From the appearance of our first menstrual blood we are conditioned to feel embarrassed by it. Expected to be discreet, so that no-one will see or smell our blood or guess we are menstruating, we are required to carry on as normal at work or school with no extra rest or support. We carry the burden of our mother-line along with our own, shouldering our mothers’, grandmothers’ and sisters’ menstrual shame. ‘Tis a heavy load that we must shed if we are to fly free and help our sisters and daughters to take wing with us.
And so the spell began. Women gathered in a circle hand-in-hand, around a soft linen cloth edged with four braids to represent the four energies held within our menstrual cycle. We shared three breaths together – one for the girls looking forward to menarche, another for women in their bleeding years and a final one for the women who hold their wise blood within. We requested the blessings of our ancestors and the wise grandmothers upon our healing spell work.
Painting a mandala is a sacred piece of magic, steeped in ancient symbolism. It is a powerful force, with no start and no end, no sharp corners and no hierarchy. We set to work painting with iron ochre to represent our monthly blood. Singing joyous songs of celebration of our womanly blood, we painted, beginning with our handprints at the centre of the cloth.
Then for the finishing touches! Each woman mixed a pillule of homeopathic Menses, to represent her own blood, into a jar with some of my menstrual blood. The remedy is made from the menstrual blood of several women and so is symbolic of our collective red thread. The women put the remedy in, speaking their truth with passion for all present to hear. It was an emotional and passionate moment.
I then crouched down at the centre of the soft linen cloth and painted with the blood. I traced over the lines and designs already painted on the cloth, to seal the magic of our spell in. My sisters called out words of honour and power, as I worked, my crown and ears tingling with the energy we were raising. At last I was done and it was time to close. We held hands, sending energy and healing out to the world, like a carefully thrown stone, rippling in an endless pond. We then emerged from the yurt, as a chain of women, into the dappled sunlight under the trees, singing and feeling the warm, firm land under our toes.
My thanks go to Rachael Hertogs for holding the space with me. We held this ritual at 13 Moons Women’s Festival on Dartmoor, UK in the Spellbinders Lodge.