The dark moon has come,
pulling rivers from the lurid red sea.
They trickle down the inside of my legs,
punctuating the dawn of a new cycle.
Within all women is a secret world.
And within this world
a scarlet ocean
from which life springs forth.
Without its tides we would not have life.
The cries of a newborn baby entering life,
the 1st breath,
the rhythmic prayer of a human heartbeat.
All this potential
contained in each drop of this crimson sea.
The darkness of my womb nurtures it.
The comfort of my womb keeps its sacred waters safe,
until the moon draws it forth
to consecrate the earth.
To offer what has been nurtured in darkness
to the light.
Today, with no warning or explanation, I decided to post a picture to Instagram of a painting I had done today. I did this because I wanted to canvass people’s reactions to the world. I knew that in those reactions, we would clearly see the beliefs we hold and even more, the beliefs that hold us back.
I am not the first woman to make menstrual blood a tool of creation. I am also not the first woman to make it a tool of artistic expression. For thousands of years it has been used in both spiritual ritual and art alike. And even though it has yet to cross over and appeal to the main stream, now a day (thanks to the famous artist Vanessa Tiegs) there is even a new term for it. It is called ‘menstrala’.
When women use menstrual blood in their creations, the negative response they get usually falls into the category of it being ‘scary’, ‘disgusting’ or ‘unhygienic’. Just take a look at these sentiments. This is what we are led to believe about our bodies as women. These sentiments are woven into the fabric of our religions and cultures. These social sentiments are embedded in the tissues of our wombs. And then, we are expected to have a healthy attitude towards sexuality, menarche, motherhood and menopause. It is bad enough when men hold these attitudes towards women’s bodies. It is inexcusable when women are the ones that hold these attitudes towards each other’s bodies and towards our own.
I ask each and every one of us, whether we are male or female, to sit in meditation with our reaction to this concept. I ask each and every one of us to question this reaction.
Today, we are experiencing a new wave of feminism… A wave of feminism that is not a rebellion against men. It is instead a wave of feminism that seeks to re establish our relationship with the divine feminine so that we may bring the power and the gifts inherent in that energy to the earth. I do not believe in applauding a movement from the stands. I think to applaud a movement from the stands is cowardice. And so, today I decided to get off the stands and walk onto the court. My hope is that by doing so, I will lead more women onto the playing field.
I will not perpetuate abuse. I will not perpetuate abuse to womanhood. And I am hoping by doing this, I will teach women to stand lovingly but bravely on the side of my womb. I have decided to give it a voice.
Part of ending this cycle of abuse against femininity is to shatter the stigma and taboo associated with menstrual blood. Most women have a negative relationship with their periods the minute they enter menarche. They associate it with trauma. They dread their periods. Having this attitude towards something that will happen for a week out of every month until menopause is a recipe for suffering and self-hatred.
Like almost every woman, I have many ‘dreadful period stories’. But I have selected a single one of them to share in this blog… In the high school I attended as a teen, the coaches were not allowed to simply coach. They were required to take on a core curriculum course and teach from a textbook, regardless of their interest or disinterest in the topic. One of these teachers was a wrestling coach who had agreed to teach a sophomore biology course. He had no interest in biology whatsoever. He was misogynistic and he taught the class just like a gym class.
I found out just how misogynistic he really was when one day, while sitting in class, I felt the classic “gush” of hot blood associated with the onset of a period. I felt panic ripple through my system. I raised my hand and asked him to go to the bathroom. He said “No.” When I pleaded with him and protested, he said, “No bathroom visits for anyone until the end of class”. We were in the middle of an exam and he was convinced that I was simply attempting to go to the bathroom to cheat on the test. He mentioned this to the class, publicly shaming me. I was terrified. So I finished the test, knowing I was bleeding through my pants and onto the chair.
When the bell rang, I sat firm in my humiliation waiting for every last student to leave the class. When the teacher saw me sitting there, he came over to me and barked “what the hell are you still doing here?” I said, “you wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom, so now I’ve bled out onto everything.” He stepped back as if mortified. But not because he had just caused so much injury to the psyche of an adolescent girl. He stepped back in disgust and anger. He told me to get up. When I hesitated, he grabbed my elbow and pulled me towards him while barking again, “stand up.” When he saw the blood on the chair and on my pants, he said “you’re gonna clean this up this minute, before the next period (class) begins.” I was literally numb with humiliation and dissociated at this point. I started crying. He didn’t acknowledge my tears. He simply brought paper towels and green, lime colored cleaning fluid over to the seat, put them in my hands and walked back to his desk. He sat down and said nothing. He simply watched me like a hawk while I cleaned up the chair. I threw the paper towels away, put the cleaning fluid on his desk and walked out of the classroom with my backpack around my waist, trying not to be seen by the other students while I made my way to the bathroom.
I am not the only revolutionary personality type in my family. I am the latest link in a chain of revolutionary women. My mother was a bra-burning feminist in the 1960s movement. She was on the forefront of the united farmworkers movement and also the anti war protests during the Vietnam war. She was and is an activist to this day. The night this incident happened, I told my mother about it. To her credit, she jumped to my defense and raised absolute hell with the school. But this teacher’s general attitude and reaction towards me as a woman (and all that being a woman entails) was a perfect reflection of the general attitude within society towards women and their periods.
Menstrual blood is the nectar of life. It is so vital that its energy field looks like the energy field belonging to a holy elixir. Much more so than the blood that runs through the rest of the body. It is sacred. It is cradled directly in the Kundalini center of divine feminine. This is why it has often been used over time in medicines to heal people. Life is created with this blood. And so this blood amplifies any kind of creation, including artistic creations. Being able to see the sacred spiritual aspect of this blood, it kills me to ‘waste’ this blood. It feels somewhat sacrilegious to me to watch it be sucked down into the sewage system or to be thrown in a trashcan. So, most of us who feel this way, own a “diva cup”. A diva cup is a small, flexible cup you can insert so it creates a seal around the cervix. The menstrual blood flows into this cup and every so often you can remove it and make use of the blood that has been caught within.
Plants can be revived by ‘yoni waters’ (period blood). I have a plant that did not get watered enough when I was on my last European tour. So, two days ago, I began nourishing it with yoni waters and now, just two days later, it is standing tall as if it has been injected with miracle fertilizer. I am so regretting not having taken before and after photos.
Today, upon waking, I took out my diva cup, took a pencil and a paintbrush, and with no expectations about what would be drawn; I drew a ‘yoni painting’. Doing a yoni painting is both vulnerable and liberating. What 'emerged' this time was sacred geometry etched in beautiful, rich scarlet. I wish that all women could at least try this once in order to set some part of themselves free from shame and humiliation.
I am taking a huge risk by showing this part of me to the world; this part of me that is both vulnerably and carnally human and divine. But as I said, I am done perpetuating abuse towards femininity. Instead, I intend to lead a new wave of women into the world. A wave of women who are ready to re-claim what our grandmothers lost. I do so for all women, not just for myself. And so, I gift the vulnerability of my femininity to you today through this painting. Let it challenge and inspire both men and women alike, for the blood of the womb, created both of us. It created us with the intention that we would embrace each other; and by doing so, become one.