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Cultural conditioning, blood shame & Feminine suppression

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

In historic cultures, a menstruating woman was considered sacred and powerful, with increased psychic abilities, and strong enough to heal the sick. According to the Cherokee, menstrual blood was a source of feminine strength and had the power to destroy enemies.

"When the women give their blood back to the earth, men will come home from war and earth shall find peace.” ~ Ancient Native American Hopi prophecy

Our modern societies perceive menstruation as unclean, embarrassing, inhibiting and a burden. Many traditional religions consider menstruation ritually unclean, although anthropologists point out that the concepts 'sacred' and 'unclean' may be intimately connected.

During the patriarchal shift to a masculine dominant culture; It has been made to believe that menstruating women are dirty, impure, erratic and even dangerous.

A conspiracy to reduce their power, connection to their divinity and sacredness.

A disempowered women with blood shame , leads to body shame, “not good enough”-“something wrong with me” “my body doesn’t work properly” these foundational beliefs are that which keep women suppressed, and the root cause of a disempowering menstrual and birth experience.

Pre 5000 years ago; It was Goddess, Feminine worship and Matriarchal rulership; living in harmony with nature, the moon and the earth.

Since the Bronze age, The suppression of the feminine principle, The beginning of the masculine dominance; quest and concur, control and suppression.

The rise of the masculine and patriarchal rulership which brought with it the control and suppression of the feminine. A disconnect from the connection to nature and the earths wisdom.

I Believe many cultures and religions have mis-interpreted the foundations of why a women would not be present at a time of worship, in temples and duties.

Women are intuitive, sensitive, connected and powerful during their menstruation, traditionally all women menstruated at the same time, on the new moon and during this time they were in ceremony. Away from the tribal and family duties, with the other bleeding women they were able to nurture and nourish each other, connect with prophecy, revitalise their power and strength, so that they could be of unconditional love and service to the collective tribe for the month ahead.

The word "menstruation" is etymologically related to "moon". The terms "menstruation" and "menses" are derived from the Latin mensis (month), which in turn relates to the Greek mene (moon) and to the roots of the English words month and moon.[5]

Menstruation in synchrony with the moon is widely assumed in myths and traditions as a ritual ideal; The idea that menstruation is—or ideally ought to be—in harmony with wider cosmic rhythms is one of the most tenacious ideas central to the myths and rituals of traditional communities across the world. One of the most thoroughgoing analyses of primitive mythology ever undertaken was that of the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, who concluded that, taken together, The indigenous myths of North and South America expressed men's worry that, unless women's periods were carefully monitored and synchronised, the universe might descend into chaos.

According to the anthropologists Buckley and Gottlieb, cross-cultural study shows that, while taboos about menstruation are nearly universal, and while many of these involve notions of uncleanliness, numerous menstrual traditions "bespeak quite different, even opposite, purposes and meanings.” In some traditional societies, menstrual rituals are experienced by women as protective and empowering, offering women a space set apart from the male gaze and from unwanted sexual or domestic pressures and demands.

An instructive example is provided by the anthropologist Wynne Maggi, who describes the communal bashali (large menstrual house) of women in the Kalasha Valley (northwestern Pakistan) as their 'most holy place', respected by men, and serving as women's all-female organizing centre for establishing and maintaining gender solidarity and power.[8] According to one body of cultural evolutionary scholarship, the idea that menstrual blood marks the body as periodically sacred was initially established by female coalitions in their own interests, although later, with the rise of cattle-ownership and patriarchal power, these same beliefs and taboos were harnessed by religious patriarchs to intensify women's oppression.[9]

Metaformic Theory, as proposed by cultural theorist Judy Grahn and others, places menstruation as a central organizing idea in the creation of culture[10] and the formation of humans' earliest rituals.

“In the Hawaiian community before Christianity, menstruation was supposed to be the absolute most sacred time for women. And because it was already a matriarchal society where women generally were seen to have the most spiritual power, it was believed that when women were bleeding, they were so powerful that if men were around them, the menʻs mana or like soul energy would just get sucked out because they couldnʻt handle such sacred power.”

In Aboriginal Australia, the supernatural being known as the 'Rainbow Snake' has been interpreted as, among other things, an indigenous way of conceptualising the ideal of synchronised tidal, lunar, menstrual and seasonal periodicities whose overall harmony (it is believed) confers spiritual power and fertility.

