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:


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


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://

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…


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 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


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…”


(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…


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.



Tanner is ONE! I already shared his birth video in honor of his first birthday, but I also want to wrap up my “monthababy” posts with an update about this twelvemonthababy. Note the photographic continuity between the photo above, taken during his twelfth month for our Women in the Wild inspired photo shoot fundraiser, and this one, taken following my ceremonial bath and sealing ceremony after his birth:


This baby is full of fire. He accidentally gave Zander a bloody nose. He says, “whoa!” and “wow!” and he empties cabinets, climbs on tables, gets into drawers, climbs on surfaces and does a stomp-dance. He pulls books off the shelf. He throws a ball (and other things). He makes music with many things, some intended for music, others not. A friend with an 18 month old posted on her facebook that her child is kind of like having a pet chimpanzee: it was cute as a baby, but now it is bigger and dangerous and you maybe shouldn’t keep it as a pet after all. I identified with her description of what it is like to have a little person of this age in the house! I remember the boys calling Alaina, “the Destroyer of Worlds,” so I also know (hope) it will pass. There is an oppressive element to taking care of him lately that I also remember from other children and I “joke” that it is like living with an abusive spouse because of how he changes the rules all the time as well as what he likes or what will keep him happy. That said, he gives the best, most gentle hugs in the history of the world–flinging arms around my neck and lightly patting my back while kind of crooning to me. Baby hugs like this make me know I’m doing something right in parenting, as does the way he gently cradles baby dolls and kisses them on the head with a sweet smile. That’s what he knows! He hugs Alaina in greeting every morning, flinging arms around her waist and leaning his head on her stomach and seeming to say, “Lainey.” He will lean in to each brother in turn, patting back and seeming to sing-song their names. Sometimes he walks in the cutest slightly bent over crouch (like he’s sneaking up on something).

This isn’t the crouch, more of the race, but here he is ready to roll!

He likes to be walked to sleep in Ergo most of the time, nap and bed time. He has a different timeline than the rest of the children in our family, wishing to conk out at 8:00 or a little before at night and get up before 8:00 in the morning. This is great for me, who always thrives on fresh morning energy, but less great for our other kids who are more like 11-9:00 types (or 11-10, in Alaina’s case), because this means we always have kids up with us. There is no such things the mythological, “when the kids are all in bed, it is ‘me time,'” thing I hear other people talk about. I also end up staying up later than I personally prefer in order to catch up on work or writing.

When I first started writing this post, he had four teeth, but now he has eight! He can walk backward skillfully and climb up on couches. Not only does he do the baby-buns-dip dance, he also stomps feet while spinning in circle at same time to dance. I’ve never had a barely one year old who could do that! (He did it at 11 months.) He can step up by holding onto a door frame or wall instead of having to get on his knees first. Though, lest I fall into a trap of thinking he is too much of a genius, my friend reminded me the other day that he also eats dirt. ;)

Like I remember with two of my other kids, his talking has diminished a lot this month. He’s reverted to grunting and pointing and making a pretty awful strained sound to get what he wants.

I am an official elimination communication and cloth diaper failure this time around. Too many things to keep up with and catching poop and pee has fallen off my priority list.

I mentioned that my weight has returned to my pre-pregnancy weight and I’m actually only three pounds away from my pre-pre-pregnancy weight now (pre-Alaina). Possibly related, but more likely related to the fact that mothering him is a lot more like having an 18 month old than a 12 month old, my period returned on October 22. This is the earliest moontime’s return that I’ve experienced in my maternal career!

I can’t believe he is one and yet, hasn’t he always been here?

October 2015 032

In this picture, Alaina said, “Mom! Quick! Take a picture before you forget how little he is!”

October 2015 031

(I do see how little he is, but I also see her!)

Other posts in this series: _DSC0455f


Tuesday Tidbits: This Time Last Year…

As I mentioned in my 11 month update, the first year of life with a new baby feels like a journey through a labyrinth. The moments I experienced last year while pregnant take on a particularly poignancy as I round the curves of The Return, this time with baby in arms.

I love the moments of continuity…last year with my pregnant belly, this year at the pumpkin patch with a toddler selecting his own pumpkin.

October 2014 113

October 2015 044

Last year getting my pregnancy photos taken and having a mother blessing, this year having some breastfeeding photos taken (note: carefully selected goddess sarong for photographic continuity!).

