Growing up, I understood my period as a necessary side-effect of being designed to bear children. Sometimes an annoyance, sometimes a burden, sometimes a relief, the waxing and waning of my body didn't register as a particularly important part of my life or identity. In fact, I did my best to ignore the emotions and physical sensations that came up each month. I wanted to prove that I was strong and capable, I wanted to hike, bike, work or socialize whenever I pleased!
It seemed to my teenage self that talking about my period, giving in to cramps or staying in bed to rest would be an affront to generations of women who had fought for equality in our society. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that a prominent argument against female leadership was that a woman’s period would render her too weak or emotional to make sound decisions. I certainly didn’t want to be the one girl holding up the march of progress.
In my early twenties, the ups and downs of my body’s cycle began to feel frustrating. Being an adult meant that I had the freedom to set my own schedule, priorities and self-care practices. But just when I had a good exercise routine going, was eating a healthy diet and feeling productive, I would feel the pull of my hormones. Cravings, mood swings and a need for extra rest seemed to knock me off balance for days or weeks at a time. I wanted to plan my life in a tidy, linear fashion but my body insisted on moving in a cyclical rhythm that I couldn’t control.
Moontime had a sense of mystery and wisdom and hinted at a woman’s deep connection to nature’s rhythms.
The shift in my attitude started with a name. One day at a retreat, I heard a teacher refer to the menstrual phase of a woman's cycle as ‘moontime’. Something lit up inside me. “Wow,” I thought, “what a relief to find a word I can use without cringing!” I embraced it immediately. Moontime had a sense of mystery and wisdom and hinted at a woman’s deep connection to nature’s rhythms. It felt good to say, almost regal, "It’s my moontime.” As if the moon and I had a special date to hang out and whisper secrets to each other…”
From that day on, I approached each moontime with a sense of curiosity. What was my body, my mind, my spirit telling me during this powerful time? Was that a headache or a reminder to slow down? Was that anger a wake-up call about what really matters to me? I started to allow myself to sit quietly, to rest and simply be.
Patterns emerged month over month. During the first two days of my moontime, I consistently had an overwhelming urge to be close to the ground, to walk barefoot or sit under a tree. During the third or fourth days, I often found myself cleaning out an aspect of my physical space, whether a drawer, a closet or a purse. I started to write down my dreams and noticed that my most potent, magical and insightful dreams showed up during my moontime.
I created simple rituals for myself and carved out time each month to pause and reflect on what was good or challenging about my month. It wasn’t always easy. Pretty much without fail, feelings came up that I had been in denial or delusion about. Sometimes shame, fear, anger or frustration made itself known. I learned to breathe through difficult emotions and let my tears flow when they needed to. I started to see that moontime was far more than a biological or reproductive event, it was an opportunity to purify myself on all levels.
The same force that moves the stars and the seasons pulses through each of us.
It turns out that whether we pay attention or not, our bodies are dancing with the universe’s great cycles of birth and death, renewal and release. The same force that moves the stars and the seasons pulses through each of us.
In a culture that encourages busyness and rewards productivity, we often forget that the balance of nature requires a time to shed what no longer serves. When we consciously partner with this energy to release the old, we access the ability to bring forth new life, tap into boundless creativity, and make our dreams a reality. This is the power of moontime.
Now, when that time of month arrives, I feel grateful and welcome it with respect and anticipation for what it will teach me this time around. Moontime has become a bellwether for my inner state and an opportunity to reset my intentions and practices. I still have a lot to learn, but as I continue to honor myself in this process, each moontime flows more easily and unveils new gifts of healing, intuition, and a precious sense of being connected to all life.