Menstruality and women's inner seasons
"Menstruality is the female life process of menarche, the menstrual cycle, menopause and the mature years. It is the woman's ground, 'the mother cycle', out of which rises the initiatory path to motherhood that is conception, pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
Menstruality describes the precise and multi-layered biological, psychological and spiritual system of evolution within the female body. Menstruality is the actual lived experience of this process, the knowledge that a woman accumulates or grows down into, and the field consciousness that this embodied knowledge generates.
Menstruality is a means of naming and exploring the ineffable, mysterious forces within a woman - the hidden powers that are released when consciousness is brought to bear on our biological life changes.
Menstruality is both a woman's unique Calling or Power and the evolutionary path by which she realises that Power. Menarche, menstruation and menopause are the key way stations of initiation or Awakening to the Power. The menstruating years are the practice ground for realising it, and the mature years a time of deep fulfillment of that Calling or Power.
Menstruality describes a woman's journey of individuation from ego-based consciousness to participatory consciousness - an extraordinary integrated and complete system of psychological and spiritual growth.
Menstruality is a language, a way of articulating a woman's experience that is rooted in natural lore and the process of evolution. It is how women pass on our knowledge of our feminine life process from one to another. It is a shared way of being.
Menstruality is a living body of knowledge that evolves through each individual woman's experience and sharing of the process. Our menstruality experience exists within a context - this beautiful planet of ours. It awakens us to our responsibility for the planet. Our menstruality is a deeply internal process that takes us into the most intimate places within and within reveals the World, the Whole, and our role in serving that. It is a unifying consciousness that connects us to all of life.
Menstruality is the Feminine in action. It is the channel through which the Feminine can be experienced and integrated back into our lives and on to the planet. Through consciously working with our menstruality we provide the channel for restoring the power of the Feminine in to all areas of our lives.
Menstruality is a journey to love, an experience of being held be the ineffable, the Divine in action."
by Alexandra Pope & Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer, Red School
The term 'Menstruality' was coined in 2001 by New Zealand psychotherapist and menstruality educator Jane Catherine Severn. She developed a new, unique and comprehensive model of feminine life, recognising the hormonally-orchestrated sequence of life-changes she calls The Four M’s: Menarche, Menstrual Cycles, Menopause and Mature Life as the matrix on which our lifelong psychospiritual development takes place.
Like Mother Nature, we women have inner seasons and we experience them at different levels: monthly as we journey through our menstrual cycle, and during the whole span of our life.
Each life season detrmines your character, life stage, the theme of your life and your focus. And each season is marked by a specific rite of passage, which can create the mindset and beliefs that are experienced during that phase.
I really resonate with the way Jane Hardwicke Collings explain this four life seasons:
"Maiden: The period of life from birth (rite of passage into life), to puberty, with the Menarche (first menstrual period) midways through the Maiden season, being the rite of passage into Womanhood. This is the springtime of a woman's life - 0-25. Childbirth ends this phase
Mother: The period of life from childbirth (rite of passage), through the menopause (cessation of menstruation). A Mother enters the Mother season at about 25 years old, regardless of whether she has children or not. This is the summertime of a woman's life - 25 to 50 years.
Maga: The period of life from menopause (rite of passage) to old age. The autumntime of a woman's life - 50-70 years.
Crone: The period of life from retirement and withdrawal from the busy outside world to death (rite of passage). The wintertime of a woman's life - 70 to death."
(from Spinning Wheels by Jane Hardiwicke Collings)
And all these phases carry the intrisic elemental energy of Nature's spring, summer, autumn and winter: from purity and wildness of spring, to nurture and fertility of summer; from giving and harvesting of the autumn, to contemplation and inward focus of the winter - to name just a few...
And our menstrual cycle can be also experienced through the four seasons, and this can be such an illuminating and therapeutic discovery for all women, especially those with a challening relationship to their menstrual cycle: it can give sense and directions to hormonal changes, mood swings, and even pain... the menstrual cycle is women's innate mindfulness practice.
Preovulation | INNER SPRING
A time for new beginnings: new ideas, renewed energy levels, playfulness and lightheartedness... connect with your inner Maiden.
Ovulation | INNER SUMMER
A time for multitasking and really take the lead, do the work, manifest your creations, enjoy the peak of your energy levels... connect with your inner Mother.
Premenstruum | INNER AUTUMN
A time for grounding, slowing down and clearing stuff, a time of great and truthful feedback to yourself and to others... connect with your inner Maga.
Menstruation | INNER WINTER
A time for letting go, radical rest, reaffirmation of your true Self, a time for shamanic visioning and clarity for you next steps, with the beginning of the new cycle... connect to your inner Crone/Wise Woman.
I am imensely grateful to Alexandra Pope and Jane Hardwicke Collings for the wonderful, inspring and therapeutic work they have brought to life. May all women (and men) be blessed and empowered by it! More info in the Resources page.