.::Those Taking the Journey::.

9.6.11

"Moon Time"

As women raised up in religious, patriarchal and misogynistic societies, we are taught our bodies are shameful, we are the center of sin, we are “unclean.” Our “moon time” or menstrual period are to be hidden. We are ashamed, embarrassed… Such a potentially spiritual time is degraded. 
There was a time when a woman’s moon time was celebrated. The blood isn’t brought about through violence - peaceful blood - so it is holy. It is different.
Female blood has a remarkable potency in the ritual imagination of Africans. For example, among many people, the menstrual blood of a woman is considered sacred and has the power to ward off evil spirits.  Some view the ability to shed blood as an example of the unique fertility of a woman. There are others who see the divinity in the special powers of women. In African religion, each sex can operate as the vessel of the spirits and there are both priests and priestesses who serve at their shires or temples. However, the sex of the minister is not an indication of the sex of the divinity (Kwabena Faheem Ashanti in the Encyclopedia of African Religion, Volume I).

In the Asante tribe of Ghana when a girl/young woman gets her first period, she is treated like royalty; A big celebration is thrown in her honor. The !Gwi of southern Africa celebrate menarche by decorating the body of the young woman with intricate patterns.
In the past, the Yurok people of California believed that a menstruating woman should be separated from the other members of the community since she had such incredible powers. It was thought that the bleeding time should not be used for daily living, but for prayers and worship. At menarche a girl was taken to a menstrual shelter where she performed secret rites and took a special bath. She was given special clothes and ate only certain foods. Though this practice is no longer common, some Yurok women are careful to keep their tradition alive.
The Oglala Sioux people of the North American prairies have a long history of revering the menstruating woman as a powerful being. The newly menstruating girl would traditionally undergo a purification ritual and undertake instruction from a holy woman. She would be compared to the sacred Mother Earth, yet her power was also considered to be dangerous if the proper rituals and instructions were not given. But once these conditions were met, her holiness was considered to extend to the entire tribe, not just to herself.
After these rituals, the young woman was told: “You are the tree of life. You will now be pure and holy, and may your generations to come be fruitful! Wherever your feet touch will be a sacred place, for now you will always carry with you a very great influence.”
(Serenity Young, An Anthology of Sacred Texts By and About Women. New York: Crossroad, 1993, p. 231).
Some cultures, like North American whites (and anyone linked to Christianity), call menstruation a “curse.” Other people, like the Ebrié of the Ivory Coast in Africa, think it’s a curse if a young woman should lose her periods. Some agricultural communities, however, use menstrual blood to bless their crops. Some scholars believe that all religious celebrations and rituals first began with the celebration of menstruation. Menstrual blood was considered by ancient cultures to be one of the most sacred substances since it, like the blood of childbirth, is the only kind of blood that’s not linked with death and dying – but with the potential for new life.The root word for “ritual” comes from a Sanskrit word that means “menses.” This links menstruation with the very origins of religious rituals (1997 by Kathleen O’Grady and Paula Wansbrough).
“Menstrual blood is the only source of blood that is not traumatically induced. Yet in modern society, this is the most hidden blood, the one so rarely spoken of and almost never seen, except privately by women, who shut themselves in a little room to quickly and in many cases disgustedly change their pads and tampons, wrapping the bloodied cotton so it won’t be seen by others, wrinkling their faces at the odor, flushing or hiding the evidence away. Blood is everywhere, and yet the one, the only, the single name it has not publicly had, for many centuries, is menstrual blood. ” (Blood, Bread & Roses, How Menstruation created the world, Judy Grahn).

“Several Native American cultures consider women in menses to be at the HEIGHT of her powers. For instance, the Lakota tribe would not permit a menstrual woman anywhere near warriors or healers. They believed that menstrual blood was so powerful that just the presence of such power would weaken the strength of warriors and interfere with a healer’s ability to heal. The menstrual blood serves to purify, to cleanse, renew, and it prepares the woman for higher spiritual accomplishments. The Yurok, and Lakota tribes practiced monthly rituals by retreating into MOON lodges with other menstrual women. There they celebrated the power of their menstrual blood. 
We all come from the same mother (the Great Mother). She is the wise woman. We all return to her embrace, her bloody-rich womb place, when we die. Every woman is a whole/holy form of her, able to be whole/holy mother of all life, able to be whole/holy destroyer of life. Her power is her blood that flows and flows, her blood which is life and gives life. Every woman’s menstrual blood and birth-time blood is a holy mystery.

What are the blood mysteries? Why are they central to the understanding of the Wise Woman tradition.

Blood mysteries teach that menstrual blood and birthing blood are holy blood, power blood, healing blood. The blood mysteries teach us to remember that life and healing come from and return to woman, to the wise woman, to the woman who bleeds and bleeds. And does not die.

Blood mysteries reveal that menstrual (moontime) blood and birth blood are so holy, so full of potential, so full of the void, that they are to be used only to heal, to heal by nourishing. Holy woman-blood is nourishing blood, blood of love, blood of abundance, blood that heals the earth.

Blood mysteries recall the immense power of the bleeding woman. Power enough to share in great nourishing give-away from mother to matrix, give-away of nourisher to nourisher. When we bleed into the ground (in reality or fantasy) our power regrounds as our blood flows through the personal root chakra and into the earth (http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Blood_Mysteries.htm).
Hera’s first Temple - the Heraion of Samos - was a sanctuary on the Southern region of Samos. Research has revealed many of construction phases, the first dating to the 8th century BCE. The religion of Hera included menstrual rituals to follow the cycles of the moon and every four years the Goddess Hera was celebrated at the games & feast of the Heraia, where only women ran races.  Runners were selected from three age groups representing the phases of the moon. These special games, Carl Kerényi believes, originated what became the Olympic Games.
Pre-Olympian Myth:  On the day of the new moon, women of the city walked together to the river Eleutherion (ελευθεριον - freedom) - the Water of Freedom. They bathed and then gathered branches from the lygos bushes, which they laid in a circle. With the blessing of Hera, the lygos encouraged the flow of their menstrual blood that would complete the cleansing. As evening approached, they called upon the Goddess in Her appearance as the Moon. Or as Carl Kerényi has called Her “the spellbinding moonlight of Greece”, the “origin of all things”. Gradually Hera drew forth the blood of purification and renewed fertility (http://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=400#ixzz1OqNl4gMN).
An examination of the Hebrew reveal that words for earth - adamah - and human/man – adam - can be traced to the actual root word: dam meaning blood.  It is also important to note that unlike English, in the Hebrew language nouns are divided into feminine and masculine gender and interestingly both words (mother) earth (adamah) and soul(nefesh) are in the feminine gender (http://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=400#ixzz1OqO13B1n).
This is a small collection/throwing together of information on the sacredness of our menstrual/moon time. More to come.
The purpose of this post is to shed light on our power, our beauty, and our divinity. We are not vessels of sin. We are not unclean. We are not lesser. We are not cursed. We are not weak. We are the direct opposite of all of these things. Embrace YOU. Love YOU. Appreciate the divinity and uniqueness of divine womanhood.

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