Last Saturday, I attended a workshop run by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer. The workshop was about 'creating menstrual health' and as I have been reading The Womans Quest workbook for the past 8 months, It seemed like a good opportunity to meet the author and other women who were also interested in the menstrual cycle's energies. I feel like I am a world away from the state of mind I was in when I first contacted Alexandra... a plea from a desperate woman, to someone who might be able to understand what I was going through. We chatted via email, I downloaded the thought provoking workbook, and joined her community site.
I was around day 18 of my cycle, so heading into unstable territory, so I arranged for my partner to drive me to Fulham in London and get me to the venue. I don't cope on trains and tubes very well, especially alone and in the second half of my cycle.
The venue was beautiful. It looked like a converted church and had the most beautiful stained glass rose windows. Everyone was welcoming and open. It is always a daunting thought, meeting lots of strangers all in one go, but there was a lovely energy in the room, and as women do when they get together.. lots of chat and laughter. The whole building was beautiful, clean and calming. As we moved into our work room, yet another stunning stained glass mandala faced me.
The day consisted of a lot of chat and discussion on the menstrual cycle and where we may have issues. We explored the similarities between out menstrual phases and the seasons experienced on the Earth. I am in my element with correspondences and symbols, and loved widening my thoughts and knowledge of this divine code.
Our inner Spring, is very similar to our outer spring. This 'Springtime' represents pre-ovulation, when the fog of our period lifts and our light and energy returns. Many of us (PMDD sufferers) will call this 'one of our good weeks'. We feel like ourselves again, we have energy, we want to get on with life again. There is an innocence about this time, and it is a time we should spend nurturing our ideas and making plans. New shoots are growing, life is returning to the earth... and you.
Inner Summer relates to ovulation. The Sun is high in the sky and everything is fertile and blooming. We are 'out there'. We can be social, we can enjoy life. It is a time for manifestation. Another 'good week' for many, although this too can bring a difficult time for some. If we are not fulfilling the things we want (on the most basic bodily level this would be getting pregnant), there becomes a fear of summer's end, of missing the chance, of the wheel turning all to quickly.
Inner Autumn is pre-menstruation and is when PMDD sufferers will hit the 'bad times'. Most will start losing a grip on reality during this season. The Earth is retreating, leaves are falling, the cold winds pick up. It is an unsettled and unstable season, flitting from late balmy sunny afternoons and bright crisp mornings, to stretches of dull grey rainy days, storms and more rain. Our energy and flow begins to slow down, we get forgetful and easy to enrage. Women with PMDD need to really try and understand this season, and learn how to harvest it's fruits and develop and awareness of what is really going on inside them.
Our inner Winter is connected to our menstruation. Our whole month is connected to how well we bleed and deal with our period. Just think to days gone by, when we had to harvest as much as we could all year to just survive the winter. If we are careful and look after ourselves, we will reach the Spring. If we have been smart and resourceful, we may even reach Spring still strong and healthy, rather than starving and weak. If you allow the natural need to retreat and hibernate, if you honour and listen to what your body needs, if you get enough sleep and good food, you have the potential to reach the Spring, empowered, full of anticipation rather than dis-empowered, full of guilt and stress.
There is much more I could say about each season, in fact, I could write a couple of posts on each one!! So I will leave that there for you to digest and contemplate. I am obviously describing a cycle, but everyone's cycle may be different. They will most certainly feel different things at different times and for different reasons. Interpretation comes down to the individual, and you cannot forget the different life stories of each individual and their own reactions to each season. How do you feel about each season? Do you have favourites? How do you cope with each season?
As above, so below, As within, As without – A Witches saying.
What goes on outside us, is often a mirror to what is going on inside us. I'm sure it's no coincidence that I have a hard time through my inner Winters, and also suffer from SAD during the outer Winter. Maybe if I learn how to love the inner Wintertime, I will also heal my SAD?
We followed a guided meditation spoken by Sjanie, and stopped periodically (through each season) to write and draw down our visions. We discussed with partners our experiences and feelings.
We then got into groups and each discussed a season. The rest of the day was unpacking all the words we had thought of to describe how we feel about each season. It was very enlightening and heart warming to hear other people's stories and to feel so connected to other women. It was also re-assuring and exciting that other women understood these concepts and each and every one of us felt that we all knew it anyway.
We have all had this potential, this inner knowledge, like a glimmering, ornate, gold box full of our inner strength and power, full of the words of our ancestors and subconscious. Alexandra and Sjanie gave us all the key to unlocking this magic box, and I'm sure that every woman there will be sharing this knowledge with anyone who would care to listen for many years to come.
There is a revelation to be had in exploring these ideas, there is a REVOLUTION to be had by every woman, to educate, to share the knowledge, to break down all the stigma and hatred that has been pointed at our menstrual cycles. To reclaim our menstruation as our sacred time, to be allowed to become whole, rather than living the half life we are all supposed to live because it is socially acceptable. As a woman, I will demand respect, from myself and others during my bleed. It is a magical thing to bleed as we do every month. We get a new chance every month to heal and learn and understand ourselves.
If you are interested in The Woman's Quest and Alexandra Pope's and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer's work, please visit these websites: