica

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      • I wonder if our inner attraction to these concepts might have something to do with astrology. I was immediately drawn to these ideas as a young adult, once I heard them. But then, I have Pisces Moon, a watery, mystical sign! Just a thought.

        Also, regarding infertility – I too had infertility and never had children, but I am in NO WAY offended to hear women’s bodies called “life-giving” etc. I totally agree! The design of my body is astonishing and I am in awe…I am very creative in other ways.

        Thank you for the article!

        Like

      • Dear Barbara,

        Thank you for bringing this aspect into the conversation! I feel that the stars, and the wisdom of the planetary movements do absolutely play into our human experience of all things, including the cycle of the woman. As a Pisces myself (who has throughout life has gravitated, romantically and in friendship to other Pisces and water signs), I understand completely the abyss that is the Pisces’ spiritual path. It is the nature of the mystic water sign to explore the depths of the ocean of the cosmos and self. It would seem that symbols, intuition, and the gravitation to such mystical ways of being are a very part of those who come to explore these paths 🙂

        Thank you for your stance and presence here on this board!

        Like

  7. This article was serendipitous for me as I am experiencing some difficulty with my menses. I am in perimenopause stage now and there seems to resistance to this transition. I actually had to call off work due to pain and flow.

    This serves as a gentle and beautiful reminder to honor all our stages.

    Thank you

    Like

    • Thank you, Brenda ❤ Many thanks and blessings to you for your expression of womanhood during this time! Seeing other women in strength, light, and consciousness during these stages of life is so very uplifting to our entire network of women, globally and spiritually. Thank you ❤

      Like

  8. I agree with some of your points but I think you are very wrong to suggest that women have not been oppressed for the last couple thousand years – anybody who studies history and culture like you clearly have must be aware of the damaging restrictions and limitations that have been placed on women particularly by religions and laws,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Universalchild,

      Much gratitude to you for expressing your truth in contribution to this forum!

      I will copy and paste an excerpt from a response to a similar comment received some time ago. The comment that you are pointing to in the article, possibly without the clarity needed, was made in light of Tibetan Buddhist and Taoist philosophy that I have received from teachers to expand my understanding of reality. History, in my depth of knowledge, is interpreted in the present, strikingly different in eras and times of human consciousness. Thus, if as Vine Deloria Jr. speaks, we are to transform our perception of spirituality and religion, we must understand the nature of observation that is placed upon it. As with Quantum Mechanics, the reactive nature of the object is dependent upon the energy of the observer. Such is history, we have the ability to transcend patterns of observation that perpetuate endless loops in “suffering & suppression” within consciousness, such as that of mindless oppression. If Deloria is correct, the religious and consciousness experiences that we encounter become irrelevant when changes in time and space make them so. Below is an excerpt from a response that I gave to a similar comment:

      “As far as the idea of suppression goes, I have been receiving quite a bit of heat for that remark. Yet, from where I was coming from in the expression, it is more in the sense of teachings I have received from Tibetan Buddhism lineages. The lineage, to which I am connected, teaches the transcendence of “victim mentalities”, which is done through taking complete responsibility for all elements of reality. There is no “they did this” or “this was done to me” (externalizing the process) so much as “this exists and it is completely linked to my existence, thus to change in the self is to change the external”. The Tao Te Ching, in 39 states “do you think you can change the world? I do not think it can be done…..the true master resides in the center of himself and radiates the change from within”.

      To accept the idea of suppression, for me then, is to accept that I am suppressible. Because I am not suppressible, and I encourage my sisters to empower themselves, the battle is with overcoming victim states of mentality, within the self and history, that accepts that an external force IS capable of suppressing us. We are in a time of history that is completely attuned for transcendence and enlightenment within the collective consciousness of humanity; many prophecies and teachings for this time are all aligned with this notion. Where once, the intelligence of the Universe was not in the state in which it is now (enlightenment & liberation), it can be said that the mental states and realities of the people in the past were not attuned to such energies that are present now. To continue to feed the notion of “suppression” is to continue to hold on to a mental perception of the past that is no longer useful, nor does it relate truth, when addressing our states of existence in the current. Furthermore, it perpetuates the conscious labeling on the feminine that, by removing, would in thus transform the “victim mentality” into “liberated mentality”, that which change in time & space (Deloria) can change in energy forces of consciousness.

