There once was a time when women were deeply in touch with their cycles, their wombs, and rhythms of inner and outer nature. These women were considered the Women of the Red Tent. They honored the flow of blood out of their bodies; related and listened the natural movement of life and death; and cared deeply for themselves, their community, and the Earth. This connection today still lives on in our bones, and some have re-awoken its song and are singing, while others have forgotten the tune.
Now, at this pivotal time, it is crucial we remember and re-engage.
Women of the Red Tent were in celebration of first blood. They honored it as an emergence, as a rite of passage. They gathered together, both elders and young, to sing, dance, play, and be feral. They supported and nourished the young during times when the body was undergoing changes foreign and unfamiliar. They blessed the journey ahead with encouragement, and were there as a tribe for one another.
They honored being and becoming fully themselves. Each stage of life’s journey brought upon its own flavor that was ferociously tasted and savored with no hesitation; acceptance and inclusivity was the path (and still is!). They acted in ways that nourished cycles; that brought them closer to what was happening inside of their bodies and the body of the earth.
Together they sang the long lost lines of nature back into existence. They ensured that no part of their psyches, shadows or otherwise, were left unnoticed or forgotten.
Every unique part had its own note, smell, and shape; they knew that each was necessary to their continual evolution and to being a whole human.
Now, at this time, we too are being called as women to remember the ways of our elders and ancestors. To tune into the innate depth of wisdom within the body and to honor it with fearless respect and curiosity. And luckily, most of us get this opportunity once a month!
Too often the first blood is accompanied by embarrassment, confusion, or dread. And for most of us, a negatively toned relationship with the cycle continues until we reach menopause. We are then too hot to be bothered and dried up like a burnt out fire.
The flow of blood and all that it entails does not, and shall no longer, be anything to be ashamed of or frowned upon. It is far from ordinary; it is magic, it is sacred.
Really, ladies, pay close attention.
Your blood is telling you mysterious things. It is asking you to listen. It gives you signs and signals into a vast wilderness – the territory of valleys and hills within the map of your body.
Here are a few ways to more deeply honor your menstruation and that of your sisters:
When you bleed, wear red. This not only honors the color of your blood, it can also inform others (once they pick up on the cues) that you are bleeding at this time – that you may be more sensitive, more introverted, or whatever it is that you are.
Seek or Create Women’s Gatherings
It is truly amazing, if you have yet to notice, what can happen when being around close sister friends. We synchronize, naturally, without any force. This can be seen as such a strong indication that we are meant to gather during the times that we menstruate. More and more this is being recognized and gatherings are held in this regard. Seek out one in your area, or, if you have a few close girlfriends, make it happen! Gather around cycles, see the alignment happen, and do what honors life, blood, the moon, and each and every one of you!
When you are flowing, take time outside in nature to connect. Walk on all fours. Speak to the trees and plants. Sing songs that have no words; the sound of your heart. Sing from your womb and listen. Shake. Shake even more. Place your hands over your womb and thank it with deep reverence. Let go of what no longer serves you and forgive, for your own sake. You will feel much better afterwards.
Notice what happens in your mind, body, and emotions before your cycle and welcome it all. View it objectively, it really is no big deal, and have a bit of compassion towards any anger, irritations, or emotionality that may arise!
Once you are bleeding notice the quality of your blood. It tells you various things. Brown blood is indicative that your endometriosis did not shed itself fully last time – what are you holding onto; what do you need to let go of? Strings in your blood are signs of attachment – where is it that you are stuck? How can you bring about more self-reliance and interdependence of the tribe? (Yes, this requires vulnerability!) Clumps, colors, and smells too all carry their own information. Get to know what your body is telling you and have the courage to make necessary changes. Without fear there is no courage; welcome the fear too.
Have a regular yoni steaming practice
Also known as vaginal steaming or v-steaming, yoni steaming is a holistic health practice in which a woman allows the warmth of herbal steam to gently permeate her vagina. Yoni steaming is a powerful ancient remedy that has been used for centuries by women worldwide. This gentle treatment provides effective support for the female reproductive system, and invites reconnection with the powerful, creative energy of a woman's center.
Make an Offering
Offer to yourself. Cover your body in honey and be around the house naked for some time (watch what you touch!) and then shower. Feel how smooth your delicious body is afterwards. Use raw honey when possible – this nectar is some of the best medicine! Offer your blood to the earth. During your cycle, if you’re open to it, bleed right on the earth. Do this as much as possible. Or, offer your blood to plants. If you put good food into your body, your blood will without a doubt be nourishment for life.
Dive into your Dreams
Pay attention to the richness of your dream world. Not only are we born alone and die alone, every night we drift to some place where the landscape changes and no one but ourselves can see and feel what takes place in this world. Give your dreams attention, write them down, in the present tense, and fully study the symbols that arise.
Dive into your dreams in your life, too. Wipe the dust from under your wings and fly. Fly towards what you want to do, and as cliché as it sounds, believe fully in yourself and in the fact that life is holding you, the Earth is holding you, and that you are innately, no matter what, good. Even if you are not okay, that is just fine.
Deepen your exploration....
Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
Wise Woman (the series) by Susun Weed
Sierra Brashear, MA is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, DONA-trained doula, herbal alchemist, wellness educator and founder of Vibrant Souls yoni steams. Inspired by the rhythms and elements of nature, Sierra weaves her knowledge of Ayurveda into the products and lifestyle design programs she offers. She invites you to join her 16-week program, The Art of Fertility | Journey to Conception — to clear toxins and nourish your mind and body in preparation for an easeful conception and healthy pregnancy. Sierra is also co-founder of Cultivate Balance and Moon Bath, and lives in Boulder, Colorado.