Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Why don't women recognise the power they hold?

A male friend of mine asked this on Facebook today, I wrote a bit in reply and thought I would share for you here.  David is also my current astrology teacher and I would highly recommend checking out his online courses and his readings.  You can find him here http://www.davidrowan.co.uk/index.html and on his Facebook page.

Ladies, I am confused ...

I keep seeing posts that read is if some women believe that the world would be nicer, safer, more harmonious and less hostile if women had more power ...
and then, I read in neuroscience and biology and psychology books that a mother is The primary influence in child's brain development/character

which means that women are The most powerful people in the shaping of the trajectory of a boy's, or a man's character

so I have 2 questions:

1 - how come you do not recognize the vast power you already have ?

2 - since you already have the power to initially shape the path of mankind, how come there is so much hostility ?

is it that, regardless of our gender, that all healthy humans are capable of experiencing every type of human emotion; that men can be sensitive and women can be angry ... etc ?

Would it not be better if we stopped blaming others for circumstances and began looking at what we can change within ourselves to make life easier and better for everyone ?

just a thought ...


My reply, was as follows...

I think that there is a definite up-surgence in the 'feminine principles' or the following of the Divine Feminine and I too have seen and know personally the anger that women hold.  Any woman who thinks that the world would be 'better if women were in power is missing the point.  It's not about women ruling over men or vice versa (we have plenty of experience of the latter)  it's about allowing women to be women and men to be men, and accepting and embracing the differences held within each.  It's only through the coming together of the male and female that we experience wholeness, and I mean that in all senses.  Within our own selves and in outer relationships.  It's about reaching a balance.

Women have for centuries been held back, repressed and written out of all aspects of history.  As women we have experienced mass genocide and propaganda.  The problem lies in the lack of knowledge.  Women in 2012 do not necessarily have the support that our ancestors would have.  Who teaches the mothers?  Who is there to help raise our children?  Once upon a time, grandmothers, great grandmothers, sisters and aunts would have helped collectively to raise a child, along with the men showing the boy child how to be a man.. rites of passage, the passing on of knowledge.  A man has a massive part in raising a boy, more so, in the ways of setting a good example and teaching the child.  A mothers love and knowledge can only go so far.

Girls these days getting pregnant only a few years after starting to menstruate mean they have no experience or knowledge in theer own bodies, let alone the raising of a child.  Even older ladies may have no connection to their cycles due to years of birth control.  The connection to pregnancy and birth is not as strong when you rely on medical intervention and don't trust or know you're own body.

In answer to your questions...

1.  How come you do not recognize the vast power you already have ?

How can we?  We have not been taught how awesome the power we have is.  Not unless we were lucky enough to have a mother or mother figures to learn from.  I have barely known my own mother through my life, so where do I turn for information...  EVEN IF she had been there, she was not aware of her power, and nor was my Grandmother before her.  No one taught them.  In my own history, my Grandmother, Anglo Indian, born in India, her mother before her, born in India... no records kept, my G Grandmother was married at 16 and had 7 kids.  But she was a woman in India, and even now in that culture, some women hold little or no power and have very little say in their own lives.  So, I digress..  Many women will go through thier whole lives unaware of what they have the power to achieve and the responsibility they hold, but it is not their fault.  Women have been told for centuries that their basic bodily fuctions are something to be ashamed of, something to be 'cured'.  Men were at the forefront of all the developments, treatments, understandings...  why? because the passing on of knowledge through mother to daughter, generation to generation has been lost or ignored.  Men have tried to understand the mysteries, but then we deny our own knowledge and believe that they know us better than we do.
If we are cursed, if we are inferior, if we are not worth the same in societies eyes then how do we believe we are not cursed, inferior or worth the same as men.  Feminism went some way to try and bring balance, but I feel it simply tipped it in the opposite direction, the pendulum swinging.  What we need to find now is that balance.

2.  Since you already have the power to initially shape the path of mankind, how come there is so much hostility ?

There is hostility because women are angry their ancestors were badly treated for things we know now to be normal.  That the misunderstanding and intolerance has meant that we have not had the mysteries and knowledge passed to us.  I can weep for the women who died in the witch trials, for my ancestors who may have died for simply being women in the wrong place at the wrong time, for the babies that have not had a chance in life because of the cultures we have now.  I am angry that women do not play as bigger part in our history books as men do, that I have been made to feel an outcast from society for embracing my cycle and femininity.
I do not feel we can make much headway with anger, but I do feel it is justified.

It is not just a womans job to raise a child, but is is one of the most important jobs a woman can do.  Unfortunately again, I see a cultural problem.  Women since the 60's have been told they have to go out to work, be equal to men.  They need to do this along with bringing children in to the world and raising them..  If they choose work, they are called powerful, successful..  if they choose motherhood they are asked why they didn't want more out of life.. if they choose both, they have barely enough time to enjoy both aspects, and the pressure is on to be the best at it all.  All this with usually very little family support as the rest of the family are too, doing the same thing... trying to be the best at it all cos that's what we 'should' have in our lives.

It's a complicated topic, and one I feel strongly about, so apologies for the long reply!
I don't believe we as women are the most important people in shaping men, I think men need to take some responsibility for that.  It is men that set the examples to younger men of what a man is, and how you treat the women in your lives.  Women may have power, men may have power, but it's both that is needed to shape a new human being.

With love
Cat x

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Are you ready for Christmas?



What part of your cycle will you be in over the Christmas break?  If you suffer from PMS or PMDD it can be helpful to know!

I'm feeling blessed as I am currently on day 4, so in 6 days time, I'll be hitting ovulation and will hopefully be able to enjoy the festivities without lack of energy getting in the way.  I do feel like I've lost a load of time this week having to retreat and rest, so I am slightly anxious at the moment. I'm not a party person, but I do like being able to enjoy the company of others without PMDD stresses getting in the way!  What I will have to watch however are my frustrations and anxiety, as ovulation can so easily tip from energy and excitement into anxiety and anger.