      And so, from what my Tibetan Buddhist teachers have taught me, we are responsible for radiating change through our transcendence within the self. If I continue to feed the notion of suppression, I am continuing to victimize myself and Women as a whole, which defeats the purpose of transcendence in this area of human consciousness evolution.”

      It is not that events did not occur in history, yet it is the observer who makes them what they are within the present. This is all I mean, yet as with a majority of this article, these relations of information went without further philosophical explanation as to the source of wisdom from which they flowed. Yet, it is an article and not a book on the subject.

      Thank you, so graciously, for contributing to this discussion and expressing your truth in conscious observation! I inspire to be more informative of these concepts, and through your assistance this has been possible ❤

      Love, Blessings & Prayer Feathers to you, sister!

      -Jessica

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  9. Pingback: Menstruation as Ceremony: The healing power of taking time out for yourself every month | Sacred Women’s Business·

  10. Dear Jessica,

    I won’t engage with the content of what you’ve said in your post because I feel that some of the objections that came to my mind whilst reading were very well articulated by other commentators.

    I only wanted to say this: you defend yourself by saying you’ve done extensive research and that you are a researcher by profession. Where is your bibliography? I don’t know of any “researchers by profession” who don’t attach detailed citations of their sources to all their work. Your images (only some of which have citations) seem to have been sourced from the following places, among others:
    MyMoonTime, which is an app for tracking your menstrual cycle.
    AfricaGeographic, which is a website which photographs scenes of African wildlife and people and distributes them to Western audiences…presumeably to be used as cool backgrounds for their smartphones?

    This is to say that I am critical of your claim that this is a “research paper.” Please add a bibliography and formal citations, because it sure looks like an opinion piece. And you can’t exactly be surprised at the other commentators’ negative reactions to this post if we consider it an opinion piece.

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  14. I resonate with your message. It was a very well written and thought out piece. I also admired your grace under the fiery responses you got from the readers of your article. Keep up the good work. I will be using some of this information when I talk to my young daughter about her cycle. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Goddessarcher!
      As you have read, many responses are laced with opposition, sometimes not so very graceful. And I seek to soak in all viewpoints, so thank you for stating this recognition of grace 🙂 It means the world in a sea of conflict ❤

      Let me know if there is anything I can help facilitate for your daughter when she comes of age. There are many other articles on this blog site, as well as resources for fertility charting, cycle understanding, etc. I would love to help out if you were interested ❤

      Blessings & Love!

      -Jessica

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  15. Pingback: The Ceremony of Bleeding – MommyEvolve·

  16. The reason western society doesn’t have ceremonies for menstruation is because we recognize this is a biological function, much like peeing or pooping. Next you will want to hold ceremonies celebrating poop.

    This article while informative on other cultures has no bearing on reality. Grow up.

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    • Dear Gryphyn3,

      What you say is true for the majority of our society: menstruation is a biological function. It is seen as such in other customs as well, but there is more to it. I believe that reality is what we choose it to be. We, as human beings, have the ability to shift our viewpoints, as well as our interaction with reality. There are infinite forms in which this takes, and as a human being, I prefer to not be a victim of outside projections onto what my reality is for me.

      Take for example, eating. Eating is also a biological function. But we have the choice of what we eat and what that means. If one chooses to eat foods from a grocery store or from restaurants, that too is a choice. But if one decides to grow their own food, simply because for them eating is a creation of connection to Nature and plants, and that relationship sustains them in a healthy way, that is not wrong just because eating is a biological function and our society has the reality perspective of food coming from grocery stores.

