Moon Cycles and Menstrual Cycles: Welcoming Womb Wisdom
So ladies, do you know where are we in the moon cycle? How about your own cycle? Perhaps some of you are pregnant or menopausal and don’t consider that you have a cycle. Well my lovely lady friend, regardless of your stage of womanhood you’ll have a cycle of sorts and you may well have recognised this yourself. You may also have recognised a connection between your cycle and the moon cycle because it’s the moon cycle that so powerfully affects how us women feel.
Since the beginning of time people have been influenced by the moon and its phases – everyone is “moon touched” although some more than others. The moon can influence our energies in a powerful way and I am sure that we all have some experience of this. For our ancestor’s moon watching was a part of life as it helped to light the skies and guide hunters, warriors and travellers safely through the dark and back to their tribes.
Furthermore, as our ancestors looked to the heavens, they saw how the moon waxed and waned, how night turned into day, spring into summer, and summer into winter. They saw the seas ebb and flow; plants bring forth grain and life burst forth from the womb. Everything in nature seemed to move in harmony with the phases of the moon, including women’s menstrual cycles and pregnancy.
The wise women before us were totally in synch with the moon. They were fertile when the moon was fertile and they rested when the moon rested. Today we are often totally out of synch with the moon’s cycles – many of us have little idea of where we are within our own cycle, let alone where we are with the moon cycle and whether there is any correlation between the two – you may be an exception to that of course!
Each phase of the moon brings with it its own significance:
The new moon – this is when the moon is directly between the Earth and the Sun and is therefore hidden from view and provides no light. This can be a great time for starting new projects, planting seeds and setting out intentions for the moon cycle.
Waxing half moon – when the moon is waxing it is getting bigger in the sky, moving from the new moon to the full moon. The energy is building so this is a good time to take steps towards establishing and realising plans and intentions, trying new and challenging ventures, meeting new people and being proactive. This is also the time to get out there and walk in wild places, connect with the birds, animals and signs that nature puts in your path.
Full moon – this is when the moon is full and forms a perfect sphere and is present in all her magnificent Divine glory. The day and the night of the full moon is a time when the energy is most powerful. This is a time of great fertility and increased psychic awareness. It is a wonderful time to celebrate the moon and her seasonal gifts by outdoor evening meditation and enjoying drumming, fires, gazing at the moon and singing and dancing with friends.
Waning full moon – the waning moon is decreasing in size, moving from the full moon towards the new moon. As the energies of the moon become less, so it becomes a good time to think of letting go, banishing those things from our life that we no longer need, those things that hold us back such as bad habits or bad addictions. This is the time to do less and reflect more, contemplation, meditate, listen to music and tend to the seeds that you have planted.
Dark moon – this period arises just before the new moon. It is often a time to take the pressure off, give into the low energy that you may experience, it is a great time to reflect on where you want to go next in preparation for the new moon. So give yourself a break and enjoy sitting outdoors, retreating from the world a little, pampering yourself and allowing the quiet into your life.
Our lives are often so busy that we don’t notice the subtle and indeed not so subtle cyclical changes of the seasons and the moon cycle. Even those of us living by the sea often have no idea of the tides and whether they are high or low. Furthermore, we miss the signs from nature that it is time to let go and move on to another stage of being in our lives whether that be month to month or year to year. We also miss the signs and messages that come to us through our feminine cycles, which potentially serve as a guide in how we may positively and creatively live our lives.
Our menstrual cycle is deeply spiritual and incredibly powerful. It is a cycle that moves girl to woman, through to mother, through to wise woman and on to crone. It’s the way in which we connect with our innate feminine wisdom – the wisdom of our grandmothers and great grandmothers and all the wise women that have lived before us – and it is available to us all the time. This wisdom is held in our womb, and is better known as our intuition, our knowing, our power and shows up throughout our cycle. We’re amazing us ladies, just as men are amazing in their own masculine, “gut’ instinct way.
However often women have the added complication of the effect of medicating with synthetic hormones which further removes them from the ability to truly connect with their inner wisdom. When the blood arrives so many try to do what they can not to have to acknowledge it, using tampons and trying to carry on life as normal. No allowance is given to the need to slow things down, retreat and let the blood flow of its own accord down to earth, allowing the downward movement of the energy of menstruation. It’s perhaps not surprising that so many women end up with dis-ease in this area of the body and suffer with menstrual issues, fertility issues, depression, anxiety, paranoia, stress and exhaustion.
Furthermore, should any pain be experienced - which is our body’s way of trying to communicate with us - then there’s a tendency to self-medicate with pain killers, alcohol, or recreational drugs and disregard the messages that the body is trying to convey, the fact it is even trying to get attention in the first place. I know, I used to do this myself. That’s the reason I ended up with PMS and other menstrual issues. I wasn’t listening. I was trying to negate all emotions, all feelings and live consistently. But really we want to feel. This is what makes us women, whole and real. And we should make no apologies for this.