Where will you be in 6 days time?

'Cycle' scopes for Christmas 2012!

Days 1-7 - Menstruation
If you are due to bleed just before or on Christmas/Boxing day then try to get things organised while you are still pre-menstrual.  During menstruation we need quiet time and to relax and rest.   This may be difficult with Christmas arrangements.  Hopefully, if you were aware that your sacred time was due to fall at such a busy time, you may have been able to plan ahead. Maybe saying no to invites out to social situations that would be too much for you at this time.  If staying at home with the family can mean just as much stress, then be open.   Make sure you partner knows that you will be in a retreat time of the month and you may need to rest.. EVEN if it's Christmas.. PMDD does not know it's Christmas!  If you don't feel like cooking, then maybe taking Mum up on the invite might actually be better and relieve some pressure.  Call on others to help, and if you need to rest and take some quiet time out then make sure loved ones know that it's just because you need it to stay well, and not because they have done something to upset you.  If you can muster up enough energy to visit family then maybe limit the time you are there. Sometimes getting out, even though we feel terrible can actually help.  Go easy on yourself, and remember a walk outside can help with pain and stress.. Menstruation relates to winter, so at Christmas you have a 'double dose' of winter as it were.  You may find yourself deep in reflection of the past year and considering what 2013 may bring.  It may be difficult to get through, but when you do you'll be over the worst ready for the bright shiny new year!


Days 7-14 - Pre Ovulation
If you are due to be in the pre ovulation stage of your cycle, Christmas may feel a bit too much.   You may find it hard to get into the swing of things, especially if you have just finished bleeding and the last week before Christmas was a crazy panic as you had tons to do but no energy to do them in. You may feel the energy coming back and with it a sense of optimism and happiness, and excitement about Christmas.   Don't let anything you forgot to do, or couldn't get done in time cause you stress.  It's ONE day.   Nothing is ever perfect and remember that all those rosy images you see plastered over the TV screens and adverts are just that.. fantasy.  You may experience anxiety, with the rushing of energy back into your being, but just take some breaths and remember that everything is OK.   You may decide YOUR party time this year is over new year's eve, when you will be ovulating. You also might hit the sales to find the perfect present for yourself!  You'll reach new year wanting to manifest new things with ovulation.   Ovulation has an energy similar to spring, with new life returning to the earth.  You may want to start looking at some new years resolutions over Christmas, plant the seed.  It will be easier to bring into fruition in January.


Day 14-21 - Ovulation
Ovulation over the Christmas period may mean you are feeling good and ready for the festive season. Pre ovulation may have seen you preparing and organising for Christmas.   The rush in energy may have seen you rushing around buying and making last minute presents.  You're spirits may be high and you may be feeling good about any social events you have planned.  The energy is social and busy, it relates to Summer.   Many women have a challenging time with ovulation, the pressure to be 'out there' for some personalities is too much.   The worry about how we look and appear to the world. Some ladies like make up and getting dressed up, some don't.  Which ever category you are in, be YOU.  If you have a fancy party to go to but hate getting dressed up, and therefore that is causing anxiety, then just go in something you like. Bend the rules and find something smart but casual.. it's Christmas!  If you don't want to go, and going will create a disasterous situation then don't go, but don't beat yourself up about it for the rest of the holidays.  Beware of ovulation anger and frustration. With everyone being home at Christmas we can easily become angered and irritated by people, especially those close.   Usually it's because there is something we want to do, but we are not being allowed, or for some reason it can't happen.  This is a good time to practice letting things go and re focusing on the things we CAN do.  Acknowledge that we are upset and why, then move on..  As we tip over into pre menstruation, we will experience fluctuating symptoms and our mood can drop. Remember that as much as we will the bad days to pass, we should try and make the most of the better days too.  New year may feel a bit of a drag to you, so try to have a good Christmas, the cycle is working with you here, so there is every possibility you could have a REALLY good Christmas!


Days 21-28 - Pre Menstruation
If you will be due on your period at Christmas then you may find it all a bit of a struggle.
The pre menstrual time brings an energy of slowing down and withdrawing, the opposite of what Christmas is all about.  Pre menstruation relates to autumn, and to me that means unsettled weather. Some beautiful bonus sunny days and some right 'orrible ones.  So do what you can.  Ask others to help.  Try and keep Christmas simple and relaxed.  It's a bit late now to pull out of plans that might have been made, but if you really feel you cannot go to something, remember to try and explain things in a calm way, and that it's no ones fault! THIS is when you need to delegate and organise.  Ovulation the week before Christmas may have meant you've had some fun spending and organising presents.  You may have felt full of hope and happiness, but as the wheel turns and you get closer to the big day, you may feel your spirits dropping and your energy flagging. Remember this is not your fault, it just is the way things ebb and flow.   Make sure loved ones know you are due on and might be cranky (or that they need to be on crisis alert).  This also means that you will be bringing in the new year with your bleed.   Not the greatest scenario, but one that can't be helped.  The new year is a time of contemplation, reflection and thoughts to the future.   You can use your sacred time over new year to really look at 2012 and what you have learned, how far you have come and what you want for 2013.


Make sure YOU take the steps you need to to get through the season.  We can explain things to others and in turn they can help, but if you don't let others know, your moods and actions can be taken in the wrong way.  Running up to bed on Christmas day may seem rude or selfish, but not if you've explained.  An hour or two in bed may mean you have a happier evening, rather than end up snapping at the kids or your partner.  You have to look after your own needs, and put things in place so that you avoid as much stress as possible.

Christmas can be a really challenging time for many, whether you have PMDD or not, so try and prepare a little.  One of the good things about PMDD is it is usually quite predictable, so we can look a week or two ahead and get an idea of where we will be in our cycle.