      As far as pooping being a ceremony….well, I haven’t looked into that much. However, I do see a difference in the communities who practice composting their feces for 2 years prior soil and communities who just push it into sewage waste systems, which then become toxic and dumped. On the one hand, the communities composting are using all of their materials to create sustenance for their future, harmoniously not dumping their own “shit”, but instead finding ways to recycle it and greatly decreasing the footprint of humanity. On the other communities end, they shit, flush, and contribute to toxic waste build. One represents taking responsibility, the other represents a lack of calling to take responsibility.

      I feel there is a greatness in the diversity in which we handle biological functions. We may either choose to see them as a sacred part of a cycle, take responsibility for them and treat them with consciousness (whatever that means), or we can simply just accept that there is only one way and we are prisoners to that one way. Neither is right or wrong, but I myself prefer to act on behalf of my own truth, not someone else’s.

      Thanks for the feedback 🙂

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  17. Enjoyed the article immensely and can see through the so called romantic notions as we begin the reclamation process of the sacred feminine. The spiral journey always has both light and dark, hence the diverse responses to your post. I have enjoyed your replies and wold like more on your Buddhist writings or others like this. Giving thanks for your voice in the world sweet Goddess.

    Like

    • Dear Khefri,

      I actually have no Buddhist writings, but have referred to (on this thread), teachings that I’ve received over the years from several influential teachers from Tibetan Buddhist lineages. Though I am not a Buddhist myself, I have received great enlightenment and transcendence of my own suffering through adopting many of the pathways found within Tibetan Buddhism. The profundity of their impact on my life can be seen much of how I approach my life, and therefore appear in the way I’ve addressed topics, subjects, and forms of writing and response. However, with most embodiment practices, I do not make the effort to fully disclose them, as they are an essence of being. But I can tell you that they are present in all forms of my writing ❤

      Much gratitude to you, dear soul, for your contribution to this post ❤ I resonate strongly with what you say: as we begin the reclamation process of the sacred feminine, it is a spiraling journey of light and dark, of sifting through romantic notions (and conditioned notions) in order to fully discover the blossoming lotus. In my own discovery, this is a part of my process. I feel that, especially as women, we are seeking a lost and unrecorded pathway into our Divine Feminine Essence. History (what has been recorded) does not offer us much in the way of re-discovery, and thus we much be guided by our intuition, feeling, and whatever elements of "truth" that are relevant to us. This creates discomfort, on many levels, for a Westerner raised on the idea of "fact" and "truth" in absoluteness, needing external justification and affirmation for the elements of mystery that arise from within during this process. Yet, these too are in a time of reformulating themselves.

      In order for us to fully embody the Sacred Feminine, we must step away from linearity, in thinking, in self-assuredness, and in structure of search. We may peer into the outside world, of past cultures and current (or anything else), to create a system of confidence in the unraveling of our true nature, but ultimately it is our inner truth that will guide us into enlightenment within the Balance of the Masculine and Feminine. And these will be called "romantic notions", as they are not "proven" as truth by external means of reality formation (science, fact, societal acceptance of truth, etc.). It is a journey into enlightenment that we are now on, and the binding and attachment to reality (that which has outgrown itself in use) will struggle against the freedom of self, projecting onto the individual for leaving the trained system of thought, yet we have been gifted life during this time in humanity to do just such 🙂

      Thank you, Sweet Goddess, for your contributions to this article ❤

      Like

  18. I very much appreciated this article. Like Edward, I found great joy in reading your thoughtfully constructed responses. I also saw embedded in the responses that were in opposition to what you presented demonstrated was the Western view that you spoke of. As a woman who is a wife, mother, and is moving up in my career, I see the impact that trying to do all of that has on my health…it’s totally stressful, but we continue to grind and don’t recognize the actual impact on our spirits. Yes, I believe that I should have the same rights as men and get the same pay for the same job. But I do wish we celebrated womanhood beyond accomplishments. I wish we celebrated our contribution to life. Western culture is full of rituals that are seemingly related to commercialism with a smidgen or religious piety; we have yet to celebrate humanity. It’s seen as far-fetched and weak (again, to your point about the scourge of Western colonization/hegemony). I find myself beginning to lean more toward beliefs and practices of Native African cultures (prior to the introduction of Europeans and patriarchy) which by and large, honored women, honored spirit, worked in harmony with the Earth, and embraced collectivism over individualism. Again, thank you for your insight and respect for cultural practices outside of the West.

