I’ve spent the last few weeks bathing myself under the light of the moon as I’ve slept each night. It wasn’t what I’d intended to do, yet it sort of just happen, divinely inspired perhaps to reconnect me with the natural rhythms of the divine feminine. It reminded me that many moons ago, the female menstruation and ovulation “moon cycle” were celebrated as a gift of fertility and femininity as our cycle naturally aligned with the waxing and waning of the moon. Shedding of menstrual ‘blood’ was considered a special time for rest, purification and rejuvenation.
For most of us, the importance of this sacred experience has been lost in the sands of time, yet Grandmother Moon reminds us soon enough once we begin to tune in to her whispering shimmers through the night.
Various cultures throughout history have regarded a menstruating woman to be incredibly sacred and blessed with a gift to heal, protect, or to bridge into the higher realms of awareness. Some cultures and individuals still do honour this, although much of the knowledge has been suppressed, distorted and lost. During this phase, a woman is endowed with an enormous power of the divine feminine, often tuning into the collective female energies throughout the Earth and through our fellow ancestors.
Passing down wisdom or unspoken ‘hush, hush’?
Once upon a time, mothers, aunts, grandmas passed down knowledge and insight of this sacred cycle. They’d share what it means, rejoicing in how to unfold beautifully through it and acknowledge how to embrace our divinely given energies. They’d show us that there is a time to honour stillness, a time to retreat, a time to celebrate and a time to rise up. They’d show us that everything is sacred.
Sadly, the female cycle has become a taboo subject. Even in our modern so-called ‘open-minded’ spiritual world, I see how it is often given ‘lip-service’ and then shoved back behind closed doors. Many girls are blindly launched into their cycle, never talking about it with anyone. All too often society insists that it is something to be hidden and embarrassed about and heaven forbid if you don’t keep it under total control.
In today’s world, women are not given the time and space to honour the cycle. Our collective energy throughout the eons has also conditioned us not to even realise how much we NEED this rhythm. Instead, we feel the collective karma of ‘shame’ or ‘guilt’ for what is actually meant to be a sacred honouring of ourselves. If we take time off work, we are considered weak; if we take time to rest, we are often seen as lazy. The distress on the mind, body & spirit by not honouring the cycle generates a plethora of physical and hormonally related emotional issues that shouldn’t even exist. I know this all too well. I’ve considered myself ‘conscious’, and ‘awaken’ since the age of 20, yet like many women, I have suffered immensely whenever I have not been in a place to honour the rhythms of my cycle. We naturally attune to the collective energies of all women, so it seems that when one suffers, we all suffer.
I used to feel angry at being cast into a hush-hush women’s world that I didn’t understand. There was nobody to ask because nobody invited such conversations, and the internet didn’t exist back then.
The pain of the divine feminine
When I shed clear cervical mucus for the first time (this happens midway through the cycle when we ovulate, about 14 days before we shed ‘blood’), I thought there was something wrong with me. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s and I bought a book on the female cycle, that I realised it was normal!
As I grew I felt the deep pain of the divine feminine throughout the whole planet. When we overwrite the natural flow, things start going wrong. Neglecting the sacred cycle has meant that women are plagued with menstrual disorders, pain, hormonal imbalances and severe mood swings that needn’t exist at all. All because we’ve ignored the divine flow of the universe.
The irony is that when we all honour the natural flow, the ripples are profound and the world begins to become an infinitely better place to be, not just for ourselves, but for all. Because we are all connected and when one of us rises, we reflect to each other and we all begin to rise up.
Honouring the sacred cycle
There are still some traditions that respect our sacred moontime as a gift and instead of banishment, insist on a sacred space for women so that they can rest during this time. Women relieve themselves of work and lovingly afford themselves time to spend either alone in peace and quiet (or with other women) in a safe, nurturing environment, free of projectional or negative energies.
This time is used to reflect and invite universal sacred life energy to wash through their being. A woman allows the light of the soul to shine ever brighter as she acts selflessly as the loving centre of her family and daily life. We, women, are receptive by nature and particularly absorbent of external energies around this sacred time. The divine feminine is a receptive vessel, a holy grail that often selflessly transmutes the energy of those around her. Rest is the most natural thing in the world for a woman during her ‘moontime’.
The divine male and female energies are meant to complement one another, working together harmoniously in a sacred dance of divine unity. Embracing both in their authenticity is essential for spiritual evolution, so those cultures that honour this are incredibly connected to the natural flow and are blessed.
Letting go – letting flow
The shedding of menses is symbolic of shedding accumulated negative energy during the previous weeks. It is an opportunity to let go of that which no longer serves us. It is a time to reflect on what we are ready to release, what we are ready to receive and what lessons we have learned.
