sanitary-pads-and-tamponsIn Western culture, our women do not have the societal right to hold menstrual traditions while functioning in society. Whereas in many cultures, women have the foundation of cultural heritage to remove themselves for the “ceremony of bleeding”, our women simply go to work, business as usual. However, in many of the lineages that I have studied with, and now often teach the essence of their “woman medicine” in my work, this “ceremony of woman”, or “ceremony of bleeding” is considered a sacred time. In order for women to channel the cosmic energies present during this time of “death & rebirth”, a woman needs her isolated space, to which she may conduct any rituals, prayers, or meditations, accordingly.

How many women in our society are fully aware of the 4 phase cycle that occurs each month? Has our society made it possible to at least educate our girls so that they are aware of their own fertility and bleeding schedule, and all of the natural forces that it entails? When a woman bleeds in this culture, is it common practice to call her boss and say “I have begun bleeding and will not be into work for the next 5 (or however many) days”? When a woman achieves her first bleeding, is she met with an initiation ceremony, or is she simply handed a box of tampons by her mother?

These examples, from the stories I’ve been receiving from the women in the U.S., are a tribute to how far removed our society is from the fundamental ceremonies and practices occurring naturally in indigenous societies regarding bleeding and fertility. Red Tent has foundations in the Hebrew culture. In Sun Dance (Lakota) a woman who is bleeding must reside away from the ceremony in a special lodge. In Ayurvedic belief, as in a majority of ancient cultures, a woman has restrictive functions while bleeding. Yet, these practices, to an outsider, may appear patriarchal and female suppressive in nature. However, there is hidden power, and a recognition of that power, in these cultures and we only need to be open, putting our own conditioning aside to see this.

In Western culture, our women do not have the societal right to hold menstrual traditions while functioning in society. Whereas in many cultures, women have the foundation of cultural heritage to remove themselves for the “ceremony of bleeding”, our women simply go to work, business as usual. However, in many of the lineages that I have studied with, and now often teach the essence of their “woman medicine” in my work, this “ceremony of woman”, or “ceremony of bleeding” is considered a sacred time. In order for women to channel the cosmic energies present during this time of “death & rebirth”, a woman needs her isolated space, to which she may conduct any rituals, prayers, or meditations, accordingly.

How many women in our society are fully aware of the 4 phase cycle that occurs each month? Has our society made it possible to at least educate our girls so that they are aware of their own fertility and bleeding schedule, and all of the natural forces that it entails? When a woman bleeds in this culture, is it common practice to call her boss and say “I have begun bleeding and will not be into work for the next 5 (or however many) days”? When a woman achieves her first bleeding, is she met with an initiation ceremony, or is she simply handed a box of tampons by her mother?

These examples, from the stories I’ve been receiving from the women in the U.S., are a tribute to how far removed our society is from the fundamental ceremonies and practices occurring naturally in indigenous societies regarding bleeding and fertility. Red Tent has foundations in the Hebrew culture. In Sun Dance (Lakota) a woman who is bleeding must reside away from the ceremony in a special lodge. In Ayurvedic belief, as in a majority of ancient cultures, a woman has restrictive functions while bleeding. Yet, these practices, to an outsider, may appear patriarchal and female suppressive in nature. However, there is hidden power, and a recognition of that power, in these cultures and we only need to be open, putting our own conditioning aside to see this.

In our Western culture, the deeply attached idea that women are suppressed and we must work and push forward to prove ourselves equal with men, is not a concept that I personally resonate with. Nor do I feel that we were ever suppressed, as that is a concept of the mind. Because women have adopted such ideas here, I feel is the very root of the ignorance many of us women now hold regarding the sacredness of our femininity. We do not isolate ourselves for a week when we bleed, our fast paced society does not allow such a removal when in a working/studious position.

