I just made a recording of this essay. May it be in Beauty.
“I give away my blood of life to all my relations. I open my womb with delight.”
Brooke Medicine Eagle
The Red Tent: A place of sanctuary and power for women during their monthly moon time. It is also a time for menopausal women to share their wisdom with younger women. And it is a time for young women to learn the ways of the blood mysteries. It is a safe place to speak about being women, sexuality and, in some cases, the wounding and trauma that have occurred from being women. It is a place of healing.
The Red Thread: The invisible thread of nourishment that run through our lives as women, connecting our voices, our hearts and our wombs.
The Red Witch: A woman who knows the way of the blood mysteries.
“The blood mysteries teach that menstrual blood and birthing blood are holy blood, power blood, healing blood. The blood mysteries teach us to remember that life and healing come from and return to woman, to the wise woman, to the woman who bleeds and bleeds. And does not die.” Susun Weed
I remember my first time bleeding. I was eleven and noticed blood in my underwear. I tried to hide it. My mom found me in the bathroom in the middle of the night with bloody underwear. I don’t remember what she said to me. I do remember that she went into the bedroom and told my dad and I thought that was horrible because men weren’t supposed to know. I was scared. I was ashamed. My parents didn’t shame me, they just didn’t say much so I felt I had to handle all kinds of emotions alone.
In my early twenties, I got pregnant twice. I had two abortions. The first one was okay, I did not want to be pregnant. I was twenty one. The second pregnancy came right as I was about to start my first teaching job. I didn’t want to do it. I thought I had too. Again, I felt scared, ashamed and very alone.
“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” Oprah Winfrey
When I was about twenty seven years old. I attended a woman’s conference in Seattle and went to a panel discussion with four women. One of these women was a naturopath. This woman talked about the women’s menstrual cycle as being sacred. Other women spoke about ways to utilize your menstrual blood for protection and fertility.
I had never heard such things before.
After the women’s conference, I began to collect my menstrual blood and give it to my house plants and outdoor plants. I also put it around my house for protection.
“I am woman giving away nourishment to ensure this planet’s life. With my moontime power, my blood, with my birthing power, my blood, I feed the earth who feeds us all. Every month I remember: I am woman. I am earth. I am life. I am nourishment. I am change.” Susun Weed
At a women’s herbal conference in the nascent days of my shamanic herbalism practices, I participated in a ritual to honor my moon time, my bleeding time and the blood mysteries. I remember the singing from that ritual. “She’s been waiting. She’s been waiting so long. She’s been waiting for her daughters to remember to return.” This song has now become part of me as I offer my shamanic herbalism teachings to apprentices.
I learned about menopause from Susun Weed before that time began, so that I could honor the cessation of my bleeding and retreat to the menopausal cave to transform. Although menopause was a difficult time for me, it was also a potent time when I learned about the Goddess, about wise woman ways and also shamanism.
I learned more songs to honor this time of intense transformation.
“Ancient Mother I hear you calling, Ancient Mother I sing your song. Ancient Mother, I share your laughter. Ancient Mother, I taste your tears.” Robert Gass
“Sweet Mother Earth, feel me, take my body and heal me.” Mahria Potter.
As I further studied with the plants and the earth, I found that there was such power in my womb space. I studied tantric dance and learned a deep practice of tilting and tucking my pelvis, ever so slightly to evoke the connection with the vast inner universe of my womb.
And now in the teachings that I offer on our land, with apprentices and students, the blood mysteries are integral in learning wise woman way and shamanic herbalism. Here at our farm, we have over an acre of wild roses. When the wild rose hips are ripe, many of them are red as blood.
A shamanic listening exercise you can do with these ruby red wild rose hips is to stand before the roses, find a particular red rose hip and breathe the red into your womb. Ever so slightly, tilt and tuck your pelvis as you do this. And breathe like this for 21 breaths. And ask the roses, “Who am I?” And listen. When you are done, give thanks.
You can also add a little bit of the leaf of a plant with red leaves to your herbal infusions. I collected wild blackberry leaves and wild rose leaves this autumn. They turn red in the fall. You can also partake of wild rose hips and Hawthorne berry herbal preparations. This will connect you with your moon time, whether you are maiden, mother or crone.
“I am eating rain and sun and fields where scarlet poppies run.” Alice C. Henderson
This time of autumn, when the darkness sets in, is a most potent time to study the blood mysteries. It can be a solitary practice or be shared with other women in the red tent.
As women, we are powerful.
Our power comes from being women.
May it be in beauty.
A few resources for further reading about the blood mysteries: