I am 54 years old woman
entering the change of life. I have come to a time of reflection, contemplation
and revelation as I leave the days of my fertility behind and walk headlong into
It was a difficult road that was made even harder due to my upbringing in this county. I was taught not to understand the beauty of the beginning of my period and I had no initiation that could mark my menstrual cycle and no elder woman to teach me about womanhood and fertility. Subsequently, I did not fully understand or appreciate pregnancy or motherhood. Without loving my beginning I could not embrace its transitions and finally its end.
I grew up at a time when
our cycle was considered a curse The terms used to describe the process were
horrific ranging from juvenile to profane. I would repeat the phrases of
our mothers and sister when my time came. I was 'On the Rag' or 'Riding the White Horse'
, 'the Fish died' or 'That THANG had come' and finally the aforementioned 'Curse'
of womanhood had seeped through the door and swollen my virgin womb.
I could go into what the ramifications of those terms did to a my psyche, but I will spare you those sad accounts. I am sure, if you are a woman living I the Western hemisphere you have experiences of your own period traumas.
My brief story:
When time came to learn of this curse, in a fashion that was all her own, my mother threw a medical book at me and told me to search within its pages to find out what was wrong with me. She was not a cruel or callous woman, she is very loving but incapable of telling her daughters anything that had to do with a cycle, pregnancy, lovemaking or menopause. She had been deeply scared as a child with her first cycle, later molested and while looking for love and security became a teenage mother. I have learned from her visceral reaction to our puberty her experience with womanhood was painful, public and humiliating. At 85, she has still not gotten over it and when I informed her of her Great-granddaughter's menses, she shook her head and moaned.
As a child, I flipped through the remedial medical tome vacillating between the horrors of being stricken with the worst illnesses known to a child. I read in fear from Aneurysms to Cancerous lymph glands, from Loa-Loa to Meningococcal Meningitis. I slowly turned each page thinking death was the outcome to the blood that dripped between my legs. I wept. No woman in my house came to my aide. It wasn't until my brother, hearing my moans, took the book form my shaking hands and turned to the section on Menstruation. There I was faced with the dreaded beginnings of the Biblical curse given to every woman. It was not until my second month that my other greeted my cramps with tea and toast in hand.
I read and soon settled into my lot and suffered through my monthly ritual of the pads and belts, but in the process I developed the appropriate shame and fear of any accidents by the time I was in my late teens. There was nobody I knew that could tell me that this was a wonderful time of my life. There was nobody I knew that could encourage me in my womanhood and its bloody phase of initiation. I saw what humiliation could do, but never acknowledgement and love.
Since that bizarre beginning I learned to love this bodily process and how it was adversely viewed in ancient times.
"For the earliest times in humanity, the magic mystery of creation was thought to reside in the blood of the woman. This blood issued forth in harmony with the moon, and sometimes was thought to remain in the womb to 'coagulate' into a child. Men of ancient times regarded this blood as holy and the essence of life. This blood was shed without pain or puncture which was a miracle in the eyes of man."
Most words for menstruation also meant such things as incomprehensible, supernatural, sacred, spirit, deity. The Latin word sacer, old Arabic word for pure and impure both applied to the menstrual blood and to that only.
The ambrosia of mortality stolen by Odin the Norse God was menstrual
The Priest would drink
the Soma at sacrificial ceremonies mixed with milk as a healing charm.
Soma was revered on Monday [Moon-Day] and called somvara. Egyptian
Pharaoh were said to become divine by ingesting ' the blood of
The term for Matrix in the Hebraic sense has always meant the womb of with the woman or the heavenly goddess.
The Menses Cross of Life
How did we come to thinking of our periods as a curse? Here is one example that was passed on.