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  19. So wonderful to see this…and with it we need a discussion regarding menopause. Im pre menopause and I see horrendous information regarding a woman passing her “fertility” and youth. So I see this as deeply connected. ..and reconnecting to natural rhythms of the earth. Im so sick of western artificial rhythms that is nothing different than cancerous. Modern “western” women need to look into this and see through the industrial mentality that differentiates itself from Nature…and works works works for $$$.

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  20. Thank you so much for this article! I think you have explained things very well, and this will be a part in changing our current perspective of bleeding to a more sacred one! I have also had many indigenous elders and mentors, and they have all told me the same things. It is such valuable information. I have now been a part of a few girl’s bleeding ceremonies, given to them by their mothers. Times, perspectives, philosophies, ideas, are all changing! One thing that I have noticed happens sometimes, is that the bleeding ceremony for the girl becomes a grief ceremony for the women, but without the deep, deep healing that a true intentional, sacred and connected grief ceremony can be. I think when we bring these practices back to girls and women, we need to be super conscious of ourselves and how we are doing it, and really that grief rituals are an integral technology that needs to be employed at the same time. I guess what I am saying is that I feel like we need to bring all of these things back, in a very conscious and intentional way. What do you think? Have you ever noticed anything like this?

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  21. Jessica…. Beautiful Article.
    And I absolutely love your responses… You definitely show that you are well researched and knowledgeable in this subject.

    I ve seen some comments about African women and Female circumcision… and I don’t agree with them. There is definitely some cultural differences… and when the one lady mentioned something along the lines of…. ~what about the woman who will be locked into poverty for not going to school?~…

    As an African born woman who recognizes the privilege to live in a Western culture… that comment struck a cord with me. Because it seemed that making money or status was more important than women preserving their customs.

    What makes me truly sad… is that African women are truly forgetting their indigenous nature.
    Because they have been convinced that it is way better to strive hard in school in an attempt to rid themselves of poverty. They play the poverty card often on women even at work to get them in line with the patriarchy.

    I too have liberated myself from the ‘system’ and live a life of freedom and travel . And I wish only the same for my fellow sisters. And I can’t wholeheartedly support people who say that the “workforce will collapse if every woman took time off.”

    Its the workforce that is the problem… not women.

    It takes enormous courage to break free from societal norms, and I commend any woman wild enough to claim her creative freedom… however, I do recognize the fear involved and the difficulty most women could face in this quest.

    It doesn’t matter if your perspective is coming from a Western view. What you share is valid. I was born in Africa, I lived to see the fight against female genital mutilation come to an end.. but I still feel the need to reclaim the wisdom we have lost during that fight.

    So as a self proclaimed ‘Indigenous woman’. I stand with you, and thank you for this article. Its one of my favourite blogs and I always recommend it to my sisters.

    Blessings
    Hope.

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  23. Jessica,

    I feel there is a shift in consciousness going on that you have helped bring awareness to. The shift is not always welcomed and i believe that is because it evokes feelings of unfamiliarity and fear of the unknown. In following the article and its” subsequent posts my observation (and it’s just a feeling) is that some people may have reacted to words such as “western culture” for it evokes fears of leaving the status quo for something very unfamiliar. However it may be, and despite the emotional reactions in people that your article uncovered, your grace in response (although i could empathise with your frustration) is a wonderful example of the inner work you have done. I want to say that at first i was not going to express myself because as a man i felt it was not my place to get involved in this topic. Your graceful responses triggered in me the following:
    We are all spiritual beings having a human experience and the sooner we can embrace the connection, the sooner we can end the gender wars of the past. In my learning path i have come to full realization of the feminine and masculine that we all have within us. So much to learn if we can just stay open without the need to make conclusions about all information that we receive. My humble acknowledgements go out to you for “your grace”.