The menstrual technologies that we have adopted are sometimes quite “shocking”. We promote the use of bleach-laced cotton to be inserted into our vaginal canals to block the blood flow, which has led to serious cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome where women have lost limbs. I have learned from the Vedic lineage (Maya Tiwari), that there are ancestral practices to actually control blood flow during the cycle. A woman can hold mudras, yoga poses, and chant mantras, to channel the release of blood, which is done by squatting on the earth. No menstrual technologies needed.

In my experience, it is not a common practice for Western Women to track their cycles, giving them empowerment in knowing their own fertility, how it aligns with the Moon and natural forces unique to each woman. Through fertility awareness, we not only can know when we are fertile and may become pregnant or not, we also begin to recognize the intricate nature of each phase in our cycle: Virgin/Warrior/Spring (post menstruation, pre-ovulation), Mother/Summer (ovulation), Shamanic Woman/Fall (post ovulation, pre menstruation), and Crone/Inner Lover/Winter (menstruation). Each of these phases can be observed, powerfully, each month, and are reflective of the totality of nature, a wisdom and communication that can be channeled during these times. I have even encouraged the adopting of totem animals or spirits for women to ritually connect to their own experiences with these changing energies. Each phase is unique in energy (i.e. hormones), and thus we transform as our bodies undergo these cycles. Yet, a majority of Western women are ignorant to this. We have, after all, replaced this awareness with birth control, the only modern aim for understanding our cycles.

When Western women bleed for the first time, a subject matter of most interest to me, they are not met with a ceremony or initiation rights, but with a box of tampons and a lack of elder women to guide their experience through the passing of knowledge, ritual, or rites of Woman. We are a lost nation of Women. The Washoe women are not the only women who have initiation ceremonies for women coming of age, they are found all over the world. In these societies, there are also elder women, “Wise Women” as they are generally called. When a woman becomes of age, she learns deeply the arts of being a woman and channeling her energy according to her cultural customs, as passed by the Wise Women. Yet, the idea of this is shocking to most women whom I have heard their personal stories. It seems as though the subject of bleeding is one that our conservative culture wishes to avoid, maybe because of discomfort in addressing the issue, maybe because of ignorance to the depth in which it effects our lives as women.

And so, what would our world, as Western Women, be if we were to begin the re-surfacing of ancestral customs regarding feminine spirituality with our bodies and the Cosmos? What would our world be if our girls were initiated, educated in the arts of reading and communicating with nature through their cycles? What would our society see change if women were firm in their power, yielding not to societal expectations of working class? What would your life be like if a Wise Woman had mentored you in the Arts of being a Woman, handing you a sacred torch of ritual, ceremony, and power? What would our world be like if our women gathered for rituals and prayers, support and acknowledgement, and sharing of magic found therein?

I believe our world would change. And I believe, because these practices are derived from indigenous and ancestral cultures, that we can see past the veil of conditioned illusion when peering into the complex nature of descended feminine customs.

And so, in closing, I encourage women to contemplate their own cycles, fertility, and Ceremony of Bleeding in a ritual fashion, seeking ancestral wisdom through empowering ourselves into our born shamanic roles. Sisterhoods, arising all over the Western world, are vast in network and we can re-surface our rights as women through our connectivity. I also encourage a deeper look into some of the ethnocentric projections we place on cultures holding seemingly “feminine suppressive” practices, for their root is anything but. There is wisdom in the roots of humanity, and we have never been severed, else our tree would no longer live.

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Michael Eli Dokosi is a journalist and a formidable writer with a decade's experience. He is a blogger as well who currently owns and manages the news portal www.blakkpepper.com. The site is a wholesome news platform with entertainment, political, general, sports, negroid and foreign news offerings with the tagline 'More than Straight News' because of its alternate take on issues. The blakkpepper name emerged because the site is Afrocentric and hot. The Managing Editor can be reached via cell line (+233) 0249907425 & (+233) 0262907425 and via email blakkpeppergh@gmail.com for adverts, enquiries and news coverage invites.