Category Archives: Menopause

Crossing the Womb to Birth Threshold

This is an extract from Gail Burkett’s new book, Soul Stories: Nine Passages of Initiation, a guidebook, a gentle companion for your pilgrimage through life’s many stages using meaningful ritual. If you choose, your experience will culminate in an initiation to yourself.

Gail invites you to join her for a New Moon women’s call.

“I have planned 13 Moons and feel deeply committed to bringing women together around Rites of Passage on each New Moon. September 12, 10 A.M. Pacific Time, PDT.

For my teaching on this call, I will describe the developmental spiral from birth and talk about each passage, showing how a life is built through relationships, events, books, seasons, all kinds of things shape each one of us. Together we can learn to see the catalysts of change that serves as our special marker, a threshold past to be reclaimed.” www.ninepassages.com

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Begin here in the Soul place before your Birth. Focus on your story of origin, your Soul story. Consider the time in history and your ancestry; meditate on this view and access your reason for being. Why did your Soul come to Earth when it did? For you as the initiate, this liminal time connects your spirit trail back through your lineage. As your own storyteller, you will gain a spiritual understanding of how the past shapes the present and the future. Remembering these pieces of your Soul story now fulfills a longing of your whole life. Everyone begins inside our Mother’s womb.

Design a ceremony using the same ritual elements your Ancestors used—fire, water, earth, and air. Sit as quietly as possible for a few moments and go inside with your thoughts and feelings. On Earth where gravity rules, all we know is time. This pilgrimage will help you identify gifts that came in with your Soul.

May I suggest something otherworldly? Use your imagination to enter the womb, float around at the end of an umbilical cord in the liquid bubble of the womb. Imagine floating with the Womb of the Universe. I actually mean to return your imagination to your Mother’s womb. Claim a rebirth platform to remember your Soul story. Create an exalted connection with the storyline running when your conception was announced. What story did your parents create just before you came to be? How did neonatal care prepare for your Birth? You were needed and expected here on Earth. Soon you will know why.

Call forth your imagination; enter your wee oceanic body in your Mother’s womb. You spent eight or nine months in the ocean Soul Stories of your Mother’s womb, so spend time this month to call forth the intentions and instructions of your Soul. Go inside this warm and spacious ocean preceding your first threshold. Begin to know yourself as the sperm meets the egg. Somehow you became the intersection of your Father and your Mother.

Consider what gifts came through the environment of living with these two people. Other gifts came to you from this womb journey, gifts that were yours alone, gifts of your Soul. At some point your mind-body-spirit met your Soul, perhaps at Birth, perhaps before. This womb-time directs your Soul’s journey. Spend some time here and decide for yourself, what do you believe? How are Birth and Death related? Engage your heart-mind, dance like you were in the womb. Play ocean music. Every visual image you receive during this first month will ease all the rest of your journey. I advise releasing your right brain to the fine act of creating art!

Take time to breathe lots of air, very slowly. Use this time to learn how to quiet all the way down. Take long, warm baths, return to the womb in your mind. Review your developing body. Find the place of gratitude for your toenails, for your pancreas and liver and spleen, do some visual work for the miracle of your blood. While you are inside your Momma’s womb, imagine her as an egg inside of your Grandmother’s womb. That, in fact, is where we all begin.

Remember this is no exaggeration, every one of your Mother’s eggs, 400 or so, came through your Grandmother’s womb first. We are miracles inside of miracles inside of miracles and need quiet time to honor ourselves.

Questions for your quest. To inspire your timed writing and help return your focus to this Divine mystery, listen to what Coyote asks:

  • What story was already running outside the wombspace where you were born? While you did acrobatics at the end of your umbilical cord, what was the mood?
  • What were the circumstances in your family of origin?
  • What story do you know? Before you were born, did you come with an agreement about this lifetime on Earth? This womb-time spent in review is a perfect opportunity to challenge yourself to discover what you believe.
  • Do your beliefs mirror your parents’?
  • How did you form your beliefs?
  • Did you agree to be here for a certain number of years and learn certain lessons?
  • What state-of-the-world story can you piece together while you were inside that warm, wet womb space?
  • When you were born was there any agreement about when or how you would die?

See how many perspectives you can entertain.

It’s important that you know what you believe for your origin story; Birth and Death have a relationship. Death walks with us through life and must be welcomed as a Soul choice, like Birth.

