Saturday, March 21, 2009


This post may be, by nature, a TMI sort of endeavor. (Too Much Information). If it is, feel free to duck out and come back another day for our regularly scheduled programming.

See, I'm on my moontime right now, and it has sparked some menstrual musings. This is largely because I am still adjusting to the current nature of my periods, which came back to me quite different than they'd been before my last child. I'm pretty sure this is due to my IUD, which I knew would likely cause heavier periods and increased cramping. My moontime had always been pretty easy to deal with- no more than 4 or 5 days of light flow, very few cramps and seldom any hint of hormonal mood swings. It never slowed me down. When they returned after Babyman, it was a completely different experience- no fewer than 5 days of heavy flow, plus 2 to 4 days of lighter flow, very strong cramping, pain in my lower back, all preceded by depression and headaches. It has certainly required a bit of getting used to. (I warned you about TMI!)

Despite the wonderful arrival of Spring outside, and everything I am caught up in that needs my attention, I have found myself staring into the dishwater, listening to the boys argue, and wishing quite fervently that I was part of a culture that subscribed to the practice of a red tent, moon lodge, or similar haven for menstruating women.

(I feel a need to note here, that I have not yet had the chance to enjoy reading The Red Tent, nor do I actually know very much at all about moon lodges and such. I think I will be reading up on them! For the sake of this post, I see a red tent or a moon lodge as a place apart from the rest of the community where women had to stay during their moontime, in the sole company of other women also menstruating. Childbirth with all of its mysteries was also relegated to the red tent, attended by the doulas and midwives of the community.)

Back when I enjoyed such light, convenient little periods, I didn't really understand this idea of a red tent or moon lodge. It seemed demeaning, to be shut away from society just because it was your body's time to bleed. I saw it as an expression of a society's disgust and distrust of women and menstruation.

Now, I see it quite differently. My moontime is not so easily ignored, anymore. It steps right up, takes hold of my body, and bends me to its will. "Do not pretend I am not here!" she says, "You stop what you are doing and you listen to me! I am powerful, do you see? Do you feel the moon's pull on your body? Do you feel your own power? You stop that other stuff now, and listen to the moon instead." I wish for a retreat from my other responsibilities, a separate place where I could curl up in bed to read, where I could write, where I could think and talk with other women. A place to focus on myself and my body. A place to meditate. I see now, that a red tent or moon lodge was probably just this sort of needed retreat. It served a great purpose for the women of the community- far from being demeaning, the whole idea is empowering! A place to embrace your moontime, to care for it, even to revel in it! A true retreat.

I can dream, anyway. ;)

* * *

As a sort of aside, my musings on the idea of a red tent have led me to some different thoughts- just as I used to see the red tent as demeaning to women, might it also be possible that I am misinterpreting other cultural practices with regard to women? I'm not sure if I am yet ready to accept the practice of a mandatory burka (for instance), but perhaps I need to keep a more open mind about some things that strike me initially as overly patriarchal or distrustful of women. I guess, for me, the difference would lie in choice. . . what happens if a woman wishes to go against the cultural norm?

Hmm. . .

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