Honouring Menarche

IMG_9512Recently, on the same night, my 12 year old daughter and I both dreamed she had her first period, her menarche. That morning, out of the blue, my man was struck by this same imminent possibility while meditating.

If that’s not a heads-up from the Yoniverse, I don’t know what is! So, I am on notice to get things in order, to be ready as best I can to celebrate this momentous and beauty-full occasion.

I have been taught (thanks Jane Hardwicke Collings!) that our rites of passage build upon each other, and this is evidenced in my own life and those of women I work with. Honouring my daughter’s menarche (in accessible and helpful ways for her) will have a direct impact on her early sexual experiences and on any experiences of pregnancy and childbirth.

So I’m deeply invested in doing what I can to support her in her experience of menstruation

Responding to the dreaming
As a response to this co-dreaming within our family, I composed a few questions around the theme of honouring menarche to gather ideas and share our collective wisdom about how we can nourish our daughters and young womenfolk during this special time.  I sent them out into the loving ocean of Instagram, and much collective wisdom was shared!

I have done my best to collate themes and ideas into this one post, so that they may continue to inform and inspire.  Many things were not mine to share, but you can use the #honouringmenarche hashtag to find all the beauty-full offerings.

I give great thanks for every woman who was able to share her stories, ideas, dreamings, heart, soul and blood.  It is revolutionary to be re-envisioning our menstrual experience in this way – even the simple act of speaking of it changes many things.  May our daughters inherit more space in which to EMBODY their wisdom and wildly shine in a world in desperate need of them…

What did you need, what would have been helpful, when you first started menstruating or in the weeks and months prior? 

🌹 Sharing and story-telling: normalising and speaking of this experience freely, sharing in groups – one on one feels harder, explaining, answering questions.
🌹 Conversation started earlier: sharing stories and information prior to the onset of menarche, rather than having to wait to ‘join the club’ to receive this wisdom..
🌹 Humour: speaking about this bleeding reality with joy and laughter, enjoying bleeding together
🌹 Retreat space: privacy, slow time, days off school, red tent
🌹 Understanding the hormonal cycle: addressing the ’emotional hormonal struggle’ and learning to ride the waves with more ease.
🌹 Inner knowing: learning to trust our own wisdom, attuning to the unique language of our body
🌹 Support and solidarity: good women friends, peer support and understanding rather than shaming, someone to hold my hand, loving witness, telling me I’m beautiful and precious, to shower me with love.
🌹 Initiation: menarche acknowledged and honoured for the gateway it is, women gathered around to hold me through this transition in a way that was meaningful for all, and to celebrate!  Learning that our blood is sacred.

What gifts did you or do you want to give your daughter to celebrate her menarche?  And what about gifts for young women in your community to whom you’re not related – your daughter’s friends, daughters of your friends? 

🌹 First and foremost, cultural change!  All girls knowing they are beloved, precious, special, blessed, treasured, honoured and respected in all their embodied Womanhood… and free to be their WILD selves.

🌹 Also, our own “deep and blessed” embodiment, leading by example.

And to go along with that…

🌹 Lineage and connection to our Red Thread (our female line):
> a book of menarche stories from grandmothers, aunties, cousins, friends, of their menarche experiences
> a crocheted/knitted blanket, perhaps added to by other beloved womenfolk/family
> red things, symbolic things that speak to our spiritual inheritance as women: pomegranates, vulvas, chalices, moons, dolls, goddess statues and terraphims, handmade talismans…

🌹 Words & works of affirmation, re-writing the story:
> a beautiful card (perhaps from Lucy Pierce)
> a hand-written letter
> intuitive artwork, created at the time, inspired by the situation
> precious journal and pen

🌹 Affirmation of intuitive ways of knowing:
> a tarot/oracle deck with red embroidered bag (the Gaian Tarot, the Moon  Deck and Animal Spirit Deck are a few suggestions!)
> crystals

🌹 Body comfort and physical support:
> nourishing food
> loving potions, eg. bottle of Sphagni Rose or Woman Essence
assage and foot baths
> red pyjamas, or beautiful warm jumper