Allow your cosmic consciousness to awaken to these questions. If you are open and curious, your beliefs will be revealed. Ask your own questions and share a sketch of your beliefs with your sacred circle. Can you speak your origin story to your Soul Sisters? I experience joy and humility when I consider my origin story. What do you experience?

The whole design of our human experience is free will. Why would your Soul choose your Mother? Why did your Mother choose your Father to be her mate? How did all of that happen anyway, what chemicals were racing freely through the world? Testosterone, estradiol, what part do you understand? We are truly much more than miracles.

I want to introduce Soul as energy of the Divine, the Source energy. While you are still in your womb-space consider the concept of your Soul as the bringer of gifts from the Source, does this fit in your belief system? Take this opportunity to understand how Soul fits into your personal cosmology. If terms like past life, rebirth, life after life, or life between life, offer clues, solidify these beliefs also. When you step up to the Birth threshold, you will know what you see coming.

Starting in the womb-space before Birth provides time and opportunity to preview the agreements between your parents as they cradled you. How did they prepare to receive your gifts and hold them safe for you? Parents are only one of our Soul’s agreement; some of us have siblings who have been the closest confidants because of common origins. From the Cosmos your Soul agreed to also walk with your biological body and bring your cosmic mind into consciousness. Your cosmic consciousness wraps around mind-body-spirit at the peak moment of your Birth and then all that stardust seems to fold in on itself. Ask your sparkly cosmic consciousness to open beyond a rose bud to reveal more beautiful petals.

Consider why Soul is less talked about than other earthly experiences of human beings; we rarely share intimate meditations. If you begin a meditation practice just for this pilgrimage to review your life, more will be revealed and you will have an interesting perspective to share. Perhaps you could agree to an email drop to your circle of Soul Sisters and Mentors. Sharing your immersion will likely expand the vistas for every witness.

This time may be approached from many angles, try asking, what needs healing? Did you choose this warm and welcoming environment? Can you tell the story of why you made the choice of parents, of geography, and so many other details? What essential part of yourself came from your Father and what came from your Mother? For tender-hearts from divorced families, do you see and feel the difference between nurture and Nature? How can this reflective point of view expand your healing?

On the national and global historical timeline surrounding your Birth, what happened? Be curious. Wikipedia will help answer this curiosity for your origin story. Go there and plug in a date, like your birth year or conception year.

Your intuition is the best guide for this approach to review for healing. Remember you came with a purpose. Listening to your intuitive mind that delivers messages in subtle and complex ways will connect you to Source. Perhaps your purpose is already fulfilled or perhaps this pilgrimage will reveal the reason long known to your Soul-self. Look around to your friends now, how were their lives affected by history’s timeline?

The emotions stirred by questions, mine and those you ask yourself, become clues to follow and journal about because the origin of your joy or pain lies somewhere in those emotions, not necessarily in plain view. While you have your mind in the womb-space, your biological creation brings a renewed appreciation for your body as a remarkable miracle. It brings into stark focus the need to think about your Soul.

If I asked you to please write a sweet letter to your Mother, do you jump at the chance or cringe? Nearly everyone has some kind of mommy-wound. Your personal experience may be well reasoned and understood or the consideration begins here while you’re in reflection with her bulbous womb that became you. Your thoughts and feelings may fly back to this neonatal or postnatal birth time. Somehow mommy didn’t attend quite perfectly. My Mother didn’t nurse me, so at some point I decided she didn’t love me enough.

Here and now is where forgiveness rises in me and flows out. Each one of us has our own definition of perfection for Mother. Without her perfect attention, we decide our Mother has abandoned us. This dance of attention and abandonment is reinforced each time you felt alone or did not have your needs met, perfectly. This rock and a hard spot is an old story for Mothers without many Aunties around. I let Mothers off the hook for this unfortunate cultural wounding wheel this way, as daughters we must realize we cannot know all the facts.

Write, dance, share and share more to heal those wounds for this reason if for no other: Culture has been far too hard on women; we bear so much unnecessary stress. This guilt and shame can be healed here and wherever it surfaces again. In Endnotes you will find Brené Brown, an authority on the topic of shame and vulnerability, how to recognize it, and what to do about it.

Perhaps it all started when Mother divided her focus while you were still an infant. Half of her attention went somewhere away from you and you couldn’t get it back. This wounding is natural, we all have it because we made mommy our only focus. She focused on baby for much of your deep dependence and then returned to herself. This is true for more than half of all mommy-wounds. What were your specific details?