Mollyblessingway 116

_DSC0457fInterestingly, this time last year I was taking online instructor trainings for Sacred Pregnancy and Sacred Postpartum. This year, quite by accident (in terms of exact timing), I ended up starting the Sacred Pregnancy Birth Journey instructor course online. I won this course in a Red Tent fundraising auction via Moon Times in the winter, but I didn’t actually take it until this month.

For today’s tidbits post, I’m taking a walk down memory lane and looking at posts from around this same time last year…

Stretching time, wondering about twins, and making a belly cast:

I felt on the edge of tears from the time I woke up almost until the time we did the belly cast—feeling stressed, rushed, and WHY. However, we had a great time doing the cast (even though we had to stop to rescue a hummingbird from the actual jaws of a cat, save Alaina from being clawed by another cat, and answer computer questions from the boys. Sometimes I have to pause and realize that the overwhelm I feel lately is probably just a feature of the realities of having three kids with various needs already, a job, a business, a dissertation to write, books waiting to be born, and several serious life passions and be preparing to add another human to the family. Perhaps it would be weird if I didn’t feel overwhelmed and a little panicky, rather than it feeling like it is a personal failing that this is how I’ve spent a lot of time feeling lately.)

Source: Stretching Time | Talk Birth

Then, painting and re-painting that belly cast into a fall leaves theme that I still love: September 2014 122

I am 100% pleased with the re-do. Sometimes a revision is exactly the right choice! I feel like the comparison of my first attempt and my second looks like one of those side-by-side Pinterest comparisons, only both of these were from me!

Source: Belly Cast! | Talk Birth

And, from there, making another belly cast with the intention of creating a pottery belly bowl:

During this pregnancy, one of my personal philosophies has been to do stuff that I haven’t done before. This is my last chance to be pregnant (really!) and I want to make sure I leave no stones uncovered or cool stuff undone!

Source: Belly Bowl! (and new altar bowl) | Talk Birth

And, it worked!

Completed Pottery Clay Belly Bowl! | Talk Birth

I mused over whether I was ready or not:

The inexorable march towards Birth-Day is such an interesting, liminal place to be in. It both feels “mysterious” and inevitable. The closer I get to my official due date, the more wide open the possibilities seem as to when he will be born…when, in reality, the options narrow each day! I still have a certain sense of unreality about the whole thing—like, am I really going to do this? Am I really going to have a BABY????!!!!!

Source: Ready or Not! | Talk Birth

But, my Sacred Postpartum training really helped me prepare, as I took a ceremonial bath:

And, that is when I had my “breakthrough” moment. My eyes were prickling with tears and I said: “I associate taking baths with being weak and wounded.” I associate baths with cleaning blood away from myself and gingerly poking around for tears in my most vulnerable tissues.

Source: Sacred Postpartum, Week 2: Ceremonial Bathing | Talk Birth

And learned how to make Happy Tea:

I’ve been interested to note that I’ve dreamed with increasing realism about the baby for the last three nights in a row. Last night, I was getting him latched on for the first time. The night before, my mom and Mark had brought him to campus for me to nurse on my breaks from class. The night before that was a water birth dream (two actually, both about twins). To me this indicates that whatever lingering “not readiness” I might be experiencing in my waking life, my subconscious is getting it. At some level, my brain is getting down with the idea of really, truly having another baby and it is incorporating him into my dreamscape/life accordingly.

Source: Sacred Postpartum: Happy Tea + 40 Week Update | Talk Birth

My Mother Blessing ceremony also helped me recognize my own strength and courage:

I discovered in this post-ritual reflection that it is just part of my personal process to be able to say, and be vulnerable enough to have people hear, see, or read, that I think maybe I can’t do something or that I’ve said yes to too much. The answer for me is not, “then don’t” or “stop” or “quit” or “take it easy,” it is to move forward and to see, again, that I was actually enough for what scared me or felt too big or too exhausting.

Source: Mother Blessings and the Power of Ritual | Talk Birth

In the power of ritual, I learned (again) that life is like birth, and we give birth as we live.

October 2015 083

Tuesday Tidbits: Women’s Circles and Cycles

11890947_1658752111003671_3875428907499186114_nOne of the things I notice in Red Tent work is how little information women had about their own fertility cycles as girls and young women. I feel like my own mother was more attentive than many in preparing me for my body’s changes with puberty, but I only really learned about my own fertility (vs. just periods and how to cope with them) after having my first baby. I am convinced that how girls learn to relate to their bodies during menstruation has a big impact on how they relate to their bodies during birth and breastfeeding. I don’t find it coincidental that our culture expresses an overall avoidance of menstruation and fertility (other than “don’t get pregnant” and “here’s all the ways to pretend that you’re not a cyclical being, but instead are always the same and no one should ever know that you’re menstruating”) AND also medicates women during childbirth and considers breastfeeding a “private matter” and “personal choice.” These events, the reproductive transitions of the female body, are largely supposed to remain culturally invisible.