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    • Dear Eddy,

      Reading your words, allowing them to melt into my consciousness, has provoked a deep sense of humbleness as well as appreciation for your true sight of the source of this article. I first would like to say, in deepest heart-felt love, “thank you”. You mention the word “grace” several times. For me, and my work with the Gene Keys, my life’s work is to embody Grace (the 22nd Gene Key). So, to feel that recognized by someone who does not know me personally, is a synchronicity of the universe, a sign of my walk, and an affirmation that the work pouring from my being is in alignment with the intentions of the universe. Thank you, again.

      I too feel the shift in consciousness, and have spent many years on the path of deep exploration within myself for the place in which I am to hold within the collective for this time. This discussion board, for me, is a reflection of many things that people are personally going through in response to the shift. Humanities old traits of victimization, competition stemming from wounds of isolation and survival mechanisms, and projection stemming from feeling a lack of trust or voice, are all appearing on this forum in response to their transmutation within the collective. It is indeed a completely new realm of reality, inwardly and outwardly, for so many individuals, and as these traits arise, and we become conscious of them, so they are in the position to be transmuted and even eliminated from humanity for the future evolution of our shared experience and consciousness. Yet they also offer us the mirror of the inner self, those elements within each of us that too are in a space where transmutation are possible. It has been an amazing journey to see my own mirror as well as that of others within this dialogue.

      Within this, there is the absolute belief within myself that we are in the process of a collective shift. And it is an honor, in humility and grace, to be fully conscious of my part and to hold myself responsible to being peaceful and nurturing to the process of others, along with my own personal process. I am sure that you can relate.

      Thank you again for your words. As I am sure you have read, there have been many responses to the article that were in light of competitive projections of ideas, to which I am also grateful. Yet, it is a blessing to also receive the responses of love and sacred sight into the true nature and source of this work that I am holding at the moment. Thank you, brother 🙂

      And in one final note, dear brother, it is also our men who have place in this conversation. Though it is directed for the feminine, as you have gracefully put, there is the masculine and feminine residing in all of us. The feminine energy of the planet reawakening for so many, therefore these topics of women’s circles, ceremonial customs for the women, and our realignment with the totality of sacredness for the Divine Feminine, are all very present within the Feminine. However, our men are also so very deeply woven within this matrix, as I am sure that you know and feel. For the Divine Masculine and Feminine to come into harmony after so long of being in competition, we must SEE one another. There is a great deal of power and love that comes from this process, and to have such a brother recognize and respect the elements of the Feminine re-emerging, is a blessing of support and allows the Feminine to see the loving nature of the Masculine, not in separation, but as a very fundamental part of our experience.

      Thank you again, brother ❤

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  24. As a long practicing and heredity Witch, I can say that there are indeed special roles for those who are infertile in many traditions. And, yes, there are many different traditions within Witchcraft. On the other end of the life cycle, when a woman ceases to bleed, she is considered to have passed into the third aspect of the Triple Goddess known as The Crone. The Triple Goddess shows up in every tradition, often with a different name yet complimentary aspects. In all traditions of Witchcraft, menstruation and the blood itself is sacred. In fact, the blood has many uses. By the way, Witchcraft and Wicca are not synonymous. Wicca is a relatively new concept while Witchcraft has been around since time immemorial.

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    • Beautiful knowledge to be shared! I myself am aware of such traditions, and in a multi-cultural way, seek to interweave what knowledge has survived from many traditions, including the tradition known as Witchcraft. It is beautiful to see a sister of the craft present in this discussion board, and I resonate with the information that you have brought forward.

      For me, what I feel is an omnipresent aspect of many shamanic cultures (including Witchcraft), is that the Crones, the Elders, the Aged Goddesses and Lineage holders, are in a position of teaching and sharing. In the Mayan culture, the Aged Ones, were the midwives and holders of sacred shamanic arts and practices for their communities. This element of embodying the Crone, was to allow all knowledge accumulated through the life of a woman, to be passed to future generations. As holders of all ceremonial knowledge regarding female passage, this position was so very crucial to the survival and the passing of the Arts involved in shamanic, and basic, female sexual knowledge.