In honouring our moontime we often find balance and a re-centering of our state of being. If we miss this time of re-centering, then we may spend the rest of the month out of sync to the sacred rhythm, never quite catching up with ourselves. Thankfully we are offered the opportunity once each month (until we enter a new phase in our feminity in our more mature years) – yet it is up to us as women to find our inner strength and love ourselves enough to honour this cyclical event.
If we don’t normally think of ourselves first and foremost (common with most caring women who I know), then moontime is the one time we are invited above all to honour ourselves. If we have children, if at all possible, get someone else to watch them for a day or even two (I know that is usually easier said than done). If they go to school make the most of that time. If we can’t find someone to watch them, make the most of the evening or the moments you can find (only do what you really have to do). If we don’t have children (or if our children have flown from the nest) then look at our commitments and begin to notice how we can take time out for ourselves.
When it seems impossible to find time out
Sometimes it might seem impossible to take time out because of the unnatural structure of our culture – but there is always something we can do. I understand this very well because at times I am working intensely on retreat as a chef (or even guiding a retreat of my own) where there is a lot of responsibility and little time to stop.
When catering, I make food creation a ‘meditation’ (which helps to immediately bring sacredness to my awareness, something we can all learn to embrace no matter what we are doing). Working hard is far from ideal during the time we are meant to be resting, yet sometimes because of the world we are in, we don’t have much of a choice in the matter. We might have work and can therefore instead take time (even during fleeting moments), to honour our womb space and feminity with brief meditations and ask that we are protected. Personally speaking, during this time, if I am called to work, I honour fleeting moments and ‘break times’ (even though ideally I would be taking time out). When I sleep I will retreat to a safe space for healing and rejuvenation and trust that replenishment will happen at this time as I enter the dream world.
The important thing is that, no matter what our circumstances are, we start right now and make the most of what we can. Start with what you CAN do right now. Commit to the moment. Love yourself. The rest will follow.
Do what makes your heart sing
If you have a supportive partner or close friends tell them how you feel about this sacred moontime and discuss with them how you might work together in helping to honour this. Some people will empathise more than others, so be discerning. I know that many of us are not necessarily surrounded by understanding people, but it is sometimes surprising who is willing to understand if we take time to explain from the heart.
Above all, no matter who is around you, be sure to honour yourself. Do whatever makes your heart sing: dance, play music, meditate, write poetry, tend your plants, read, take a bath, massage your feet, eat chocolate, enjoy a gentle walk in the woodlands. If you have children, then take them out into nature too. It may be that you simply wish to rest and do nothing… honour that!
Be Super Woman in a new sort of way because…
Being ‘super-women’ involves being vulnerable and loving yourself too.
True strength comes from gentleness.
Natural things to help you to re-balance
I’ve found some invaluable things that help me rebalance energies in the pre-menstrual phase of moontime, especially since I’ve not always had the most supportive of energies around me at times in the past. We are all unique, so find what works for you…
Agnus Castus (Chaste Tree) herb
Agnus Castus helped me massively at times in the past and I swear by it. It feels like nirvana and if you are receptive to it, and the tincture works quickly. I needed this during a more challenging phase of my life when I had less than supportive energies around me.
Agnus Castus contains compounds which are able to adjust the production of female hormones. Studies have shown that extracts of Agnus castus can stimulate the release of Leutenizing Hormone (LH) and inhibit the release of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which in simple terms, suggests that it has a progesterone-like effect. Its benefits partially stem from its actions upon the pituitary gland, specifically on the production of LH. This may increase progesterone and helps to regulate a woman’s cycle.
In addition, it is thought to be able to normalize the secretion of many hormones, for instance, reducing prolactin levels and normalizing the estrogen to progesterone ratio.
Read about Chaste Tree – Vitex agnus-castus–pharmacology and clinical indications HERE
We use up a lot of B vitamins when we are stressed, so if we are prone to anxiety and stress during the pre-menstrual phase, then it’s really helpful to replace them by taking a good quality supplement.
Even if our life is more peaceful then a B vitamin complex can help us adjust to the stress placed on our body through natural hormonal changes anyway. I take a good quality B-complex regularly even when I have a more peaceful and supportive living situation.
