Search Results for: moontime

Tuesday Tidbits: Moontime Mojo

“I am obsessed with becoming a woman comfortable in her skin.”
— Sandra Cisneros

I know I’ve been focusing on the subject of healthy menstruation a lot lately, but it is has been a persistent interest since my period came back after my last baby. At that time, since we are not planning to have any more children, I realized that I was going to have to redefine my relationship with my cycling body, no longer in the context of planning the next pregnancy. I also had the epiphany of sorts that in not acknowledging or fully experiencing the role of menstruation in my own life as a woman, I have been missing out on an opportunity to connect on a regular basis with one of the core “blood mysteries” of being female—I’ve spent a lot of time on birth and breastfeeding in my life, but my period? Oh, that old thing! I maintain that our attitudes towards our monthly bleeding are reflected in our culture’s attitudes towards birth and breastfeeding—ook! Bloody! Messy! Leaky! Stuff comes out of you! Hide it away! Don’t let anyone see! I shared some of these emerging 2013-06-22 08.59.09discoveries and thoughts during my Moontime session at the La Leche League of Missouri conference this month and many women attending expressed similar feelings—that they’d never actually connected the menstrual cycle fully with their experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation. As I explained to them, as women involved with LLL or birth advocacy we may be well-versed in listening and responding to our bodies when it comes to childbirth and breastfeeding, but many women overlook or minimize the influence menstruation has on their lives. We easily forget that menstruation also provides us with a regular reminder to listen to our bodies, follow their cues, and honor our own wisdom. I’m still working on it in my own life, but I really believe that women benefit from recognizing moontime as a time for rest, retreat, and renewal—a time to re-gather our scattered energy and resources and to emerge with strength and powerful medicine.

A friend came to me recently to ask for resources for her pre-menstrual daughter and said that she wanted something practical to tell her, not just to go sit in a tent, because that sounds nice, but it isn’t realistic in the modern age. And, I thought, but what if it WAS realistic and practical?! I would go so far as to say that perhaps we wouldn’t have such challenges with birth and breastfeeding in our culture if girls were taught that it was normal to need to rest and listen to their bodies once a month rather than to push forward like they’re exactly the same every single day. If this is how we grew up, wouldn’t it then be easier to accept the swell and flow of the energy of birth, to respect the need for rest and renewal during postpartum, and to listen to our bodies’ messages as we learn to breastfeed our babies and fall into sync with the timelessness of life with a newborn and beyond?

(Side note: when I originally chose the quote to open this post, I totally mis-read it and thought it said, “I am obsessed with women becoming comfortable in her own skin” and that is how I feel, but I guess I’m obsessed with it for myself too?)

I just finished reading the book Honoring Menstruation by Lara Own and it was really good. She says:

Our initiation of girls is superficial…how to put on makeup, buying your first bra, using a tampon for the first time. Many women get married and get pregnant without having any sense of their own capacity for endurance, physically or psychologically. Small wonder then than so many girl-women elect to give birth with the aid of painkillers and a technology that robs them of the experience of their own strength…

And she makes a point that I shared during my conference presentation:

As a culture we value stoicism and the overriding of the body. We have schedules, appointments, and timetables which are based on industrial efficiency rather than the moment-to-moment needs of the body. We wait until the end of the meeting to empty our bladders, until the end of the day to eat our main meal. We go to work when we have colds, when we have menstrual cramps, when we have a headache. ‘Not feeling like it’ is seen as a pretty lame excuse.

This is very useful training for all sorts of situations, but not for everything. And there are certain aspects of being female in which stoicism is exactly the opposite of what is required for successful survival. One of the skills of being a woman lies in being very aware of moment-to-moment bodily needs. Being deeply in touch with her body enables a woman to be able to know, and to say, ‘I need this type of food Now,’ ‘I need to rest Now,’ ‘I need to drink Now…’

I’ve previously used the example of listening to the urge to use the bathroom as a core issue in respecting our bodies and preparing for birth. Very, very few people actually go to the bathroom when they first feel the urge, waiting sometimes hours before finally making the time to run to the restroom. If we cannot listen to this simple, basic request from our bodies on a regular basis, can we honestly expect women to magically know how to “listen to their bodies” and give birth to their babies, particularly when we put them in birthing environments that are in many ways designed around overriding bodily requests? (Eating during labor? Sorry, you can just have ice chips. Moving around. Sorry, we can’t monitor the baby well enough like that.) We’ve been trained for years not to listen.

It is easy in today’s world to forget that our menstrual cycle is all about reproduction. Mostly – young women are given information about cleaning up their cycles from tampons to deodorants. Many are given birth control pills which in some cases stops their monthly bleeding all together. There are not many mothers who teach their daughters about the Rhythms of their Cycles – and instill a sense of true self-care and honoring as opposed to a fear of pregnancy, inconvenience and cleaning up. It is important for us to reconsider our relationship with our cycles – and take the time to not only understand our bodies – but connect with our inner compass.

A woman’s monthly cycle has an emotional and sexual landscape whether we are trying to conceive in that month or not. Instead of walking over these natural patterns – let’s try to understand them.

via Listening to our Menstrual Cycle ~ Wild Women Sisterhood.

I also enjoyed this article about Fertility Awareness, which is intimately tied (obviously) to an understanding of menstruation and body rhythms:

…throughout a natural menstrual cycle, hormonal fluctuation can alter a woman’s facial appearance, body odor, waist-to-hip ratio, vocal pitch, mood, habits of dress, and even language. When ovulating, these changes make women more attractive to men because they indicate fertility; in fact, one scientific study I read about later found that strippers have their peak earnings on the days when they are ovulating. These cycles also affect what type of men a woman finds attractive (women tend to be attracted to high testosterone macho types while ovulating and more nurturing men during the rest of the cycle). In short, a woman’s cycles affect how she thinks, how she feels, and how she behaves. Bly explained that our natural cycles are the full expression of ourselves. When a woman takes a birth control pill, which tricks the body into thinking its already pregnant, she is making a bigger change than she may imagine. Beyond obvious side effects like headaches, irritability, and bloating, Bly says, “The birth control pill emotionally flatlines a woman in a way that supports her ability to participate in the workforce, but does not support the ecstatic or transcendent qualities of masculine and feminine union.”

via The Hidden Wisdom of Fertility Awareness | Spirituality & Health Magazine.