I hope this little blog helps, and I hope that your Christmas passes without any form of crisis.

If you do find yourself alone and in a dark place, please don't hesitate to contact someone.   If there are no friends or family you can call on then make note of your local helpline numbers. Don't suffer alone.  If you are a member of mine or any other support groups, remember you can always post in there, even if it's quieter at this time of year, someone will respond, and sometimes support comes from unlikely places.

Sending much love and many Yuletide blessings!
Cat xx 

Support lines in the UK

Samaritans - 08457 90 90 90 (24-hour helpline)
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Website: www.samaritans.org.uk

Sane - 0845 767 8000 (daily, 6pm-11pm)
Charity offering support and carrying out research into mental illness.
Website: www.sane.org.uk



Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas crafts!

I've been getting crafty, and am currently taking commissions for hand made light catchers.

My light catchers are hand made from recycled glass jewellery, lamp work beads, vintage crystal beads, gemstone beads, hand cut mirrors and sparkly prism drops. 

Prices range from £10 to £15 plus p&p.  I mainly make these to order, however now and then you may find some ready made on my page.

You can order by contacting me on through my Facebook page

These are my most recent creations...



I have also been making toadstools for the Christmas tree!  I made a set of these a few years ago now, and every year, they take pride of place.  This year, I have made some sets to sell, as so many people said how much they liked them!  Again, if you would like some, please contact me on my Facebook page as soon as possible.  I make these in small batches, so they sell out quickly!  I will make to order, so please get in touch.

13 Toadstools hand made by Cat Hawkins.  A fairy ring for your tree! £10+p&p



Sunday, 25 November 2012

Animal Spirit T Shirts

Brand new for Yule 2012.

Animal Spirit and Mandala T Shirts, available in a range of colours and sizes for men and women.

£2 from every animal spirit design will go to a respective charity.

'Azkonar' Badger Spirit Mandala (donations to Badger Trust)

 'Melissa' Bee Goddess Spirit Mandala (British Beekeepers Association) and Wolf Woman Spirit Mandala (Wolf Watch UK).






FREE SHIPPING (in EU) when you buy 2 or more products.
ONLY UNTIL 27th November 2012. 
Voucher Code: XMAS2U

http://chaoticatcreations.spreadshirt.co.uk/

HAPPY SHOPPING!


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Valerian magic

I am on day 18.  Since day 14 I have had pain in my womb.  It starts with small twingy cramps, then slowly gets to what it is today, which is a constant dull pain in my womb, made worse by moving, walking, sitting...

I've always had pain at ovulation, the worse times being when I had the Mirena coil.  I remember a lovely trip to Oxford being hindered by ovulation pain.  I could barely walk at all, and every step I did manage was more painful.  Since removing all birth control, ovulation has continued to let me know physically it is happening, and days like this are not uncommon.  It's painful to walk and move, although not impossible, and I feel any sudden moves will cause the pain to increase for a few minutes.

I've been drawn back to my valerian tea.  I use it occasionally to aid sleep.  It works quite well, but I find that unless you are preparing for sleep alongside drinking it, it's not a guaranteed sleep aid.

I'm basing this on the Dr Stuarts blend of Valerian PLUS tea.  It contains 20% Valerian, and other calming herbs such as passionflower and hops.  It's not like popping a sleeping pill and knowing you will be asleep within the hour, it's a much more subtle remedy.

 With this in mind, I thought I would try it during the day.  With ovulation comes the creeping negative thoughts.  I have managed to keep a lid on them and try and distract myself with other things, but it's not easy.  Not when your body is making you feel anxious, like there is something to be worrying about but you don't know what.  The 'Did I Leave the Kettle on at Home?' feeling.

Remember, I am currently not taking any prescription medication, so I do not have to worry about contra-indications, so please, if you ARE taking any medications, always research before you try adding something else.  Drinking valerian may not be a good idea if you are already on meds, so be sure to ask, or research before trying anything out for yourself.

I doesn't smell great.  It is strong and pungent, even in a 20% mix with other herbs, but it doesn't offend me too much, and it tastes nice, so I'm happy to drink it!

I got to thinking about it's magical properties, or other reasons why it may be a good treatment for ovulation.  Valerian root has been used for centuries for a variety of things.  Insomnia, anxiety, stress, aching muscles/muscle pain, stomach problems, menstrual problems, epilepsy and ADHD.  It has no known side effects through single or long term use, but should be avoided in pregnancy and if trying to conceive.  If you want to know more about possible side effects go here http://www.livestrong.com/valerian-root-side-effects/

Folk lore says that sprinkling valerian over the front door step can deter unwanted visitors, or hanging sprigs around a room can create better relationships within the family.  It brings protection and helps ward off nightmares.  The word valerian comes from the latin word 'valere' which means 'to be strong and healthy'. It's other names are Vandal root, All-heal, St Georges Herb, Amantilla, and Setwall.

A recipe from the 1500’s containing Valerian stated, “Men who begin to fight and when you wish to stop them, give to them the juice of Amantilla and peace will be made immediately.” (A Modern Herbal by M Grieve)

Magically, it resonates with the feminine, it's element is water, and it's planetary correspondences are Venus, Mercury and Jupiter.  It is used in spells for ending guilt, stopping negative self talk and promoting self acceptance.  Valerian is said to help turn bad situations round to your advantage and finding a positive in a negative situation. It's astrological association is Aquarius.  It is associated with the festivals of Samhain and Yule, which is right where we are in the calendar year!

Valerian is warming and so too much can cause headaches and giddyness, or produce more of the symptoms you are trying to avoid, but essentially, I like this warming quality as it feels more active than passive.  You should obviously never take something over and over, there is a risk of de-sensitisation and many herbs can have negative affects if you take too much, so just be aware.  I'm happy to use this tea only when I feel I really need it, and tea is quite weak in strength (even in the plus blend) compared to popping capsules full of the herb.  It is STILL safer in my opinion than valium or any other prescribed insomnia/anxiety meds, and I would rather a couple of cups of tea during my challenging times, then to be whacked out on chemicals.