Before your Birth threshold, while in the wet and warm womb space, you will be opened by my suggestions. Take what is useful and leave the rest. Please get comfortable with your routine as you flex and stretch to accommodate your new ritual habits. Write about everything in your heart and mind, write about your Ancestors who beckoned you to return to a body to complete your lessons. Then write about your parents, your siblings, and your earthly grandparents. Perhaps you hovered over the scene with your spirit guide. Once or twice each month, strengthen your circle with a call or a meeting. Your Soul circle needs you and you need them.

Be willing to examine your inner realm, to heal and grow. Be willing to listen to your intuition as the Divine Feminine, the Source, or perhaps the voice of God of your understanding.

How you do what you do deepens this experience your way and leads straight to the drumroll—the Birth Passage which marked your emergence into the Earth plane and the whole of your life? The first and most dramatic of all of the Passages happens when your Soul meets your body.

gailburkettGail Burkett, PhD, author of Soul Stories, and Gifts from the Elders.

www.ninepassages.com
https://www.facebook.com/authorgailburkett

 

 

A War on Wombs

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing the Bonus chapter that never made it into the new version of my Amazon #1 bestseller in menstruation, Moon Time: harness the ever-changing energy of your menstrual cycle.

Read part one: Welcome to your Womb…

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Every year, according to Dr Eve Agee, in the Uterine Health Companion, over 600,000 hysterectomies take place in the United States.

Whilst 10% of hysterectomies are for cancer, the remaining 90% are for benign conditions such as fibroids and endometriosis. Hysterectomy is the second most common surgery after caesarean sections. Both major surgeries. Both on the very same part of the body: the womb.

The Western medical model, it seems, has declared war on the womb, surgically correcting and interfering with it, in order to save women from their own organs.

This is not a judgement on women who have had hysterectomies. But a big question mark over the system which deems these operations necessary. And a culture which makes women’s bodies suffer to the degree that half of the population need an integral part of their bodies removed with such regularity.

In many cases these surgeries are life-saving for women – and for the babies they are carrying.

But what is going wrong?

Mammals have had wombs for hundreds of thousands of years. Women have given birth for this time. They have menstruated for this time. Wombs are not a new thing.

And yet, we seem to be unable to live with them now. What is going wrong? If one in three women is now unable to give birth without surgical assistance. If 70% of women have fibroids. Something is out of balance. Inside. And outside.

Think for a minute: what does this mean for women?

The womb is intimately connected to fertility, to creativity, to sexual pleasure. The womb is a major hormone producer, and its structure key to a woman’s posture, balance and the support of her other organs.

Firstly we ignore our wombs, breasts and genital health until our bodies are screaming at us, and our symptoms are big. Either through numbness, or embarrassment, or lack of awareness. We tend not to prioritise our feminine health. We lack the culture of being able to talk with ease and openness about our bodies.

When we do approach health care providers, the care we receive often does not heal or resolve the issue, simply address the major symptoms. Treatment is often painful, invasive and traumatic, leading to further issues. It is usually delivered in a way that does not understand or value the holistic nature of the womb and its cycles. Or our symptoms are ignored or downplayed as “women’s problems” or psychosomatic.

Without wombs, human life on this planet cannot continue.

That is the biggest picture.

But the smaller picture is this – each woman who is in pain, who is suffering each month, is a woman whose energy is not fully there for herself, for her loved ones, for her work that she gives the world.

Our health and fertility is important – not only to us, but to our families, communities and even our economy.

We live in a culture that is dictated by sun-time. By man-made weeks and months. In which we are expected to work 9-5 for five days a week, and be the same every day. But as women, we are powered by something different. We live by moon time: the 29 day cycle of the moon, which dictates the length of our menstrual cycles.

Just like the constantly changing phases of the moon, the energy in our cycles is always changing, shifting us through different moods, capabilities and physical issues. We are very different creatures at each part of our cycle… and at each part of our fertility process: menstrual, pregnant, breastfeeding, menopausal. And yet our world, especially the world of work, has been set up by men, whose bodies are not cyclical in the same way as women’s. Women have entered this man’s world, and have been expected to prove themselves worthy to be part of it. Not weak. Not unreliable.  And so we have learned to shut down our sensitivity, our awareness of our cycling selves. In exchange for acceptance, belonging or survival.

