As we enter into springtime in the Northern Hemisphere, I am reminded of the importance of honoring the unfolding rhythms and dynamic cycles of wild nature. Really, everything in the universe is in flux and the only invariable is ever constant movement. The vernal moment on the spiraling framework of time-space in which we now pass through is a passage of new beginnings. Life, it seems, is quite literally springing up everywhere we look. As we leave winter's incubation, we pass through the birth canal into spring. During this time of year there is a freshness in the air, a promise of potential, and a distinct quality of rebirth, which is even reflected in the cultural and religious mythology that we celebrate.
This week my Wild Soul Journey students and I are also diving into the water element. Water holds an unmistakable cyclical quality, a fluctuating pulse of creation and destruction, and a strong association with the moon. Just as the temporal changes of the year are manifest through the changing seasons, do we bear witness to similar energetic changes throughout the cycle of the moon. For every 28 days, we carefully observe the moon pass through its own life-death-life cycle as it dies and is reborn into the light. And just as we observe this dynamic cycle of life and death in the moon above, we also bear witness to this same tidal transit reflected in the menstrual cycle of a woman's body.
On Saturday evening, I watched the full moon rise over the mountains behind my home and I felt my womb begin to bleed. Being the evening before Easter, I paused to consider the incredible symbolism of this sacred physical act; The blood I shed during each moon phase, along with the moon blood released by every other woman, serves as a microcosmic representation of the potent life-death-life cycle that the celebration of Easter so strongly represents. In fact, the very story of Easter, of Jesus' crucifixion, descent, and resurrection, mirrors the holy grail of the woman's menstrual cycle.
As I ruminate a bit deeper, I begin to mourn the division that has been methodically sundered between human beings and the rhythms of nature, between a woman and her own natural cycle. Somewhere, women displaced their ability to move with the cadences of wild nature. Somehow, they severed their connection to the alchemical intelligence that these cycles contain. Someway, they disinherited their birthright to flow with the rhythmic source of universal truth embedded in these patterns.
How did we lose touch with this magic?
I recently saw this photo on Facebook go viral. In the picture, a dark haired woman is sprawled out in her bed, and a red stain marks her pants and the sheets she lies on. Rupi Kaur, the woman in question, created the image as part of her final project in a visual rhetoric course.
She posted the photo with this message:
The photo was removed twice from Instagram for "violating community guidelines." While thousands of women are regularly treated as pornography, humiliated sexually, trafficked, and violently objectified on Instagram's social media feeds, this is considered a violation.
This message struck me so very deep. How tragic, and how true, that we as women are taught by society that this beautifully natural phenomena that we experience hundreds of times throughout the course of our lives is nothing but dirty and shameful. The female period has become pathologized. Like the body of Mother Earth, modern society denounces the natural rhythmic order of the female body, believing (patriarchal) humans to be wiser, smarter, and more astute than wild (feminine) nature.
Women can now "conveniently skip their menstrual bleeding" whenever they want, while the female body becomes a dumping ground for potentially dangerous synthetic hormones. The feminine "hygiene" industry is making billions of dollars every year selling a plethora of products laden with cancer-causing chemicals. Women are taught to manipulate and plug up their natural flow, which blocks them from embodying our potential as physical manifestations of the divine feminine. And like Miss Rupi Kaur's photo, the period has become something to be censored and sanitized.
In our ancient past, a woman's moon blood was holy and healing, an amrita, a nectar of immortality. Women were considered the highest prophetic voice of the community during their bleeding time, which marked the peak of their intuitive abilities. Creation stories from original cultures around the globe consider menstrual blood to be the source of all of humanity. It is perhaps no wonder the theological patriarchy burned our wild and wise grandmothers at the stake... they sensed the great magic these powerful women contained in their wombs.
We cannot embody our role as modern wild women, healers of the world, and great warriors of peace until we learn to embrace the rhythmic cycles of nature and befriend our own menstrual periods.
As we develop a stronger connection to wild nature, including the natural rhythms of life and death in our own bodies, we draw forth an abundant wellspring of feminine power. As we cultivate a deep respect for the lunar phase that manifests within each of us every 28 days, we access a timeless wisdom that connects us back to every single female ancestor from which we have descended. As we create sacred space to honor the ebb and flow of the universe in our wombs, our lives harmonize on a deeper resonance with the cosmos. And as we surrender to the cyclical flow of wild nature, we are initiated into the ways of the divine feminine.
On Sunday, my body carried me through such an initiation. I awoke in the wee hours of the morning with the strongest menstrual cramps I have experienced since my first menarche. I could sense my sacred female power pulsate and contract in ways I'd not yet felt as a woman. I moved through many painful uterine contractions, as if passing through a kind of labor. And as I drifted through altered states of consciousness, I found myself passing through a complete out-of-body experience I can only describe as shamanic and mystical.
My womb shuttered. My pulse raced. My breath was labored and my skin shiny with sweat. I called upon my unseen guides to come to my aid, because in all honestly, it felt like I was not going to be able to make it through this experience unscathed. In my natural state of inebriation, I became aware of how much I was white knuckling my way through the discomfort. I noticed how I was strongly resisting and closing myself around the sensation of pain, around this life-death-life passage.
This particular experience mirrored several shamanic plant medicine ceremonies I had last year in Peru: the exhaustive battle with pain and discomfort, the massive push back I received while resisting, the struggle to just be out of a dark-night-of-the-soul only to find that struggle kept me there longer. So, I applied an important life lesson I received in those healing ceremonies. I chose to surrender.
Slowly easing into my breath, I opened myself up to the pain. Gradually, I felt myself float to the surface of my consciousness and peacefully ride the waves of pain that ripped at me from within. My impending demise loosened its death grip on my womb as I continued to let go more deeply. As I gave myself over to the sensations within, they began to take on a whole new life.
It was then that I received this message:
The message is clear.
The laborious contractions and rhythmic expansions of life connect us with all the women who came and fought before us. They want us to know that these ebbs and flows of life, both the pain and the pleasure, are the experiences that will season us for the great work we are here to deliver into the world. Our female ancestors do not want us to forget the hardships and sacrifices they endured for us to bear the fruit of their labors. The birthing pangs we feel are what connect us to that deep well of feminine strength and wisdom of which we all have access.
To bleed is not an affliction. To experience pain is not a sign of weakness. There are times in this life when we pass through experiences that challenge us, that push us beyond our limits, that make us question everything about ourselves and our abilities. But like anything in this universe, these experience are always temporary, cyclical, and impermanent.
Pain is like the wrapping paper for some of the greatest gifts we have to receive and share with others. For it is in these dark moments that we find that inner source of light. It is in these moments we feel like we may irrevocably break that we access a space of resiliency and fortitude. It is in these experiences we can actually choose to open ourselves wide enough to embrace the pain, remembering that it is proof of how alive we are. And like the pains of labor, what is birthed is a brand new spark of life.
What is your relationship to your menstrual cycle and your sacred moon blood? Have you experienced a similar mystical initiatory experience like mine? What are you birthing into the world right now? How do you honor the tidal rhythms of wild nature?