Researchers feel that valerian has some effect on the GABA receptors in the brain and that it has the ability to keep GABA from being broken down by the body. Valerian root has a high amount of GABA in its chemical make up. GABA is one of the main neurotransmitters that is responsible for inhibiting excitability in the brain and central nervous system. It regulates the amount of excitability or irritability that the central nervous system is exposed to. http://www.ihealthdirectory.com/valerian-root/

Thoughts that come to mind is we have something here that is associated with the feminine.  Water is a feminine, along with Venus and relates to feelings.  Mercury and Aquarius are of the realm of the air, and so relate to thinking.  During ovulation, my thoughts, at first come with a rush and excitement, then that tips into anxiety and the self doubt kicks in.  Anger and frustration come with the muddled thinking, and I find myself snapping and getting irritated with family.  I don't know why this is such a problem for me, but trying to stay level through a whole month is the goal.
Valerian appears to tick the boxes so far as energy and properties go, and it appears to work pretty well for calming my thoughts and it helps the pain too.  I had a cup today as I felt like I was gonna go under, and so far, results are good... I even managed to write this!  I do feel sleepy, but in a calm way,  If I wanted to sleep, I probably could, but equally, I could go eat, shower and decide what else to do today...

Fingers crossed I've found something to help with this time of the month!  Ovulation energy is really difficult for me to deal with, and I'm still trying to figure out why!



http://kitchenwitchuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/magic-of-valerian-root.html
http://www.witchipedia.com/herb:valerian

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Womb Symbolism - Rams Head



This is the latest meme that's turning up in news feeds on Facebook.
As with all meme's, it's a double edged sword.  On one hand it's a bit funny.. the coincidence, the underlying stereotypical symbolism... the connotations towards PMS/PMDD.  On the other hand, it could be seen as narrow minded, poking fun, creating a negative view of a woman's sacred time.

I find myself agreeing, as the similarities are glaringly obvious, but the use of the Satanic rams head, gives the viewer an immediate response that the womb is some kind of evil.  That in turn, being a woman is like being the devil.  This really encourages a negative view of the womb and menstrual cycle.

If we look at the womb, we see it does in fact look like a ram's head.  No problem there.
The problem comes with the use of the word Satanic and the image of the rams head that's been chosen in the picture above.

If we look at the symbolism of a ram's head, we can see there is good reason for it to be connected to the womb, and historically, it has connections with women.  All of this history and symbolism was in place WAY before the dawn of satanism and the rams head being used to represent Satan.  The pagan origins of Satan and the rams head come from things a lot less sinister.

Ancient civilisations were polytheistic and believed in many gods.  Many worshipped animals as they believed gods and goddesses could shape shift into animal forms.  The Sumerians (4000-2000BC) had huge flocks of sheep.  Sheep gave them food, warmth, work, trade.. if it weren't for the sheep, they would not have been able to sustain themselves.  They worshipped sheep goddesses and gods, who helped protect, watch over and ensure healthy sheep.  Whats really interesting about this, is the Sumerians developed the first ever form of writing, known as cuneiform.  Cuneiform is thought to be the origin of the word cunt... another feminine word that has been tainted and misused over the years.

The Egyptians valued sheep and also worshipped ram's headed gods.  Their most important god, Khnum, was said to have the head of a ram.  It was believed Khnum had created the Nile, and the whole of the universe from a single egg.  Rams heads have also been connected to neolithic shrines in Turkey.

The Greeks and Romans used sheep in their rituals, and often sacrificed these animals as a gift to their gods.  You can read more about sheep in Religion and Mythology here http://www.think-differently-about-sheep.com/Sheep%20_In_Religion_and_mythology.htm

More modern day uses include the Christian lamb of God, and the Satanic ram's head.


I don't really need to go into detail about all the negative views of the rams head as I would say that most have heard of, or seen images like the one above along with, 666, number of the beast, inverted pentacles, heavy metal.  I have to say that many of these views have been created and perpertuated by Christians themselves, and to me, Satanism adopted, or you could say, were given, a symbol to use that symbolises darkness.  If you want to see how fanatical people can become about this symbol, just check out this page (if you can stomach it) http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Wicca%20&%20Witchcraft/pentagram.htm


I would have to write a whole other blog about the pentacle, but it's fair to say that it has many many other uses and significances other than the Satanic one. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentagram

So.. how can we turn the original image above, and it's negative connotations around?

The womb, and it's similarity to the rams head is one of power and reverence.

Far from being something to be scared of, it is a symbol to be proud of.  The 5 pointed star, pentagram, represents the 5 senses, the 5 elements
- earth, air, fire, water and spirit, and a circle around them means unity, wholeness, infinity, the goddess, and protection.  A circle brings them all together creating a pentacle and binds them.  In it's inverted state, as represented by the rams head, we see the shadow side.

The 'one point up' pentagram, represents spirituality over the material, whereas the 'two points up' or inverted pentagram, represents the material and physical world, ruling over the spiritual.  It's the balance between both states that it required while we remain on this planet.

There is no purely good, or purely evil.  Everything in life can be good or bad.  The 'bad' is often not bad at all, but could be seen as a challenge, a test, a part of us that we have to learn from and heal.

So, maybe this symbol in connection to the menstrual cycle, womb and the Goddess, means we should look at the gifts held within the darkness of our cycles.

Other symbolism includes the astrological sign Aries, the ram.  It is the first sign of the zodiac, and is a fire sign.  It represents power, force, virility, masculine energy, protection, fearlessness and youth.  Aries, March 21st - April 20th rules over the springtime.  The coming out of winter into a new cycle.  This would represent pre-ovulation and the first signs of ovulation.  This time of year, around the Spring Equinox, represents new beginnings, a new cycle and life returning to the earth.