Look Out for Part Three next week…

Moon Time is re-born

 

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The second edition of my book, Moon Time, has LANDED! And until Saturday, there is a FABULOUS LAUNCH BONUS… read on for details… and grab it whilst you can.

Moon Time shares a fully-embodied understanding of the menstrual cycle whether you’re struggling with PMS, coming off hormonal birth control, getting your periods back after pregnancy… or wanting to deepen your understanding of your body. It is packed full of practical insight, empowering resources, creative activities and passion. Including:

  • Guidance on living and working in sync with your cycle.
  • Natural approaches to healing PMS.
  • Self-care practices to nurture and support.
  • How the moon impacts our cycles.
  • How to celebrate a girl’s first period.
  • How to start your own red tent or moon lodge (it was the first book in print to document the rise of the red tent phenomenon!)

Originally self-published back in 2012, Moon Time was my first book. It has been recommended woman to woman, being hailed as ‘life-changing’ by readers around the world, consistently placing it #1 in Menstruation on Amazon.com.

We are thrilled to be bringing it into the growing Womancraft Publishing catalogue at last. Join the mailing list and get a FREE SAMPLE of Moon Time plus 10% off signed copies.

CoverMoonTimeGet it now from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or a signed copy from the Womancraft Publishing store.

The second edition is YOUR book. I have read every email, Amazon and Goodreads review, every letter, card and Facebook comment and incorporated your valuable feedback. The Moon Launch has been supported by a wonderful Moon Team of doulas – authors, teachers, coaches, creatrixes in my field – around the world. (Be sure to read to the end to find out more about these generous hearted sisters.)

This new edition has been lovingly revised, with a beautiful new cover and subtitle… and contains over 45 pages of additional material including:

  • Fertility charting.
  • Much more on creating ceremonies: menarche, mother blessing, menopause…
  • Moon phases and celebrations.
  • Healing modalities for the womb.
  • More on the red, white and wise woman cycles.
  • A hugely expanded and fully-updated resource section.

In revising it I actually doubled it in size… but then thought some of that new content would be better off in a new book… so I took it out… but the new book has taken on a life of its own in quite a different direction… So long story short… for one day only… I’m giving it away!

You can get your hands on my favourite missing chapter: Welcome to your Womb… plus access to a live group call with me next week.

But hurry! To qualify you need to buy a paperback or ebook copy on FRIDAY JUNE 5!

LiveCallBannerHow to claim your bonus features:

1. Buy a copy of Moon Time: harness the ever-changing energy of your menstrual cycle on launch day FRIDAY June 5 2015. (Paperback or ebook format – it doesn’t matter which.) Get it now from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or a signed copy from the Womancraft Publishing store.

2. Simply fill in your name, email address and your Amazon order code, or order number from the Womancraft store on this handy form.

3. We’ll look after the rest! You will receive a bonus e-chapter this weekend of the book plus an invite to a video call with me: Living in Flow – harnessing the power of your menstrual cycle will take place on Wednesday June 10 2015 at 8pm GMT.

(Don’t worry if you aren’t available – we’ll send everyone a link to a recording of the session that will be available for 7 days after the event.)

PRAISE FOR MOON TIMELucy your book is monumental. The wisdom in Moon Time sets a new course where we glimpse a future culture reshaped by honoring our womanhood journeys one woman at a time.
ALisa Starkweather, author and founder of the Red Tent Temple movement.

A beautiful, inspiring book full of practical information and ideas. Lucy not only guides us through the wisdom inherent in our wombs, our cycles and our hearts, but also encourages us to share, express, celebrate and enjoy what it means to be female.
Miranda Gray, author Red Moon and The Optimized Woman

This book could change your life!
Rachael Hertogs, compiling editor Thirteen Moons and author Menarche: A Journey to Womanhood

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Meet my wonderful Moon Team of doulas…

I have become acquainted with every single one of these women via my book – I honour their support and am deeply grateful for their willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with me and share my work with their people. There are sisters here from Ireland, UK, US, France and Australia. Do take a moment to visit their wonderful businesses, and check out their fab books and programs.

Holly Grigg-Spall & Dana Michelle Gillespie co-created #RockYourRhythm awareness campaign. www.rockyourrhythm.com Find out more about their charting app from http://www.mymoontime.com which was in part inspired by Moon Time.