Here is an interesting article about what we need to teach young women about their bodies:

At the clinic I rarely met women, young or old, who understand their fertility and what happens during the menstrual cycle. They all know about the blood, although not always why they bleed. But few know anything about what happens between periods. No one has told them. Why have we kept this information from young women? Why do we tell them they can get pregnant any time of the month? If it’s to encourage young people to use protection when they have sex, it doesn’t seem to work.

Source: What We Need to Teach Young Women About Their Bodies | Ruth Miller

It also turns out that the age of first menstruation can have a lifelong impact on many areas of a woman’s life:

From academic success to cancer risk, research increasingly shows that the age at which a girl gets her period—called “menarche”—can have a significant impact on her life. These findings are especially notable given that, around the world, the average age of menarche has dropped steadily since the 1950s. With new studies coming out regularly about girls going through puberty earlier, we were curious: What’s causing this global decline—and what are the potential long-term consequences?

Source: Why the age you get your period can matter forever | Fusion

In my own local Red Tent Circle, we’ve been talking about having a “Pink Tent” event for girls this fall or early next year. My little girl desperately wants to go to a red tent with me! She asks every month if she can come with me. So, I’m hoping to plan and priestess a mother-daughter based event soon in addition to my women-only events. I enjoyed this article recently about planning a mother-daughter body-gratitude ritual:

​Break the generational cycle of body shame and body dissatisfaction, and enjoy special intimate time with your daughter. This is a beautiful way to start the day or to seed your dreams before bed. Ideally, meet in the same spot at about the same time each day…

Source: Mother-Daughter Body Gratitude Ritual – Journey Of Young Women

Speaking of Women’s Circle work, here is a good resource on The Twelve Tenets of Circle Work.

And, speaking of circles + teenage girls + women’s friendships, here is an article on The Art of Loving and Losing Female Friends.

First Moon Blessing Pocket Altar (mini altar, medicine bundle, blessing bundle, menarche, moontime, red tent)

First Moon blessing bundles in our Etsy shop

Sign up for the Brigid’s Grove Newsletter for resources, monthly freebies, + art and workshop announcements.


Red Tent Initiation Program Launch

Mollyblessingway 372Following the spiral path of maiden, mother, and crone…

Do you want to take a journey into a deeper understanding of yourself? Do you wish to unlock insight and understanding? Do you want to reach out to other women in sisterhood and co-create a powerful circle experience?

This new online program is both a powerful, personal experience AND a training in facilitating transformative women’s circles. You will listen to your deep self, access your inner wisdom and prepare to step into circle as guardian and guide for other women who are hungering for depth, connection, restoration, and renewal in today’s busy world.

This intensive course is limited to 15 women, to allow for deep connection and dedicated attention.

August 29-October 12, 2015

Your online experience includes…

  • Asix week immersive journey over the course of the spiral path
    • Knowing Self (Maiden Unit)
    • Might of Creation (Mother Unit)
    • Gathering the Women (Crone Unit)
  • Each unit includes a ceremony, meditations, discussion questions, journaling exercises, projects, and prompts designed to take you deep into the Red Tent process.
  • Live interaction, support, feedback, and conversation via a private Facebook group

With your registration, you will also receive an incredible resource package valued at more than $100 including:

  • 58 page manual: Restoring Women to Ceremony, The Red Tent Resource Kit, written exclusively for our Red Tent redtentkitKit and Initiation Program. 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.
  • Womanrunes Book and Card set: used throughout the program for personal guidance and self-development. And, perfect for ongoing use in an 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
  • Moontime pendant with silver-tone, solid crescent moon charm
  • Red altar cloth
  • Red organza bag to store your resources
  • Altar Candle
  • Head wreath kit and tutorial
  • Special Red Tent Circle Leader initiation gift (to be opened only upon program completion!)
  • Red silken cord
  • Moon or spiral goddess pendant

After your process is complete you will also receive:

  • Certificate of Completion
  • Ritual Recipe Kit e-book
  • Circle-ready digital files of the rich meditations and insightful readings used in the program
  • Ongoing support and guidance through continued participation in our private Facebook group

Mollyblessingway 238For inspiration on your own path, feel free to listen our local Red Tent Circle singing the beautiful chant Dance in a Circle of Women during our May Circle

Register via our website or check out via Etsy here.


