Showing posts with label moontime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label moontime. Show all posts

Monday, August 22, 2011

Native Wisdom for Women's Moontim

The Gift From the Moon
how moontime came to women and how it might be honored

~Nicholas Noble Wolf

Most, if not all traditions of Native American spirituality hold moon-time as a sacred time of purification during which women do not go into ceremony or use sacred objects such as pipes and feathers. Often people from Western culture see this as a disrespectful and negative stereotyping of a woman’s menstrual cycle. We traditional people do not see it this way, as moon-time is a place of honor and beauty.

I am a traditionally initiated shaman and medicine man living in Durango, Colorado in the USA. Recently I had the honor to be sponsored into Britain to be of the most service and assistance to the people there that I could. While there, I met many people doing their best to walk the path of their spirit. Everyone I met was very honorable, and I hope that maybe I was able to be of some small service to those I met.

During my visit, I found that some women wanted to participate in sweat lodge during their time of the moon. Therefore, while I am but a man, I thought to offer some words that the elder women on the Southern Ute Indian reservation have given me coupled with knowledge from my shamanic lineage and personal experiences.

Before I go into those words, let me clarify that I am a white man. I was chosen to become shaman by the Old One and received my instruction from Jade Wah'oo, successor and caretaker of the lineage passed on by Grandpa Juan Peña (Tewa) of the San Juan Pueblo in New Mexico. As a white person, I was specifically instructed to bring certain of our ways to the white people of the world to assist them in finding and walking the path their spirit intends.

We have a telling of the coming of moon-time to the women. I will share it here as it was given to me:

A long time ago, women did as they do now—they held the family, they held the power (life-force) for the family, they held the happiness and joy, they held the sorrow and disappointments. After time, the negative emotions and heartache that the women took upon themselves on behalf of their families would begin to weigh them down. The women would become sick and finally, could no longer take on the burdens of the family. Yet the nature to do so had been imbued into them by Creator.

One day, a woman was out in the forest, crying because the burden had become so great, when Raven heard her and asked, "Mother, why do you cry?"

The woman responded, "I love my family so very much. I hold my family in my heart and soul, but the pains of life have filled me up. I can no longer help my family. I can no longer take their burdens from them. I just don't know what to do."

Raven responded, "I understand the pain you feel, as I feel it also. I will go and ask Grandmother Ocean if she knows what to do." So Raven flew to the ocean and shared with Grandmother the plight of the women.

Grandmother Ocean responded, "If the women will come to me, I will wash their pain from them, but this won't help the ones who are far away. Let me ask my sister, Grandmother Moon, if she can help."

So Grandmother Ocean spoke to her sister of the women's plight. Grandmother Moon responded, "I am the power of the feminine. I will send into the women, my sisters, your waters carrying my power. Once every moon cycle, you shall come into the women through me and purify them." And, she did this. So ever since then, every woman has a time each moon cycle when she embodies the power of the moon and flows the cleansing of the ocean. We call this the woman's time of the moon, or moon-time.

It is each woman's responsibility to take the time when she is in her time of the moon to purify. It is the responsibility of the men to give the women the opportunity to do so. Unfortunately these days, the men generally do not allow this opportunity. It used to be that women could have a "headache" and tell the men to leave them alone. Of course, in some traditions, there was a formal arrangement set up where the women could get away from the men to a moon lodge. But, people have tried to make women into men. Some women say, "We are strong, we can do anything during our periods". So, now we have PMS!

One has to understand the fundamental nature of power. With power, the lesser inherently flows to the greater. Therefore, when a woman is embodying the moon, she is embodying a huge reservoir of power—all that is contained within her sister, Grandmother Moon. This means that lesser amounts of power around her will inherently flow into her. That would include power charged with negative emotion. This can make a woman sick. Suddenly that "headache" is very real. Those cramps are but the negative emotions that surround a woman through whomever she comes in contact with.

So, what can a woman do while in her moon-time? First, she can be conscious. She can set her intention such that she does not take into herself anything from anyone (yes, this takes practice). She will refrain from getting into unsettling discussions or being around upset people any more than absolutely necessary. She will not allow negativity to flow into herself from others. For, while power will inherently flow from lesser to greater, one’s intent can always control that. Second, each day, she can go outside and sit with the moon for a time, asking for assistance and giving thanks for the purification being given. Third, she will not participate in ceremonies at that time. Ceremony is about creating, about outward energy. A woman in her moon-time is about purifying, about inward prayer. Also, a woman’s power flow will shift to a moon-wise direction when she is in her moon. However, ceremony would generally be moving power in a sun-wise direction. This would be a conflict, distracting both the woman and the other participants. And, with all that power flying around, it would be very difficult for the woman to keep from taking any of it into herself. The knowledgeable women here have told me that a ceremonial is the last place they want to be at that time of the month, anyway. They just want to be by themselves or in a very quiet space.

Our tellings of the coming of the sweat lodge say that it was given to the men because the men do not have a moon-time. It was only in the last thirty years or so that women have begun to sweat (except in doctoring sweats, of course). In fact, in many traditions, even if the women do sweat, they do so separately from the men. I welcome women into my lodge as I understand that these days they do not have the ability to fully go through moon-time purification as they might desire and need. They must be at work from 9 to 5. They can't step away for 4 or 5 days anymore. It is very sad.