Just look at the symbol for Aries... remind you of anything?

In a woman's cycle, this is the time when energy and ideas build, when life becomes more focused on the outer world and less on the inner world.  It is a firey time, full of new growth and and a returning warmth.

With the darker connections, it would suggest a need to release your demons.  This time of growth lasts such a short time, if we get too selfish, too quick tempered, impulsive and impatient (all negative traits of Aries) we will miss the opportunities this time brings us.  If we are to reap the benefits of the Ariean energy, we need to develop the positive traits of Aries, such as being adventurous, energetic, pioneering, courageous, enthusiastic and confident.

An excellent overview of the Aries energy and traits can be found here http://www.cafeastrology.com/zodiacaries.html

by http://www.miguelcoimbra.com

The planet associated with Aries is Mars, the RED planet.  The masculine planet, that represents the God of War.  Again, the shadow side that can try and drag us under during our menstrual cycle can come out with a violent, powerful rush of male energy.  We are in fight mode, even when we may ot need to be.  Controlling this energy can take a bit of practice.

The Greek god Pan, is often referred to as an origin for the rams head too.  Think of Mr Tumnus in The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe.  In Pagan symbolism, Pan is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, of mountain wilds, hunting, music, libido and fertility.  His season is spring and he is associated with the Mother Goddess.

Cernunnos, a Celtic god, is known as the horned god or god of the animals, and is often pictured with a horned or rams headed serpant.  Differing from the rams head, Cernunnos is said to have the antlers of a stag.  Antlers renew themselves unlike horns, so we could see a symbolism there, with the renewal of the womb every month.  There is also significance with the horned snake.  Snakes were always seen as a symbol of fertility, for obvious phallic reasons, and they also represent death, rebirth and regeneration (symbolised in the shedding of the skin).  Yet another very close symbol to the menstrual cycle. http://www.manygods.org.uk/articles/essays/Cernunnos.shtml

During my research for this article, I came across this image.

There are very few mentions of Goddesses or women with horns, yet this french painter Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904) pictured a woman with horns.  The painting is called The Bacchante.
A Bacchante is a priestess, or follower of the God Bacchus.  It appears to be quite hard to find out much information about the Bacchante, but this is a good resource http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-bacchante.htm  Bacchus (Roman) is known to be the God of the grape, wine, lust, sex and revelry.  His Greek name is Dionysus.  Dionysus had his own equivalent of Bacchante.  The women who followed Dionysus were called the Maenad.
Both the Bacchante and the Maenad were seen as wild women.  Crazed, mad and ferocious.
Maenad translates into the 'raving ones'.

They were said to " be sent into a state of ecstatic frenzy by Dionysus, through a combination of dancing and drunken intoxication. In this state, they would lose all self-control, begin shouting excitedly, engage in uncontrolled sexual behavior, and ritualistically hunt down and tear to pieces animals — and, at least in myth, sometimes men and children — devouring the raw flesh. During these rites, the maenads would dress in fawn skins and carry a thyrsus, a long stick wrapped in ivy or vine leaves and tipped by a cluster of leaves; they would weave ivy-wreaths around their heads, and often handle or wear snakes" (sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maenad)

With all this it is easy to see where a negative view of a rams head may come from.  I don't know why the artist has connected The Bacchante to the rams head, but in doing so, he automatically draws on the deeper feminine meanings.  In this painting, I believe the woman was pictured with horns to represent her wild side.. as the title also suggests.  She looks quite innocent, her bare shoulder hints at promiscuity.. but look closer and she is also wearing animal fur.  This woman is not all she seems, if the myths of the Bacchante are to be believed.

Maybe Bacchus/Dionysus represents our hormones... driving us mad, intoxicating us to the point of frenzy...  there are definitely clear connections between the implications of the rams head and a woman's wildness, and many more positive views than negative.  What stands out is it is not the woman or womb that is evil or deviant, but the outside influence of Bacchus and his wine.

So when someone comments on how our womb's look just like a satanic rams head, and how funny it is that women tend to go crazy or mad at that time of the month, just point them in this direction. 
It is a cheap shot to poke fun at PMS or the troubles some women go through with their cycles.

Far from being Satanic, it is SHAMANIC.  Look at the ram as a power animal, and learn from it's traits and personality.  There is much to be learned from he ways of the creatures we share the earth with.

I would reply to the image at the top of this post with the image below...



Feel free to share from my Facebook page www.facebook.com/naturalshaman and remember to LIKE if you haven't already!

©Cat Hawkins

Saturday, 25 August 2012

We pretend to be strong because we are weak.

This post was originally written for my PMDD blog, but is relevant to all women, whether they have PMS, PMDD, or suffer with anger problems because of life 'stuff', so I thought I'd share here too...
“We pretend to be strong because we are weak.”
― Paulo Coelho
I'm waiting to bleed, it's day 28.
I find myself crying again, I can feel the rush of hormones. My man asks if I'm OK...
A year or so ago, I may have flown into a rage, angry over being asked. I may have just gone quiet and said, I'm fine, or leave me alone. Nowadays, I dive into his arms and cry into is chest. I accept his love, his concern and feel better for a hug and his understanding when I am feeling like my world is about to be upturned.

This got me thinking (especially as I am in pre-menstrual thinking overdrive).

Women with PMDD deal with an extreme amount of rage, anger, self loathing and fear. We feel weak and inadequate. We cannot deal with the same amount of stress that other people can.
Society tells us that as women, we should be able to handle everything life throws at us and cope with it all. There has been a big deal made out of women needing to be as strong as their male counterparts. Equal in every way.... except, we aren't.