And, I downloaded a free ebook about Rediscovering Your Menstrual Mojo from  Jo Macdonald. She specifically has resources for mothers and daughters. Check her out!

“Menstruation is an initiatory moment. Women can potentially open to a highly charged altered state, giving them access to a singular kind of power – the power of self-awareness, deep feeling, knowingness, intuition. A power that matures over time with each cycle.”

— Alexandra Pope

Finally, on Facebook recently, I saw this handy reminder card:

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Honoring Moontime

“The revolution must have dancing; women know this. The music will light our hearts with fire,
The stories will bathe our dreams in honey and fill our bellies with stars…”

–Nina Simons in We’Moon 2012

“A woman’s best medicine is quite simply herself, the powerful resources of her own deep consciousness, giving her deep awareness of her own physiology as it changes from day to day.”

–Veronica Butler and Melanie Brown

While lots of TV ads would have you assume that it is physical symptoms that “interfere” with a woman’s life during menstruation (i.e. cramps, bloating, whatever), I find it is the reverse—that normal life interferes with my body’s call. As I’ve tuned in more fully to my body’s moontime rhythms this year, I’ve realized that aside from the killer headache that heralds moontime’s approach about two days prior, I don’t really feel bad, sick, or particularly uck, during menstruation. It isn’t at all that I don’t feel well, it is that I feel like being alone, turning inward and away, withdrawing, and being creative. I feel like cocooning and feel easily disturbed/disrupted from that needed cocoon. It reminds me of postpartum and I’ve tried to explain to my husband that taking some time off from my regular roles to rest and be during moontime, truly makes as much sense as doing so during postpartum. I’ve also noticed emotional vulnerability to any criticism, increased irritability and impatience, and usually a monthly “breakdown” of some kind in which I generally decree that something MUST change ™, usually precipitating big life-revisions plans (maybe including charts/diagrams), long discussions, flawed self-analysis, harsh assessments, and endless ruminating along with self-recrimination. This is usually followed with an invigorating surge of energy, enthusiasm, and creativity on the actual first day of bleeding.

“When a woman begins her monthly bleeding, she has a very special vibration. The blood flow is cleansing as the old uterine lining is sloughed off, one monthly reproductive cycle ended. At menstruation, women have the chance to rid themselves of all old thoughts, habits, and desires, and be receptive to new visions and inspirations for the next cycle…

If a woman continues her normal routine at menstruation, then she loses a uniquely female opportunity for introspection. She also finds she gets more tired, irritable, and upset because her physical rhythm has slowed down. She needs rest, more time for meditation, and less time doing housework, cooking, working in the outside world, and taking care of children.” –Marcia Starck, Women’s Medicine Ways

After thinking these thoughts and reading the above paragraph, my attention was caught by all this totally relevant and interesting stuff on Facebook:

“…Could it be that women who get wild with rage do so because they are deeply deprived of quiet and alone time, in which to recharge and renew themselves?

Isn’t PMS a wise mechanism designed to remind us of the deep need to withdraw from everyday demands to the serenity of our inner wilderness? Wouldn’t it follow, then, that in the absence of quiet, sacred spaces to withdraw to while we bleed — women express their deprivation with wild or raging behaviors?…” —DeAnna L’am via Occupy Menstruation

And:

There is magic inherent in the menstrual cycle. Each cycle provides a woman with the opportunity to understand and read the messages her body gives her for any specific healing she needs. Each cycle creates the opportunity for as much spiritual growth and personal development that she could want. All a woman has to do to connect with that potential is simply to be with what is, her cycle, happening over and over.

~ Jane Hardwicke Collings, “The Spiritual Practice of Menstruation” Check out her fabulous work at MoonSong and at htttp://www.moonsong.com.au

via Occupy Menstruation

And, then this great idea. I’m working on this one! I really think for me it is also actually in the two days prior to bleeding that I really need to most withdraw and be alone…

HONORING OUR MOONTIME WITH EASE

You have to remove yourselves from duties! In our modern age, much of the honor for the female and her cycles has been lost… and it won’t be retrieved by members of the opposite sex!

We cannot rely on others to begin respecting us and our cycles, we must learn to respect ourselves enough to set our boundaries and realize our limitations AND our power!

DON’T work when you’re on your menses! Even if you still go to work, treat yourself with the care of one carrying a child. YOU are carrying yourself during this time!

Be your own mother and know when enough is enough.

CREATE your PERFECT existence.

~ Renæ Sunspirit, commenting on an earlier Moon Lodge post via Occupy Menstruation

More about solitude:

“The psyches and souls of women have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place…”

“In order to converse with the wild feminine, a woman must temporarily leave the world and inhabit a state of aloneness in the oldest sense of the word. Long ago the word alone was treated as two words, all one. To be all one, meant to be wholly one, to be in oneness, either essentially or temporarily. That is precisely the goal of solitude, to be all one. It is the cure for the frazzled state so common to modern women…”

Clarissa Pinkola Estés via TheGypsyPriestess

Via Wild Free Beautiful You

Via Wild Free Beautiful You

Wild Free Beautiful You

More about Moon Lodges:

The Moon Lodge is the place of women, where women gather during their menstrual time to be at-one with each other and the changes occurring in their bodies. Long ago, during this special time of moon cycles, women were removed from duties of family and allowed to retreat to the Moon Lodge to enjoy the company of their Sisters.

Traditionally, the Moontime is the sacred time of woman when she is honored as a Mother of the Creative Force. During this time she is allowed to release the old energy her body has carried and prepare for reconnection to the Earth Mother’s fertility that she will carry in the next Moon or month. Our Ancestors understood the importance of allowing each woman to have her Sacred Space during this time of reconnection, because women were the carriers of abundance and fertility.

As Grandmother Moon is the weaver of tides (the water or blood of our Earth Mother) so a woman’s cycles follow the rhythm of that weaving. When women live together in a common space, their bodies begin to regulate their menses and all will eventually have their Moontime concurrently. This natural rhythm is one of the bonds of Sisterhood.

Women honor their sacred path when they acknowledge the intuitive knowing inherent in their receptive nature. In trusting the cycles of their bodies and allowing the feelings to emerge within them, women have been Seers and Oracles for their tribes for centuries.

via moonsurfing.com via Occupy Menstruation

Why pay attention to this stuff anyway? Because of this…

“A woman who becomes aware of her cycle and inherent connection to the whole, also learns to perceive a level of life that goes beyond the visible; she maintains an intuitive link with the energies of life, birth and death, and feels the divinity within the Earth and herself. From this recognition woman deals not only with the visible and the earthly but with the invisible and spiritual aspects of her existence. It was through this altered state of consciousness that was taking place every month than the shamans/healers and priestesses, contributed to the world and to their own community its power, clarity and connection with the divine.”

Miranda Gray via Mujer Arbol

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New moontime goddess sculpture hanging out with “moontime’s return” sculpture from earlier this year.

Taking it to the body, part 3: Moontime

“…imagine what our lives would be like, what the world would be like if every womoon could bleed and birth inside a sacred circle…”

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(Art by Mariela Dela Paz)

Blessing to our menstrual blood!

Blessing for our birthing blood!

Blessing to our female body

Blessing to our spirit

Blessing for our connection with other women

Blessing for our self-love and love of each other

Blessing to the world that holds us sacred.

–Antiga in The Goddess Celebrates, p. 168

Continuing my taking it to the body theme, I have some more observations to make about Moontime in a woman’s life. Ever since moontime’s return for me earlier this year, I’ve tried to remind mindful of the ebb and flow of my cycle and associated emotions, feelings, and inclinations. Just as I wouldn’t expect myself to “do it all” during postpartum, I find it logical that I shouldn’t expect myself to “do it all” during menstruation either. But, that is easier said than done! Kids still need to do to playgroup and taekwondo and, and, and…

It is also very, very easy for me to forget that many of the common mental patterns I experience with needing to retreat and wanting to quit and wanting to rest are very cyclical in nature as well. But, I also hate that, because I never want, “must be hormones!” to be an excuse. I honestly think it isn’t an excuse, but is instead is often a wake-up call. So, taking it to the body…it surprises me how, even though I track my cycle using a handy phone app, I still overlook that the “I’m so fat and ugly!” thoughts and the “how come I suddenly have zits on my chin?” and “I want to QUIT THE WORLD” and, “people are so annoying and SO LOUD and never STOP TALKING!!!!!” and, “WHY do people WANT things from me ALL THE TIME!!!!” feelings, also recur on a cyclical basis. And, then moontime comes, and suddenly life takes a turn for the better and things look up. I start feeling energetic and productive and excited about things. Instead of wanting to quit, I have tons of new ideas and feel enthusiastic and optimistic about completing them. I feel creative and inspired. You’d think I’d remember and say, “oh yeah, this. This sensation of wanting to hide…I remember this.” BUT…and this is the ticket…I need to then DO IT. Go ahead and hide for a minute. Things will go on without me. It is when I override my own inclinations and body messages and needs that “Dragon Lady” wishes to come out and roar for her rights.

“Each time we deny our female functions, each time we deviate from our bodies’ natural path, we move father away from out feminine roots. Our female bodies need us now more than ever, and we too need the wisdom, the wildness, the passion, the joy, the vitality and the authenticity that we can gain through this most intimate of reconciliations.” –Sarah J Buckley, M.D.

I recently enjoyed listening to a recording from Indigo Bacal called Womb Magic ~ 3 Things EVERY Cycling Woman Needs to Know.

The three things are:

1. track your cycle

2. create a moon tent and spend time in it alone.

3. moontime is a powerful opportunity for renewal

One of the things she also said is that if your family and the people around you can allow you the space to retreat into your “moon tent,” you will return with powerful medicine for them every month, because of this powerful time for renewal. It is the blocked call for quiet time to rest and renew that causes a variety of premenstrual tension, strain, and stress…

I also enjoyed reading an interesting article about being a Highly Sensitive Person (I have already read the book by the same name):

I learned that life is easier than I think it is. Thinking about life is hard. But, life already is. It’s already happening. That’s easy.

I discovered that highly sensitive people seem to develop backwards compared to traditional theories. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that in order to develop as people, we must meet certain needs in a certain order, starting with physiological needs.

Well, I find that HSPs actually start at the top with transcendence needs and work down to the physiological needs last.

You really can trust yourself; your body knows more than you think. Your nervous system is getting a lot. Trust it. Trust is a practice. It’s a work out. Start where you are and take a step in the direction of trusting your body and what it is telling you.

That is how you strengthen the connection with your body. The present is here for you to unwrap in each surprising moment…

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New sculptures! This time from pottery clay and my mom glazed and fired them. They’re cool! :)

Book Review: Moon Time

Moontime’s Return…

With all of my babies, I’ve followed Sheila Kippley’s Seven Standards for Ecological Breastfeeding. Kippley reports that mothers who follow ecological breastfeeding will experience an average of 14 months of amenorrhea (and associated infertility). Sure enough, with my first baby, right at 14 months postpartum my fertility returned. With my second baby, I said I was going for 18 months and I ended up with 16 months of amenorrhea before my “moon” returned. Now, Alaina is nearly 15 months old, and in what I find to be a fascinating biological twist, I’m experiencing my first postpartum mamaflow in exactly two years—it was my April cycle in 2010 during which I got pregnant with her. I just find that so cool—what body wisdom we have. (I then found my old journal from Zander and my cycle returned with him in September of 2007…again exactly two years from the month in which I got pregnant with him.)

Moon mandala I drew last year.

I sensed this was coming and have found myself interested in several related websites and blog resources recently. As part of the Wilde Tribe teleseries, I listened to Deanna L’am, author of two books with a focus on menstrual empowerment (specifically for girls who are coming of age) and founder of Red Tents in Every Neighborhood speak about Red Tents and about honoring this time in our lives with specific quiet time for rest and renewal. I also listened to a presentation about “Honoring Your Crazy Woman” (and her companion, the Creative Rainbow Mama) from The Happy Womb, who has a new book out called Moon Time as well as some super-cool mandalas for charting your cycle. There, I also enjoyed a great guest post about going with the flow and spending time in your own red room.

In one of the classes I’m taking, before exploring any of the above resources, I wrote about planning to take a monthly time of retreat each month during my moontime—kind of a mini Red Tent, whether it is only for 30 minutes or for a couple of hours or a whole day. I’ve read several articles that make the point that one of the causes of PMS, cramps, etc. is the reluctance, unwillingness, or inability to take any time off to listen to what our bodies are telling us and to heed the call to take some time to turn inward. I also thought about how during pregnancy and birth it is so vitally important to listen to our bodies, to take good care of ourselves, to rest when we need to, and to celebrate being female—why not continue that practice of care and recognition each month during menstruation?

I’m almost finished facilitating a series of Cakes for the Queen of Heaven classes (a feminist thealogy curriculum published by the Unitarian Universalist Women & Religion program) and one of the discussion questions we explored was with regard to our first menstruation, how it was treated by our mothers, and whether we felt like that experience was related to our later experiences of birth, breastfeeding, and menopause. Our overall conclusion was that yes, it is related, and we theorized that girls who are taught to feel ashamed of and annoyed by their periods, may well grow up to be women who fear giving birth or view it with trepidation rather than anticipation.

I really looked forward to my own first period and the day it began my mom gave me a special ring that I wore every day thereafter for years until it wore through on the back (I actually got it out today to look at). When I was still a teenager, I picked out a garnet ring that my aunt gave me once thinking that it was the ring I would give to my own daughter someday at menarche. While I went on to have a very challenging and pretty debilitating time with menstruation after that—headaches, nausea, vomiting, clotting, and horrible cramps—my introduction was one of celebration and recognition, rather than any kind of shame. I do think it set the stage for positive feelings and expectations about the rest of the stages of my life cycle as a woman. (Also helpful was having a mother who had homebirths and who breastfed her babies.)

After this discussion, I saw this quote on Facebook:

Our rites of passage create and sustain culture, our inner culture and the outer culture. The current dominant culture is one of blame and victimhood and unconscious rites of passage reinforce this, within and without. Conscious rites of passage in a likeminded group of folk, creates and reinforces a culture of self responsibility and inner power. It is said that if a young woman does not experience an empowering menarche, then she doesn’t start womanhood with a relationship with the empowered feminine.” –JHC

And, I also came across the powerful phrase, “womb ecology reflects world ecology.”

So, I did take some special time for myself today. It wasn’t a huge amount, but I made myself tea, listened to a recording, drew a picture, went down to my special place in the woods, and spent some time thinking and pondering about fertility and the rhythms and tides of our bodies. I also gave myself permission to finish writing two essays for one of my new classes and to browse through some new books, rather than “catching up” with the house, which feels like it is becoming more and more cluttered lately. I also felt like I will need to re-negotiate my relationship with my period, since we have decided that we really are done having babies. I’ve spent nine years with my body cycling through pregnancies and breastfeeding (with the accompanying ~15 months of amenorrhea for each baby) and thus, all things considered, I haven’t had that many cycles over the last 9 years. It is time for me to become re-accustomed to this monthly experience and to form a new relationship with my body that is not based on planning for a pregnancy or a birth.

I look forward to making a regular habit of spending some moontime quiet time with myself. I often crave stillness, retreat, quiet, and solitude, but I’m so “productive” all the time that the stillness I seek is pushed off until “the right time,” which then doesn’t come as often as I hear the call. I forget if I’ve written that I’ve stopped doing yoga (after 11 years of daily practice—little Miss A basically makes it impossible for me and I was getting so stressed about trying to fit it in, that I just let go and then I actually felt a lot of relief about that, rather than disappointment). I do spend at least 15 minutes of quiet, meditation time almost every day in the afternoon while the kids are visiting my parents. That time is really good for me and very centering. I know that it will also be good for me to plan in advance to take some Red Tent time each month.

I feel strange about this return. Like a chapter is closing in my life and some of the ways in which I have related to myself and my female identity will need to shift also.

Talk Books: Cycle to the Moon

c2m3D“Moontime opens up our intuition.
By allowing ourselves to honour this time,
we can eliminate premenstrual tendencies…
Moontime is a sacred passage leading
to a greater awareness of self.”

–Veronika Robinson, Cycle to the Moon (p. 142)

In April, on the evening of our local Red Tent Circle, a package arrived for me from the UK. In it was the beautiful book by Veronika Robinson, Cycle to the Moon, that I won in the Red Tent fundraising auction for Moontimes. March 2015 183

Cycle to the Moon is a quick read and an inspiring one. The line illustrations are beautiful and the combination of journal pages/prompts and text is nice.

Cycle to the Moon also suggests a neat idea of creating a “Red Box” for a pre-teen daughter. Either together with your daughter or on your own for a surprise, collect special items in a box to be given to her upon menarche. It can have jewelry, garnet gemstones, books, cloth pads, tea, and so forth. She makes the potent observations that how we welcome young girls into womanhood, sets the stage for how they will view themselves and their life cycles and transitions for a lifetime:

“As we hold the hands of our young sisters when they cross the menstrual threshold, we would be wise to remember that their experience of this cycle will affect them throughout their childbearing years and into menopause. There’s a red thread which weaves through these major themes of our life. Every moment is connected. Whatever we have learned and integrated benefits not only us, but the culture” (p. 41).

Robinson also writes about the idea how you treat yourself during menstruation as a “mirror of your life”:

“The simple truth is that menstruation is a mirror of your life. If you’re not honouring your body through healthy food choices; ample hydration; rest; playtime; calmly managing stressful events; positive thoughts; creativity and sleep; then it will show up in your menstrual cycle…your hormones will come to call; and they will demand that you rest. You might try and quiet them down with headache tablets or something pharmaceutical for cramps, but they will keep talking to you (even if it takes twenty years), until you get the message. If you don’t honour your body during the menstrual years, you are highly likely to suffer when you reach menopause…

She also makes an interesting distinction between what is “normal” and what is “natural”:

“There is such a wide variance in cycle length these days that doctors consider it normal to bleed any time. It might be normal, but it is not natural. Modern statistics relating to menstruating women are taken from huge cities about women whose lifestyles are not in accord with Nature. Artificial street lighting, pollution, stress, foods coated in chemicals, nutritional deficiencies, are just a few contributing factors in the variance of cycle days.

Our body’s cycle is regulated by the Moon’s light. The pituitary and hypothalamus glands are light sensitive, which is why we disrupt our cycle immensely by sleeping near artificial light, such as street lights, computer, mobile/cell phone or clock-radio lights. In fact, keep all electromagnetic devices well out of your sleeping space. If you intend to be conscious of cycling to the Moon, and ensuring optimal health, then don’t sleep under or next to any artificial light. Instead, keep your room dark, and only open your curtain for the week of the full Moon, thus coming into alignment with it. If you live in the country it will not be necessary to keep out starlight…city girls often begin menstruation earlier than country girls because of street lighting” (p. 142).

