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birthing a deeper connection to myself and to the land – a sacred ritual to celebrate the cycles
Like many young woman I wasn’t initiated into the power of the menstrual cycle. For most of my adult life my period was at best an inconvenience and at worst a painful, shameful secret that should either be controlled or pushed through. It wasn’t until I was in late 30s that I began to pay attention to the fullness of my cycle, discovering it was more than just PMT and a few days of discomfort and bleeding. I began to chart the ebb and flow of my inner landscape, throughout the month, and witnessed the influence my cycle had on my body, my mind, in fact my whole way of being.
As I became more attentive, patterns began to emerge and I could see that certain phases of my cycle had distinct qualities. This deepening awareness showed me that, like the earth, I too had changing seasons that were revealed in different ways and at different times, with very different energies, expressions and needs. All equally potent aspects; longing for my attention and presence. I could see that the way in which I tended to myself (or often not) affected my relationships both inner and outer. I had unlocked the door to a deeper understanding of myself and found my inner compass.
After years of disconnection from my cycle started to actively work with these changes, rather than unconsciously battling against them. It was an incredibly rich, deep and powerful journey but as I came to this realisation, I also found myself descending into waves of grief, rage and sadness. I grieved for the many years of cycles where I hadn’t been present to this connection and felt sadness for my maiden self, who’d never been given the guidance she needed. Anger roared through me.
I felt enraged for having been separated from my most potent source of wisdom and power, and anger at our culture for framing menstruation, and specifically menstrual blood, as taboo. I made space for that anger, for the sadness to flow and finally through tending to the tears of grief a powerful ritual was born.
With my menstruating years coming to a close, I made a commitment to be fully present to each cycle as if it were my last. Since making that promise, I’ve been creating mandalas, helping me to slow down and inhabit a restful, creative space that at the same time honours how our beautiful bodies mirror sacred mother earth. I’ve also started to map the movement of the moon and any significant astrological shifts that are relevant to my birth chart. I am weaving a rich web and now, when my blood comes I know how natural it is for me to take my attention into the womb. It’s a time of ‘homecoming’ for me. Time to go deep within.
I’ve discovered that when I start to bleed, I experience heightened awareness and sensitivity and that allows me to open up to insight and healing in a way that is quite different to any other time.The ritual begins by walking slowly and never far. Gathering only from the plants that are most abundant, waiting to be drawn in by those that whisper for my attention. When I return home I lay down the first four pieces to honour the directions and from then on I allow the mandala to unfold. Here, I am met by the most unimaginable, heart-opening beauty. I witness the magnificence of the earth and the many ways in which the great mother expresses her creativity. This is a celebration of her. All she offers us. All that is within us. Resting into to those feelings of deep connection and knowing, I dream and reflect on the cycle that has just passed, listening deeply for anything that might need my attention. Sometimes it’s a time of intense emotions, sometimes profound healing but always one of much-needed rest and nourishment. Sometimes I rest for an hour, sometimes a day. It depends. As much as we have these sacred intentions, life often has very different plans! But what I’ve noticed is that the more space I can make around my bleed, the more alive and energised I feel for the rest of my cycle. So when I am ready to complete the ritual I gather up the pieces of the mandala and go back out onto the land to scatter the precious seeds, leaves, flowers and fruits.
Reconnecting with my menstrual blood has been important part of my healing journey, so I now also collect my blood and offer it back to the earth as a prayer. For our healing and for her healing. Giving thanks for our deep connection to mother earth. Thanks for our embodiment of the cycles. Deep gratitude for the exquisite interconnectedness that we are honoured to experience as women.
What defines us as women continues to be shrouded in shame and suffered in silence by so many. Few of us were given the information we needed to be able to connect with our cycle in a way that enables us to discover it’s gifts. But things are changing. Women are beginning to reclaim their cycle and experience deep connection to themselves, each other, and the earth. I believe this shift is what’s needed to heal the wounds of the past and lay the foundations for future generations.