The first Australians believe that when our blood first touches the earth (and sperm for men) that it activates our blueprint and connects us with our life purpose, If our placenta is also buried in the earth this makes this super potent

It shows in historic cultures, a menstruating woman was considered sacred and powerful, with increased psychic abilities, and strong enough to heal the sick.

According to the Cherokee, menstrual blood was a source of feminine strength and had the power to destroy enemies. Menstrual blood is viewed as especially dangerous to men's power.

In Africa, menstrual blood is used in the most powerful magic charms in order to both purify and destroy.

In Ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder wrote that a menstruating woman who uncovers her body can scare away hailstorms, whirlwinds and lightning. If she strips naked and walks around the field, caterpillars, worms and beetles fall off the ears of corn.[24] Menstrual blood is viewed as especially dangerous to men's power.[25] In Africa, menstrual blood is used in the most powerful magic charms in order to both purify and destroy.[26] Mayan mythology explains the origin of menstruation as a punishment for violating the social rules governing marital alliance. The menstrual blood turns into snakes and insects used in black sorcery, before the Maya moon goddess is reborn from it.[27]

Where women's blood is considered sacred, the belief is that it should be ritually set apart. According to this logic, it is when sacred blood comes into contact with profane things that it becomes experienced as ritually dangerous or 'unclean'.[28]

Religious views

The sociological theorist Emile Durkheim argued that human religion in its entirety emerged originally in connection with menstruation. His argument was that a certain kind of action – collective ritual action – could establish simultaneously totemism, law, exogamy and kinship in addition to distinctively human language and thought. Everything began, according to Durkheim, when a flow of blood periodically ruptured relations between the sexes.

'All blood is terrible', he observed,[30] 'and all sorts of taboos are instituted to prevent contact with it'.

During menstruation, females would exercise a 'type of repulsing action which keeps the other sex far from them'. This same blood was thought to run through the veins of women and animals alike, suggesting the blood's ultimate origin in 'totemic'—part-human, part-animal—ancestral beings. Once menstrual blood had been linked with the blood of the hunt, it became logically possible for a hunter to respect certain animals as if they were his kin, this being the essence of 'totemism'. Within the group's shared blood resided its 'god' or 'totem', 'from which it follows that the blood is a divine thing. When it runs out, the gods are spilling over'.

In Judaism, a woman during menstruation is called "niddah" and may be banned from certain actions. For example, the Jewish Torah prohibits sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman.[31] The ritual exclusion of "niddah" applies to a woman while menstruating and for about a week thereafter, until she immerses herself in a mikvah (ritual bath) which is basically intended only for married women. During this time, a married couple must avoid sexual intercourse and physical intimacy. Orthodox Judaism forbids women and men from even touching or passing things to each other during this period. While Orthodox Jews follow this exclusion, many Jews in other branches of the religion do not.\

In Sikhism, The Guru makes it very clear that the menstrual cycle is a God-given process. The blood of a woman is required for the creation of any human being.[49] The requirement of the mother's blood is fundamental for life. Thus, the menstrual cycle is certainly an essential and God-given biological process. Those who are impure from within are the truly impure ones.[50]

Meditating on God's name is of importance in Sikhism. Whether a person's clothes are blood stained or not (including clothes stained from menstrual blood) is not of spiritual importance. Thus, there are no restrictions placed on a woman during her menstruation. She is free to visit a gurdwara, take part in prayers and do Seva. In The Feminine Principle in the Sikh vision of the transcendent, Nikky Guninder Kaur-Singh writes:

'The denigration of the female body "expressed in many cultural and religious taboos surrounding menstruation and child-Birth" is absent in the Sikh worldview. ... Guru Nanak openly chides those who attribute pollution to women because of menstruation'.[51][52]

in Jainism, Woman's menstrual blood is considered to be impure in several important Jain texts. The bleeding that occurs in menstruation is thought to kill micro-organisms in the body, making the female body less non-violent than the male body—although that idea does not have any scientific support.[54]

Shinto, In Japan, the religion of Shinto did and still does play a part in their society. The Kami, the spirits they worshiped, would not grant wishes to those who had traces of blood, dirt, or death on them. While menstruation is not entirely blood, the ancient Japanese did not know that. As a result, women who were menstruating were not allowed to visit any of the Kami shrines for the duration of their menstrual period. Even today, women are not allowed to enter Shinto shrines and temples during menstruation, and in some instances, women are completely banned from climbing the tops of sacred mountains due to their 'impurity'. Furthermore, the tradition is kept somewhat alive in the belief that the shedding of the endometrial lining is a kind of death. It is theorized that the Kami are the reason Japan is not kept clean and, in many houses, minimalistic.

