How a Period Party Changed My Views on Menstruation - Blood + Milk

How a Period Party Changed My Views on Menstruation

The feminine energy and patchouli essential oil at this party were richer than a red velvet cupcake with double cream frosting—if it were vegan and gluten-free.

When I was first invited to this “Moontime Celebration,” I was dubious but determined to make it a positive adventure. I had a vision of a group of women in a circle under the full moon, painting portraits with their menstrual blood. That was not what we did at this party (for the most part).

A community of women, talking about periods

I had been a postpartum doula and lactation educator in Orlando for some time and I often went to birth community meetings to network and stay involved. Through these meetings, I met some really powerful, spiritual women that served various roles in the birth network. There were doulas, childbirth educators, midwives, nursing students, massage therapists, chiropractors, cloth diaper distributors, Reiki masters, artists that made belly casts, placenta encapsulation specialists, and other supportive women. A student midwife friend, Michelle, was hosting this event and she invited me to join in the fun.

We all brought our homemade dishes of healthy snacks and a wide variety of teas and kombucha was served. This was all standard fare for this group. The women were representing a variety of ages—from a 12-year-old wise soul to women in their mid-forties. Most women were the earthy type with deeply colored cotton dresses, outdoorsy hiking clothes, and sensible shoes. Very few wore makeup, but some women had unique jewelry from craft shows with wire wrapped stones, Tibetan rings, and bangle bracelets.

Setting intentions

Michelle opened the ceremony with intentions about how she saw the evening progressing. With open hearts and minds, we all agreed to trust her, with unbridled curiosity, about turning the messiness of menstruation into a celebration.

She launched into a discussion on how menstruation is an indicator of health in women of reproductive age. Changes or irregularities in your period can indicate hormonal shifts, nutritional status, cancer, infection, and many other conditions, in addition to signaling pregnancy and menopause. This is just one of the reasons women will benefit from being in tune with their bodies and their menstrual cycles.

Michelle helped us shift our social and generational conditioning about how menstruation is a curse and a messy part of being a woman. Instead, we learned how to appreciate becoming one with the crimson flow that makes us creative goddesses. We shared stories of our first menses and how our families responded to our new mark of womanhood. There were tales of young women that hid their period and felt embarrassed, memorable moments of bonding between mothers and daughters, and even confessions of large gifts from parents, like $500 cash. Think of the fancy menstrual products you could buy with that!

Sharing my story

I was encouraged to share my personal story. When I had my first period, my mom excitedly called my grandmother and great-grandmother to tell them the news. I talked to both grandmothers on the phone about what menstruation was like back when they first started. My great grandmother called it “spreading roses” and said they used rags that they’d hide under the house and then clean later in secrecy.

My grandmother told me about the pads she wore that required a cheap vinyl belt and how awkward it was. She’s from the South, so she referred to any sanitary product, pad or tampon, as a “Kotex,” just like any flavor or brand of soda is a referred to as a “Coke.” Overall, I felt pretty excited to join the legacy of menstruating women in my lineage.

A spiritual journey

Nearing the end of the Moontime Celebration, a lot of us were feeling warm from the wine and the collective consciousness of divine sisterhood. Vivian felt intimate enough with us to share that she was currently bleeding from a miscarriage. She allowed us to give her support in healing and transition through this experience. Vivian laid down on a chenille blanket in the middle of the room and we surrounded her in a circle on our knees, each placing a hand on her body. Then we all prayed, meditated, and/or sent good vibes to her.

We did this for quite some time and she seemed physically and spiritually impacted by it. Next, we did the same for the hostess of the party, who was about to embark on a journey of artificial insemination. Some of the closer friends of the hostess were planning a gathering the following weekend when the frozen sperm arrived. There was talk of a turkey baster and which tasty vittles they would bring. There was no shortage of shock and awe at this party.

Breaking stigmas around menstruation

As a culture, Americans are still subscribing to antiquated stigmas around menstruation. It’s a healthy bodily function that should be normalized and appreciated instead of whispered about and hidden. Some cultures treat menstruation with respect and honor. Moontime Celebrations, when handled with consideration and reverence, can help change the dialogue about periods, create sisterhood, and give women a perspective shift on menstrual taboos.

If you are fortunate enough to get invited to a Moontime Celebration, I encourage you to go. Menstruation isn’t a curse or something to resent. It’s a beautiful privilege offered for a short time in our lives. The event was an informative and memorable bonding experience that has shaped my attitude about menstruation and sisterhood to this day.

Featured image by Kate Sweeney
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