There are also a number of great resources at the end of Cycle to the Moon, such as:

Red Wisdom

Red Tent

Red Tent Booklet

What we do in our own local Red Tent Circle varies each month, but we start with introductions using our maternal May 2015 047line and a red thread to represent our connection to the women who came before us and who will go after us, we sing, we have a sharing circle where we “pass the rattle” and talk about our lives and have what we say witnessed and held in safe space. We do a guided meditation and journaling and then a project. In April we had a salt bowl ceremony and then did footbaths and in May we made moon necklaces. We close with a poetry reading and a song. There is tea and a “reflection” table with guidance cards, art supplies, and books to look at. At our May Circle, I shared these two quotes:

“The revolution must have dancing; women know this. The music will light our hearts with fire,
The stories will bathe our dreams in honey and fill our bellies with stars…”

–Nina Simons in We’Moon 2012

“A woman’s best medicine is quite simply herself, the powerful resources of her own deep consciousness, giving her deep awareness of her own physiology as it changes from day to day.”

–Veronica Butler and Melanie Brown

I asked the women to share their revolutions and their medicine. As they spoke, I realized that my “revolution” and my “medicine” were in the planning and facilitation of these Circles, as well as in the online Red Tent Initiation Program I will be offering this summer. I’m so glad I decided to go this direction this year.

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Restoring Women to Ceremony: The Red Tent Resource Kit

 “… Every day, we witness the positive, transformative effects of, ‘restoring women to ceremony’…another reason it is vital that we continue our work…”

–D’vorah Grenn (Stepping into Ourselves, p. 56)

We’ve been hard at work over the last three months giving birth to a new project!

Introducing…The Red Tent Resource Kit

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I actually ended up sort of accidentally writing a whole new book to go with this kit. It was originally going to be a collection of handouts as a pdf. However, as I put the handouts together, I realized I was actually writing a short book or manual instead. I also reflected on how I am tired of only getting pdf manuals and ebooks when I sign up for different programs, rather than an actual, printed book. One of my mottoes this year is to follow the inspiration, so I went with it, and at the end of last month our new books arrived and they’re beautiful and I’m so excited about them!

Our unique, signature Red Tent Kit includes ALL of the following resources:

  • Womanrunes Book and Card set: ideal for personal guidance and self-development, or for the inspiration and renewal corner at your Red Tent Circle.
  • Red Tent Goddess Sculpture: symbolic of self-care and of both receiving and giving.
  • Carnelian Pendulum (kit exclusive!)
  • Brand new 58 page book: Restoring Women to Ceremony, The Red Tent Resource Kit, written exclusively for this kit. In this collection of essays and ritual resources, you will find a complete Red Tent “recipe,” circle leadership basics, moontime musings, and readings, quotes, and poems to help you facilitate a rich, inviting, welcoming, creative space for the women of your community.
  • Moontime pendant with silver-tone, solid crescent moon charm
  • Red altar cloth
  • Red organza bag to store your resources
  • Coupon for $100 off the companion Red Tent Initiation online training to be held in July-August
  • Extra surprise bonus goodies intuitively chosen for you!

The contents of this Kit are valued at $100 when sold separately!

When I was taking pictures for the Kit, I randomly drew three Womanrunes cards to include in the pictures. The ones I drew were absolutely perfect for sharing the message of what this collection has to offer to others and what we hope to create in restoring women to ceremony:

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Small Business Saturday: Shining Year Meditation and International Women’s Day

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Our collaborative business planning and progress is so intimately tied to our work with Leonie Dawson’s annual workbooks, that when I saw the theme of this year’s workbook—Create Your Shining Year—the wheels starting turning about how to communicate that in a pendant format. A friend then made the suggesting of making a Shining Year pendant with a sun at her center, so I found a sun stamp and set out to create some Shining Year goddesses. I also wanted to make a connection to the sun symbols used in Womanrunes, which are about laughter, healing, and letting go—all messages I need to receive into my own life this year!

Shining Year Goddess meditation

Take a minute to put down anything else you are carrying, doing, or thinking about. Let your shoulders relax and release. Let the breath move easy down into your belly. Then smile. Smile from your roots up through your branches. Feel joy suffuse you, filling you, bathing you, and laugh. Laugh from your belly. Laugh from your heart. Laugh with the wild abandon of freedom and release.

Let go. Feel the release and freedom that comes with unclenching your life. Remember to trust yourself and what makes you smile. Are you afraid to laugh? Are you scared to let go? Do you fear the loss of control that comes with hilarity? It is time to shake that off. Don’t be afraid. Laugh, sister, laugh. It is time to have some fun!

Know that you are as free as you allow yourself to be.

il_570xN.737953003_2586Why the twisty legs?

Recently the same friend who suggested the sun image, asked me why some of my pendant sculpts have twisty legs and I realized that sometimes the why I’m trying to communicate through my work isn’t always immediately interpretable! To me, the spiral leg form represents the energy of rising. I think of these goddesses as joyfully dancing, twirling, expressing themselves actively and energetically in the world. Indeed, the sensation of moving energy is so palpable through this design, that as a high-energy person, I have to be careful how and where I wear them, because the sense of being activated is so strong with them, that it can be too much for me! However, if you feel in need of activation and mobilization, however, then these dancing, moving, energetic goddess pendants are the designs for you! Any of my pendants with dancing legs represent Shakti rising in an energetic dance of creativity, freedom, and personal power. She is unapologetically fully inhabiting her own personal power and her being is enlivened by an exuberant flow of passionate, inspired energy.

Other new designs

As you may glimpse in the opening image, we’ve also created two new miscarriage mama goddess pendants, a new dancing moon goddess, and a mastectomy goddess pendant.

il_570xN.737956923_5ikiWe’re excited to have donated several pieces of our work to a Red Tent fundraiser project in the UK. Please check out all the details about the Community Red Tent and join supporters from around the world for the online auction taking place via Facebook on the spring equinox: Community Red Tent Auction & Raffle

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we’re also offering a 10% discount code on any of the items in our shop through March! Use SMALLBIZSATURDAY.

Publications

front-coverInspiring, amazing, intuitive, and spot-on, Brigid’s Grove is honored to publish Womanrunes book and card sets.

