As we are thick in the celebrations of May Day, Beltane, Mother’s Day and more, I think it is only appropriate to take a moment to talk about the stories that have been passed down about the traditions women have practiced and celebrated.
It used to be that women more easily followed a natural path that supported their bodies, spirits, and unique talents. When a young woman was blessed with her first moon cycle, in many cultures such as the Ojibwe of North America, she began a monthly practice of seclusion to a lodge separate from her regular domicile. In this lodge she and other women experiencing their moon found time for rest, relaxation, and restoration. It is a time for women to honor themselves, their bodies, and their experiences as a woman. The women dance together, talk and support one another; and traditionally the lodge would include most women at once, as small communities (tribes) would sync up their cycles.
There are other stories, beautiful stories, that tell of women being more powerful during their moon; that if they were to cross over a male’s medicine bundle they would steal all of its power. That is how powerful a woman is, that is how much magic she carries. And I’m not talking just about women as a gender, I’m talking about femininity as an energy. Living on the Earth, as human beings, we carry a mixture of divine masculine and divine feminine energy. It is my personal belief that all people have a unique mixture of these divine energies in their spirit, and this is how we come to express our sex and gender. Sex being the biological assignment as birth, gender being the role and identity we claim and own through performance of that gender. I am using the definitions I’ve learned through cultural and gender studies, but you can supply your own in whatever way is comfortable and meaningful to you.
Another practice that tribes of many cultures, countries, and continents carried out was the offering of blood from a woman’s first moon. Peel away your Western perceptions for a second, (stop thinking it’s gross), and walk with me here. As I talked about above, women being the powerful, magical beings that they are, this offering of first blood was a ritual used to connect that woman to the Earth; who is also a divine feminine spirit, by the way. Some call her Gaia, some call her Pachamama, or Mother Earth, or any other number of names, but recognize her as the Great Mother, the being who birthed and holds us all in her sacred womb. Thus, by a woman offering that blood to the Earth, she is recognizing her sacred connection to the Divine Feminine spirit that gave her life. It is a matter of respect and reciprocity.
Much different than what we currently have, isn’t it? Where women’s “periods” are loathsome, burdensome occasions in which that woman is shamed, made to feel dirty and ill. How many products and marketing ploys work to sell women this idea of themselves, this disempowering ideology of women? The answer, in short, is way too many.
As we return to the Old Ways, I ask you to ponder, no matter your sex or gender, what your relationship is like to the idea of being a women. Whether you have had this experience personally, or have witnessed it in others. It is important for us, as a people, to honor and respect the vital role women have and will have as powerful, magical beings- capable of birthing new life both energetically and physically.
“There are other stories, beautiful stories, that tell of women being more powerful during their moon; that if they were to cross over a male’s medicine bundle they would steal all of its power. That is how powerful a woman is, that is how much magic she carries. And I’m not talking just about women as a gender, I’m talking about femininity as an energy.
By Chancellor Kendall Belopavlovich, Princess of Hrafnarfjall