Sadly, however, we don’t realise – or even recognise, let alone respect – our power, the power that comes from listening in deeply to our heart, body and womb and noticing our shifting energy both during our monthly cycle and beyond into menopause. Furthermore, we don’t recognise that our bodies are also deeply in tune (or have the potential to be deeply in tune) with the cycles of the seasons, the elements, and the moon. And that essentially our cycles reveal all we need to know to live our life to a full and happy potential, in touch with our soul.
The phases of our cycle are like the phases of the moon and of nature, there are correlations:
The waxing moon, spring and pre-ovulation. This is the first phase of the cycle and usually begins around day seven all the way through to day thirteen. Every lady is different but around day seven you will start to come out of your winter retreat as increasing oestrogen levels boost your brain’s serotonin levels and you should experience an increase in energy and excitement about life! You’ll feel much more yourself and want to engage with the world again. In fact, this stage of the cycle makes you more verbally articulate, creative, fearless, confident and full of self-belief. This is the time to party, to dance, to give presentations, to be active and to make things happen.
The full moon, summer and ovulation. This is the second phase of the cycle, the time you are most likely to get pregnant as one of your two ovaries releases an egg (well in theory anyway). This is the second phase of the cycle and generally begins around day thirteen all the way through to day twenty-one. You’ll likely to be feeling pretty good about yourself and will be doing all you can to attract a lover into your life. This is the time when oestrogen and testosterone reach their highest peaks and like the full moon, who is ripe and has reached her full potential, you too become full and blooming too.
This is the time to truly get out there, being with other people, and enjoying the most productive and creative part of your cycle so that working hard will come easily as you’ll have tons of energy! Essentially this is the time to manifest whether that involves creating a baby or birthing projects – each month you have the opportunity to reap the rewards of the seeds you planted in the Spring and create the life you want to live. This is most definitely a pleasurable time of each cycle indeed!
Waning moon, autumn and pre-menstruation. This is the third phase of your cycle and if your egg wasn’t fertilised during ovulation, from approximately day twenty-three though to menstruation, you will now experience a withdrawal of oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone. This withdrawal can create all sorts of feelings from depression to anxiety, from mood swings to full-on anger outbursts, let alone all the tears that may come, and insecurities about your appearance and your ability to do anything well. It’s not a great time for many of us, especially when you add in the sore breasts, cramps, spots, headaches, bloating etc. Still all is not in vain.
We have now entered the more feminine and yin time of our cycle and we may have a desire to switch all the “doing” to “being”. But the trouble is – and I know this only too well – many of us push on through, thinking we should be doing and functioning and creating at the same levels that we did during the more masculine and high energy parts of the cycle. No, no, no. This is the time to slow things down, let go and truly connect with your inner Goddess, to let our heart and womb lead us into a more authentic and deeper way of being, to experience your own incredible unique wisdom.
The new moon, winter and menstruation. If you are not pregnant then you will start bleeding (in theory anyway). The day you start to bleed is day one of your cycle and this can last anything from three to eight or nine days. Initially your oestrogen levels are very low but around day three they start to increase and this is when you’ll experience a rise in energy levels and outlook on life. Initially the low oestrogen levels will be encouraging you to rest and to indulge in self-care and preservation, retreating from the world and just letting things be. Then at day three when your oestrogen levels rise (and testosterone levels), you may begin to feel more yourself again.
Our energy is different when we are bleeding. The body needs rest, it needs the space and time to allow the blood to flow and for us to step into the depth of our womb wisdom and retreat inside ourselves. I can highly recommend reading “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant, which tells us all about the red tents that used to exist, where women went to birth and to bleed. Its seeing a revival at the moment and you may well have come across red tent movements, which are appearing throughout the Western world.
During menstruation you are more likely to experience increased clarity about the direction of your life, you can let go of that stuff that no longer serves you and you can cope more easily with change - and have a greater ability to simply move on. So let the blood flow – into the earth if you can – and let it all go. This is a time to avoid masculine activities and skip the dynamic yoga practice especially any deep backbends, deep twists and inversions.
Can you remember when you first bled? I started bleeding when I was 13 and the moment was met with a degree of excitement, I still remember where I was and the exact date! But it was all very hush, hush, not something that was actually celebrated as it may have been by our ancestors many, many years ago now. It was acknowledged not so much because of the transition from girl to women but because of the need now for sanitary products and managing one’s ability to take these into the school toilets without anyone else know about it! I’m sure you’ve been there yourself, it was silly when I reflect back. We should have been rejoicing with a sacred women’s circle and celebrating this enormous transition in life into womanhood, but times have changed and these days such events are not celebrated.
But the trouble is I’m not sure life has changed for the better as women nowadays often have such little respect or even awareness or knowledge of what it means to menstruate. There have been times in my life where I have been as guilty about this as the rest. I made no allowance for the cyclical nature of being a woman. Absolutely none. After all I was living – as we all are – in a patriarchal world with masculine constructs that provide no guidance, or indeed allowance, for the feminine menstrual experience. The emphasis is on analysing, striving, doing and being successful; it’s about being linear and consistent, showing up in exactly the same way day in and day out and just getting on with it.
But we women are not like that. Not at all. We’ve this beautiful flowing, creative and feminine energy that is fluid and absolutely inconsistent. We present differently at various stages in our cycles and yet we are led to believe that we are crazy for this inconsistency, especially as men struggle to understand us as we’re always changing our minds! It’s what we do. We change. We transition from one part of our cycle to another and as we do so we feel differently and therefore we can act differently.
We’re not meant to just keep going all the time, absolutely not and yet we try to, I did, still do sometimes, it’s so deeply ingrained within us simply because of the patriarchal nature of our society that demands the consistency. This makes it very challenging to live another way and to embrace our feelings (all of them!) and acknowledge and indeed honour our different energy levels, moods and needs throughout our cycle and the wisdom that comes from this.
As Lisa Lister says in her fabulous book “Code Red” (every lady should read this): “When you don’t honour your cycle, your body, your womb, yourself – you will always break. Sometimes right away, sometimes a year or five later, but you will break because this is the way of the feminine. If you do not work with your cycle, you work yourself into a place of depletion, whether it’s shooting for the top rung of the career ladder or whether its keeping your shit together for the sake of your brand/family/parents/lover or any of the gazillion possibilities in between that woman do in order NOT to break. Thing is, if you ignore your cycle, the monthly ebb and flow, the opportunity to create and let go, the opportunity that we are given EVERY month to give our body, mind and spirit exactly what it needs in the phase that it needs it, you will break, because ignoring your cycle is ignoring SHE, the divine feminine and basically, she’ll keep encouraging you to break until the Hindu goddess Akhilanda, you become never NOT broken”.
The divine feminine communicates to us through our intuition. We are that divine feminine, each and every one of us ladies, we have that power deep within us if only we would recognise it. Too often we disregard it, our intuition, the messages that our body is trying to convey to us, or we don’t hear it because we are so busy living in our heads, or we don’t trust in it or act upon it. Often we look outside of ourselves for validation of the choices and decisions we make in our lives assuming that some other person – friend, family member, doctor, healthcare professional, teacher – knows us better than we know ourselves. Or we look for external validation of our self-worth, needing constant reassurance from others.
Perhaps you recognise this in yourself. Do you constantly seek answers from outside of yourself before checking in for the answers inside yourself instead? How often do you listen to your heart, womb and body and then trust in and act on the messages that they are trying to convey to you? Do you rest when your body needs rest or do you just keep going regardless? Do you eat what your body is telling you to eat, or what some diet says you should eat? Do you say ‘no’ when your intuition is telling you to say ‘no’ or do you just give in and say ‘yes’ instead? Do you stand up for what you believe in, or back down when others question/challenge this?
If you find yourself reading this, then perhaps this is a sign that now is the time to take a stand for you, for your life, to connect more deeply with your own cycle and the cycle of the moon and see what this reveals to you. Each month state your intent to connect to your inner wisdom and to follow your spiritual path, embracing your feminine power and manifesting the goodness of your spirit in all you do. And then listen in, really listen in.
This is not to say that you may want to hear what you are hearing. You may pretend to hear differently. Denial is a fabulous thing. But denial gets you no-where really. Who are you really kidding? Drop deeper still. Peak into the shadows, embrace the fear, keep listening, what is happening, what is on your mind, what comes out emotionally when you bleed? Your menstruation is absolutely always trying to tell you something and it will do what it can to make itself known to you, to encourage you to listen.
As Uma Dinsmore-Tuli writes, “…it is truly confidence-building for us to recognise and honour the cycles of our lives and our bodies, in particular the menstrual cycle. These natural cycles offer great support for the unfolding of creativity. If we have the confidence that we can trust what our bodies teach us, and that we do not have to mask over or run away from the changing shifts and moods and altered consciousness and awareness that these cycles are showing us, then we come into powerful alignment with the infolding forces of creativity around and within us, and gain the sense of profound self-esteem that is a firm foundation for any creative act”.
Start charting your menstrual cycle. Make a note of the changes in the way you feel and you may start to notice commonalities month by month. It is in this way and by dropping deep into the body that you will come to recognise your own truth. And by recognising your own truth, you will come to find the strength and courage, the faith then, to make the changes that need to be made to live a more heart-based, creative, intuitive and feminine way of living. It’s not always easy, I know this from my own experience, and while it may be an ongoing practice, it does get easier and it is worth the effort.
You are the divine feminine manifest, powerful and magnificent beyond your dreams. You can live the life that you choose. It’s all there for you. There will be signs. Learn to dance with your changing cycle and learn to dance with the moon and trust in her power to nurture and nourish you too. Together, in this way, us ladies can do our bit to collectively raise the feminine in all life, beginning with our own.
I shall leave you with the following quote, which sums it all up beautifully:
…[there is] an eternal light, and right out in front, shining ahead of a woman, like a presence which goes a little bit before her and reports back to her what it has found ahead. It is her perpetual reconnaissance…Yet, when one sees and senses thusly, then one has work to do something about what one sees. To possess good intuition, goodly power, causes work. It causes work firstly in watching and comprehending of negative forces and imbalances both inward and outward. Secondly, it causes striving in the gathering up of will in order to do something about what one sees. (Estés 1993: 108)