      Again, thank you for your contribution, sister ❤

      Like

  25. Reading through the comments after reading this article, I felt compelled to acknowledge a simple truth: everyone has a different opinions and not all opinions, in favor or against the intention of the article, seem to focus on generating understanding of what is sacred about a woman. To call out patriarchy while being dismissive of humanity is indeed contradictory. Why is ceremony, the most basic function of self-respect honoring your body not valued? I’ve seen a lot of comments calling out that ceremony takes girls away from school, work, etc. And, there were other comments about elements this article didn’t address such as circumcision. However, what is so wrong with saying taking time to acknowledge the sacredness of our bodies in modern society is wrong?

    In fact, I would argue, it is our disconnected mentality that provokes negative criticism of indigenous peoples, cultures and traditions without acknowledging that within their culture, within their own time, evolution will happen. Who are you – an outsider to comment on what is barbaric or oppressive?

    The truth of the matter is none of us can define for someone else the nature of their ceremony, it’s purpose and why it is important. We can only observe and decide if it resonates with our spirit and if so, decide to adapt it into our lifestyle, our traditions and so on.

    As a mother, I honored my daughter and her first bleed with a ceremony to remind her of the sacredness of her bleeding. I remind her to slow down when she is bleeding as a tween, to meditate and to listen to her intuition. I live in the Bay Area and I was consciously aware of my priledge to plan and invite other women to help celebrate this rite of passage for my family. If my daughter and myself were not penalized for keeping her home from school, I would. Her experience when she is bleeding would be better supported in an environment where she could be able to meditate and that’s in her own words- month after month.

    So, we dialogue and we create the ceremony that works for us in this moment. As we grow and evolve, so will our ceremony, our dialogue sparking and deepening our relationship as mother and daughter. I organize to protect this right and privilege everyday. It’s not easy. However, it is the way we have chosen to incorporate the sacred, the cultural traditions that resonate with us and live in an urban city.

    However, I do not impose the thought that this is or isn’t the desire of those who identify as woman and who bleed. I don’t impose the savior mentality that traditions and cultures I don’t live in are oppressive because I don’t know… I don’t live within them to have that analysis and I do not have the responsibility to call it oppressive until asked to stand in solidarity in doing so.

    I do however, have a deep profound respect that women are powerful and able to direct that power towards change and evolution when they are ready. Maybe having an opinion serves all of us well… it’s a privilege…

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    • Dear Sis P,

      I am deeply moved in gratitude by your words spoken here. It is important that we allow ourselves to reside in peace regarding our own stance, to not project anything into the spaces of sacred knowledge and truth within others. It is a challenging time for humanity, in creating harmonious spaces within the self and with the larger collective. In this movement, I have seen that I must be in complete alignment with my truth, even amidst the situation of projection to which all human beings are capable of. It is grace, and the embodiment of grace, that allows us to humbly reside in projective argument. I personally acknowledge the tendency for projective nature to arise from all human beings, we have been in a state of dense competitive nature: right vs. wrong, scientific vs. spiritual, opinion vs. opinion; and I see from this stream that many people are still feeling the need to competitively project their truth in light of a different truth that does not align with their own. It is my prayer for humanity that we come to an enlightened state of realization that there is no right and wrong, there is only differences which stem from circumstance, lineage evolution, and collective & personal history. Thank you for commenting on this topic, as we are all in a state of evolution when coming into enlightened truth regarding this topic.

      I also commend you on your awareness as a mother. I myself am contemplating the pathways for providing community with the services of initiation ceremonies and workshops for our girls who are coming of age. At the moment, yoni steaming and health, along with a multi-cultural presentation of female healing, health, and techniques for consciousness regarding our cycles, is deeply woven into my contemplation and meditations. I feel your wisdom and experience, sister. And in this, I aspire to see in our generation, a medium where such resources and traditions are available. I also aspire not to project that they are necessary for every woman, but that they be available within the systems that are present (i.e. school systems, etc.).

