Period story, ritualizing the flow

By Renee Garland

I think it was the way in which it was expressed that triggered me the most. So from the combining effect of the full moon, full lunar eclipse, and strong pms, when my boyfriend of four years sent me a text message (after months apart) the new rules on period conduct, needless to say it didn’t go over well. 
 
He had been attending the ashram of his revered teacher where they were finishing a six year process to clear, balance, and activate kundalini from a very traditional tantra lineage. These last three weeks were to finish and “lock” the energy work, so that he may go forth and teach the deep spiritual practices of mantra, yantra, tantra sadhana. He was good and cooked you could say. Blissfully basked in the Ashram sattvic bubble, and to be fair, perhaps concerned with how to integrate back to the outside world. Because the first thing he did was send a message to me from the taxi about the new ways in which we are to relate during my moon cycle. (which was to start the following day)
 
For five days; absolutely no touching of any sort, no sleeping in the same bed, and no touching or preparing his food. Woah. What?
 
This provoked more rage and a spectrum of emotions in me than I have ever seen before. My period felt demonized. A myriad of new vocabulary words seemed to roll off the tongue quite effortlessly… Fire seemed to be in place of words… I felt rage for the female collective, for all women who have ever walked before me on the planet who have had to suffer the patriarchy. For all women on this planet who are currently suffering from misogyny. For our dear mother earth. I saw all the collective pain flashing before my eyes. Period shaming is alive and well on this planet. I then started to argue every point I could think of with my partner, my mind became obsessed with new reasons why this made no sense. If this is about energy, I thought, (which was his argument) well there must be a million ways to damage his “sattvic” energy nowadays. Wifi for example…these rules were created in such different times in such different circumstances. 
 
I am an independent American woman! I’ve had my own business with traveling abroad as an importer for 17 years! Raised with a pretty healthy period story I thought and have supportive earthy parents. As a youth, it wouldn’t stop me from playing sports or participating in any activities, and I thought that was progressive. My family is Buddhist, but there was never any talk about not chanting or praying in our family temple or anywhere during our moon. 
I used to read provocative “period” poetry in school. I did research projects on women’s cycles in college and marched for equality. In early years, I used a sea sponge to collect my blood and feed my plants with the nutrient rich matter. I was informed about circles of women who would drink period blood in their smoothies! We were evolved I thought, and the treatments of women in many parts of India and Africa were just atrocities! So when Bob told me the rules, I thought about all the times I’d rebelliously entered temples in Asia during my period despite the signs stating we are not allowed to enter. Just where does the discrimination and made to feel dirty, shamed, or less than stop!?
 
I felt a new crusade start bubbling to the surface over the days which followed. I did not invite my boyfriend to stay with me, I needed to be vocal and share what is happening to girls and women on this planet. This was it, my line had been crossed. In India, where we live, the box office hit “Padman” had just made it to theaters, it seemed the time was now. (cue the badass empowering music)
 
Step 1. Break up with boyfriend
Step 2. Research what it’s like for women both locally and for the westerners at the ashram. 
Step 3. Band together and rise together for the feminine cause and the rights of all vagina’s!
 
I ended up speaking to a lot of women. I spoke with the women at Bob’s ashram who committed to this practice. -And I spoke with some beautiful local Hindu Goan women. I was sitting on the beach in my bathing suit talking to the beach sellers wearing full Saris’ in the hottt sun all about vagina’s rights! I told them that I’d just broken up with my boyfriend over these practices and they were stunned! “But don’t you love him?” one young woman with eyes wide in disbelief asked. I had to think for a sec, and laid down my feminist banter…Why yes, I still did. Terribly.
 
Anyway the stories they told me were just shocking, and I started feeling like all of India was the bad guy. Women sat with me and told me “it’s dirty” and they must sleep outside to not disrupt the house, they collectively burn the pads after to leave no trace. They are not allowed to enter the kitchen. One woman shared that she can’t touch children during this time. If she were to hug her husband, he’d have to immediately shower. Ugh. This shit exists. Girls often miss school because of severe shaming or inadequate access to pads. I screamed all of this at my boyfriend and wondered why he’d want to bring me to the dark ages?! There must be more to this!? Bob and his Guru and Sangha are all people I respect and they are not terrible people, none of them seem misogynistic. They are all highly spiritual and quite lovely and intelligent beings. I’m so confused.
 