Wisdom from Moon Time for Red Tents

IMG_3728“At her first bleeding a woman meets her power.
During her bleeding years she practices it.
At menopause she becomes it.”

(Traditional Native American saying)

One of my favorite books to have available on the resource table of our local Red Tent Circle is Moon Time, by Lucy moontime2Pearce. I reviewed it in this post, but didn’t have room for all the juicy quotes I wanted to share! One of the ideas I include in my own Red Tent Resource Kit book is to use womanspirit wisdom quotes to stimulate a discussion in the circle. Here are some quotes from Moon Time that would make great launching points for a sharing circle at the Red Tent:

“It is my guess that no one ever initiated you into the path of womanhood. Instead, just like me, you were left to find out by yourself. Little by little you pieced a working understanding of your body and soul together. But still you have gaps.”

Questions for circle: Were you initiated into the “path of womanhood”? What gaps do you feel?

“You yearn for a greater knowledge of your woman’s body, a comprehensive understanding of who you are, why you are that way. Perhaps you have searched long and hard, seeking advice from your mother, sister, aunts and friends, tired of suffering and struggling alone. You may have visited doctors, healers or therapists, but still you feel at sea and your woman’s body is a mystery to you. Or maybe you have never given your cycles a second thought … until now.”

Questions for circle: What do you feel like you need to know about your body? What mysteries are you uncovering?

“Through knowledge we gain power over our lives. With options we have possibility. With acceptance we find a new freedom.

Menstruation matters.”

Question for circle: How does menstruation matter?

Additional information about why menstruation matters on a physical, emotional, and relational level:

We start bleeding earlier today than ever before, with girls’ first periods occurring at 12.8 years old now, compared with 14.5 years at the beginning of the last century. Coupled with lower breastfeeding rates, better nutrition and fewer pregnancies, women now menstruate more in their adult lives than at any time in our history.

From the age of 12 to 51, unless you are pregnant or on the pill, every single day of your life as a woman is situated somewhere on the menstrual cycle. Whether ovulating or bleeding, struggling with PMS or conception, our bodies, our energy levels, our sense of self, even our abilities are constantly shifting each and every day. And yet nobody talks about it…

via Moon Time: Harness the ever-changing energy of your menstrual cycle

As I noted in my review, one of the things this book was helpful for to me personally, was in acknowledging myself as a cyclical being and that these influences are physical and real: IMG_5194-0

Each month our bodies go through a series of changes, many of which we may be unconscious of. These include: shifts in levels of hormones, vitamins and minerals, vaginal temperature and secretions, the structure of the womb lining and cervix, body weight, water retention, heart rate, breast size and texture, attention span, pain
threshold . . .

The changes are biological. Measurable. They are most definitely not ‘all in your head’ as many would have us believe. This is why it is so crucial to honour these changes by adapting our lives to them as much as possible.

We cannot just will these changes not to happen as they are an integral part of our fertility.

From there, another relevant quote:

“There is little understanding and allowance for the realities of being a cycling woman—let alone celebration.”

Questions for circle: What allowances do you make for yourself as a cycling woman? Are you able to celebrate the experience?

In my own life, I’ve had to reframe my understanding of the impact of the monthly moontime experience by looking IMG_4269at it through the lens of healthy postpartum care following birth—it is crucial that we care for our bodies with love, attention, respect, and time. Our local Red Tent Circle definitely doesn’t focus exclusively on menstruation or on currently menstruating women (all phases of a woman’s lifecycle and her many diverse experiences and feelings are “held” in that circle)–in fact menstruation sometimes barely comes up as a topic—however, one of the core purposes of our circling is in celebration. We gather together each month to celebrate being women in this time and in this place, together. I started out my work with women focused on birth, breastfeeding, and postpartum. While those are formative and central and important life experiences, it became very important to me to broaden my scope to include the totality of women’s lives, not just pregnant women. I want to honor and celebrate our whole lives, not just pregnancy and birth. Having a mother blessing ceremony during pregnancy is beautiful and important and special, but I feel like that care, attention, value, and ceremony can be brought into the rest of our non-pregnant lives The_Red_Tent_Resourc_Cover_for_Kindlethrough gathering together in a Red Tent Circle. This is one reason why I’m so excited to offer an online Red Tent Initiation Program this summer. This program is designed to be both a powerful, personal experience AND a training in facilitating transformative women’s circles.

Back to Moon Time quotes!

