Category Archives: Periods

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…

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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…

Confident Carry – Overcoming Shame Around Menstrual Products

Today’s guest post is from Period Wise, and touches on a really important issue: shame and menstrual products which was sparked by a recent event in a school in the US.

A teenage girl who was suspended for concealed carry of menstrual supplies [in a school system which requires that everything be brought into school in a clear plastic bag to facilitate security checks] sheds light on a problem that sadly still plagues us – a lack of confidence among those who menstruate and a lack of understanding among those who do not.

Apparently the Principal’s position is that teenage girls should feel confident enough to place their feminine hygiene needs in a clear bag for all the world to see and carry it with them to class throughout the days they are menstruating, or expect to become menstrual.

Social taboos and menstrual myths abound and affect all.

Rules are established – and followed – without real consideration to the needs of half (and perhaps over half) of the population of a school…group…gathering…attendees of functions….

And, perhaps that’s what these girls should do until this rule is struck down. Perhaps the girls should band together and bring feminine hygiene products in a clear confident carry bag every day whether they are menstruating or not.

I wish all girls and women were so confident in themselves and with menstruation that they were comfortable doing just that.  It would go a long way in ending the embarrassment that so often (and unnecessarily) accompanies things period wise.

And, it would also put an end to the idiotic assumption that menstruation requires a doctor’s permission slip because it’s a medical issue.

A medical issue?  Um…the last time I checked the definition of “medical” it said the word related to the treatment of illness and/or injury.

Menstruation is NEITHER.

So what does confident carry look like?

You tell me.

When you confidently carry menstrual products, what do you carry and how?

If you’ve never confidently carried menstrual products openly in public, what do you think it would look like?  And, how would you confident carry?

Who me? Confident carry?

YES! You!

Confident Carry day TODAY is an opportunity for all to embrace menstruation as normal and natural – NOT something to hide or be ashamed of.  It’s an opportunity to raise awareness to the plight of girls and women all over the world who are shamed into secrecy about all things period wise.

Who would benefit from seeing you confidently and openly carrying feminine hygiene products? Your daughter?  Granddaughter? Your mother? A niece? Your BFF? A student? A girl new to menstruation? A woman with years of experience?  Your partner?

Who could you / would you impact by participating in Confident Carry Day?

At the very least, Confident Carry Day (if you choose to participate) will impact YOU.)

Before you say, “This is not for me because I…” let me say this: male or female, not currently menstruating / never have / or never will again – all are role models for the girl or the boy in your life.

Yes.  Confident Carry is not just about girls and women.  It’s about men and boys, too.

#ConfidentCarry on #May9 is for all.

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Guestpost from Suzan from Period Wise: Empowering girls and women to embrace a too long taboo topic – menstruation.

Currently my work as a menstrual activist and educator includes many roles: mentor, friend, writer, speaker, teacher, and perpetual student.  I also serve as the Director of Connectivity for You ARE Loved (a non-profit that raises awareness about TSS) and as the Manager of North American Operations for Lunette (makers of an amazing reusable menstrual cup).

 

Womb Wraps

Have you come across womb wraps? I hadn’t… until only two weeks ago.

If you suffer with any of the following:

  • menstrual cramps
  • lower back pain
  • symphysis pubis
  • pelvic pain
  • chilled kidneys

either during menstruation, pregnancy or postpartum, then you will know how you long for comfort and support… but that it’s hard to find.

When Claire Taylor of  www.cherishingwoman.org contacted me to tell me about her womb wraps, I was so excited to hear that there was even such a thing, having struggled with all of the above problems over the years. Womb wraps sounded so comforting, I just had to see one for myself. Having been sick for weeks, with monster PMS and chronic lower back pain, I needed some comfort and love… and fast.

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It arrived in a flash. Ripped open by my daughters who demanded to know what it was. I didn’t lose a second in trying it on – the details that come with it are super clear. It is like a mini wrap skirt of softest fleece, with long ties. It reminded me a little of wearing a wrap sling – only much simpler and lower on the body – but it is the same feeling of being hugged. My daughters and son immediately started stroking it, whilst asking what it was for, saying that they could stroke it forever it was so soft. They each demanded a try (my daughter instinctively slinging her doll in it!). It is soothing and warming like this and gives gentle support to the whole belly, womb, kidney and pelvis area. You could wear one round the house or out and about without anyone looking twice-  they come in maroon, chocolate and leopard print.

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But that’s only half the magic! We then we heated up a hot water bottle and popped it into the integrated pouch at the back – worn one way the heat is held over the lower back, the other way and it’s over the womb. We had to readjust the tension a bit to support the weight of the water bottle.

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Holy mama, it was divine. So, so soothing. Pure heaven.