Women may feel that they cannot possibly show weakness. They cannot let on to their partners, family, work colleagues that they are finding things hard. This happens to all women to some extent, but with PMDD, it's much more extreme, as the hormones seem to take over and control us. The false moods and irrational thoughts leave us feeling out of control, weak and unable to complete the simplest of tasks.

What happens when we feel inadequate? If we can't over compensate by becoming super woman to prove we are just as good as the men, or other more stable women, then we end up feeling frustrated at ourselves, and our situation. We end up angry and full of fight.. defensive. Even with the people we love. We don't want them to see our weaknesses. We don't want them to have to 'look after us' as that makes us far from the strong independent capable women that society says we should be.

I found this article. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wander-woman/201107/the-greatest-weakness-strong-women It's got nothing to do with PMDD, but tells the story of a high powered business woman who finally let down her defenses to save her relationship. As I read, I realised even more that showing weakness is hard for every woman, but to do so can actually help save floundering relationships and bring people closer together.

I look back over my own life and my own PMDD story and find the fight and defensiveness there at every turn. Right from a child, I knew that to cry in public was a sign of weakness, and that to get on in the world we have to be able to do what the men do. Work, earn, provide... I was always embarrassed by my mother's ability to sob in public, she would cry at the drop of a hat, especially to an emotional song or film, and quite often, I would feel the lump in my throat and the tears building, but I would not allow myself to cry. Cry baby. Soppy cow. Why are are you crying? I often had no explanation to explain why I felt like crying, and didn't want to answer that question. I have always avoided films and music that are liable to make me cry. 

In my youth, I turned to Heavy Metal music, especially the stuff sung (or screamed) by women. I wanted nothing more than to experience those strong emotions. The 'fuck you' of a woman screaming and roaring as good as any man. The lack of tears, the abundance of hate and anger. I related. I felt it made me strong and equal. Another mask to put on to the world. Men often became a target in the lyrics, with one of my favourite female bands (Otep) even writing a song called 'Menocide'. Yet now, that kinda turns my stomach, for there is nothing gained in the pendulum swinging all the way over to the other side. At the time it fed my need to be strong, to be like a man. When women act like men, what do the men do? When women are downing pints and shots at the pub alongside their male peers, fighting and brawling in the street, what do men see? Women? Or women who are more like their male friends? In which case, why should they treat us like women, when we don't act like one?

During PMDD days, I can sob at an advert, or a situation in a soap opera. I still feel that shame. I still feel embarrassed. Although, I am working on that. There IS no shame in feeling emotion. There is no shame in feeling so deep that a song, or lyrics send you into a tearful mess. There is no shame in admitting that you feel low, or for even crying when there appears to be no reason for it.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.”
― Washington Irving 

During my PMDD weepiness, I may be crying for all the pain I've ever felt in my life, for all the pain my ancestors may have gone through. I may be crying for all the cruelty and poverty there is in the world. I may be crying just because I need to cry. Why should I feel shame for that?

Menstruation connects us to a deeper place. It connects us to our ancestors and can bring about great insight and learning. Women ARE more sensitive at this time. FACT.
The shame and embarrassment brings on a reaction of needing to cover it. I don't want people to think I am weak, over sensitive, over emotional or stupid. How can I explain the tears?
Men don't do this. I am highlighting our gender differences. Maybe I am letting the feminist side down. I am weak and giving men a reason to see me (women) as weak.

Women sometimes cry easier in the presence of another woman. A close friend or aunt may console us. We know that we sometimes need to 'let it all out', but to do that in front of a man? When most men feel uncomfortable with that amount of emotion pouring out from the soul? To do that in front of our partners and husbands? That seems alien to a lot of us, despite both parties claiming to love one another.

This need to remain strong and collected in front of our men is what brings about the complete opposite in emotions. We don't want them to see us a weak. We don't want to admit we need them to protect us and keep us safe. With equality and all the blurred lines between male and female roles, men just don't know what to do, and if we are pushing them away and denying them the chance to protect and show us compassion, we are then stealing away their opportunity to fulfil their role within the relationship.

Ladies with PMDD often end up directing all this anger and frustration at their partners as a smoke screen. We overcompensate and allow ourselves to become strong, so strong we are fierce and aggressive. We are like crazed warriors about to go into battle. Only there is no battle. There is someone we love who desperately wants to help, who wants to be able to 'do something' to make it all better. We fight them, because to allow them to help, to allow ourselves to fall into their arms and cry and say we can't cope right now is to show them we are weak, and with that brings about a whole manner of inadequacies that appear to no longer be socially acceptable.

'Other women cope' Other women manage to hold down a job, have kids, study, cook, clean and stay sane all month long so why not me/us? We feel that our PMDD makes us inferior.  It doesn't. It makes us different. It makes us super sensitive. If women with PMDD can embrace this aspect and shake off the stigma of showing signs of weakness the anger is calmed. As I type this, so many memories come to mind. I can feel the tickle in my nose, the tears building up. Have no reason to be crying right now, yet the tears want to come.

As a woman, I am an emotional being. I want to fully embrace what it is to be a woman. The past 2 years have seen me stop fighting. I accept, I surrender, I have learned to feel comfortable crying around my man. I go with the flow and allow safe passage to whatever needs to manifest. Who am I to censor myself? Who am I to curb, halt, or stop the feelings that need to flow?

It is no wonder we have come to be like this. In days gone by, women with PMDD would have been called Witches. Demonic. We would have been misunderstood as being possessed by the devil and locked up in asylums... another reason to want to stay secret, to hide away, to remain anonymous. Women have undergone so many terrible punishments for being female. Showing any sign of intuition became labelled as witchcraft or possession. Hundreds of thousands of women died during the witch trials, who were no more than healers, midwives, herbalists and quite possibly women with PMDD, women who were sensitive to their hormones, who felt the rages and let them out, who acted as if they were possessed by a demon. I know that some of my tears must be for them, and my ancestors, some of which must surely have been caught up in the terror. In the UK, it is a mere 61 years since the repeal of the Witchcraft Act, yet to this day, in many other countries, women still face charges like this, often with the penalty of death.