Listening to the deep self

In 1987, women’s spirituality foremother and wayshower, Shekhinah Mountainwater, experienced a “goddess-lightning” strike of inspiration and created a set of 41 woman-identified rune symbols for divination and personal growth. Twenty-five years later, I discovered Womanrunes and created an expanded means of interpreting, using, and exploring these powerful, magical symbols.

You can read much more about Womanrunes and how to use them on their own specific page here.

BookCover-front (2)Only $3.99, this 68 page digital ritual recipe kit includes general information about planning and facilitating rituals. It includes “ritual recipes” for maiden, mother, and crone ceremonies as well as a bonus new baby naming ritual and a family full moon ritual. Each ritual contains a complete ritual script as well as suggested supplies, an actual recipe relevant to the ritual (such as cocoa butter belly balm for a mother blessing), handouts, readings, songs and more.

earthprayer coverThis the wisdom
of woodspaces
this is the meditation
of Earthplaces…

Earthprayer, Birthprayer, Lifeprayer, Womanprayer is a 60 page digital book of earth-based poetry containing four thematic sections all rooted in connection to the land and to the cycles of life. This poetry collection is one of the results of a committed, devotional year-long “woodspriestess” practice. I maintained this practice throughout 2013, eventually spending approximately 330 days that year in the same place in the woods listening to what they had to tell me about life, myself, and the Earth.

The_Red_Tent_Resourc_Cover_for_KindleRestoring Women to Ceremony: The Red Tent Resource Kit, was written exclusively as part of a rich collection of resources for Red Tent Circles. In this collection of essays and ritual resources, you will find a complete Red Tent “recipe,” circle leadership basics, moontime musings, and readings, quotes, and poems to help you facilitate a rich, inviting, welcoming, creative space for the women of your community.

redtentkit

Tuesday Tidbits: Breastfeeding and Menstruation

I actually meant to make this post last week following my LLL meeting, but the day (and the week) spiraled away from me and before I knew it, it was already Tuesday again! As I mentioned in my last post, at our meeting we started out talking about breastfeeding and intimacy, which led into a discussion of breastfeeding and fertility as well as many other interlocking topics. It reminded me of some saved items-to-blog-about, especially this post from Lucy Pearce:

I don’t know about you, but I rarely see anything written about breastfeeding and your moontime, I mean how mamas cope with the ups and downs of their cycle while giving to their little ones 24 hours a day? Is it just presumed that if you are breastfeeding then you don’t have a cycle? I know this is true for many women (I’ve known women not bleed for 2 years!) but for me, my bleeding time has always returned after a few months, despite exclusively breastfeeding.

Most days breastfeeding is such a joy, I love the oxytocin high I get when I snuggle with my little one and feed all night long- BUT the days and nights just before my moontime, I feel touched out, wound up by the constant demands and I JUST WANT MY OWN SPACE!

…I have some ‘rules’ that I adhere to on my Sacred 1st Bleeding Day- I DON’T cook, clean, wash or do any ‘housework’, I DON’T work (although occasionally you might find me peeping in on Facebook!), I DO eat simple nourishing foods, I DO some gentle exercise- sometimes a bit of yoga, more often a walk in nature, I have a period of SILENCE to listen in to my inner wisdom- sometimes that has to be a few mins with my eyes closed while feeding.

I know- I’m lucky to have a supportive husband who accepts this- I think because I would take ‘Sacred Days’ when he first met me, he knew the score! So he is happy to take on household duties and extra childcare on these days to support me- and in the bigger picture, by supporting me on these few days I am able to be there for him and my family the rest of the month! (This is possible as we both work part time, so we can support each other, share childcare and housework)

via Blood and Milk – Self-Care for Breastfeeding Mamas who are Menstruating | The Happy Womb.

My presentation about “moontime” was very well-received at the LLL of Missouri conference in 2013 and I’ll be doing an encore presentation in 2014. However, I did not include anything in it specifically about how to handle being a menstruating, breastfeeding woman—time to make some additions! And, speaking of Lucy Pearce, I’m right in the middle of her amazing new book The Rainbow Way, which is about mothering and creativity. I’m getting my blog post finalized for her Carnival of Creative Mothers and I’m just loving this book, this topic, and this creative life I am weaving with my family.

Speaking of creativity and mothering, a lot of my energy has been going into creating some new sculptures to be cast in pewter for my collaborative project with my free-range husband. I feel like I’m frequently patting myself on the back about them, but I just can’t help myself—I feel so pleased and really kind of impressed that we’re doing this. I didn’t know we could and yet…look!

1459073_10202506420051769_817650504_nNovember 2013 100 November 2013 101 The first and last photos are of new designs that I created after our fall women’s retreat this past Saturday. The last one (which I’m currently wearing!) reminds me of this quote that I read today for one of my classes:

“I can be a strong woman and laugh loudly and sing joyfully and dance wildly occasionally. I can imagine incredible things and weep if I need to.”

(woman speaking in the book To Make and Make Again: Feminist Ritual Thealogy, on why rituals matter)

And that reminded me of a lovely recent post by a friend about her sacred work:

She speaks the words and I hear the rumble
Rumbling, within me
It IS a calling
For it calls to me
Deep in my soul, my heart, my sleep
It is in every fiber of my being

via Sacred Work | Midwives, Doulas, Home Birth, OH MY!

Okay, so now I’ve moved totally away from my post theme and I don’t really have time to pull it back. Nor can I re-title it and start over, because it does segue..so, for now, I’ll bring it around the circle by mentioning that last week on my way to class, I listened to my favorite podcast, Voices of the Sacred Feminine. The first topic of the night was Women’s Spiritual Power by Hilary Hart (whose awesome sounding book Body of Wisdom went immediately on the top of my Amazon wishlist). She speaks about both menstruation and breastfeeding as powerful spiritual openings for women. Menstruation as a time of “cleaning out,” both emotionally and physically, not just for the mother, but for the whole family. She said mothers “process” the whole family’s emotions each month and clean the house, semi-metaphorically, for the family to renew and begin again. She spoke of breastfeeding as this relational, spiritual act that holds deep power. She also talked about birth and the power of birth as a creative, spiritual act. I enjoyed her thoughts because she doesn’t have children herself and nor does the host of the show and it was interesting to hear them touching on topics that I care about so much, but that they are viewing from somewhat of the “outside.”

