– BY KATE BAVISTER –
The colours flow from me as I move through the cold desert night. I walk alone. I feel the millennia of evolution descend earthwards through my body and I am tired, yet so strong. Some notion of death is lingering, yet I’m no longer afraid of the darkness. There are regenerative powers in my blood this night, as I seek to rest in the belly of the Earth.
The start of a profound journey into womanhood
By recognising the culture surrounding menstruation on any given continent and among all different peoples, we’re given insight into how the history of periods unfolds. We can see the west begins to flow to all corners of the globe. Generally, little acknowledgement is given to this remarkable transition in a young woman’s life, to the ability to foster new life on earth (although many women wait as many years again to conceive and become a mother).
Looking at the products available for purchase in general stores and supermarkets gives us enough material for a clear understanding of what is actually going on. The bleached white. The invisible tampons. The masks and charades. The pretence one can do as much as at any other time of the cycle. The desperate need to try. The untested chemicals, exposed to our most private and sensitive anatomy.
There is no initiation. No celebration. No rite of passage. Yet on a more deep and profound level, where individuals are continually searching for meaning and fulfilment, could this not be the start of a profound journey into womanhood? One where each woman begins to recognise her own unique gifts and talents. A time to share and remember. A time to tell stories and listen to wise women, aunties and grandmas, sharing information about cycles, life stages and the great transformative power within every woman. It’s a vision, it’s possible.
Seasonal changes within us
Essentially, menstruation is movement. It’s not a beginning and an end, but more a growing story with continuous threads, linking it to reproductive evolution and allowing it to flow on towards an unseen end. It’s one part of the fertility cycle which is easily broken down into four: the follicular phase, ovulation, the luteal phase and menstruation.
It can be likened to autumn coming into winter, preparing the ground and the seeds for spring. How different I feel in each of the four seasons and how different I am during each of the phases of my cycle, they’re directly related. What about the late summer? Does it represent an imbalance in hormones? Or the short luteal phase? Or the scant or very heavy period? Certainly there’s a message in everything, if you listen. By tuning into seasonal changes and by recognising the progression we can invite a new continuum into our lives. This will help us to find placement in the greater rhythms and cycles of nature.
Development or a move away from nature?
Living in Laos for four years brought a very different experience of the seasons. Nature there is in a perpetual state of growth. Trees do lose their leaves, but not all at the same time; it’s more of a constant flow. There are seasons, but defining them is tricky, with great rains and great heats preceding them, and some kind of winter which is actually a good time to work in the garden. How then is the body affected by this?
I didn’t grasp the language well enough to get deep into the subject with Laos women and I’m not sure a true dialogue would have even been possible, as it seems hard to really integrate into Lao culture. Yet take one look in the shops and stalls and you can see how menstruation matters follow the west, just like all other areas of development. This development is happening at a frightening pace, although I beg to question: is it development or rather a move further away from nature?
Wisdom in every woman’s cycle
Let’s be a bit more reflective and let the moon be a reminder of the cycles. Of the stages of growth and change, death and decay, incubation and rebirth. Just like the annual seasons. Just like the life cycle of a cell, an organism, a body. And just like the cycle of the moon; the crescent, the full light, the fading light and the total darkness. It’s all connected. If other animals’ life cycles are affected by the moon, is it so outrageous to think that a woman’s could be as well?
Still, migration patterns, changes in diets and other things have affected women’s cycles over the years. So rather than trying to cycle with the moon, why not try to listen deeply to your own cycle? If the body wants to, it can cycle with the moon and if it doesn’t, let it be! There is wisdom inherent in every woman’s cycle and we need to work with that knowledge. Everyone can tailor their own methods to find a new language to communicate with their body. One which is measured by our own systems, insights and intuition. No one else can tell you better than you, but no one is harder to listen to. It’s about finding regular practices to bring this into consciousness and begin the process of self-healing and cyclical transformation.
Celebration from menarche to menopause
The challenges our children face today are challenges our grandparents wouldn’t have dreamed of. Yet here we are, bringing them up in this world. There is a need for women of wisdom, including non-biological mothers, psychic midwives and spiritual warriors. We all have to commit so that we can be there for our children, so they can be there, truly there, for theirs. Let’s hope that the future can bring celebration to all cycles of a women’s life, from menarche to menopause. There is much for everyone to learn from each other.
Imagine if we were taught in school that every period was actually a chance to improve ourselves, to face challenges and learn lessons. We should integrate the experience, then really focus on what is needed to grow and bring a better version into life. Dream big and move towards it, imagine how prosperous young lives could be, the vitality of youth with an intuitively directed intention!
Needless to say, for this future to become true, the education system needs to change. Also the language needs to change and we are the ones to start implementing those changes. It starts by changing ourselves, our relationships to our bodies and therein all of life. The more we listen to our bodies, the more our bodies will naturally regulate with the greater cycles of nature.
Listen to the body. The body knows.
About the author: Kate Bavister is a mother, writer and artist who incorporates nature, art and science to enhance understanding of the embodied experience. She’s interested in maintaining peak health through conscious living, ingestion, movement and arts. She studied Anatomical Sciences and is also a plant lover, exploring plant medicine and holistic living from the current stance of an urban lifestyle. Follow Kate on Instagram.
More personal stories?
A very public menstrual leak, by Sarah Sahagian
The crimson wrath, by Noni Roberts
Dear Period, by Yayeri van Baarsen
Me & My Cycle, by Mariette Reineke
Period changes and chemotherapy, by Cruz Santana
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