Molly Remer is a priestess, writer, teacher, and artist. Author of Womanrunes: A guide to their use and interpretation, she blogs at Talk Birth (http://talkbirth.me) and (http://goddesspriestess.com).

Rachael Hertogs, Creatress of Moon Times washable pads, author of Menarche a Journey into Womanhood, Doula, Reiki Teacher, Moon Mother, Red Tent facilitator, Beekeeper and Earthy lady! www.moontimes.co.uk

Lorraine Ferrier, Natural Fertility Expert and creator of the Fertility Joy Program—which blends ancient wisdom and scientific know-how to make your baby dreams a reality. www.lorraineferrier.com

Melia Keeton-Digby, sacred circle facilitator, transformational life coach, and author of the forthcoming book, The Heroine’s Club:  A Mother-Daughter Empowerment Circle  http://www.TheMotherDaughterNest.com

Giuliana Serena is a Ceremonialist, Rites-of-Passage Facilitator, Menstrual Cycle Educator, lover of Ritual and Magic and the Moon, and creator of the Moon Cycle Timepiece: a hands-on spiral calendar for lunar and fertility awareness. www.MoontimeRising.com

Karin Chandler ~ menstrual activist, writer and Druid celebrant; fusing feminism and spirituality with the blood mysteries.www@redwisdom.co.uk

Ruby Toad, a gifted intuitive, empath, healer and spiritual mentor bringing spirituality back to its roots as a powerful and practical tool for real life. www.rubytoadsoulfulenergies.com

Suzanne Thomas, Storyteller/weaver of the Red Thread, https://cranesfield.wordpress.com/

Corinne Andrews, Birthing Mama® Prenatal Yoga and Wellness ONLINE Holistic Pregnancy Program  www.birthingmama.org

Paula M. Youmell is an Holistic RN Healer, Health Educator, and Author in Potsdam, NY. www.PaulaYoumellRN.com

Avalon Darnesh’s calling is to support women reclaiming sexuality within motherhood, including sensual pregnancy and ecstatic birth, for a more blissful and beautiful family life. http://www.blossomingwoman.com.au

Karina Ladet is a soulful and creative mum, intuitive reader, coach, writer and teacher who helps people to trust and develop their own intuition. www.karinaladet.com

Becky Jaine, writer, mother, heARTist, joy activist in ever-rotating order. www.beckyjaine.com

Awen Clement, Virtual Assistant and Women’s Priestess working from the heart and womb. www.wildmagpie.co.uk www.connectedwomen.co.uk

Kathryn Cardinal – Herbalist, Fertility Awareness Educator & Moon Lodge Facilitator www.SpringMoonFertility.com www.Facebook.com/SpringMoonFertility

Christine Agro is the Founder and High Priestess of The Church of Nature and the Founder/Station Director for Nature’s Channel.FM. which offers all Nature based programming. www.Natureschannel.fm

Kirpal Joti Kaur is an International Bestselling Author / Healer / Teacher / Life Coach / Public Speaker / Priestess & Owner of “Lochcarron Retreat” www.lochcarronretreat.com

Becky Annison is a feminist and knitter who blogs about sustainable simple and sustainable living. https://westwickdreaming.wordpress.com/

Shirley Gain is a mindfulness and creativity coach and mother who is passionate about inspiring mothers to nurture their own needs and dreams amidst the ‘busy-ness’ of motherhood. www.sunflowermama.com

Lucinda Button works with Mothers as a Coach and Mentor, to help them go beyond what their parents didn’t give them, use their parenting triggers as mirrors, and helping them deepen their connection with themselves and their children. www.mamaspace.co.uk

Jackie Singer is a celebrant and healer, and author of Birthrites – Rituals and Celebrations for the Child Bearing Years. www.jackiesinger.co.uk

Fiona Morris is a medical herbalist, massage therapist, nature artist, astro-tarot reader, tutor and founder of Nourish and Flourish, empowering folk to heal with nature at her creative herbal workshops, wild remedy foraging walks, holistic clinics, and natural wellness blog. www.fionamorrisherbalist.co.uk
Lou Hayden –Wise Woman Well Woman – holistic health
Donna Raymond – Founder at Donna Raymond, Wise Wombman Dreaming
Jackie Stewart of FlowerSpirit and SoulSanctuary
Summer Thorp-Lancaster – Doula at Summer Birth Services
Wendy Cook -Artist/Owner at Mighty Girl Art

Eve Agee, Author – The Uterine Health Companion

Jane Hardwicke Collings – author and teacher of Shamanic Midwifery

Jane Bennett – teacher and co-author of The Pill:  Are you sure it’s for you?