Soft, stretchy, warming – like having a perfect hug around your belly and lower back. These fleecy wraps are so nurturing. Beautifully made by hand, you can tel they’ve been stitched with love – as there’s even a little heart stitched into the back.

As you know I love supporting women in business, especially women creating and selling products to support and empower other women. These tick every box for me.They get my absolute seal of approval for a well-designed and -made product especially for women – for happy wombs everywhere – they should become part of every woman’s self-care kit.

Womb wraps are £25 from www.cherishingwoman.org

Red Tent Rising – A Resource-Full Post

I am just getting the supplies ready for our very first red tent gathering… a box of womancraft books for the red tent library, a piece of embroidery for the centre piece, a welcome sign, some futons for resting and reading…. It will be the first I know of in the south of Ireland… I am very excited.

Held on the dark moon, a red tent is a women’s circle which is open to all women in the community and offers a place to rest during menstruation, to connect with other women, share wisdom and be held in every stage of our female unfolding.

(Want to know more about what a red tent is? Watch my short video which I made for the red tent summit or grab a copy of my free red tent booklet – Password= love.)

I planted the seed of this red tent when I wrote Moon Time I had never been to a red tent, and there was little information out there about them. I was hungry for knowledge… so I reached out to some of the movement’s leaders, gathered all the information I could lay my hands on, and shared it in the book. That’s how I roll! Mine was the first print book to explore the phenomenon and support women in setting up their own. I have been told that it has inspired and supported the creation of red tents in the UK, Canada and Australia as well as an online one which I am a member of.

And now we will have our own real one, in our community.

My stomach is churning and I am being a little short with my family as my brain goes into tables and chairs mode. But the excitement is overriding it… the fact that this long held dream is being born, that so many women are curious about it, that this work, and a dedicated women’s space is opening up for our community… I just think of the growth, love, support, magic, empowerment, connection and healing that will emerge from the very existence of this space and shivers run down my spine…

More women sitting in circle together than ever have before in our community. Learning to speak their truth openly and be heard. From learning to listen with an open heart and without judgement. In having a place to come and be held, to rest and recharge. A place where new ideas can take seed, new books found, new friendships formed. Where women can learn to understand and trust and even celebrate their bodies.

How it came about…

I set myself a challenge out loud – which meant I couldn’t go back on it, by promising the proceeds of the e-versions of Moon Time would go towards establishing a local red tent! And since then I have researched and reflected and waited. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own, I was waiting for conspirators… and when I met them I knew right away… I did not say anything to them at all about it –  I was in the midst of launching The Rainbow Way and I had only just met them… I just held the vision consistently affirming it, and gently released the women’s group I had run for 5 1/2 years which had run its course. Numbers were dwindling and we couldn’t find any more new participants…

And then two months later, the time was right for us all.  One of the women asked on Facebook if anyone knew of a women’s group or red tent in the area… and the flame was lit. Within an hour we had a FB group. And the other woman jumped right in as an admin, unbidden. Within a week we had a date and venue. In a month we have gotten over 100 women to our group, organically. We only invited 35 between us… the rest were just drawn to us.
We have had minor bumps in the road naturally, including our first venue cancelling only days before. But we have a new, better space now.

And our first meeting tonight and are expecting about 25 women…. many of whom I know personally, some I have only met online, one I taught blogging to, and others are completely new to me. For some it will be their first time doing women’s work with me… others have done much before having been part of our long running women’s group … there is an excitement tinged with deep nervousness, as no one knows quite what to expect. What is a red tent any way, they wonder… will it be for me? Will I be expected to sit around talking about their periods, will I know anyone else?

I try to allay the nervousness with information – links to the red tent summit which I have just spoken at, my booklet on starting a red tent, with reassurance and love…  but this is new, uncharted territory… of course there is apprehension.

Some are travelling nearly an hour to join us… others are following by Facebook – we hope to inspire them to start their own in their own community.

Are you ready for a red tent in YOUR neighbourhood? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have one in your city, town, village, or community?

Imagine not having to wait any longer…

Imagine knowing exactly how to create a Red Tent, monthly, where you, and your women friends, can simply BE, rather than DO…

DeAnna L’am who created the Red Tent Summit has created an Online Class designed to inspire, motivate, support and equip you, to start your own Red Tent.

The Global Tele-Tent Class starts on March 12, but you can register today.

I believe that the vision of a red tent in every neighbourhood – is possible in our life time!

And I want to help you make it a reality in YOUR neighbourhood!

Please join me, and women from all over the world, to make it so!

If you are looking for more resources I would recommend:

 

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!

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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!

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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.

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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?