      I commend you on the strength of your voice, as it has been expressed here. It is an honor to have such words and wisdom to reflect upon 🙂

      Like

  26. Dear Jessica, thank you for writing this article; I have only just discovered it myself! While I haven’t read all the comments others have posted, there seem to be many comments suggesting ‘romanticism’ of tribal practices & a LOT of resistance especially to the idea of a woman taking time away fro ‘life’ to bleed in peace. This is not surprising, too many of our sex still hold themselves in fear of their differences and the waves these differences might cause. I think many of your readers missed your point! Also, no where in your article did you discuss practices that are embraced in certain tribes that disempower females – it does not appear that some commenters have educated themselves on the difference between what is a faithless ‘cultural’ practice and a ‘spiritual’ practice of a tribal people. Female mutilation, (which I studied in university) for example, has naught to do with spirituality, a belief in Nature’s cycles and Its vessels for life here on Earth, therefore, it did not appear in your article. Also, it did not appear to me that you were suggesting that we all call in sick! Although, imagine what a coup that would be if womanhood did band together to do so! But we are not as evolved as we once were, too many of us are committed to fear. But as we grow further into this age and as more of the old, patriarchal (nothing against our brothers) way of doing things of the last few millennia crumble (economy, policy, politics, etc.) the more people will turn to Spirit and Nature (what will be left of it) and everyone will change. It humbles me to witness the growing balance of sensitivity (yin) with the yang in our brothers today. When more women from the oft misled feminist era grow more connected to themselves- or leave the Earth, or figure stuff out for themselves, we’ll ALL grow towards a life-affirming direction. THANK YOU for being a voice for true womanhood! Brightest blessings & Love to you!

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  27. Pingback: The Ceremony of Bleeding | The Goddess of Sacred Sex·

  28. Beautiful publication, beautiful words. Yes! The Women must know their own power and learn it. One of the best way to begin with is too stop using chemical products that disturbe their fertility and instead go for a natural way. Ever heard about the sympothermal method?

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  29. I cannot stress how much I love and agree with your words in this post. I’ve been connecting with my cycle since I quit contraception pills 4 years ago. I also quit pain killers and have been consciously allowing the pain to speak up to me. It is truly powerful being in tune with our cycles and I’ve thought about the lack of rites of initiation in our society. We somehow were conditioned to be very unwelcoming towards our periods like it’s a bad thing and I’ve been working towards changing this mindset. Thank you for your post. ♡♡♡

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  30. I found this article to be very interesting; it opened a new way for me to consider my unique biologically-induced, spiritual path(s) as a woman. When I began my period, I was scared to death. I thought, “what is all this blood? Am I dying?” I finally mustered up the courage (I was also embarrassed) to ask my mom about it and she told me, “oh that’s just your period starting”. She wasn’t that comfortable with personal topics such as menstruation and sex, and therefore, neither was I. How supportive and wonderful if there had been an entire mechanism in place to support us both – or perhaps the whole family – through the process. (I had an older sister but I don’t think I was even aware she had periods. She never talked about it.) Indeed, I was always embarrassed when I had my period. I tried to hide it as best I could (didn’t want the bulky pad to show! God forbid I should leak!), and didn’t want to give any credence to the men who thought women were emotional and irrational during their periods, which I was, although not horribly so. What if the men also had a group of wise men to educate them about the spiritual and physical side of women’s menstruation?

    I am post-menopausal now and no, there wasn’t a ceremony for that either. It was a gradual thing, so not as cut and dried as a period, but there we are, left with the physical and emotional challenges of post-menopause, with no wise women circle to support us and guide us as to what new ‘valuableness’ in life we could offer. Wouldn’t that be fabulous as well?

    With respect to your article and the responses from others above, while I do think it would be great to reconnect with our cycles and what they mean, I would always want it to be a choice for us to continue participating in society/work in the manner we choose, while, as some suggested, taking time to meditate/introspect/value our cycles, to understand them, to teach of them and to learn from them. I would also respect not going into the sweat lodge while I was menstruating, whether or not I believed that I would disrupt the unique energy flow there, as long as I could go into my own. I do not believe, nor desire, that women become as men. I still question the value of my ‘womanness’. I imagine that if I’d had a strong support group (Ideally made up of wise men as well as wise women to provide both perspectives) with long and proud cultural traditions that had supported my biological uniqueness, that I would NOT question the value of my ‘womanness.’