'Persian patriarchs who followed the Brahman [Aryan Indian and not African Dravidic] tradition lead in maintaining that menstruating woman must be avoided like a poison. They belonged to the devil, and were forbidden to look at the sun, to sit in water, to speak to a man, or to behold an altar fire. The believed first menstruating woman was a whore who copulated with the great snake and then seduced a righteous man, who had lived in the garden of paradise with only a divine sacrificial bull for company. He [the righteous man] knew nothing about sex until this vile woman Jahi taught him. Does this sound familiar? It is the basis of the combined Biblical stories of Adam and Eve.”
captivity the Hebrews borrowed many of the details from these Persians, and in
Rabbinic tradition it is said that Eve began to menstruate only after she had
copulated with the serpent in Eden, and Adam was ignorant of sex until Eve or
rather his first wife Lillith taught him.'
Yes, in medieval rabbinic
traditions, Lillith was the first wife of Adam; she was his equal and wanted to
have sex in an unmissionary-like position. Lillith later left ad Eve was created
for him as a more docile and suitable help-meet.
Why are these two examples important?
We live in a
Judeo-Christian society in the Western or Occidental culture. Judaism like
Christianity did not grow up in a vacuum. The Biblical concept of women,
motherhood, and sexual intercourse developed within the same construct.
And if a woman has an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be
put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the
even. 20 And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean:
every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. 21 And whosoever
toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be
unclean until the even. 22 And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon
shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the
even. 23 And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he
toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even. 24 And if any man lie with her
at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the
bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean. 25 And if a woman have an issue of her
blood many days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time
of her separation; all the days of the issue of her uncleanness shall be as the
days of her separation: she shall be unclean. 26 Every bed whereon she lieth all
the days of her issue shall be unto her as the bed of her separation: and
whatsoever she sitteth upon shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her
separation. 27 And whosoever toucheth those things shall be unclean, and shall
wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. 28
But if she be cleansed of her issue, then she shall number to herself seven
days, and after that she shall be clean. 29 And on the eighth day she shall take
unto her two turtles, or two young pigeons, and bring them unto the priest, to
the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 30 And the priest shall offer
the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest
shall make an atonement for her before the LORD for the issue of her
uncleanness. 31 Thus shall ye separate the children of
As women became chattel
and less of an equal to men as matriarchy gave way to patriarchy and as the
concept of equal opposites faded into one omnipotent male deity, women were
viewed as the ones who brought ‘darkness and sin’ into the world, and that
darkness was on a sexual level. What
happened to being fruitful and multiplying in the earth?
The concept of 'As in Heaven, so on Earth' and the need for male and female, positive and its counterpart was reshaped into one deity that exhibited male and female attributes.
The menstrual taboo for the children of Abraham before the Mosaic Law was given is evident by this passage:
'Laban went and searched Jacobs’s tent, then went to Leah's tent and the tent of the two slave women, but he did not find his gods. Then he went into Rachel's tent. Rachel had taken the household gods [Teraphim] and put them in the camels saddlebag and was sitting on them...Rachel said to her father, 'Do not be angry with me sir, but I am not able to stand up in your presence; I am having my monthly period.' Genesis 31
Again, this was pre-Mosaic law and the taboo of the period was in vogue. Laban her very own father, could not touch her and she used this taboo to hide their household statues from him. But, the possession of idols is a whole 'nother thing, so much for the notion of pre-Hebrew monotheism.
Now, the Law of Yahweh. I believe this command was necessary in order to have a teaching tool on hygiene and not a commentary on the prevailing and perpetual status of woman in the universe. As in all things that uplift on end and devalue on another, women have suffered by universally applying this limited application.
a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean for seven days. Anyone
who touches her is unclean until evening. Anything on which she sits is
unclean.' Lev. 15: 19-30
The Red Tent is the place that Hebrew women lived during their periods and through childbirth. It was a place where women could congregate, tell stories, sing, acknowledge the feminine side of our Creator, and initiate the younger into the power of the feminine.
I have to say here that the notion of a woman needing to be away from her family during the time of her menstruation and childbirth is not a bad idea. You need to be with woman who will care for you at this time. When the cycle is over you are bathed and prepared to enter into you home and be intimate with your husband once again.