Miranda Gray, founder Womb Blessings, author Red Moon and The Optimised Woman.

Katharine Krueger, creator of Occupy Menstruation and Journey of Young Women

Tree Sisters, Heidi Wyldewood, Anna McLoughlin, Anna Clapp, Deirdre Steele,
Amanda Krawczyk

And all the magazines that are currently considering it for review: SageWoman, Pagan Dawn, Green Parent, Holistic Parenting, Natural Parenting…

The Power of Peri­menopause and Menopause: Guest Post from Diane Salisbury

Some years ago I was fortunate to discover the work of, the wonderful, Alexandra Pope, author of
‘The Wild Genie’ and ‘The Women’s Quest’. It was from there that I immersed myself in the world
of menstrual awareness. I became increasingly aware of the wisdom of the menstrual cycle and
the gifts within it. On this journey I discovered much, one of the main things being that as women
we are often sold a story that is incomplete. In the popular media periods are portrayed as just a
physical phenomenon; they are not seen as a gift that offer self­ awareness, which I, and
increasingly many others, believe them to be.

As I approached middle age I realised that I had been sold another half story, this time about
menopause and peri menopause. In fact, it was not until I started on this journey that I had even
heard of the phrase ‘peri­menopause’. It made me realise just how little I knew about the next
transition that lay before me. So I started looking for the rest of the story. For somewhere inside I
could feel that as middle age woman I was not going to quietly recede from society and that
maybe even the opposite was true. Could this phase of our lives open up opportunities?

Like pregnancy, labour and the menstrual cycle, it is usually the horror stories that we are told. I
recognise that these experiences maybe challenging and not always ‘positive’, but they are not
always negative either. It is often the positive aspect of the story that is left out. Menopause might
be challenging in many different ways, both physically and emotionally, but what of its gifts? I was
intrigued as to what lay ahead and what these gifts might be. I wanted to enter this phase of my
life consciously, with awareness and with more of the story. So I began to explore what might lie
ahead.

I discovered that before entering menopause many women experience times of tiredness, anxiety,
doubt, depression and anger. So while they might not have any physical symptoms, this phase
can have a huge impact on their emotional lives, especially as many do not realise that these
symptoms may be caused by peri­menopause. It is often only with hindsight, when they enter
menopause, that they realise this. This reminded me of the menstrual cycle. How many times
have you heard either yourself or a friend say ‘I thought that I was going mad but then I got my
period and realised I was just premenstrual’? However what do we leave out if we dismiss these
feelings and emotions?

Dr. C. Northrup likens this peri­menopause phase to the pre­menstrual phase of the menstrual
cycle. A time for going inwards and reflection. This can be challenging, particularly with our busy
lives and within a society that doesn’t always value quiet reflection and withdrawing. It is seen as
optimum if we can always be switched on and dynamic. But I feel it’s vitally important to harvest
the gifts of the peri­menopause phase and to hear what is calling you.

There also seems to be a split between women around menopause. Between those who take
HRT and those who don’t. There seems to me to be some judgments, on both sides, that I believe
can stop women coming together. If we can respect that we all have our own medicine and own
journey, we can then cultivate a non­judgmental attitude towards each other. This coming
together itself could be very supportive and healing. It may also be very powerful, and that is
essentially what I think we are really talking about with the menopause transition. It’s about a
woman, and women coming into their power.

I think that’s really exciting; the thought that, at menopause, women do not fade from society, but
rather they come into their own power. I now run workshops in which women can come together
and explore this, and other ideas and issues around peri­menopause and menopause.
Together we can write the other part of the story and tell it to others.

dianeGuest Post from Diane Salisbury
I currently work as a counsellor in private practice in North London. I also run workshops on peri­menopause / menopause, the next one is in the 8th June in North London.

You can contact me via
Email : dsalisbury101@gmail.com
Web : www.dianesalisbury.co.uk
Facebook : www.facebook/dianesalisburycounselling.

Must Read Woman-Craft Books of 2013

I regularly get emails from women asking for book recommendations. So here, hopefully just in time for last minute Christmas pressies, are my pick of the best women’s books that I have read this year.

Sweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control

This is a superbly researched and written examination of the Pill, how it is marketed, why we swallow it and what it does to us.

“The pill is intrinsic to Western, patriarchal, capitalist culture as it is to the lives of many millions of women.” This line shook me hard. It was a terrifying truth, but one that I had never considered before. In order to be the stable, efficient, fully productive economic units of society that our culture requires, women need to take the Pill!

Over the course of the book she unpacks this statement. Women who take the Pill tend to feel numb and have less emotional response to their surroundings, both ups and downs. So women who are less passionate in all senses. Less angry, less outraged, less excited about whom they love, and have a lower libido. Women walk around who cannot get pregnant, who can have sex whenever, wherever without thought or repercussions – the stereotypical male fantasy of a living sex doll.

And women pay for this dubious privilege, both through their prescriptions, (which whilst free in the UK, it is paid for elsewhere.) but also with their health. Healthy women take a powerful medication daily for years, and often decades. A medication which UN polls has shown would be unpalatable for men to take. And it is a medication which promises so much – not just freedom from the constant fear of pregnancy, but also clear skin, bigger boobs, no PMT, lighter bleeding, less cramps, and with some, weight loss… There are few young women who wouldn’t want all that it promises: the ability to transform from a flawed human woman into superwoman.

For me this and The Pill: Are you sure it’s for you? by Alexandra Pope should be required reading of all girls on their 16th birthday.

a body Body of Wisdom – I just took delivery of this last night and I have read the first few pages and WOW! it is the the book of women’s wisdom I have been yearning for every moon time… I am SO excited about reading it. It explores nine hidden spiritual powers within women’s bodies which have been overlooked by patriarchal spiritual systems. Let me share a quote with you… “The powers described in this book are natural to women. They are integrated into our bodies and energy systems, and coordinated with our hearts and minds both…They are not how most women actually live, as most of us have curtailed what is natural in order to survive or thrive in a patriarchal society. But because they are natural they are always with us, like an invitation that is never withdrawn.”

Alchemy for Women: Personal Transformation Through Dreams and the Female Cycle has been my book of the year. I have learned so much about how not only my, but also my partner’s dreams are affected by my cycle… as well as so many other blood mysteries which no one speaks of. This is a follow-on title from the same authors as the classic book The Wise Wound: Menstruation and Everywoman – and thought it is much smaller, but equally as valuable, it never really established the same reputation. It is a funny mix of the scientific and esoteric written in quite a bitty way – almost like a notebook of discoveries many of which have yet to be fleshed out. It is influencing my ideas for my next book and comes highly recommended.

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And of course if you’re wanting to learn more about your cycles may I point you in the direction of my on book on the subject – Moon Time: A Guide to Celebrating your Menstrual Cycle – which hundreds of women around the world have described as life changing.

 

I also gained a number of really interesting insights from Wild Feminine: Finding Power, Spirit & Joy in the Female Body (don’t you just LOVE the cover!) I found the exercises in it a little repetitive (I have a short attention span!) and it’s a long book – but if you’re looking for a book to help you get in touch with your female body and especially the pelvic bowl, Tami Lynn Kent is a loving insightful guide.

 

 

My Mother, Myself is a classic, written in the 70s, before it was even acknowledged how much power on a girl’s psyche her mother has. It is a book that I have bought for myself three times, but never gotten past the second chapter. The same happened again… so I skipped a few and got great insight from it. In truth I’m not mad about her writing style, and it feels a little dated as she is talking about the previous generation of mothers and daughters. But ouch her insights cut like a knife. She says what is now a classic took a while before really taking off, as women admitted to throwing it across the room or hiding it in cupboards before taking it out and finishing it, then recommending it to their friends, or buying a copy for their mother. So I guess I’m not alone!

a secret

I have just ordered her other classic My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies which arrived last night and is an eye-opener – it both documents hundreds of women’s sexual fantasies as well as reflecting on the how and why of female sexual fantasy in our patriarchal culture!

a cunt

Whilst we’re on the topic, lets talk Cunt: A Declaration of Independence which I discovered when I was invited to a Facebook group of the same name – well actually it’s called “That book with a daisy on it” because Facebook don’t allow the word cunt in a positive context. Only for misogynists. Anyway. It is a feisty book which explores women, their bodies, their sexuality and independence with sassyness, verve and packs a punch.