So in many ways it is no wonder there is a such a stigma attached to women with mood disorders, whether they use their intuitive abilities or not, the outward signs of PMDD are frowned upon and still come with a hefty amount of shame, guilt and penalties for not being consistently able to live like everyone else.

Women need to reclaim what it is to be a women. We need to celebrate out difference, and not feel ashamed to embrace our feminine nature. Next time you fight with your partner, just stop for a second and ask yourself why you are fighting. Is there a legitimate reason to be fronting up to your partner? Or deep down, do you really just need a big hug and some reassurance that everything will be OK?

I can't being to describe how much this has helped my relationship. After swearing I would never marry again, I find myself a wife once more. My husband is not my enemy. My husband can provide me with protection, with love, with safety from everything else that is bad in the world. I am lucky to have such a man, who accepts his male role, however strange it may seem to others. But this is only possible because I allow him to take on that role. I trust him enough to let him see me during my weak moments. He doesn't expect me to be strong all the time. He doesn't value me any less because I have these moments. By blowing away the smoke screen, the fa├žade, the pretence that I am 'fine' all the time, we have been able to develop a much closer relationship.

My hope is that more women, especially the ones who suffer with PMDD will begin to embrace what it really means to be female, and find strength in what other perceive to be weakness. It is not a weakness if you need to take time out, if you need a break, to cry, to sleep, or to dream. It is not a weakness if you are string enough to be honest.  Honesty is by far the strongest action, and to admit you need help, love, a hug, is to put out the raging fire and unite with someone in a warm glow of friendship, companionship, compassion and love.

“We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

“Hiding how you really feel and trying to make everyone happy doesn't make you nice, it just makes you a liar.”
― Jenny O'Connell

“You wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were beneath it.”
― Alan Moore, (V for Vendetta)

“Do not consider me now as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.”
― Marilyn Monroe

“I don't mind living in a man's world, as long as I can be a woman in it.”
― Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn)
All quotes from http://www.goodreads.com

©Cat Hawkins 2012

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Holiday!!

Off to spend time with the sea... see you in a couple of weeks.  Recharged and relaxed!


Check out this link to read about the health benefits of the beach!
No excuses needed.. chill time at the beach is really good for your health!

http://www.amoils.com/health-blog/whatever-the-weather-enjoy-the-health-benefits-of-the-sea-and-the-sand/




Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Day 4

It's day 4 of my cycle.  I'm at that point where I'm done with resting, yet it's too soon to start anything.  My mind is still foggy, my attention span small.
Daydreaming is good, so is sitting, staring at things.
My mind goes off on different tangents every few seconds.  It like a rapid internet surf.  One random subject leads on to another and another, and before you know it, 4 hours have passed and you can't remember where you started.

I'm frustrated.  I want my energy back.  These last few days of menstruation are like the month of February...  The winter is not quite over, the earth is still waking up.  There are a few shows of life, but everything is sluggish and slow.  THAT is where I am.  I want it to be May, and the warmth of a new summer beginning,  I'm done with winter.  But that's not how it works.  The wheel turns at it's own pace.

I suffer from SAD in the winter months.  I find winter hard.  It's long, grey, cold and depressing.  I need sunlight so bad.  By February I'm hanging on by a thread, longing for sunny days and warmth.  Just like I am today.  The British summer has been terrible.  It will go down in history as the most depressing summer I'm sure of it.

So today, I forced myself to do something.  I had already thought of a million options, but settled for a piece of paper and some art materials.  I've barely seen anyone in days.  My kids are away and I feel like I've wasted the time, but I've had no energy.  Instead of surrendering, I've tried to fight all week, well, more like beat myself up, there wasn't much energy for fighting.  There wasn't much energy for anything.  All I could think was.. I should be doing this.. I should be doing that.. yet nothing got done.  Household business got done, the washing up got done, but anything for me? No.. because I was stuck in this frustrated state of nothingness.  Tired, lethargic, uninterested.

I feel like a caged lion.  Which is interesting as we are in Leo.  It is also the festival of Lughnasadh or Lammas, a fire festival.  The first harvest.  Oh! and did I mention a full moon in Aquarius... an air sign, therefore increased mental activity?  No wonder the past few days have been hard.

I let my hands draw.  I used ink pencils, water, brush, fineliners and a sharpie.  No masterpiece, I thought, just draw, just create... who cares if it's shit, just focus on something for a bit, DO SOMETHING.

This is what came out....


It's called, quite simply, Day 4.

To see more of my art, go to https://www.facebook.com/artbychaoticat.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Wedding!

The wedding went perfectly! We had such a great day.
After 6 months of hard planning and shopping and praying the weather would improve, we made it!

I was on day 16, so just around ovulation and at the time of the month that I have energy and am not so afraid of social situations. It was a bit of a flook that it ended up during that part of my cycle, and I don't know if it would have all felt so good at any other time of the month.

I was surprisingly calm all day, with only a couple of stressed out moments in the afternoon, and I coped with all the people and how hectic the whole day felt.

I will be writing more about planning a big event, giving consideration to your cycle in future posts on my Moods and Musings Blog (www.meetmypmdd.blogspot.co.uk) but for now, here's a few pics!








Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Exciting times!

I haven't posted properly in a while. Life has been VERY busy.

Some of you, mainly those that follow my blog on Facebook, will know that I am preparing for a very special event.

In TWO DAYS, I get married!

This is the reason I haven't posted anything new in a while, and the reason why it may be a couple more weeks before I get back to my writing again.

We have been planning the wedding for about 6 months, on a very tight budget, but after all the effort, I finally get to marry my man and see all my hard work pay off.

I'm very excited, and as someone who said she would never get married again... I'm pinching myself regularly!

