Meet the Authors of A New Cycle: Emily Ruff

a new cycle bookcoverIn celebration of the launch of A New Cycle, our period-positive guide to a healthier period, we’re introducing you to the contributors! We hand-picked our favorite women’s health experts to write chapters for A New Cycle on their area of specialty. Read on to get know this week’s featured contributor, or click here get a free preview of the book when you sign up for our newsletter!

 

 

 

Meet Emily Ruff, author of Introduction to Lunar Charting!

Why is menstruation important?

As women, our creative power is often symbolized through our menstruation. For generations before us, women honored this power personally and collectively … and at the same time, women were persecuted at many historical moments for this power.  Honoring the sacredness, sexiness, and simple power inherent in our menstruation gives us the opportunity to honor those women before us – both those who held this power up, and those who were held down because of this power.

What inspired you to write your chapter?

As women, our creative power is often symbolized through our menstruation. For generations before us, women honored this power personally and collectively … and at the same time, women were persecuted at many historical moments for this power.  Honoring the sacredness, sexiness, and simple power inherent in our menstruation gives us the opportunity to honor those women before us – both those who held this power up, and those who were held down because of this power.

Do you have a personal story about menstruation you’d like to share?

A few years ago, coming home from a vacation, I was in line at the airport and opted out of the x-ray scanner.  In a time of increasing security measures, this choice of course meant I would be physically screened.  At the time I was menstruating, and wearing my GladRags.  The security staff who conducted my screening seemed concerned after she patted me down.  I asked if there was a problem, and she asked if I was wearing a pad. “Why yes!” I said, quite excited, and began gushing about the wonders of cotton reusable pads.

Looking quite confused, the woman shuffled over to her supervisor, and from their kiosk forty feet away, I observed lots of conversation punctuated with quizzical looks my way.  Several male officers were called over, and pretty soon a small army had commenced.  The female officer walked back towards where I was standing, but would not make eye contact.  I asked her why I was still being detained, and if I could move along as I had a plane to catch.  She muttered something hardly distinguishable, and still would not look at me.  I asked her point blank if my menstrual pad was a problem.  She mumbled something that sounded affirmative, and I offered to take it off to show it to her.  She got quite flustered as I reached down to pull up the hem of my skirt, repeated the word “no” a few times, and scurried back to her supervisors.

Time passed and I continued to watch a half-dozen security staff talk to each other, look at me, look back at each other, over and over.  After nearly twenty minutes of waiting patiently, I discretely tucked my hand into the waist of my skirt, quickly unsnapped my GladRag, and pulled it out without anyone noticing.  I held it in my hand for a few minutes, at which time the security officer, and her suited male supervisor, began walking back my way.  When they got within a few feet of me, I stuck my hand out and asked “Is this what you were worried about?”  Much to their horror, my GladRag was presented in my outstretched hand.  (Disclaimer: I was also using my DivaCup, so my cotton pad was actually perfectly clean.)  Aghast, the woman grabbed a plastic bag, opened it and held it out for me to place the pad into.  She walked it over to the X-ray belt to be tested.

While she completed this task, I engaged her male supervisor.  I asked why I was detained for wearing a cotton pad, offered him some education on the environmental impact of disposable pads and tampons, and reminded him that he himself emerged into this world from a vagina that bled just like I was right now.  The entire scenario brought a touch of humor in its irony, but in reflected was also wrought with a deep sadness, sadness for the antiquated social norms of our culture, but especially for the female officer who found herself in such a state of shame and embarrassment when presented with the raw truth of another menstruating female.

After this experience, my gratitude deepened even more for the work of Tracy and GladRags, and other companies like DivaCup and Jade & Pearl, whose hard work gives individual women a powerful option to reclaiming a sacred trust of our own bodies, and through that work are creating ripples from each of us that help heal a cultural wound in our collective body, one moon cycle at a time.

What kind of menstrual protection do you use?

Over a decade ago I switched from organic disposables to GladRags or similar homemade versions coupled with a DivaCup.  I haven’t looked back!  These choices not only allow me to step into my power of environmental responsibility related to my menstruation, but give me the opportunity to harness the creative power of my menstrual blood and offer it intimately back to mother earth through using it to nourish sacred plants in my garden.

emilyruff

Emily Ruff is a community herbalist and director of the Florida School of Holistic Living in Orlando, which features a comprehensive curriculum, community clinic, and teaching garden. Emily studied herbalism across three continents under many indigenous healers, including herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, whom she credits as one of her biggest inspirations. Her academic studies include ethnobotany and women’s studies, and she is a flower essence practitioner.

Her line of products, Orenda Herbal, have been prepared since 2004 with love and locally grown ingredients. Emily has taught frequently at national conferences and regional events, and is also the organizer of the annual Florida Herbal Conference.

Emily stewards an herbal urban homestead in central Florida, where in daily practice of meditation and digging her fingers in the dirt, the plants continue to be her greatest teachers. A frequently published author and dynamic teacher, you can learn more about her work and projects at emilyruff.com.