I started reaching out to the women in Bob’s community about how it is for them, and why they participate in this ritual. I got information about the origins of the practice much before society and the general masses turned it into a way to keep women and girls subordinate. All the while Bob was also supportive and tried to explain how the current beliefs became bastardized and misinterpreted from it’s original essence. (perhaps similarly to the Bible) It seems that all major cultures including Amazonian Shaman use some aspect of this practice to have separate space for women and girls during their moon as an effort for the energies to flow as they should. 
 
The original reason to be separate really seems to have to do with the flow of energy. Our energy body, is like a whole vast universe that we don’t usually see or pay much attention to these days but seems at some point in the human story, was much more revered, understood, and read. Hindu’s would categorize all aspects of the human body system into Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic. A women’s moon cycle is considered Tamasic. (But this is not a “bad” energy, and we can go into this topic much more in further writings)
 
So taking this into account, our moon can be a time to turn inside, nurture ourselves, meditate, gather with other women, rest, and protect our energy bodies. It might not be a time when we want to touch or make love, or prepare food. We seem to be more sensitive to outside energies, and taking in other’s. So it’s seen as a nice time to rest, stay in and rejuvenate, and connect with sisters.
 
An explanation not to go to temple was originally for our own protection it seems. Temples tend to be places where people go with prayers and sorrows and all sorts of entities and energies unseen hang out.  Because we are such receivers of energy and especially then, it’s not a time for us to be taking on all of the stuff of others. -And also why it’s nice not to have to cook! It can be a beautiful time to be served. Many women I’ve spoken with don’t want so much to be touched by their partner. Which can be another perspective. Again, time to nourish and protect, receive and meditate, go inside.
 
It does sound beautiful staying in ones own energy, a time of rest, and not having to cook…can be very empowering. So how is it that it can be such an empowering or disempowering practice? This is where I still struggle with actually following it completely. I can see the potentiality, but at the same time, I come from such a “touchy feely” culture and family. It’s very hard for me to imagine wanting no touch. There is nothing I love more than a back rub or foot rub from my partner when I’m in pain. That feels like my truth for now. I realized during all of this that I have been holding a lot of pain around my period. Wherever it came from, its been hiding out in the beliefs shaping my subconscious and it’s time to shine the light. We are not dirty, less than, or untouchable!
 
As I’ve understood so many cultures religions and tribes have beliefs around these rituals of separation. I think it could be important for us now to dialogue about this. Let’s perhaps examine together where our stories came from, (society, education, culture, traumas, past lives, ancestry) and how they may shape our beliefs about being a woman, and what is our dream for the future. Let’s dream it up!
What can we let go of, and what can we bring back as an honoring to ourselves. How can we bring in more prayer? More sanctity, more ritual…more listening…
 
How would you like to treat yourself or be treated during your moon? Are there some beautiful rituals that we can bring into our sadhana? 
How can we deeply support one another as our sisters who have come before us? I am interested in honoring some of the old ways.
I’ve realized for my own self, the empowerment must come from within, it’s an inner awakening. Once we’ve done the clearing of old thoughts associations, patterns, can we listen to what is truly our’s? It’s not something my boyfriend or my Guru can tell me to do. It’s all mine. This is the work for us women. 
 
I’m ready to admit that there could be great benefit to creating some time for solitude to reground and reflect and let go. To not pretend that my period doesn’t exist by popping a tampon and a pill. I’ve realized in all of this that the moon time is a time for deep listening. We could actually use this as a time to reground and rebuild and connect to our feminine that is so needed in this very masculine world. It could be powerful. 
I am ready to call forth more sanctity and ritual into my daily life. I’m longing for more connection to women and creating new ceremonies around this beautiful sacred time. For we are so fortunate to have this moon time each month to truly let go, and start anew. How amazing is this body! 
Om sisters. Thank you so much for hearing this story. 
xx
Renee Garland

Period story, ritualizing the flow

By Renee Garland

I think it was the way in which it was expressed that triggered me the most. So from the combining effect of the full moon, full lunar eclipse, and strong pms, when my boyfriend of four years sent me a text message (after months apart) the new rules on period conduct, needless to say it didn’t go over well. 
 