This was chronicled in the Bible when King David first saw Bath-Sheba:
the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the
king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and
besieged Rabbah. But David remained in
She was being prepared to meet her husband, but David intercepted her and she became pregnant.
Allied with the notion that we by our gender brought in sin, destruction and darkness to all mankind and that our bodies were unclean without understanding the origin of the edict was one of hygiene and not character we now enter into the age of ignorance.
In ancient and medieval Christianity the woman and her curse was seen as an object of scorn.
As one Bishop put it:
“Nothing is as unclean as a woman in her periods; that what she touches she causes to become unclean'
Menstruating woman were not allowed to take communion or enter the church in the 7th century of the Christian era. By the 6th and 11th century woman were forbidden to come into a church if they were menstruating.”
This was a medieval chant:
'Art though not formed of foul slime? Art thou not always full of uncleanness?'
Christian woman were commanded to despise the uncleanness of their own bodies.'
Formed in foul slime and always full of uncleanness? Wow, now that is a powerful statement.
It's a funny thing; nobody realized that women make up 80 percent of all churches. I am sure there were more than a few seats empty in the halls of Christendom when their corporate monthly periods struck!
What a way to talk to your wife and sister and mother. To consider your mate, one half of the whole world full of uncleanness.
BTW: Have you ever noticed that when menstruating woman are around each other for any length of time their cycles coalesce? It is called the feminine quality of the Creator of all things. It is the power latent in us given by that Creator. There is strength in numbers.
From all that hub-bub over the last 3000 years, you can see why we called the change in our bodies a Curse. We are the mothers of all living things and our monthly cycles are a blessing to prepare us to take that role in society. It is not a curse!
Our cycles are a necessary element used to cleanse us and to prepare us for the production of the next generation. We should embrace our femininity, sexuality and our Queenliness from Menses to Menopause. We need to understand each phase as a blessing and the information gained from it should be shared with one another.
Now, that I am at the end of my monthly cycles my body has changed into a mature albeit, still very sexy form. I love moving into another phase of my female identity. I love the freedom it brings sexually and the cessation of worries about pregnancy. Even though the flashing had been a trial, with help they passed [my own private summers] although in it, I have been known to pull a knife or two when frustrated - just kidding. I welcome menopause.
I welcome it by understanding in a more excellent and godly fashion the purpose that I must realize in becoming an elder and preparing for my transition into the next world. I embrace the responsibility and prepare to move equipped. Not like my initial introduction to menses but loving the process by understanding it and embracing it.
Here are some ways to help the next generation love their womanhood, this is just an outline - add to it if you need to.
For pre and post-menses young woman - Princesses.
1.Talk about the experience in wonderful ways. Show them who beautiful and honorable Menses and Menopause is.
2. Do not disconnect one from another.
3. Make the beginning and ending of their period a special time.
4. Have a special meal prepared during your daughter [or nieces] cycle and have time personal time with her.
5. Educate your sons on the beauty of the cycle. Let him understand what it is for and how he can and should interact with his sister. When they marry let them go to the store unashamed to pick up menstrual supplies.
6. Eat the right foods to strengthen your womb.
7. Exercise your mind, spirit and body.
For the Queens are Peri and Post Menopause.
1. Don't believe the hype, each experience is different, but make yours a successful transition by true education.
2. Inform, relate and encourage your self, your daughters and friends as they make the transition. Remember you are a Queen!
3. Have more 'Me' time.
4. Write your feeling and experiences down on paper. Save it for your daughters.
5. Eat well and take care of yourself and get enough rest and fresh air.
6. Exercise, exercise, exercise.
7. Do something you have never done before to enrich your life and the lives of others, take a few singing lessons or an African dance classes or be a surrogate grandmother.
Don’t let life live you!
Love yourself - Know yourself.
We bleed and then we stop bleeding - Such is the sacred plan of God and the Universe.
He/She who knows all...
Women Encyclopedia of
Myths and Secrets- B. Walker
[Table of Contents]