For those of us living in big cities, it’s hard to imagine that the moon was once the primary source of light after the sunset. Before electricity and other modern miracles, ancient humans followed this luminary’s cues, preparing harvests under its full gaze and embracing dormancy as it moved through waning phases.
Back then, menstruation was not seen as an inconvenience, but an emblem of youth and fertility. When it was discovered that women’s cycles mirrored those of the moon, they were revered for this divine connection. Lunar goddesses were created in their image and worshipped as divine mothers, protectors, and seers. The Ancient Egyptians and Taoists believed that menstrual blood could increase spiritual power and ritualized its consumption with red wine. Ancient Greeks used menstrual blood to fertilize crops and to symbolize growth during springtime festivals. Women were thought to be more intuitive during menstruation and looked to for wisdom and guidance.
It wasn’t until the patriarchy took hold that the moon became a symbol to fear and women were taught to be ashamed of their monthly cycles. Those in power recognized that in order to subjugate women to this new dynamic, they would have to sever their connection to source. They promoted the belief that women were unclean and alienated them from society. Women were not allowed to have sex, prepare food, or even enter churches while they were bleeding.
Words like “hysteria” and “lunacy” reflect this change of thought. The former comes from the Latin word hystericus, meaning “of the womb. “ This female-specific madness was thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the womb and is the reason why we still refer to the removal of women’s reproductive systems as hysterectomies. Lunacy was defined as a monthly episode of insanity brought on by the phases of the moon. These are just two examples that demonstrate how women were systematically taught to devalue their own intuition. Take a moment and think about how many times you’ve heard a woman say something along the lines of, “I’m not sure if I really feel this way or if it’s just because I’m on my period.”
When we endeavor to heal this disconnect, we achieve greater synchronicity with our bodies and it becomes apparent how women’s menstrual cycles mirror not just those of the moon, but days, seasons, and life itself.
The bleeding phase is the seasonal equivalent of winter and correlates with the dark and new moon phases. In relation to a 24-hour day, it is the hours between midnight and 3am. Period is an apt word for it, as it’s meant to represent a full stop, a time to release and receive.
The days leading up to ovulation, also known as the follicular phase, could be compared to the dawn and morning hours, or the waxing cycles of the moon. Just like spring welcomes new growth, this stage offers a boost in energy that helps us implement the ideas received during rest.
Ovulation represents the climax of the menstrual cycle, comparable to the full moon, summer, and noontime. It is when we relate best with others and nurturing qualities come out. We feel and appear more attractive. For some this may be reflected in sex drive, especially if they are in prime childbearing years.
The luteal phase can be a bit jarring after the optimistic energy of ovulation. Just like the fall season gives hints of winter in the form of falling leaves and a chilly breeze, the pre-menstrual brings symptoms like bloating, cramping, and fatigue, reminding us to prepare for the bleed. It is a time when our inner critic comes to the fore, especially if we have not done the work that’s been asked of us during the pre-ovulatory and ovulatory phases.
The menstrual cycle begins and ends with the bleed. Every month people with periods experience an inner death that brings them closer to their ancestors and otherworldly realms. When we harness this bodily wisdom, we invite more creativity, pleasure, and alignment into our lives.
If this knowledge is completely new to you, you might begin by charting your flow, moods, and productivity. Notice how your cycle follows or differs from the moon. If you are on hormonal birth control or do not get a regular period, you can use the moon’s cycles as cues in your own life. The new moon can be seen as a time of renewal, to set intentions and plan for their manifestation. The waxing phases are for strategizing and growth. The full moon is a culmination of energy, when all efforts are illuminated. The waning phases provide an opportunity to refine techniques and release anything that is not working. The dark moon is an invitation to slow down or stop completely, to absorb the lessons of the last cycle and get clarity on how to move forward.
The moon offers these insights to all of earth’s creatures, but those who bleed are especially tuned to her currents. Use this relationship to your advantage and let the moon provide a spotlight for your purpose.