“In other major cycles of a woman’s life, such as pregnancy and menopause, there is greater understanding and support for the roles that changing hormones play in the system. But when a young woman enters puberty, the new hormonal demands on her system receive little attention. For unexplored reasons the physical needs of the young woman are seldom considered.”
MOON CYCLES. How many of us truly had proper guidance as we entered this dramatic shift within our journey through womanhood? For me, even though my mother was extremely supportive this part of womanhood somehow got brushed under the rug. I personally remember feeling embarrassed, uneducated and awkward.
It was August of 99′ I was 14 almost 15 years old and unfortunately was spending the week at my father’s since my parents were divorced. Embarrassed was an understatement! I simply rolled up tissue to replace the need for a pad and waited 2 days until my dad returned me home to even mention what happened to anyone. To be honest I don’t even remember what happened from that point on. I’m assuming my mother gave me pads, told me what to expect and recommended I use Motrin for cramps. This was my memory of my first moon cycle and unfortunately is a similar story for most women. What a lost moment for teaching, proper guidance and celebration! I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing but most topics surrounding periods, sex and vaginas aren’t really mentioned and marked as a time to celebrate and discuss.
Recently I was reading, Herbal Healing for Women, by Rosemary Gladstar and I came across a chapter titled, Moving into the Moon Time. This chapter gave so much reference to the lack of education within moon cycles but specifically focused on the first moon cycle. It totally confirmed my own feelings and sadly opened my eyes to how many women have similar experiences. Gladstar shared one woman’s experience as she told of her anger and frustration at the way her family had treated her at the beginning of her menstrual years. Her tomboy relationship with the neighborhood guys and her wonderful sense of freedom were sternly criticized by her parents, and especially by her father. At the onset of her moon time, she was no longer allowed to play randomly with her buddies, the neighborhood boys. A stricter curfew was imposed. She felt she was always being watched. Feeling like a jailed princess, she deeply resented the restrictions she believed were caused by her moon time.
“For most women the first menstrual cycle is an awkward and embarrassing time, made worse by the dramatic hormonal shift of adolescence. There is little positive feedback for the contemporary adolescent and little information available about how to make this important transition smoothly.”
With that said, Kaila, I promise to be transparent and willing to discuss everything from moon cycles to sex. I promise to break the cycle of secrecy about our bodies and transitions. As a feminist and a mother it’s my duty and obligation to guide you so that you’ll go through transitions well educated and confident.
“Below are a few simple suggestions that have worked as passages into the moon time for young women. Unlike the elaborate celebrations and feasts of primitive cultures at initiatory rites, these are simply contemporary ceremonies honoring the young women of menarche years.”
- Invite a small group of older women who have known your daughter for several years. Serve a dinner of your daughter’s favorite foods. She might like to help plan the menu and prepare the food. After dinner, create a circle and have the guests share stories of their first moon cycle. It is nice if each woman brings a small gift that is symbolic of womanhood. When the circle is completed, toast your daughter with a special lunar tea. Have each woman guest make a wish for your daughter and drink to her womanhood.
- Your daughter and you might have a spacial moon time ceremony involving just the two of you. You could start by making a special lunar tea. Place it in a fine crystal bowl in full moonlight. You and she might take turns speaking your wishes for her womanhood. The next morning, the two of you go out together and drink from the crystal, making a toast to you daughter and her life.
- Carry out a “Blessing Way” ceremony adapted from Native American traditions. It is lovely to create if your daughter is open for the experience; you can feely adapt it to fit your daughter’s needs. Invite a few friends to join you or do it just with your daughter. The rest of the family may be invited if she feels comfortable about including them. It’s nice when a young woman’s father can be present and even participate in this ceremony. It may be done indoors, but is especially empowering when done in a natural setting. Begin washing your daughter’s feet. This is a symbolic act of cleansing away old energy and inviting new energy to come in. It is also a way of humbling oneself to another. In this ceremony, you are honoring your daughter for her emergence as a woman. When you have finished washing your daughter’s feet, anoint them with a scented massage oil. Next, brush her hair and rearrange it in a new style. If your daughter wears her hair down, braid it and weave flowers in to it. If she wears her hair up, let it flow loosely. This rearranging of hair is symbolic of the changes she is undergoing and reflects a new beginning. It’s fun to use flowers to decorate her hair, or to surprise your daughter with a dance new hair clip. (If her father is participating, have him be the one to wash and anoint your daughter’s feet before you rearrange and decorate her hair.) For the last part of the ceremony, have each person present take a sip of Lunar tea and offer a wish or prayer for the young woman.