Saturday, August 05, 2006

Holistic Menstruation & Menarche

Brew of the day: Red Rosehip

Books I’ve read this week:

Vibrant Health by Norman Walker
Fresh fruit and vegetable juices by Norman Walker

These two books are my ‘treasures’…Dr Norman Walker lived to well beyond a century and was a living example of vibrant health. His juice book in particular is everything I was looking for in a juice book, giving examples of what juice combinations can heal various ailments. It’s not a recipe book, more like a science class (in a fun way).

The Birth House by Ami McKay

Oh my. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a novel so much. Set in Canada at the beginning of the 1900s, this book follows the life of Dora Rare who learns the ancient art of midwifery from Miss B.. A doctor comes to town wanting to save women from the pain of childbirth offering an assortment of drugs. When a woman dies during childbirth, Dora is chased out of town. It is the author’s first novel and is nothing short of brilliant. I was completely gripped by the end of the first paragraph. Of course, the parallels between natural birth and medicalised birth are still as evident today, one hundred years later!

Discovering the Okanagan by Jim Couper

The author left Toronto and travelled the world with his wife and child looking for the best place on Earth to live. They ended up back in Canada in the beautiful Okanagan Valley (British Columbia) ~ Canada’s fruitbowl. It has an enviable climate (hot in summer, mild in winter), gorgeous scenery (not dissimilar to the UK’s Lake District) and very friendly, relaxed people.


The Red Box

My dairy says I should be in Yorkshire today officiating a Blessingway Ceremony…Elizabeth’s twins had other ideas however and were born last month. Instead, I’ll spend the day with Paul and our girls discovering another café in Cumbria ~ it’s become our Saturday family ritual. Sometimes great, sometimes very disappointing.

I’m often left stunned as to what people consider to be ‘food’. The city of Carlisle, about 40 minutes drive from here doesn’t seem to possess any wholefood cafes and last week we ate at a café recommended by no less than the owner of the health store ~ the food was abysmal and it explains just why so many people aren’t healthy! Today, I have high hopes for Priest’s Mill in the gorgeous village of Caldbeck. Fingers crossed. I love eating and see each meal as a celebration. I’m always very conscious of the journey it has taken for each mouthful of food to reach my plate. Aware with each bite just how long a fruit or vegetable has taken to grow.

The Blessingway had me reflecting on the lack of ritual and ceremony our lives tend to have these days. We live in spiritually barren times. Very few people consciously take the time or invest the energy in celebrating rites of passage, let alone daily ‘moments’. At any moment of any day, we can choose to make it sacred and holy by being present.

I still remember (how can I ever forget it?) the incredible joy in discovering I was pregnant with Bethany. Birthing her with ease in water, at home in our bedroom by candle light will be etched in my heart and soul forever. And the first time I held her to my breast. Aaaah. Magic. How can a decade have passed already? Her young and tender body is changing…it is trying to find its woman form. As a mother this is so alien to watch. She’s my BABY for goodness sake! My job now is to consciously walk with her, hand in hand, as she takes steps toward Menarche. All the signs indicate this will happen within about a year.

As a mother my unadorned wish is simply that she’ll enjoy all aspects of her monthly cycle. That she’ll grow to love the ebb and flow of her body; that she’ll see how easy it is to cycle to the moon; that menstruation is NOT shameful, dirty or to be hidden, but a magical time each month in which she can journey inwards and discover what it truly means to be a woman.

I want, quite simply, for her to feel joy and marvel in awe at how the female body works.

When she was five Bethany was on her garden swing one day, lost in daydreams. Then she looked at me rather seriously and said that when she got her period she was going to have a great big party and eat grapes to celebrate!

My girls learnt about menstruation when they were toddlers. I’m so grateful that it hasn’t been hidden away as if it were a deadly, dirty secret. Although less common now, many girls never knew the first thing about moontime until they saw blood on their knickers for the first time! Shame on their mothers. So many girls were traumatised and thought they were dying.