In Zambia, A cloth torn from the traditional wrap (chitenge) is worn, part tied around the waist and part looped under the crutch, to catch menstrual fluid.[55] Menarche (the first menstrual cycle at puberty) is traditionally treated as a sign that the girl is probably ready for sex and marriage, as well as for adult duties in the household. Initiation rites on menarche include instruction on sex and marital relations as well as on menstrual management. This is conducted by older women. It is taboo to talk about menstruation with men, or to learn from one's own mother.

South Asia, In some portions of South Asia, there is a menstrual taboo, with it frequently being considered impure. Restrictions on movement, behaviour and eating are frequently placed.[57] More than one-third of girls across South Asia do not go to school during menstruation.[57] Some of that is due to lack of safe and comfortable toilets at school (lack of water, sanitation and hygiene in schools in developing countries).

India, Hindus in India tend to view menstruation, especially first menstruation or menarche, as a positive aspect of a girl's life. In South India, girls who experience their menstrual period for the first time are given presents and celebrations to mark the occasion.[59]

In many traditional Hindu homes in India, girls and women face restrictive taboos relative to menstruation, such as being denied entry to the temple and the kitchen. They have to miss school and work. [60] In areas around the Jhabua district, the belief is that "menstruation is a disease and not a normal biological process", and therefore women who are menstruating are not allowed to sleep on beds, enter kitchens, touch male members of their family or eat spicy foods.[61]

In India it use to be custom and in orthodox Brahmin families it is still the custom that a women when menstruating has her own room in the home with all her sacred things and objects of worship so that during her menstruation she has her own space and time of reflection, contemplation and renewal of her being. Away from the responsibilities of her family, puja and kitchen duties. They retire into their room for at least three days, sleeping on her own, in seclusion. Doing her own washing only. On the fourth day the house is cleansed, the women takes a bath, washes her hair and comes out of retreat.

The next day she returns to the temple to workship and returns home to her family and duties. - Nawa Yogini Tantra

In a 2014 study conducted in India, the researchers found that as many as 42% of women who participated in the study did not know about sanitary pads or from where in their anatomy menstruation originated. Women happen to reuse an old rag to store their waste."Most of them were scared or worried on first menstruation."[60] Moreover, 88% of menstruating women in rural India use alternatives such as old fabric, rags, sand, ash, wood shavings, newspapers and hay.


In Bali, a woman is not allowed to enter the kitchen to perform her usual duties, nor is she allowed to have sex with her husband while menstruating. She is to sleep apart from the family and has to keep her clothes that she wears while menstruating away from any clothes that she could wear to the temple. One of the most important regulations is that a woman is not allowed to attend temple while menstruating.[64]

In Sumba, women keep their cycles secret, which makes men see them as deceitful. Women from Sumba believe that because of their secrecy, they will always have control of the men. "Men will never know how much we really can do to control these things. We have all kinds of secrets, and they should always believe that we can control even more than we really can".[65]

Women are supposed to avoid intercourse while menstruating. It is believed that sexually transmitted diseases are the results of women deceiving men and having intercourse while they are menstruating. Gonorrhea translates as "disease you get from women" in Sumba; it has become a social problem.

In Celtic Britain, to be stained with the red (presumably menstrual blood) meant you were chosen by the goddess. The Celtic word “ruadh” means both red and royal.

In Greece and southern Russia, graves were reddened with ochre clay for a closer resemblance to the Earth Mother’s womb from which the dead could be birthed again.

Celtic rites were often granted by elder women in the community due to the belief that being post-menopausal made you the wisest as you had permanently retained your “wisdom blood.”

So I started giving my blood to my garden each month (diluted with water, blood is strong) and my rose bush is thriving. Blood contains high nitrogen and protein composition, which is just what our plants need to grow strong.

Giving my blood to the earth each month has strengthened my connection to the earth, seeing my menstrual cycle as sacred and is helping to heal my blood shame. Such a powerful ritual, one that our ancestors have done. A huge part of our healing and the earths healing.

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