The second topic of the night was the Sexual Politics of Meat. It may not sound that connected, but it did, in fact, tie right into my Birth Lessons from a Chicken article (in the podcast connections are made between the exploitation and domination of women and the sexual exploitation of female animals. In my article, I make the connection between the mothering and “birthing” behavior of the chicken and the birthing needs of women):

Then, one morning when my husband went to feed the chickens, he heard a funny noise. He looked at the broody hen and from beneath her, a fuzzy head appeared. Then two. Eventually, four. In this cold, cold weather at the wrong time of year with the wrong kind of feet and the wrong kind of eggs, she did it! We didn’t trust her, or believe in her. Our book and the experts didn’t either. However, her inherent mothering wisdom won out—it trumped us. At the risk of excessive personification, it truly seemed that she had believed in herself and trusted her instincts (or perhaps, that Nature believed in itself).

via Birth Lessons from a Chicken | Talk Birth.

Of Coconut Oil and Maternal Shame

“It’s not your job to like me, it’s mine.” ~ Byron Katie

I planned to write this post on Thursday and I was going to open my imaginary post with: today has been one of those days. I didn’t manage to post, so I was going to post on Friday and say, yesterday was one of those days. Well, guess what, Friday turned on to be one of those days too and now it is two o’clock in the morning on Saturday…and no post yet! I’ve been hitting some parenting roadblocks lately and having some unpleasant moments with my kids. Moments that I’m not proud of and that feature me crying on the floor in the pile of broken glass (and broken dreams?!) as well as saying harsh things I later regret. Alaina isn’t sleeping well at night and I’m at that point in toddler nursing where I spend more time feeling assaulted than I do feeling warmly bonded. On Thursday, she kept me up until 4:00 a.m. and I felt trapped in a “hell dimension.” However, as is often true of mothering, sweet moments alternate with hell dimensions. That morning as I was trying to finally sneak away from her, she flopped toward me and mumbled in her sleep: babies love em mamas. Yep, they sure do! Earlier this month, she charmed my heart by commenting: “Me love mine daddy Mark.” Taking a couple of steps back shows me that being literally exhausted does not contribute to my parenting reserves and does not, actually, mean I’m a bad parent after all. I’ve been known to tell students in my Child Welfare class that worrying about being a “bad mother” usually means you aren’t one. I need to take my own advice.

So, I identified with this article about the whole notion of “mommy guilt” and how the phrase may actually be a cover for a more insidious and culturally-induced mommy shame:

Just one problem: “mommy guilt” isn’t really guilt at all, but rather shame. And shame, unlike guilt which is a useful and sometimes appropriate emotion, shame is just harmful. Guilt is “I made a bad choice”, while shame is “I am bad”. Guilt is something that helps us to notice when we’ve made an error that we need to correct. Shame makes us feel as though there is nothing we can do to make it better other than change who we are. Of course, changing behaviors is one thing; changing who you are as a person is another (impossible) thing entirely.

via “Mommy Guilt” is a Misnomer – Mothering Community.

I think a lot depends on personality. I know a lot of mothers who do not seem to take things that happen with their kids as personally as I do. Just yesterday, we had an incident during which my boys experienced a catastrophic brain failure and had a mayonnaise fight on the porch front of the house while I was trying to get ready for company. I ended up crying and ranting to myself about my pathetic talents as a parent (because I said something pretty mean to them about their lack of brain-powers). Another friend commented, “let me get this straight: your kids throw mayonnaise around and you’re the one who cries and thinks you did something wrong?” Um, yes, that’s me. I also explain to my students that it is really painful to know better and to watch yourself do it anyway. It stinks. Knowing a lot about the right way to do something, for me, gives me a lot more options of things to feel guilty or bad about! Isn’t that FUN?! As I previously wrote:

Being a mindful mama can be painful.

I am acutely aware of how often I fail, mess up, and let myself down in this work of conscious mothering. When I decide to go through a drive-through after a long day in town, I am very aware of each preservative laden, saturated fat heavy, factory-farmed, non-fair trade bite that crosses our lips. When I’m tired and have low energy for responsive parenting and I say “yes” my boys can watch a DVD, I know I am using it as a “babysitter” and as a “plug-in drug.” I cringe to hear myself say at times, “you guys are driving me crazy!” It is painful to know better and to watch myself do it anyway.

Instead of an inner guide, I too often listen to my inner critic. My judge. The perfect mama that sits on my shoulder and lets me know how often I screw it all up. I laugh sometimes as I reference the invisible panel of “good parents” that sits in my head judging me and finding me lacking.

For me, being a mindful mama is bound up in complicated ways with being a perfect mama; a “good mother.” In this way, it is NOT true mindfulness—I respond to my children based on how I think I should respond, how a “good mindful mama” would respond, not necessarily based on what is actually happening. Too often, I respond as I believe Dr. Sears, Jon Kabat-Zinn, or Marie Winn (The Plug in Drug) thinks I should respond, not based on reality or how we feel in the moment. This is the antithesis of true mindfulness. Mindfulness means an awareness of what is, it does not mean a constant monitoring of how I have failed. If I cannot be flexible and compassionate with myself, how do I expect to be a flexible and compassionate mother?

via Mindful Mama: Presence and Perfectionism in Parenting | Talk Birth.

Though I wrote this essay something like four years ago, I’ve not yet corrected this tendency and my desire to be able to do so, guess what, gives me something else to beat myself up over! I call this, “berating self for self-beratement” and then I berate self for berating self for self-beratement. Repeat. I am an introvert and I do enjoy my own company very much, but sometimes it is mean and mind-twisting company that I keep.

This post initially began because after the previously referenced night trapped in a non-sleeping hell dimension, an entire brand-new jar of organic coconut oil got smashed all over the kitchen floor by Alaina, because I foolishly dared to dash quickly to the bathroom while cooking. While cleaning it up, my other children did not grasp that asking me to tie their bathing suits at the moment was NOT A GOOD IDEA. Enter the mother-crying-on-the-floor-in-pile-of-broken-glass-coconut-oil-and-broken-dreams scenario previously alluded to. The whole experience stemmed from not listening to my own need to go to the freaking bathroom before fixing lunch. Duh. How basic. I just wrote about that this same week. I ran through the shoulding, the scolding, the self-beratement, the catastrophizing, a touch of martyrdom (everything I do is about trying to help my kids and now look!), a touch of guilt-tripping and blame (couldn’t you have noticed and stopped her?!), some yelling, some I can’t believe its, some semi-screaming about how is going to the BATHROOM REALLY SO MUCH TO ASK, some ranting about how coconut oil costs $9 a jar and why don’t I just throw dollars all over the floor and then sweep them into the trash, and then culminating in a hysterical diatribe about “what am I teaching my kids about handling simple little no-big-deal mistake by acting like it is the end of the world? THIS is how you’re going to grow up and think you should handle things.” SOB!!!!!!!!!!!

