The above conversation (reproduced with permission) got me thinking about periods and what they can teach us. I find that my intuitive senses are heightened, and I have greater access to my own depths. I consider it a sacred time of month, and one which empowers me.
I didn’t always think of the period in this way. As an Indian woman, despite the radical self-definition my parents instilled in me, I still carried the burden of stigma associated with menstruation. And it was a time I associated with pain, rather than joy.
Where did it come from? My parents never shamed me about it. But TV and other cultural influences did. And it took a while to break out of that cycle and re-discover that sacred spiritual connection.
I am glad I met women who were bold enough to explore that ‘taboo’, and reclaim it for themselves – and they inspired me to do the same in my early 20s.
Eventually, as I listened more – the pain lessened. As I honored the impulses from my Womb, my Ovaries, my Sacral Chakra, my periods became more regular. And I began to enjoy them, and look forward to them.
My Womb began to Whisper in the Subtle yet Powerful language of Spirit.
What I’ve realized in reflection (from my own Indian cultural context) is this –
It becomes difficult to to consider the womb, and its monthly cycle of any value or spiritual significance when women are encouraged not to go to temples (or other sacred sites) when menstruating – as though the presence of sacred blood can anger the gods.
Mind you, this too in a culture that does not recognize the right of a woman to be a priestess in a temple – unless of course she is in her menopausal phase, or from a lower caste group serving her community.
In Nepal, for instance, women are simply not allowed to cook during their periods as their blood would then ‘pollute’ the food – despite no obvious contact between the two – in a land that paradoxically offers blood sacrifices of buffaloes and chickens to fierce female Goddesses.
So, If the womb and her cycles are seen as unclean, how can Woman see herself as the Vessel and Bearer of Spiritual Wisdom?
Which led me to ask …
When did the Divinity in Woman become separate from her Material Form?
When did we stop realizing the Goddess in ourselves, and instead, began to believe that spaces for creation existed only in temples, and not in ourselves?
I’m sure this isn’t just a ‘South Asian’ thing (nor is that the only way in which menstruation is seen in the region – the Shaktas and Tantrists have a different view) – but this refusal to see the Divine in the Human Womb, cuts across categories of identity such as: culture, region, religion, race, ethnicity, and so on.
As for me, I’m going to hold myself close at moontime, and listen to Her whispers, beckoning me from Within.
Blessings to all,
Priestess Bairavee Balasubramaniam, PhD
Image: By Lushess (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons [Inverted version of image]