“There is no shame in tears. There is a need for anger. Blood will flow. Speak your truth. Follow your intuition. Nurture your body. But above all … Let yourself rest.”

Questions for circle: Do you allow yourself anger and tears? Do you feel shame? How do you speak your truth? How do you give yourself time to rest?

To be clear, I wouldn’t use all these quotes at one Red Tent Circle! I would use them individually at different gatherings. This one blog post has enough potential circle discussion prompts to last for more than six months of Circles! :) This month I also bought a bundle of copies of Moon Time to have available for women at our local Red Tent.

More good discussion quotes here: Talk Books: Cycle to the Moon | Talk Birth.

And, there are others in my Red Tent Resource Kit.

Please consider joining us this summer for the Red Tent Initiation Program!


Talk Books: Moon Time

moontime2My first reading of the book Moon Time in 2012 had a profound impact on my personal understanding of the natural ebb and flow of my energy in connection to my body’s cyclical nature. The author, Lucy Pearce, explains it so well…

Each month our bodies go through a series of changes, many of
which we may be unconscious of. These include: shifts in levels of
hormones, vitamins and minerals, vaginal temperature and secretions,
the structure of the womb lining and cervix, body weight, water
retention, heart rate, breast size and texture, attention span, pain
threshold . . .

The changes are biological. Measurable. They are most definitely
not ‘all in your head’ as many would have us believe. This is why it is
so crucial to honour these changes by adapting our lives to them as
much as possible.

We cannot just will these changes not to happen as they are an
integral part of our fertility.

Moon Time is written in a friendly, conversational tone and is a quick read with a lot of insight into the texture and tone of our relationships with menstruation.

The book contains information about charting cycles and about our relationship to our bodies and our fertility. I especially enjoyed the excellent section on minimizing PMS through self-care measures and how to plan time to nurture and nourish yourself during your monthly moon time. I also appreciate the section on motherhood and menstruation:

“What strikes me reading through a lot of the material on menstruation is that is seems oddly detached from the fruits of the menstrual cycle: children.”

Moon Time also includes planning information for Red Tents and Moon Lodges and for menarche rituals  as well as for personal ceremonies and self-care rituals at home. It ends with an absolutely phenomenal list of resources—suggested reading and websites.

Towards the beginning of the book Lucy observes, “We live in a culture which demands that we are ‘turned on’ all the time. Always bright and happy. Always available for intercourse–both sexual and otherwise with people. Psychologist Peter Suedfeld observes that  we are all ‘chronically stimulated, socially and physically and we are probably operating at a stimulation level higher than that for which our species evolved.’ It is up to us to value rest and fallow time. We must demand it for ourselves to ensure our health.” She also comments on something I’ve observed in my own life and have previously discussed with my friends, in that the frustration and anger and discontent we may feel pre-menstrually or during menstruation is actually our body’s way of expressing things we have been feeling for a long time, but trying to stifle (rather than hormonal “irrationality): “There is no shame in tears. There is a need for anger. Blood will flow. Speak your truth. Follow your intuition. Nurture your body. But above all … Let yourself rest.”

One of the things that Moon Time helped clarify for me is that my moontime is worthy of careful attention to my physical and emotional well-being, just as careful attention is important during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I’ve been a devoted proponent for years of good care of yourself during these phases of life, but had not applied the same rationale or expectation for myself during moontime. This monthly experience of being female is an experience worth respecting and is a sacred opportunity to treat my body and my emotions with loving care and self-renewal. I changed the way I treat myself after reading this book! Sound like too much to expect from your life, schedule, and family? Moon Time includes a great reminder with regard to creating retreat space, taking time out for self-care, and creating ritual each month: “Do what you can with what you have, where you are.” You don’t have create something extensive or elaborate or wait for the “perfect time,” but you can still do something with what you have and where you are. (This is a good reminder for many things in life, actually.)

I highly recommend Moon Time as an empowering resource for cycling women! It would also be a great resource for girls who are approaching menarche or for mothers seeking ways to honor their daughters’ entrance into the cycles of a woman’s life. I always have a copy on the resource table at our local Red Tent Circle (related note: I’ve got an online Red Tent Initiation Program beginning next month!)

Disclosure: I received a complimentary e-copy of this book.

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Purchase options:  moontime2
Signed copies
Book Review:  Moon Time: Harness the ever-changing energy of your menstrual cycle by Lucy H. Pearce

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Womancraft Publishing; 2 edition (April 22, 2015)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1910559062

Reviewed by Molly Remer, Talk Birth