B6 has particularly noteworthy benefits. It is said to increase production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Low levels of these neurotransmitters can be quite problematic and unbalancing when we are in the pre-menstrual phase. Here is the B complex that I often use when in England (it also contains adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola, siberian ginseng, and ashwagandha to help maintain balance when it gets challenging): Terranova B Complex
Maca is the root of a South American plant and comes in powdered form. It has all sorts of hormone supporting properties, although the thing that stands out for me is that it’s an ‘adaptogen’, which means it helps the body adapt and find balance in stressful situations. A lovely friend of mine also said it worked for her (and she knew this, because after adding it to her smoothies daily, ‘it was the first month she hadn’t felt like killing someone!’… haha, so I’d say that was a success lol!).
I’ve written a more in-depth article about the benefits of maca for hormone balance here: The benefits of Maca for Balancing Hormones
Exercise gets endorphins flowing and helps to flush out the excessive hormones and unbalanced energies. This can be both gentle or intensive.
Try brisk walking, yoga, pilates, rebounding, martial arts, swimming – whatever you feel pulled to – just be sure to get your energy moving.
If you are in the thick of depression, then exercise is probably the last thing you want to do. It’s essential, therefore, to get into a rhythm of daily exercise during the uptime of the rest of your cycle. This in itself will help lessen your symptoms. It will also mean that you are more likely to exercise before it gets so bad. If you are in the depths of despair, try doing something really gentle, like a walk on grass, or very soft swaying and movement (with loving music if you can). Swaying will also help to generate endorphins and induce calm.
Meditation can change your whole outlook on life, even if it’s just taking a breather every now and again.
Meditation doesn’t have to be mystical or complicated. Sitting quietly and focusing on big, deep exhales and inhales can feel cleansing and nurturing. If you have the inclination, then go for a full-on, guided relaxation and unwinding meditation in the privacy of your own home. You can check out one of my deeply relaxing audio meditation to facilitate peace and calm here:
Relax & Unwind Meditation
Loving ourselves – often the hardest for women as we’ve been conditioned throughout the eons to put ourselves last. Taking time to stop and doing something, like having a soak in the bath with essential oils, baking a deliciously healthy treat etc. Loving ourselves stimulates feel-good hormones.
Kava Kava herb
This is an excellent anti-anxiety herb. It helps us find a space of calm and peace within when all else fails. I’ve been using this on and off for about 20 years when the need has called. It has been used successfully in Polynesian Pacific Islands for centuries.
I like to switch and change the herbs I use. It’s well worth looking into different options that help us to naturally re-balance, although I would say that one of the most important things is to take time to replenish and rest. Kava is difficult to get in several European countries (including the UK), it can, however, be purchased in the rest of the world easily though.
I’ve written an in-depth article about Kava Kava here: Kava, a Healing Herb For Finding Peace Amidst Challenges
This can significantly increase your serotonin, dopamine and endorphin levels, which are all beneficial to counteract the psychological symptoms of menstrual challenges.
I’ve found that if I find a massage therapist that I resonate with, it can really help me rebalance during more challenging times. I believe one of the reasons is due to the powerful role that serotonin plays to stabilise mood. Massage also stimulates dopamine which encourages feelings of joy and that endorphins which invite a ‘feel-good’ factor.
If you have a regular cycle, then schedule in a massage treatment with a therapist, a couple of days before your most vulnerable time. Alternatively, if you start feeling the depths of despair creeping in, schedule an impromptu massage treatment as soon as possible. Even if you have to wait a day or two for that session, just knowing that have one on its way can be like a rock in the storm.
Read about the “Neurohormonal effects of massage therapy” HERE
Get good quality sleep
This might sound a bit obvious, but worth a reminder. Sleep is essential for a healthy functioning body. It helps the body to detoxify itself, both physically and emotionally.
Raw vegan chocolate
I am a big fan of embracing the health benefits of ‘healthy’ chocolate. Cacao has been shown to help elevate the mood. It also contains serotonin, which is a natural anti-depressant.
I can certainly confirm this one and use conscious chocolate for therapeutic purposes, especially in the 2nd half of my cycle.
Check out my video for making your own, super-healthy, raw chocolate here:
Homemade Healthy Chocolate Making Guide
Spend time in nature
The magnetic pulse of nature is really healing. Spending time to connect with the energy of Mother Earth, in the forest, on the beach, by a river, in the sea. This all helps to realign our flow, back to how it was always designed to be.
You are unique! Find what works for you. There are many different ways that help to naturally rebalance, although I would say that one of the most important things is to take time to replenish and rest.
Importance of what we call our ‘period’
One last noteworthy point… It can be helpful to rename our time of the month or ‘period’ to something more beautiful (this helps to let go of negative associations with menstruation).
Many women I know choose the word “moontime” in honour of the cyclical nature of the monthly cycle and in respect of the introspective energies of the moon.
Honour this sacred cycle for yourself and let the energy inspire those around you.