I didn’t get into the habit of minding my ‘flow’. I don’t even know anybody who tracks their cycle unless they are either trying to fall pregnant or trying not to. We just weren’t programmed to embrace or embody our inner cycle. All we know is that it comes every month and we can’t wait until the hell is over. Heck, there was even a time when it was improper to talk about the period.
And I get it. Discussing cervical mucus isn’t an appealing topic but you would be amazed to know what it does; actually, you would be amazed to know how powerful a woman’s body is!
In observance of Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28, I joined an online circle of women to chat about women’s health organized by Young Living’s The Southern Blends family with guest speaker and women’s health advocate, Dona Tumacdang-Esteban.
She began the event with a meditation exercise. There we all were – eyes closed, breathing in and out and taking in her slow sentences – filled with words like menstruation, period, PMS, regla (a Filipino word for period) and tagos (period stains). Not until the Filipino words were thrown in the mix that I felt myself starting to cringe. For me, the taboo factor surrounding these words is real, my body reacting to them in a way I had been socially conditioned to.
Growing up, many of us women are led to believe that our menstruation is unclean and shameful; with some seeing it as a product of unwanted pregnancies and in some cultures, it’s even labelled ‘bad blood’. When I recounted the same set of words that had been shared during the meditation with my own group of friends, most of them reacted negatively upon hearing them. They associated the words with discomfort, pain and inconvenience.
However, there is so much magic in bleeding. Many, many moons ago, early societies believed that it was one of the most sacred substances on the planet. They didn’t just recognize the sanctity of the flow, they also respected its connection to the cycle of the moon with the understanding that woman and moon are the same since they are both feminine, cyclical and life-giving. It is during this time that they must fully inhabit their ‘cave time’ as it is a period of purification, rejuvenation and rest.
Thanks to the patriarchal society and its agenda to downplay the divine feminine, the significance of this sacred time has been washed away. Now, we work through the cramps to show that we aren’t a liability in the company, we join a marathon despite blood shedding, and some even take drugs to stop their menstrual cycle. In other words, we have completely forgotten the importance of why our blood sisters from decades and centuries ago would honor the regenerative properties of menstrual blood. Meanwhile, scientists in some parts of the world harness its power to heal.
Now is the time to reclaim our power and it begins by tracking our cycle. When we start to mind our flow we understand our body more, we learn from what our body is trying to teach us and we will see a pattern in our mood swings, cravings, productivity and physical pains.
However, you won’t be able to bring that power back unless you have a full understanding of how your body works in each cycle. Knowing this will bring enlightenment about the woman that you are in every phase of it.
I mentioned earlier that a woman’s body and the cycle she goes through is connected to the moon and the Earth. Through our menstrual cycle, we go through the phases of the moon which are also connected to the different seasons.
Shedding menstrual blood gives you the power of releasing. This is the darkest phase where the ‘crone’ in us must fully inhabit our cave time and just give in to rest and the quiet.
Use this time to reflect on what you need to let go as you literally gush out blood from inside you. At the same time, the wise old woman that we try to embody in this phase must learn to decide what we should bring in to our life when we transition to the next cycle.
Follicular Phase/Crescent Moon/Spring
The follicular or the pre-ovulation phase gives you the power of possibilities. This is the time when the female archetype that a woman should embrace is the Virgin Warrior. She is full of life and potential, much like spring season which signifies renewal, rebirth and an increase in physical energy.
The Virgin Warrior has a more enhanced planning skill or becomes more focused and more analytical. So when the mind is clearer, the emotions become more stable. Use this time to start new projects, meet new people and just celebrate life.
Ovulation gives you the power of receptivity and expression. When we are ovulating, we produce the estrogen and the progesterone that our body needs and an increase in the blood volume gives us that beautiful glow. We are more attractive during this phase; we smell different, we are more expressive, we are alive much like the full moon and summer where everything is bright, colorful and in full bloom.
It is at this stage that a woman should channel the Mother/Lover in her as this is the time when a woman is most fertile, therefore, the life-giving power in us surfaces. This phase is preparing our bodies for pregnancy. The nurturing mother archetype in us is clear-headed yet calmer so this is the time when you want to communicate with your partner, your supervisor or any person of significance as the power of expression is alive in you.
Luteal Phase/Waning Moon/Fall
The power of resolution is upon us during the premenstrual stage. When we start to feel more sensitive and a little bitchy (ok, sometimes a lot bitchy), we take this time to know what we need to let go and rid ourselves of the pent-up frustration.
However, the enchantress in us must not be denied. She wants to do whatever she wants – so let her! We are hormonal and we shouldn’t apologize for it.
Women’s empowerment is growing every day and yet we are made to believe that shedding menstrual blood is dirty and therefore we must feel ashamed and disgusted whenever we get our period. But flow is neither good or bad. It is part of the natural cycle of a woman’s life and is essential to all human life.
By embodying each cycle, we begin to value our bodies. We begin to believe that we are amazing no matter the cycle we are in and we begin to love and accept our bodies more fully.
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Cover image by cottonbro.