I’ve been writing articles and blogs about menstruation for a few years now. They are listed here with the first paragraph, so you can decide which articles to click the link on and read in full.
Dictionary definitions of ecstasy depict it with broad, loose brush-strokes. Ecstasy is described as a feeling of great happiness, accessed through being in a trance or as a result of heightened emotional or spiritual experience. Ecstasy may last seconds, minutes or occasionally hours, but anecdotally never any longer. It is a seemingly elusive phenomenon.
Can you can imagine Queen Medb, a legendary Celtic warrior with streaming blond hair, pale cheeks and golden birds perched on her shoulders, squatting down in her royal finery on the land of Ireland, making three enormous red rivers with her gushing menstrual blood – almost like the three rays of the Awen? She has just called a halt to a crucial battle, in order to menstruate. The battle was important, but honouring her inner clock was a matter of life or death for Medb. This summer, in a crimson–lined yurt hung with the many faces of the Goddess, eight women created one almighty ritual spell to heal our collective menstrual shame.
Coming on my period, in the middle of a camping holiday in the South West of France wasn’t the ideal situation, even for moi, committed menstrual activist. I had been looking forward to relaxing and playing with my young family in the warm French sun and on the beach for weeks. After a fleeting moment of internal annoyance, I decided to rise to the challenge and make the most of the situation.
I discovered as a teenager that nothing eases a menstrual cramp like a spot of self-pleasuring. Practised skilfully, month after month, one learns to turn the volume of the pain down and switch the tempo of the pleasure on to cruise control mode ~ not too fast or too slow. This way you can maintain a steady state of suspended, hovering pleasure whilst your blood flow builds up to warp speed and the cramps run their course. Then when you finally allow yourself to reach the finish line of orgasm, you can drift off to sleep and wake up feeling a whole lot better.
Beltane is considered by many to be the first day of summer. Over the years, I have spent many a shivery May mornings, watching the sunrise, wishing I had brought an extra jumper! We can regard the seasons from a different perspective, as overlapping one another. In this way, Beltane straddles both spring and summer, with a heady mix of unpredictable weather and some of the most exquisite blooming of nature in the entire wheel of the year.
This was the very first book I ever read about menstruation. The title completely blew me away. With true serendipity, I had picked up a life-changing book in a second-hand bookshop. As I hugged it all the way home, I could feel my womb pulsating with excitement.
Wanda wakes up and knows that her bleeding time is done. It is time for a pair of white pants and a fresh promise – that she will truly walk her talk; encouraging women to embrace and enjoy their bleeding time; enabling men to understand the menstrual cycle better and persuading the establishment to adopt practices which validate menstruation.
I am completely ‘out’ these days about being a Menstrual Activist. Most people look a bit bemused when I tell them and say, “But why? Surely there is no prejudice or taboo about menstruation anymore.” Ha – if only this were true!
Death is inevitable. It comes to us all sooner or later, whether or not we die suddenly with no preparation or after a long illness with plenty of time to tie up loose ends. We have no way of knowing which hand we will be dealt. When our time does come though, we may wish we had prepared a little better. Most of us avoid thinking about death and dying as much as possible. Death is sanitised and shrouded from us in Western society – most people die in hospital, away from close family and friends. Their bodies are then whisked away and we have little chance to say goodbye privately at our own pace. Gone are the days of our beloved dead lying in the parlour for three days and three nights, surrounded by mourners keeping vigil.
More and more women seem to be embracing the zeitgeist of washable menstrual pads. You can buy them in all manner of beautiful patterns and colours. Some women put up pictures of their colourful stash on Facebook, be these rainbow, leopard print, flowery or paisley patterned. Many more women are making their own too and then enjoying the experience of flowing onto soft comfortable cotton which they have sewn themselves. How fantastic that women are using gorgeous fabrics to honour their bleeding time and heal our collective wounded feminine. Such a powerful step in the right direction.
Every month our reproductive systems concoct a wonderful raspberry pavlova, a delicious pudding (named after Anna Pavlova, the Russian ballerina and choreographer). Only three ingredients are needed – egg-white, whipped cream and ripe, juicy, red raspberries on top.
Glad rags, moon pads, yoni cushions… Such positive, evocative names. Let us do away with ‘sanitary towels’ and ‘feminine hygiene pads’ for once and for all. I had a French teacher at school who helped to prepare me and other fourteen year old girls for a French Exchange many moons ago in the 1980’s. She said that she supposed us modern girls must all use tampons and that in the olden days she used to have to teach girls how to say in French “I have ‘something’ to burn”. This was the only time a teacher ever brought up the subject of menstruation with me, and she couldn’t even utter the word ‘pad’. Conversely, every single month I was forced to whisper a shameful confession, that I was bleeding to a teacher. I suffered from horrific dysmenorrhea and would faint, vomit, have diarrhoea and hideous cramps that kept me paralysed even on the grimmest of toilet floors throughout my entire teens and twenties.
Little girls start preparing for menstruation as soon as they become conscious of their mother’s bleeding tides in the same way that they lay the foundation for their mothering years by playing with dolls and teddies. They absorb the messages their mothers give them, be these conscious or unconscious, positive or negative. They are sopping it all up regardless.
How far has society moved on from degrading menstruation by calling it ‘the curse’? It’s not an expression that many of my contemporaries would use, thank goodness, even if they don’t love their menstrual cycle as much as I do mine. I don’t remember my mother ever talking about ‘the curse’ although I can’t actually recall her ever giving me any vocabulary to equip me for talking about my menses. I was given a children’s biology book and a box of slender tampax. Conversation over.
I started bleeding at 4.30 am. I feel a familiar wetness coupled with some low intensity uterine cramps. I get up and slip a moon pad into my beloved black bleeding pants – so comfy and soft. I then snuggle back into bed and drift in and out of sleep till my alarm goes off at 7am. Then it was time to get up, fill breakfast bowls to the brim with cereal, wash grapes and make sandwiches for the children’s lunchboxes. Then a deep breath and the whirlwind of three children getting dressed, cleaning teeth, plaiting hair, doing school reading and eventually piling all three in the school bus along with bags, books and Easter bonnets at 8.30am. Phew!