He had been attending the ashram of his revered teacher where they were finishing a six year process to clear, balance, and activate kundalini from a very traditional tantra lineage. These last three weeks were to finish and “lock” the energy work, so that he may go forth and teach the deep spiritual practices of mantra, yantra, tantra sadhana. He was good and cooked you could say. Blissfully basked in the Ashram sattvic bubble, and to be fair, perhaps concerned with how to integrate back to the outside world. Because the first thing he did was send a message to me from the taxi about the new ways in which we are to relate during my moon cycle. (which was to start the following day)
 
For five days; absolutely no touching of any sort, no sleeping in the same bed, and no touching or preparing his food. Woah. What?
 
This provoked more rage and a spectrum of emotions in me than I have ever seen before. My period felt demonized. A myriad of new vocabulary words seemed to roll off the tongue quite effortlessly… Fire seemed to be in place of words… I felt rage for the female collective, for all women who have ever walked before me on the planet who have had to suffer the patriarchy. For all women on this planet who are currently suffering from misogyny. For our dear mother earth. I saw all the collective pain flashing before my eyes. Period shaming is alive and well on this planet. I then started to argue every point I could think of with my partner, my mind became obsessed with new reasons why this made no sense. If this is about energy, I thought, (which was his argument) well there must be a million ways to damage his “sattvic” energy nowadays. Wifi for example…these rules were created in such different times in such different circumstances. 
 
I am an independent American woman! I’ve had my own business with traveling abroad as an importer for 17 years! Raised with a pretty healthy period story I thought and have supportive earthy parents. As a youth, it wouldn’t stop me from playing sports or participating in any activities, and I thought that was progressive. My family is Buddhist, but there was never any talk about not chanting or praying in our family temple or anywhere during our moon. 
I used to read provocative “period” poetry in school. I did research projects on women’s cycles in college and marched for equality. In early years, I used a sea sponge to collect my blood and feed my plants with the nutrient rich matter. I was informed about circles of women who would drink period blood in their smoothies! We were evolved I thought, and the treatments of women in many parts of India and Africa were just atrocities! So when Bob told me the rules, I thought about all the times I’d rebelliously entered temples in Asia during my period despite the signs stating we are not allowed to enter. Just where does the discrimination and made to feel dirty, shamed, or less than stop!?
 
I felt a new crusade start bubbling to the surface over the days which followed. I did not invite my boyfriend to stay with me, I needed to be vocal and share what is happening to girls and women on this planet. This was it, my line had been crossed. In India, where we live, the box office hit “Padman” had just made it to theaters, it seemed the time was now. (cue the badass empowering music)
 
Step 1. Break up with boyfriend
Step 2. Research what it’s like for women both locally and for the westerners at the ashram. 
Step 3. Band together and rise together for the feminine cause and the rights of all vagina’s!
 
I ended up speaking to a lot of women. I spoke with the women at Bob’s ashram who committed to this practice. -And I spoke with some beautiful local Hindu Goan women. I was sitting on the beach in my bathing suit talking to the beach sellers wearing full Saris’ in the hottt sun all about vagina’s rights! I told them that I’d just broken up with my boyfriend over these practices and they were stunned! “But don’t you love him?” one young woman with eyes wide in disbelief asked. I had to think for a sec, and laid down my feminist banter…Why yes, I still did. Terribly.
 
Anyway the stories they told me were just shocking, and I started feeling like all of India was the bad guy. Women sat with me and told me “it’s dirty” and they must sleep outside to not disrupt the house, they collectively burn the pads after to leave no trace. They are not allowed to enter the kitchen. One woman shared that she can’t touch children during this time. If she were to hug her husband, he’d have to immediately shower. Ugh. This shit exists. Girls often miss school because of severe shaming or inadequate access to pads. I screamed all of this at my boyfriend and wondered why he’d want to bring me to the dark ages?! There must be more to this!? Bob and his Guru and Sangha are all people I respect and they are not terrible people, none of them seem misogynistic. They are all highly spiritual and quite lovely and intelligent beings. I’m so confused.
 