🌹  Equipping for the menstrual experience:
> some beautiful MenseSense cloth pads
> a special necklace, scarf, wristband, charm bracelet or set of temporary tattoos, to wear during bleeding time
> hot water bottle with handmade cover, or lovely heat pack

🌹 Special events:
> a luscious time at the hot springs
 a shopping trip for a red dress
> making a medicine drum

🌹 Other ideas:
> a good book to read, curled up in bed!
> flowers
> a music playlist

🌹Gifts for friends
> card, temporary tattoos and one’s own menarche story written down
> cloth pads, poems and prayers, handmade dolls, divination cards and flowers

How does your daughter want to celebrate? Does your family/circle/community mark menarche in any way? How do you honour menarche if your daughter doesn’t want to talk about it at all?

🌹 Family dinner, with favourite comfort food!

🌹 Honouring needs for privacy and perhaps no celebration – listening to what our daughters actually want, especially given their social context in a world that still shames and shys away from menstruation

🌹 Blessingway circle with friends and womenfolk

🌹 Going bush, to sacred/familiar family land, and sitting on the Earth

🌹 Rebirthing ceremony (symbolic replanting of the placenta) inspired by Minmia’s teachings (indigenous Wirradjirri Law/Lore-Woman)

🌹Organise a Moonsong, Becoming A Woman or Celebration Day for Girls workshop for the community.

🌹 Mother-daughter camp

🌹 Whole community coming-of-age celebration!  Girls and boys honoured separately by the women and men, respectively, and then a coming-together to celebrate, around a fire!

What are some great resources, books, websites, songs, inspiration, etc., dealing with menarche and/or menstruation?

🌹 Books for girls – 
Jane Hardwicke Collings has written Becoming A Woman, a guide for girls approaching menarche, as well as a whole ‘body’ of work about women’s rites of passage in general.

> Cycling to Grandma’s House by Jac Torres- Gomez

> Reaching for the Moon: a girl’s guide to her cycles by Lucy Pearce

Girl Stuff: Your Full-On Guide to the Teen Years by Kaz Cooke

> Beautiful Girl by Christiane Northrup
“a beauty-full message about loving the body that will grow into womanhood.”

> Story of Little Red Riding Hood as a coming-of-age tale

> Lots of books and resources at A Mighty Girl

🌹 Books –
>  Dr Christiane Northrup’s books Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and Mother-Daughter Wisdom are tomes of useful, embodied information!

>  Hygieia: A Woman’s Herbal by Jeannine Parvati Baker.
“…the light I needed to navigate my way back to myself…”

> Her Blood is Gold by Lara Owen

> The Wild Genie by Alexandra Pope

> Red Moon by Miranda Gray

> Code Red by Lisa Lister

The Moon Diva’s Guidebook by Lara Vesta

Wild Feminine by Tami Lynn Kent

> Moon Time by Lucy Pearce

> A Blessing Not a Curse by Jane Bennett

> Sister Moon Lodge by Kisma K. Stepanich

> Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman

🌹 Inspiration –
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
“…the first thing I read that actually showed menstruation in a positive light.”

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
“Even in her situation (Anne) honoured it as a wonderful secret and something to be treasured.”

Circle of Stones: Woman’s Journey to Herself by Judith Duerk

> Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

🌹 Poems & Songs –
> ‘The Period Poem’ by Dominique Christina
“A spine-tingling articulation of the importance of this (reclaiming menarche/menstruation) work, and revolutionary mother love re-writing the story!”

> ‘Moontide’ by Julie Walton
“(Julie’s) songs are dedicated to Goddess and the Journey of Woman.”

> ‘Blood in the Boardroom‘ by Ani DiFranco
“First heard many years ago and sparked in me a bloody revolution in music, menstruation, feminism, rebellion and self knowing. Still love it today!”

🌹 Other resources –
Jane Bennett has set up the ‘Celebration Day for Girls’ program, now offered by a fair few lovely women around the place! Also check out the list of resources on the site, including Girltopia cards for starting conversations… 

> My mermaid sister Adriana of The Good Cycle is transforming the way we perceive the menstrual cycle – whoo hoo!

The Sisterhood Australia creates period packs for girls approaching menarche

> Mense Sense has ‘teenage’ sized pads in beauty-full colours!

Lots more links here!