Assorted Saturdays: Honouring the Blood

7 08 2010

We bleed.  Womyn, that is.  Every month, our beautiful genitals issue forth blood from a life that never became manifest.

(Photo credit: http://creative.ly/item/163223/2XtqM)

When expressed that way, I understand why there is so much fear around menstruating.

In our society where death is terrifying, definitely NOT acceptable, the monthly cycle of little death can conjure up some pretty intense reactions in people.

I remember when I got it my mother said something like “welcome to womanhood and the Curse.”  yup, the Curse.

Because womyn, in traditional Christian mythologies have done something horribly wrong and so they must bleed every month.

I believed that, for about 10 years of my bleeding life.  I had cysts on my ovaries, big balls of pain that rose and fell with my cycle, and so my first moon was in a hospital.  The following cycles were equally traumatic, though not with hospital visits, as I knew that the incredible pain was from inside my body and would not be going away.  The pain was monitored with slimy ultrasound sticks over bloated bladder and kept in check, at age 14, by the birth control pill.

Because I really didn’t receive much education about my body as a child, like most of my generation, and those previous, I figured that all of this was just good and normal and that I would be condemned to suffer, excruciatingly, every month, at the hands of my procreative system.  My mother and I coalesced into an ooze of sympathy for each other’s plight, as womyn, and that was it.

When I was 22, I was off the birth control pill for a couple years, based on discovering that it was actually a horrible thing to do to one’s body for prolonged periods of time.  I had been experiencing pain so intense, every month, that I was drugging myself with codeine just so I could function, even nominally.

That was around the time I met Elsa.  She was an empowered woman, studying Women’s Studies in University and was a wellspring of feminine empowerment.  She asked me if I would let her throw me a menarche party.

“A menarche party?” I asked.

And she went on to explain to me that in many cultures, a female bleeding was celebrated.  It meant fertility for the tribe, another person able to carry on the traditions and customs through childbirth.  It meant fertility for the land, as the blood would nourish the Earth and help the crops grow.  It meant, in some cultures, gained wisdom and insight.  A menarche party, then, was a celebration of all things bloody and menstrual, feminine and powerful.

My mind, as they say, was blown.

(not so much a mind being blown, but isn’t this a cute photo?  photo credit: http://livinglaboratory.blogspot.com/2007/03/period-period-period-you-are-ellipsis.html)

So, at age 22, I attended my menarche party.  We wore red, ate red food, talked about blood and bleeding while sitting inside a glorious womb that Elsa had create from deep red fabrics in her attic.

My perspective, thereafter, surrounding my body’s necessary expulsion of uterine lining every month shifted.  I remembered to celebrate my body, instead of curse it.  I remembered to focus on what this blood gave me, and my life, instead of what it took away.

Since then, I have come a long way. I still have cramps, but they aren’t nearly as bad; they haven’t been since that party.  I still get grumpy and tired and all the other things, but now I recognize it as part of a miraculous cycle. I still get anti-social and “bitchy”, but realize this is the urge to go inwards and learn from the little death that comes every month.

I love bleeding now. I am grateful every month that my moon blood greets me.  I gather it in my diva cup and feed it to my plants.  I sleep with a moon blanket to gather my blood off my bed.  I eat delicious chocolates and make love to myself to thank myself for the wonders of what my body does.

My friend Sarah says “Thank you.” every time she knows a womyn is bleeding.  Why? Because she knows that we all go, for those few days, to a place of darkness, where death is ever-present.  She knows that we walk, with our blood, through intense lessons, to bring them back an offer them to those willing to hear.  Because we offer our blood to the Earth.  Because we are moving through cycles so that human life can continue.

So, to all womyn, I say “thank you” for your blood.  May you all find ways that allow you to honour it, as the glorious gift it is.

Blessings.





they don’t make shirts for saggy breasts

22 04 2010

In North America, the land of eternal youth (HA!) we really try to hide all parts of “real” life.   We use all sorts of items, creams, clothing, dyes and make-ups, sold to us of course, to make ourselves look the idea of youth.  We are afraid of the Crone and Sage with their wrinkled skin, grey hair and sagging breasts and skin.

North America has glorified young as being the only way to be attractive.   Old ladies certainly don’t have sex anymore.

I remember seeing some wonderful pictures of old tribal women in Africa.  They were naked and decorated with beautiful beads and their breasts were hanging down to nearly their belly buttons: testament to a full life as maiden, mother and crone.

I remember thinking that it’s about time breastfeeding was sexy, sagging, empty breasts were hot and children got the nourishment they were created to receive from our bodies.  I remember thinking that I was going to glory in my saggy, empty breasts after I was done breastfeeding, letting them hang and sag as far as they needed to go, without primping them up in a perky bra.  No, I was going to be the woman who changed the perception of post-baby breasts.

Well, now I am that post-breastfed woman.  My full, lush breasts have shrunk back down towards their original size (which was about as small as breasts get) and have, of course, sagged.

It is really obvious to me when I wear the shirt I am currently wearing.  It’s a nice fitted number that has seams around where the bottom of your breasts are supposed to be, to accentuate your perky, youthful ladies. Mine hang a good 2 inches below that line.  And, honestly, it looks awkward.  It looks like I should be wearing a bra, confining my little saggy ladies to a life of perky conformity and hiding the badge of honour I wear as a mother who breastfed for over 2 years.

I like the look of my breasts now.  I remember all the wonderful things that these saggy breasts have given.  They have built the body of my child for the first six months of her life, exclusively.  They have given her immune system an amazing start by pumping her full of all the anti-bodies that I have created in my life.  They have given her brain a wonderful boost with essential omega fats.  They have provided her with emotional support and spiritual support through learning how to be a little human.  They continue to offer her comfort, grounding and bliss, as she still rubs and spends time with them everyday.

(this is a great picture of me all dressed to the nines and nursing in a little goddess space.  I think little A is about 4 months here.)

I look at how much little A worships my breasts.  She rubs, nuzzles, kisses, fluffles, hugs, cuddles and snuggles my breasts.  She says she heals them (she does!).   She loves them so much.  She recognizes the amazing gift that they are, which is such a great reminder to me, to honour them in the same way.

I firmly believe that the reason that breastfeeding mothers have less of a risk of breast cancer is because, when you breastfeed, your breasts get SOOO much love and worship.  How could a cancer possibly live in that environment of love and worship?

And wearing bras, not only feels really uncomfortable to me (I barely wore one in high school, and stopped as soon as I was out of high school) but I just feel like the confining nature of it can’t be good for these do-gooders.  Some information is out there, but it is not sufficiently scientifically back up (check out this book if you want a little scare about the whole thing) to prove it.  However, my gut feeling is that we evolved without bras, we probably are better off without them. 🙂

So, I wear an awkward looking shirt.  My breasts don’t look perky and probably will never look much more perky than right now.  I’m OK with that.  In fact, I think it’s hot, sexy and wonderful.  I hope that more people come to that realization and that women can start to feel comfortable with our saggy ladies, celebrating how far down they sag instead of how perky they are.  Remembering that the farther they sag down our bodies, the more we have provided to the future of our Earth, to our children.

If you are looking for for information and/or about the amazing wonders of breastfeeding please check out:

La Leche League

Kelly Mom

Nursing Mother’s Council