I started reaching out to the women in Bob’s community about how it is for them, and why they participate in this ritual. I got information about the origins of the practice much before society and the general masses turned it into a way to keep women and girls subordinate. All the while Bob was also supportive and tried to explain how the current beliefs became bastardized and misinterpreted from it’s original essence. (perhaps similarly to the Bible) It seems that all major cultures including Amazonian Shaman use some aspect of this practice to have separate space for women and girls during their moon as an effort for the energies to flow as they should. 
 
The original reason to be separate really seems to have to do with the flow of energy. Our energy body, is like a whole vast universe that we don’t usually see or pay much attention to these days but seems at some point in the human story, was much more revered, understood, and read. Hindu’s would categorize all aspects of the human body system into Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic. A women’s moon cycle is considered Tamasic. (But this is not a “bad” energy, and we can go into this topic much more in further writings)
 
So taking this into account, our moon can be a time to turn inside, nurture ourselves, meditate, gather with other women, rest, and protect our energy bodies. It might not be a time when we want to touch or make love, or prepare food. We seem to be more sensitive to outside energies, and taking in other’s. So it’s seen as a nice time to rest, stay in and rejuvenate, and connect with sisters.
 
An explanation not to go to temple was originally for our own protection it seems. Temples tend to be places where people go with prayers and sorrows and all sorts of entities and energies unseen hang out.  Because we are such receivers of energy and especially then, it’s not a time for us to be taking on all of the stuff of others. -And also why it’s nice not to have to cook! It can be a beautiful time to be served. Many women I’ve spoken with don’t want so much to be touched by their partner. Which can be another perspective. Again, time to nourish and protect, receive and meditate, go inside.
 
It does sound beautiful staying in ones own energy, a time of rest, and not having to cook…can be very empowering. So how is it that it can be such an empowering or disempowering practice? This is where I still struggle with actually following it completely. I can see the potentiality, but at the same time, I come from such a “touchy feely” culture and family. It’s very hard for me to imagine wanting no touch. There is nothing I love more than a back rub or foot rub from my partner when I’m in pain. That feels like my truth for now. I realized during all of this that I have been holding a lot of pain around my period. Wherever it came from, its been hiding out in the beliefs shaping my subconscious and it’s time to shine the light. We are not dirty, less than, or untouchable!
 
As I’ve understood so many cultures religions and tribes have beliefs around these rituals of separation. I think it could be important for us now to dialogue about this. Let’s perhaps examine together where our stories came from, (society, education, culture, traumas, past lives, ancestry) and how they may shape our beliefs about being a woman, and what is our dream for the future. Let’s dream it up!
What can we let go of, and what can we bring back as an honoring to ourselves. How can we bring in more prayer? More sanctity, more ritual…more listening…
 
How would you like to treat yourself or be treated during your moon? Are there some beautiful rituals that we can bring into our sadhana? 
How can we deeply support one another as our sisters who have come before us? I am interested in honoring some of the old ways.
I’ve realized for my own self, the empowerment must come from within, it’s an inner awakening. Once we’ve done the clearing of old thoughts associations, patterns, can we listen to what is truly our’s? It’s not something my boyfriend or my Guru can tell me to do. It’s all mine. This is the work for us women. 
 
I’m ready to admit that there could be great benefit to creating some time for solitude to reground and reflect and let go. To not pretend that my period doesn’t exist by popping a tampon and a pill. I’ve realized in all of this that the moon time is a time for deep listening. We could actually use this as a time to reground and rebuild and connect to our feminine that is so needed in this very masculine world. It could be powerful. 
I am ready to call forth more sanctity and ritual into my daily life. I’m longing for more connection to women and creating new ceremonies around this beautiful sacred time. For we are so fortunate to have this moon time each month to truly let go, and start anew. How amazing is this body! 
Om sisters. Thank you so much for hearing this story. 
xx
Renee Garland