I’ve been collecting things to put into The Red Box ~ a gift we, as her family, will pass to her at the dawntime of Menarche. At the moment it contains an assortment of beautiful, soft, brightly coloured cotton menstrual pads. I ordered these from From experience, the best brand are Many Moons.

At my side Bethany has learnt how easy it is to care for cloth pads and just how lovely they are to wear compared to the rather surgical looking (and Toxic Shock Syndrome inducing) tampons and horrible to wear ‘surfboards’. Bethany has seen the ‘soak blood’ from the cloth pads given to our household plants. I know that makes some people squirm in horror but blimey, is it really so bad? Loads of people are happy to buy Blood and Bone at the garden centre! At least this hasn’t had any environmental impact, it is the only ethically derived blood available and it is free!

My mother has given a book called Sister Web Stories (full of menstruation tales). There is also a booklet outlining our unenviable history as women, which led to the patriarchal society we now live in. Herstory is written by Jane Collings

There is a 13 Moons Journal also by Jane Collings.

I currently use one myself. It’s fab! Here she’ll jot down her daily rhythm. It includes noting what phase the moon is at; how you feel emotionally, physically, etc. You can include your food cravings, tiredness, fluid retention/breast tenderness, dreams, vaginal flow blood/mucus/ovulation and what day of your cycle you’re at.

Nearer the time I’ll include red ribbons; lovely red underwear; red beads to tie around her wrist each time she cycles; a blank journal for writing her dreams or creating artwork. There’ll be a set of divination cards to guide her on an inner journey. Together, Paul and I will create The Magic and Mystery of Menstruation, a meditation/visualisation and relaxation CD specific to menstruating with ease.

The Red Box will have other goodies too, like soothing chamomile tea and valerian tea; nourishing essential oils like Jasmine and Rose to invite her feminine spirit forth.

It will be the ultimate pamper box which I hope will become symbolic to her as well…something to show how important it is that we fully nurture ourselves as women. There is simply no prize or benefit from denying our own needs to serve others first all the time.

I will offer her the opportunity for an aromatherapy massage; reflexology and cranio-sacral therapy.

My deepest dream around all this is to build my daughters an eco-friendly Moon Hut… a small, single room shelter made from mud or straw bales, with stained glass windows and a pot belly wood stove where they can retreat to during their cycle. If we weren’t living in rented accommodation I’d build one in the garden. In the meantime I pray we’ll be fortunate enough to buy a small piece of land again where we can build our modern-day Red Tent together.

At the moment Bethany and I share a letters journal where we take turns to write to each other. We’re vastly different beasts, Bethany and I. More often than not, it is challenging for both of us to see the world through each other’s eyes. The journal allows us a safe, bonding space…a place for sharing intimate thoughts away from Paul and Eliza. It is our ‘girly time’ sanctuary. I hope it will continue for many years.

I will give her a copy of Cycle to the Moon (a journal for celebrating your moontime), a book I wrote several years ago. I plan to put it on-line soon as an e-book, too.

Holistic Menstruation is about recognising that we’re more than just a bleeding body! A holistic approach guides us to making food choices which nurture us.
It is a way which nourishes mind, body and soul and honours their interconnectedness through ritual, art, writing, meditation and intuitive isolation during the moontime. It encourages us to honour our dreams and how they change depending upon where we are in our cycle.

With love, as always ~ Veronika

Thought for the week…

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character: it becomes your destiny.

~ Frank Outlaw


Harmonious Living said...

Deeply touching, moving, and joy evoking. The sharing around the Red Box could be shared with every mother with young daughters, I just posted it on to my daughter - its a sharing worthy of a print in mother mag.
Love you. Ruth.

Ren said...

Your blog is a beautiful place...I've really enjoyed reading here. This post especially moved me, I can't imagine having that kind of support surrounding my menstural cycle. I really wish the women in my life could have been so nourishing!!

Thanks for all the great ideas to share with my sweet daughter. Fabulous post, I followed you back here from my blog, so glad you stopped by!

rosehips said...
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