Every moon cycle I experience a kind of miracle. My body, which has ached and prepared and grown flush with expectancy, initiates a deep process of renewal. The days I spend bleeding are a vital part of my natural rhythm of rest and rejuvenation, and can be some of the most creative and illuminating days of my life.
In our culture we are often trained to see our moon time as a bothersome obligation. A biological issue that we must “deal with” rather than a deep transition that we can grow from and experience. We are expected to continue life as usual— jobs, responsibilities, chores— with very little recognition for the profundity of what is being experienced.
Traditionally, a woman’s moon was considered to be an exceptionally powerful time. In many cultures, women were expected to engage in deep rest and reflection while they were bleeding. In traditional Chinese medicine our moon was thought to bring about a time of release for other longstanding bodily illnesses or issues — an opportunity to energetically flush out imbalances. In other cultures this time was similarly respected and honored, and sometimes even revered as a sacred state of visioning. In some Native American tribes a woman’s moontime was thought to be a moment of far-reaching understanding. Bleeding women were supported to ‘vision’ for the community as a whole.
Each time I bleed is unique. Sometimes its almost breezy—very little cramps or concerns or dark clouds— other times all I want is to curl up into a tight ball and practice breathing. Our cycles are incredibly sensitive; they can be affected by changes in diet, exercise, relationships, health and mental state. When I have a cycle that seems to be requiring a lot of energy I always step back and reflect— am I giving myself enough time in my day-to-day life to relax? What can I do to more deeply nourish myself and understand what is being communicated through my body’s cycle?
Every cycle I am called, yet again, to a space of loving examination: What about my life is feeding me? Which aspects of my career or relationships are nourishing? And what am I ready to let go of so I can clear the way for newness to reseed and grow?
Rituals for Rejuvenation
I read somewhere once that the root of the word ‘ritual’ comes from the Sanskrit word R’tu, which meant (among other things) menstrual. I’ve since taken this deeply to heart. I try every moontime to simply engage with and honor my cycle. I experience it. I interact with my body and mind, and make space for new wisdom to filter in. There are so many ways in which you can sink deeply into this time and create space for the transformation. Here are a few of my favorite ways to enact ritual during my moon:
1. Womb Massage
Giving myself the time to massage my womb space is one of the simplest joys (and comforts!) I know of during my moon time. Our wombs work hard…basically all the time. Every cycle our uterus builds an entire baby villa (a very lush residence indeed) and then tears the whole thing down. Spending even five minutes nurturing your womb space with loving attention can be dramatically healing.
What you’ll need: A carrier oil + essential oils
Infuse your carrier oil with a few drops of essential oils to nurture, soothe, and relieve some of the more powerful sensations of your moon. Coconut, sweet almond, jojoba and apricot kernel oil are all lovely carriers oils to use. If the oil is liquid at room temperature simply add 1-5 drops of essential oil per TBS of carrier oil. When using coconut oil you’ll need to slowly heat it on the stove. Set the heat at its lowest possible temperature. When the oil completely liquid, add your drops of essential oil and transfer into a cooler bowl. Warming up your oil can also add a rich depth of comfort to your experience. Just make sure to add your essential oils after you heat the carrier oil, to retain their full potency and power.
If you are looking to soothe cramps, select an essential oil that fits both your sensations and mood.
- If you have hot, sharp cramps try cooling, antispasmodic essential oils like peppermint, lavender, pennyroyal, clary sage and basil.
- If your cramps tend to feel more heavy, dragging and cold (these types of cramps are often relieved by heat) try more warming and stimulating essential oils like ginger, angelica root, and spikenard.
- Not sure what type of cramps you have? Try closing your eyes and focusing on the sensation in your womb. What color do you see? Red, orange, or yellow can often mean hot cramps, whereas purple, blue or gray usually indicates colder cramps. Still not sure? Go with your nose. Close your eyes and smell a few different essential oils, let your body choose the best one for you.
Bathing is a deeply comforting way to release the tensions of our day and invite realignment. Water is such a sacred ally for us on this earth. It is the building block of our very body, the essence that makes up our primary experience in this world. All of us spent the first months of our life as water babies, floating in the womb. Bathing can be a beautiful way to self-nurture during your moon. Bleeding often brings back that primal desire to be nurtured— we yearn to feel, once again, the simple comfort of our own inner wombs.
Intentionally preparing yourself a healing bath is a sacred way of signaling to yourself that you are taken care of. Take time to give your gratitude to the water and know that it has the power to cleanse and clear so many of the tangles left deep inside you.
Think about creating a sacred space around and within your bath. Put 10-20 drops of essential oil into the water before you step in to steam the room and scent the experience. Swirl a palm of coconut oil into your bath to nourish your skin and hair. Try floating bundles of rosemary or sage to remember the freshness that awaits you on the other side of your moon. Light candles, put on healing music, and let yourself steep. There is nothing more profoundly healing than a well-drawn bath.
3. Giving Back
Our blood itself is sacred. Contained within that blood is everything that is needed to sustain and grow life. It is a precious gift. Giving my blood back to the earth is a vital part of my moontime practice. When I use cloth pads I always soak them in cold water immediately after use. After a few hours, the cloth lets go its darkness and the water turns a gorgeous ruby hue. Sometimes I bring that water out to my garden, and sing songs to the comfrey or growing basil leaves as I feed them. Green beings simply adore moonwater—it’s a fact. Our blood is so full of essential nutriments and nitrogen; moon-fed plants simply glow! Truth be told, I haven’t bought fertilizer for any of my houseplants in years. I feed them my blood every month and they are happy as can be. I nurture them just as they nurture me.
4. Letting go
Most moontimes I grapple with at least one dark cloud, a heavy thing, leggy and looming over me. It can be hard, sometimes, to feel like I have the space to breathe! Learning to let go has been a deep and profoundly relieving practice for me. Every moontime I focus my energy on one thing I would like to let go of in my life— whether it’s a belief, an outmoded relationship, negative thoughts about myself, an attachment to a certain outcome, or even my sometimes dangerous devotion to kettle chips (guilty). When you illuminate these things, and make the clear intention to release them with your blood, you create a profound flow of cleansing energy. The power of your intention can make that practice of letting go doubly strong. Your body hears you. Your spirit hears you. And you will begin that deep process of release.
No matter what your experience or history is with your moon, each new cycle in an opportunity to reinvent yourself from the inside out. Let’s all work together to redefine the ways in which we think about or relate to our blood, and create new moon communities marked by support, love, celebration and growth.
About the author of this post:
Asia Suler is a writer, teacher and herbalist who lives amongst her gardens and large apothecary in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC. She is the creator and concoctress of One Willow Apothecaries, an Appalachian-grown herbal company that offers lovingly handcrafted herbal medicines. Asia teaches at gatherings across the country and is blessed to work with people and plants, spirit and stones. Read more of her writing on her blog.
Image credits: Asia Suler