Last week I buried my menstrual pads in the beach dunes behind my flat. Freak not, they were organic cotton, bien sur. But I didn’t just haul ass, dig a hole, dust off my hands and trot home. I made a ritual … just for me.
It was two weeks ago, under a Scorpio Full Moon. For astro-buffs, the moon was rising on my ascendant. Indeed, it was a rebirth. The end of decades of seeing the familiar ruby stain between my legs.
Blessedly, I have a gorgeous son who’s the light of my life. I separated from his father when he was two years old. I was reasonably confident that another child was on my horizon. But it was not to be.
As a solo parent juggling work and study, I had no desire to repeat such a scenario. If I was going to have another child, it would be with a solid man with whom we could share life’s journey. He never appeared. Perhaps in guises but not the real deal.
I knew women who’d taken the practical – albeit unromantic – route of friend + turkey baster. Or got jiggy with a one-night stand and, a month later, beamed at the affirmative pink lines. And seriously, no judgement. Each to their own I say. But I remember my mother’s words: “Think about the one who’s already here.” So that’s what I did.
Whilst I have no regrets about not having more children, when the decision is unceremoniously taken out of your hands, it hurts. As a girl, getting your period is a rite of passage and often celebrated. But menopause … not so much. We’re swamped with fear and loathing.
There are physical symptoms – hot flashes, weight gain, mood changes – but there are also emotional changes. It’s remiss to reject the link between emotions and their physical expression. As Hippocrates, the father of medicine, observed: “It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.”
Menopause isn’t generally seen as an exciting, empowering process. And yet, that’s what it is. Procreation turns to creation. We turn within, harnessing our gifts and resources, generating a new vision for the rest of our lives. In ancient societies, the wise woman or crone was revered for her experience, knowledge and wisdom. Sadly, some of this innate intelligence has been lost.
The cult of youth and beauty sits uneasily with the reality of women in this phase. We’re bombarded with the latest lotions, potions and procedures. Grey hair is something to be coloured into oblivion. Lines must be erased … masking the joy and pain, growth and insight of our journeys.
So when the one-year anniversary of my last period rolled around, I wanted to do something special. To honour those wonderful years of fertility and to acknowledge that such fertility is now within. A fertility we can access, cultivate and re-generate into creative and artitistic pursuits. To see the world with fresh eyes. And yes, to grieve. That’s been so important for me and a factor in my weight gain. As I grieve, the weight melts.
Last month, I saw my cotton pads sitting in a drawer. I stared at them and picked them up, turning them over in my hands. The idea of throwing them out was unexpectedly painful. So instead of throwing them in the bin, I decided to craft my own ritual.
I took some crystals, white sage incense and a candle to the beach. The Full Moon smudged the horizon with silver. As the moon reached her zenith, I dug a deep hole and placed the pads in the wet earth. I covered the contents and cried. And sat. And contemplated. And gave thanks.
I packed up my small bag and walked home.
I felt lighter, liberated.
I’d love to see a return to sacred women’s circles where we can all celebrate this powerful, poignant phase of a woman’s life. Instead of skulking in the shadows, let’s honour our magnificent minds and bodies and the universal wisdom that guides us all.