Blood and Milk – Self-Care for Breastfeeding Mamas who are Menstruating

I don’t know about you, but I rarely see anything written about breastfeeding and your moontime, I mean how mamas cope with the ups and downs of their cycle while giving to their little ones 24 hours a day? Is it just presumed that if you are breastfeeding then you don’t have a cycle? I know this is true for many women (I’ve known women not bleed for 2 years!) but for me, my bleeding time has always returned after a few months, despite exclusively breastfeeding. 

Most days breastfeeding is such a joy, I love the oxytocin high I get when I snuggle with my little one and feed all night long- BUT the days and nights just before my moontime, I feel touched out, wound up by the constant demands and I JUST WANT MY OWN SPACE!

So many books, blogs, articles give us moontime advice (myself included) about how important taking time out is, giving to ourselves at this sacred time- but how do you do that when you have a baba swinging from your nipples??

I tend to focus on my first bleeding day- I have just found over the years if I can have a smooth first bleeding day (or first 2 days ideally!) then the run up to my moontime next month is so much easier. So I try- its hard, but they can spend some time with daddy, or grandma- just while I soak in the bath (with lovely oils, petals or a herbal preparation for ‘that time of the month’) even if its the middle of the afternoon- I grab any opportunity I can! And when baba naps- I nap too, and sometimes I just have a duvet day and keep baba close by while I read something nurturing from my women’s book collection, drink soothing herb teas, eat yummy simple foods, massage my belly with beautiful scented oils and generally give to myself while not doing much at all!

These days, he’s a bit bigger and on the move (and on solids as well as mama milk- so that makes things a bit easier) I just pop him in the sling (on my back- “AWAY from the boobs boy!”) and head out for a nourishing walk in the woods or up to the stone circle behind our cottage. Usually this puts him to sleep so I get a bit of ‘me time’ on our return.

I have some ‘rules’ that I adhere to on my Sacred 1st Bleeding Day- I DON’T cook, clean, wash or do any ‘housework’, I DON’T work (although occasionally you might find me peeping in on Facebook!), I DO eat simple nourishing foods, I DO some gentle exercise- sometimes a bit of yoga, more often a walk in nature, I have a period of SILENCE to listen in to my inner wisdom- sometimes that has to be a few mins with my eyes closed while feeding.

I know- I’m lucky to have a supportive husband who accepts this- I think because I would take ‘Sacred Days’ when he first met me, he knew the score! So he is happy to take on household duties and extra childcare on these days to support me- and in the bigger picture, by supporting me on these few days I am able to be there for him and my family the rest of the month! (This is possible as we both work part time, so we can support each other, share childcare and housework)

I tune into my blood when I rinse my cloth pads, I consciously give away any negative emotions that have come up during the month, and ask Mother Earth to transform them (I pour my blood and rinsing water on to my garden) while softly chanting ‘I give away this blood of mine to all my relations…’ or ‘blessed be the blood…’

I have started charting my cycle again too, after my last baby (yes he is my LAST baby!) who popped in to my womb space after taking part in Miranda Grays first World Wide Womb Blessing last year, I got a bit worried that my cycle has changed – I’ve spent years regularly ovulating around day 12 of my cycle so I knew when to take precautions, but now I’m getting older (over 40) AND I’m breastfeeding – both of which a have an effect on your cycle, I have decided to use the temperature method, which is one I haven’t used before, but I have been assured its THE most accurate way to know when you ovulate. I used to rely on my cervical position (high and open when ovulating, low and closed when bleeding) and mucus- but after birth my cervix was so soft and squishy it didn’t feel as if it was moving at all- and breastfeeding effects the vaginal secretions (low oestrogen) so mucus charting wasn’t working for me either. Also my cycle didn’t return to its usual ‘regular’ pattern, so charting gave me a chance to focus on it and get an idea of when my moontime was coming- I was so used to knowing exactly when it would arrive, having an irregular cycle was quite a lesson for me!

I think the biggest thing I miss are my ovulation/full moon creative surges; I often suffered with insomnia around the full moons- which for me mostly coincided with my ovulation time, my brain would be buzzing with ideas so I would just get up and write or draw, even paint sometimes and then sleep half of the next day! These days I don’t have the luxury of being able to sleep in, nor even creep out of bed at night as baba is so firmly attached he senses my every turn in bed! So I have to make do with note taking and glancing at my ideas on my note paper occasionally though the month with a sigh that not much (if any of it) will get done. But having 2 older children I know ‘this too will pass’ -babies grow fast and before I know it they’ll be running out the door to school without a second glance and I will have some ME time again!

I’d love to hear how other breastfeeding mamas cope with the demands of your body and your baby!

Rachael Hertogs lives in the wilds of West Wales with her husband and two youngest children, bees, chickens and ducks, she is a mama of 4, the creatress of Moon Times Cloth Pads, and she occasionally blogs at www.moontimes.co.uk/blog