In summary, women of knowledge do not sweat during their time of the moon. They are not excluded by the men nearly as much as they choose to exclude themselves. They do not choose to contend with that which is being released within the lodge in the name of purification. They choose to honor the gift they have received from their Grandmothers and, in that way, honor themselves, their families, and their people.

So far as handling medicine objects such as pipe or feathers goes, these are living, empowered beings. Certainly a woman would refrain from using them during her moon-time so as not to draw the life-force out of them during her super-empowered time.

I suggest that women learn whether this knowledge that has been passed down is true or not for themselves. Do not rely on a man to say, but rely on Grandmother to say what is best for you. To support this, I invited women who wanted to participate in discovering what is true to come to my sweat lodges. A woman not in her moon then volunteers to be of service to these women, by seeing to any needs they have. The moon-time women sit outside of the lodge on the west side (the side of feminine power) about ten or so feet away where they pray to Grandmother Moon and meditate. When it is cold, they may sit by the fire, of course. After the lodge, these honored women are served food by the woman in service before anyone else. While I will never know what it is like to sit in prayer and meditation during a moon-time, I have been informed by those women who have had this opportunity that it is extremely profound and that they received greater value than they could ever receive sitting within the lodge.

In closing, I remind all people that a woman in her moon-time is to be honored and revered and never, ever made to feel an outcast. She is sacred and precious.

(originally published in Sacred Hoop magazine, Winter 2000/2001)
© copyright 2000, Nicholas Noble Wolf

Women Who Bleed with the Moon

Women Who bleed with the moon 

The moon has always been the primary symbol for female energy; its cycle around the earth takes approximately twenty-nine days, the same amount of time as the average woman's menstrual cycle. It is often felt that as the pull of the moon affects the waters of the world, so does its motion affect the body of woman.

A women's blood and hormonal cycle follows the ebb and flow of the moon; from new moon to full moon, estrogen increases leading to ovulation, or maximum fertility, at full moon. From full moon to new moon, the waning half of the cycle, progesterone predominates. Traditionally, women used to start bleeding right before the new moon, in the dark of the moon.

In modern times, women begin their menstruation during different phases of the moon. Their bodies are out of sync with the moon and their spirits have forgotten the meaning of Grandmother Moon. One way to get back in harmony with the moon is by performing ceremonies and rituals at different times during the moon cycle and also by honoring the time of menstruation.

When a woman begins her monthly bleeding, she has a very special vibration. The blood flow is cleansing as the old uterine lining is sloughed off, one monthly reproductive cycle is ended. At menstruation, women have the chance to rid themselves of all old thoughts, habits, desires, and be receptive to new visions and inspirations for the next cycle. This is the dark moon phase.

If a woman continues her normal routine at menstruation, then she loses a uniquely female opportunity for introspection. She also finds she gets more tired, irritable, and upset because her physical rhythm has slowed down. She needs rest, more time for meditation, and less time doing housework, cooking, working in the outside world, and taking care of children.

In many Native American tribes and other tribal cultures, there is a separate moon lodge to which all women go. Since most women menstruated at the same time (have you noticed women who live together bleed together) during the dark of the moon, the grandmothers and fathers took care of the children. Food was left outside the lodge several times a day. Women during menstruation were/are considered to hold a certain power and not allowed to mingle with the rest of the tribe. Many tribes have taboos against these women, believing that their power would interfere with the hunt or take away the power of the medicine bundles.

This is also why women are not allowed in sweat lodges and must stand outside the circles in other ceremonies when they are in their moon time. We know now that women were also segregated because of fear of the immense power which enabled them to bleed each month and never die -the greatest of all the Mysteries- while a male warrior might succumb quickly after losing so much. - Women's Medicine Ways' Cross-cultural rites of passage Marcia Starck

Visit The Women's Moon Hut, a place for women on their moontime to come for rest, reflection, and sisterhood. You have the power to feel good about yourself and your body. Information, products, and an alternative viewpoint about menstruation so that you can feel great about being a woman every day of the month!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Choices in Menstrual Protection