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    • Dear Ava,

      I appreciate and honor your thoughtful response to the article. I definitely feel the depth of your emotional feeling, feel your vulnerability, something that takes courage in the share of a personal story, relationship, and experience of womanhood. Thank you, deeply, for your wisdom as a Wise Woman, your share as a Story Teller of personal experience, and your bravery as a Woman for sharing such deeply intimate details of yourself 🙂

      I agree to all that you’ve shared. We women must have choice in how we approach our life cycles: menstruation, menopause, pregnancy and birth, even death. I believe that each woman can embrace these cycles in a number of ways, with a number of rituals, with consciousness unique to each individual woman. And I do not pose that there is only one way to do so. As you have shared, women should have the option to stay in society during her bleeding time. And just as I agree with this, I also believe women should have the right to refrain from societal functions while bleeding if she so chooses to do so. Where we have the expectation to remain aligned with normal every-day activity while bleeding, there is obviously that right. However, I do not see the development yet of a medium in our society where women are allowed to rest. And this is what I was getting at in the article, not that one way is better than the other.

      The support groups you speak of (groups of Wise Men & Wise Women) is something that is gradually growing. As I spend time in alternative living communities, visit other countries, I see the growing New Age Spiritual Community formulating more and more of these Mens & Women’s circles. Thus far, it has been the women who have had the most inspiration to create the Women’s Circles, New & Full Moon Gatherings of women, and such. However, it is a growing movement, and I also have heard personally from many Men who are inspired to begin the steps to creating Men’s Circles in response to the rise in Women’s Circles. No doubt, there are already so many that I’m unaware of.

      But what I see is the returning of the tribal clan gender groups: Men have a circle, Women have a circle, and they meet separately, but also meet together to discuss what happens between them. It’s not about separation, but more about having a clear understanding of each gender’s needs and roles as a whole and then coming together for a harmonization between the 2. Rituals, calendars, work share, gender roles, and all else can be brought into the community as a clear and coherent channel. What I see in our current society is that the commonality for gender separation (for the purpose of fully knowing one’s gender & the needs of the collective) is absent, we are mingled with men and women all the time. I see the lack of gender separation for counsel, and the blurred lines of what each gender stands for, as the catalyst for a lack of gender-specific rituals (such as blood initiation ceremonies, menopausal ceremonies, birthing ceremonies, coming-of-age ceremonies, women specific ceremonies and men specific ceremonies, etc.).

      There is a book that may interest you. It’s called “I am woman by Rite: a book of Woman’s Rituals” by Nancy Cunningham. There are a number of rituals (actually written in a way that can be practiced) for women, including menstruation initiations and menopausal rituals. I feel the book may interest you based on what you’ve shared here 🙂

      Thank you again for your thoughtful response to the article 🙂

      Love & Blessings,

      -Jessica

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      • Dear Jessica,

        Thank you for your personal response. I’ll look up the book. Unrelated to the blood ceremony, but interesting about women in the American Indian culture, I just finished “Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival”, by Velma Wallis.

        I am enjoying sharing with other women as I get older. It is something that was absent from my life while growing up. There is a lot of wisdom, or just sharing, to be shared, and I have a paucity of it to make up for. I am glad you are sharing.

        Ava Philippus

        ________________________________

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  31. Reblogged this on The Library of Luminous Enchantments and commented:
    The study of what the Sacred Feminine means to me, how to define it and welcome it into my life has consumed me lately. After several incredibly healing breakthroughs, I finally feel ready to fully immerse myself in the varied perspectives and facets of what it means to embody God in Her feminine form. This article was one I just happened upon tonight, and it was such a great addition to my reading that I wanted to share it.

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  32. Pingback: Women’s Rites of Passage: Ceremony of Bleeding | The Wyrding Way·

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