I read this on Facebook and said oh yeah:

One zen student said, “My teacher is the best. He can go days without eating.”
The second said, “My teacher has so much self-control, he can go days without sleep.”
The third said, “My teacher is so wise that he eats when he’s hungry and sleeps when he’s tired.”

And, I read this too:

If you ever see me out and about with my kids, you might be surprised at some of the interactions you might witness. For example, If you and I were in the same store today, you might have overheard my comment to my son that went something like this: “NO! You can’t!”

It didn’t exactly come out of nowhere; there was context. But that was about the extent of it. There was no empathy, no connection, no acknowledgement of what he wished he could do, no communication of understanding, no “I can tell that you reeeaallly wish you could take that toy home; We’re not getting it, and it’s OK to be sad about that.” Just a snappy, rude no.

If you saw me then and didn’t know me, it might surprise you to learn that I write and teach classes on positive parent-child relations. And if you do know me and saw that little outburst, it might surprise you to see me communicate to my child in this manner. And no matter what you might think of me based on this interaction you may have witnessed today, I won’t be offended. Because…

I know my son.
I know myself.
I know positive parenting.

I know that was not an example of positive parenting.

I know positive parenting is not based on one interaction.
I know my son will be OK.
I know we’ve had plenty of awesome parent-child moments before this one.
I know there will be plenty more.

I know our relationship will be OK.

I know other moms have moments just like this everyday.
I know they’re good moms.
I know I’m a good mom.

I know that in every situation, context matters, judgement never helps, and those moments are just small parts of a larger whole. Fortunately, parenting looks different for everyone and perfect for no one.

Kelly Bartlett

I was heard to lament on Friday afternoon that I worry that I’m a better writer than I am a person. I get complimented on my “lovely words” and “beautiful poems” and I think, how come I can write lovely words and then still yell at my kids? I’m horrible! (The maternal shame card is strong with this one.) And, I reminded myself of something I already wrote:

Womenergy moved humanity across continents, birthed civilization, invented agriculture, conceived of art and writing, pottery, sculpture, and drumming, painted cave walls, raised sacred stones and built Goddess temples. It rises anew during ritual, sacred song, and drumming together. It says She Is Here. I Am Here. You Are Here and We Can Do This. It speaks through women’s hands, bodies, and heartsongs. Felt in hope, in tears, in blood, and in triumph.

via Womenergy (Womanergy) | Talk Birth.

I also came upon a very old partial essay that I wrote when my second son was about two in which I tried to convey the every day, sometimes simultaneous and paradoxical dualism of parenting:

Every day I succeed. Every day I fail.
Every day I listen. And I say, “I can’t listen to you right now” or “PLEASE stop talking.”
Every day I am patient and impatient.
Every day I savor and cherish. And every day I am resentful and frustrated.
Every day I am focused and attentive and also distracted.
Every day I play and every day I say, “I can’t play right now.”
Every day I say yes. And no. Every day I say, “sure, why not?” and also, “now is NOT the time.”
Every day I hug and snuggle. Every day I say, “please stop hanging on me.”
Every day I please and disappoint.
Every day I center and pause appreciatively in the moment. And, every day I rush and hurry.
Every day I watch and notice and every day I say, “not now, I’m busy.”
Every day I am responsive and every day I am frazzled and DONE.
Every day I rise and fall.
Every day I hope and despair.
Every day I am captivated and captive.
Every day I offer guidance and a bad example.
Every day I am consistent and inconsistent.
Every day I make myself proud and I let myself down.
Every day I embrace and pull away.
Every day I am clear and confused.
Every day I am decisive and indecisive.
Every day I am empathetic and “I don’t have time for this!”
Every day I am encouraging and discouraging.
Every day I feel bonded and bound.
Every day I support myself and make myself crazy!
Every day I give and every day I feel completely done giving.
Every day I permit and deny.
Every day I feel a sense of promise and a sense of being denied.
Every day I am calm and exasperated.
Every day I am gentle and harsh.

Every day I hold and tend and nurture and protect.

Every day I am a good mother and every day I am a “bad” mother.

There are no absolutes.

On that coconut oil bad day, I then packed up the kids and went to the river, where they walked adorably in the water together:

June 2013 011Caught crawdads:

June 2013 015

And helped each other in ways that warmed my weary and critical heart:

June 2013 018

June 2013 020

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The forced perspective in this one makes me laugh as well as the fact that it kind of looks like she’s carrying two tiny brothers!

But, lest this be a too-tidy wrap-up of my post, while at the river, bugs crawled on our legs, the kids whined a lot, people sat on the cracker sandwiches I was making, the cheese I brought was actually rotten, and we forgot our crawdad catchers and I once again expressed non-positive-parenting sentiments about children’s brain-powers since I had reminded them to get the damn crawdad catchers like 8 billion times. The dualism again.

We got home and got ready for Lann’s tae kwon do class in the whirlwind and as I was about to leave, I saw THIS:

20130627-225411.jpgWhat’s this you say? Here is another look…

20130627-225405.jpgYes, that would be some kind of Ben 10 action figure stuck to my wall with playdoh. WTH?!?!?!?! This is the very same playdoh that I complained about earlier in the day when finding the container empty—“hey guys, where did the playdoh go? Hey guys, can you find that green playdoh, I don’t want it to get stepped on somewhere.” When I saw this, I could only laugh.

And, then we went to watch Lann take his test for a yellow belt. We were adorable as we watched:

20130627-225437.jpgLann did a good job overall…

20130627-225649.jpgWe went to get ice cream and I was charmed again by the adorableness of my offspring and their friend hanging out:

20130627-225448.jpgThere are no absolutes 

just life as it unfolds

and I watch

and tell about it.