Today women have more menstrual protection choices than ever from tampons to thong pads and reusable cups that fit over the cervix. How do you know which product is right for your period?
Your Period
The first step in deciding which menstrual hygiene product is the best choice for your period is knowing yourself and your period. Periods can vary from woman to woman, as well as from onset of menstruation to menopause; they can be lighter, heavier, longer, or shorter and still be considered normal.
What defines normal menstruation?
While most menstrual cycles are between 28 and 30 days long, periods that come anywhere from 21 to 35 days apart are considered normal in most situations by your clinician.
The amount of menstrual fluid lost during your period averages from 4 to 12 teaspoons for the majority of women; however there are many variations of normal among women.
Most periods last from 3 to 5 days, however it's not abnormal for a period to last for 7 days.
Always speak to your clinician if you are unsure whether your period is normal.
Picking Your Period Protection
Fortunately we have several choices in sanitary protection products today. Some woman may find that one product is right for them, while others may decide to use different products depending on their flow and lifestyle.
Menstrual Cups
Commercial menstrual cups have been around since the 1930's according to the Museum of Menstruation. An unusual and painful-looking version of a menstrual cup was patented 1867, but it is know clear whether it was ever manufactured. Today both reusable and disposable menstrual cups are available for women.
The Keeper is a reusable menstrual cup currently on the market. It is made of natural rubber and can be used for up to ten years. It's a great choice for women who are concerned about the affect the environment may have on disposable types of period protection products. The Keeper holds up to one ounce of menstrual fluid and is simply washed out each time it is full and reinserted, or saved for your next period. The Keeper currently sells for $35 US which can equal a significant savings overtime. Picture of the Keeper
The first and only disposable menstrual cup currently on the market is the The INSTEAD SoftCup. It is made from a nonabsorbent, non irritating thermoplastic material that conforms to your shape to prevent leakage. Instead can be worn for up to 12 hours. My personal experience: Instead is unbelievably comfortable, I could almost forget I was on my period. Although the company claims it is easy to insert and remove, I found removal could be difficult and messy--otherwise I thought it was a wonderful product. Instead is available on their website, as well as from stores throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Menstrual Pads
Sanitary protection pads have been around in one form or another for as long as women have had periods. Until 1921, when Kotex pads were introduced on the market, women often used cotton rags or knitted, washable menstrual pads like these 19th Century Norwegian menstrual pads on display at the Museum of Menstruation.

The advent of disposable menstrual pads did not entirely end the use of washable pads. In the early days of disposable pads, although they were inexpensive for some women, many other women could not afford such luxury and continued using various cotton materials. The influence of environmental awareness over the last 30 years has renewed the interest in reusable, washable menstrual pads. A search on any search engine for "reusable menstrual pads" will return a long list of vendors selling these products. Or if you prefer, you can make your own reusable menstrual pad.
Menstrual pads are available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and brands. There are maxi pads for heavy days, and mini pads for light days. Some pads are thick and some are thin. Some even conform to the style of panties you wear. And some have "wings" that fit over your panties to hold them in place. Anyone who's every given birth probably can't forget the largest pads--the maternity pads. A visit to your local grocery, drug, or discount store will provide you with a wide variety of brands and prices of disposable menstrual pads to choose from.
Tampons entered the American market in the late 1920's or 30's, according to the Museum of Menstruation. However tampon-like materials have been used by women probably for thousands of years. Many of the first commercial tampons did not have an applicator, and one did not have a string. Tampax was the first tampon to have an applicator in 1936.
Today women have a wide choice of brands of tampons available. Some have cardboard applicators, some plastic, and others no applicator. Some tampons contain deodorants to help reduce menstrual odors. There is much controversy about the safety of tampons and their possible connection to women's health conditions such as endometriosis and toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Women who enjoy the convenience of tampons but who are concerned about possible health risks can find all natural, organic, cotton tampons on several websites, as well as at your local organic market.
Tampon Absorbency Ratings
What all currently available tampons have in common is an absorbency rating system to help you determine which tampon is right for your flow. Some companies sell boxes of tampons with various sizes in one box so that you can use the smaller ones on your lighter days and the more absorbent tampons on your heaviest days.
Junior:The junior tampon will hold up to 6 grams of menstrual fluid.
Regular: Regular absorbency tampons hold between 6 and 9 grams of menstrual fluid.
Super:These super tampons have an absorbency rating of 9 to 12 grams of menstrual fluid.
Super plus:Super plus tampons are for your heaviest days and absorb from 12 to 15 grams of menstrual fluid.
1 gram of menstrual fluid equals about 1/4 teaspoon.
Tampons should be changed every 4 to 6 hours. If your tampon doesn't need changing in 4 to 6 hours, you are using a tampon with too high an absorbency rating and should switch to a lower absorbency tampon. Other signs you are using a tampon that is too absorbent include:
Difficult removal.
Dry vagina.
Tampon shredding upon removal.
Properly inserted tampons are comfortable to wear and do not cause pain or other irritation. You should not be able to feel your tampon when it is inserted correctly. If you can feel your tampon in your vagina then you will need to reinsert it deeper. Tampons are a great choice for women who are physically active. They do not interfere with exercise or swimming. You should not have an odor when you are wearing a tampon-- this could be a sign of infection. An odor can also be a sign that you have forgotten to remove a tampon. Tampons can be safely used by women and girls of all ages. If your daughter feels comfortable using tampons, she can use them beginning with her first periods.
Anytime you experience an unusual vaginal odor consult your clinician.
Not A Pad, Not A Tampon
Another option for women during very light days, or for women experiencing vaginal discharge or urine leakage is the nSync miniform. The miniform is not a pad or a tampon. It is designed to fit comfortably between the vaginal lips (the labia). It is currently available in stores in the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountain states, or can be ordered by calling 1-888-8INSYNC. Reusable, washable menstrual sponges have been used for thousands of years. Today a silk sponge is available called Sea Pearls. The Museum of Menstruation recommends that sponges be boiled for 5 to 10 minutes to kill any bacteria that may survive regular washing.