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. For god here read whatever you see god as… but the title would have put me off buying it myself. Don’t let it! It is basically all about mindfulness and eating, written with great compassion and humor.

a dance

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine is another book I avoided for years because of the title – not being into either the Christian tradition or the Sacred Feminine. Really it is a powerful book about a woman’s journey into herself, breaking away from what she should believe and feel and discovering her own truth. It has become one of my all time favourite books, which I know I shall come back to again and again.

art birthThe Art of Birth: Empower Yourself for Conception, Pregnancy and Birth  offers a radical new approach to conception, pregnancy and birth using expressive art for self-development. It is a beautifully illustrated book which will also inspire women who are yearning to express their sense of being a woman through art. Packed full of art exercises, relaxation, positive affirmations, inner work, emotional support and pleasure, where the dream of a natural, empowered journey to motherhood and a positive birth experience can become a new reality.

Leonie Dawson‘s 2014 Create Your Amazing Year in Life and Business Workbook has changed how I live my life and do business over the past three years that I have used it! It is powerful transformational life and business stuff carefully presented in a non-threatening, feminine way with girly pictures and gorgeous colours which make me feel so happy and safe whilst I’m doing the big work inside!

I get the wonderful printable PDF version free on her Life and Business Academy (you can buy the Life and Business versions individually for $9.95 here which is what I did last year). BUT I wanted a lovely bound copy to hold in my hands. And this year for the first year you can buy a printed copy of both versions together from Amazon. I ripped mine open last night and started the life planner the moment the kids were asleep… and then first thing at work this morning I did some of the business part. I LOVE this book. I’ve spent the morning taking stock of the mammoth year of dreams that has been 2013 and looking forward to an even more glorious year next year – oh the things I have in store already!!

Obviously The Rainbow Way has been the book I have spent most time with in every way this year. I turn to it myself when I am feeling creatively overwhelmed, burned out or in need of reassurance. There is a lot of woman craft in it – a focus on the womb and its connection to women’s creativity, our menstrual cycle and how it affects creativity, lots about women’s circles in supporting creativity and lots of self care guidance. (I am so honored that Leonie named it one of her top 20 books for 2013!) I was SO excited to see that it is number 10 on Amazon.co.uk’s most wished for book in the Motherhood genre at the time of writing!

For girls

Blueberry Girl A dear friend gave this very special book to Ash for her third birthday and it is SO beautifully written and illustrated. It is a lovely non- religious blessing of power and strength for a girl. Watch the beautiful animated reading of the book here.

Reaching for the Moon was my first book release of the year, and is, of my three self-published books, the quickest seller. It seems to really resonate with mothers and daughters and is spreading like wild fire. My 5 1/2 year old begged to be able to read one of my books, brandishing this one in her little hands, knowing that it was for girls, but I have put her off for a couple more years! I was so honored to hear that it is being taught in a local school and have been invited in to talk to the girls on the topic.

And in brief, other exciting looking new releases still on my Kindle which I have only had a chance to read a few pages of, but have enjoyed thus far include:

Conversations with EVE: Women’s TRUE power – where it came from, how we lost it, how we can get it back!

Conversations with EVE (Every Vagina on Earth) is an eye-opening, inspiring, and motivating book. It shares a fascinating account of how the “Myth of Male Superiority” took away EVE’s rights and freedoms.

Menopause: a Natural and Spiritual Journey

This book is personal journey into the time of menopause looking at it from a spiritual point of view first and how spirituality can help with physical, mental and emotional symptoms. It seeks to show it as a natural part of life.

Ripening Time: Inside Stories for Aging with Grace

Sherry Ruth Anderson, the bestselling author of The Feminine Face of God presents a new perspective on aging. She guides us beyond our culture’s mind traps and shows how growing into old age can be a fruition, the genuine grace and gift of human ripening.

The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality dismantles the notion of what it means to be a “good mother.” This collection of essays takes a realistic look at motherhood and provides a platform for real voices and raw stories, each adding to the narrative of motherhood we don’t tend to see in the headlines or on the news.

Spiritual Pregnancy: Nine Months of Spiritual Transformation Before You Give Birth (out Jan 2014) is a really tender, insightful book about pregnancy especially the spiritual aspects, and is written by a husband and wife team of doctors!

What have you read and loved this year?