I have a few articles that I can't wait to write, such as, how to cope with planning a wedding with around your cycle! and when everything get's settled, I will be back with new articles, and news of my happy day!

The next time I write, I will be sporting a new surname, a beautiful wedding ring and I will officially be a married woman!

Big love everyone! xx

PLEASE NOTE, POSTER ORDERS WILL NOT BE PROCESSED UNTIL AFTER MONDAY 16TH JULY 2012.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

7 years...

7 years ago, I was about to give birth...



She weighed 8lb 8oz and was born in my bedroom, in a birthing pool.
I was in labour for almost 8 hours.   From approx 3am.  Pain relief - tens machine, gas and air... warm water...



Fae Zanna was born at 11.45am on the 3rd July 2005, and she shares my Grandmothers (her Great Grandmothers) Birthday.


My Grandmother would have been 96 this year!  This photo was taken on the last birthday they shared together...  Fae was 2.

And here is my baby girl now!  next to her, her big sister, who is almost 14!


Happy Birthday Fae!


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Free Poster Giveaway!!

To celebrate hitting over 200 likes on Facebook, and over 20,000 page views on my blog, I am giving away an Energy Cycle Poster.

To be in with a chance of winning, please go and like my page, and comment on this picture:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=389781381077949&set=a.256107677778654.64888.248856075170481&type=1&theater

I will be drawing a name on Saturday 30th June, around 4pm GMT.

Your comment MUST be below the image posted and pinned to the top of my page.  You must also have hit the like button.

Good luck!


Over 20,000 Page views!

Thank you!  To all my lovely readers!  I cannot believe I've hit this many so quickly!

I really appreciate all of you and I would like to take this chance to THANK YOU ALL!!


Many Blessings and LOTS of love ♥ 

I HATE MY WOMB

As a long term sufferer of PMDD, I spent many years hating my womb, my cycle, my periods, they brought me so much pain and sadness.  Sent me crazy, upset and hurt the people I love and sometimes they succeeded in ruining my life.  I have not been able to work, participate in normal life, normal social activities.  I became reclusive, scared, isolated.

Throughout my teenage years, I discovered Paganism.  After years of learning Tarot cards, reading about the other worlds, and generally being fascinated by all thing esoteric, I realised there was a name, and a path I could follow.  I was already pretty in tune with the seasons, after growing up on the side of river banks and dog walking, but the Wheel of the Year and Paganism, opened my eyes, gave me structure and helped me to understand the different energy held within each season.

This interest developed further in to Witchcraft.  My late teen and early twenties were spent in Covens and working as a solitary witch.  I worshipped the Goddess, a female deity.  This felt more natural to me than anything I had learned with regard to the Bible, Christianity or Catholicism.

During my first pregnancy age 20/21, the PMDD symptoms began to worsen.  I had experienced extreme mood swings from the age of 13, but pregnancy brought me severe depression.  When my daughter was born I fell into Post Natal depression and the mood swings came back worse than ever.  I finally found out a name for my disorder when my daughter was 4 years old.  Pre Menstrual Dysphoric disorder.  Although I suffered from patches of depression over the years, the main symptom was extreme, uncontrollable mood swings, followed by 'normal' days when I couldn't believe how different I had been when under a dysphoric spell.

I hated being a girl, a woman... I hated my cycle, my periods.  I felt the 'curse'.  I had in fact joked when I was younger that I was cursed, or jinxed...  after a suicide attempt aged 28, I visited a Christian Pastors wife,  (my Aunt had begged me to see someone and took me to her) who told me I was being punished for 'dabbling with Witchcraft' and worshipping a Goddess and not THE God.

By that time I'd had my second child. Breastfeeding had held off the severe moods for 8 months, but they returned when I stopped feeding my baby, and gradually became more and more unbearable.

I HATED my womb.  I HATED my body, my cycle....  It made me miserable, ruined my life, made people stay away from me... I was misunderstood.  For others to even begin to understand why I was the way I was, I had to educate them in a disorder that at that time was being dismissed by the medical profession as non-existent... an excuse for women to misbehave... a disorder created by the anti-depressant companies to sell their product to a huge market of women who suffered with PMS.

My life felt wrong... I felt like I didn't belong on this earth.  I was confused.  How can I worship the Goddess yet hate the very thing that made me female.  I felt like I didn't belong anywhere. I felt like a hypocrite.

I slowly walked away from my intensive practice with the Craft.  I began to focus on my kids and surviving as a mother.  Goddess knows I needed to.  The PMDD made being a mother hard.  Hard on me and my children.  They lost their Mum for most of the month.  They walked on eggshells and ducked for cover when a rage took hold.  The guilt was unbearable.

Leaving my spiritual practice behind for a few years did me more harm then good.  I ended up in a bad relationship, which almost destroyed me.  I had nowhere to turn.  I had left my Pagan family.  I had let go of my spiritual connection believing it wasn't helping me.

When I finally managed to escape the bad relationship, my life began to change.  I slowly recovered my spiritual practice, but this time in the form of astrology and shamanism.  Slowly, slowly at first, but over a couple of years, I reconnected with my Goddess, began reading and learning, and re-finding the skills I had left behind.  I still hated my womb.  I was trying different medications in the hope that something would curb the mood swings.  I had met a new man, a good man, someone who I fell madly in love with.  I didn't want to lose him because of my disorder.  I even tried a chemical menopause, which is an injection that stops all your hormones and puts you into a menopausal state.  At this point, I was hoping that it would work and I would then follow that with a hysterectomy, but it all seemed too extreme. After all, there was nothing actually physically 'wrong' with my reproductive organs.  There was nothing wrong with my hormones.  My problem was my body's sensitivities to the changes in hormones.

18 months ago, I began Googling 'Spiritual Menstruation'.  I was desperately looking for a spiritual explanation for my mood swings.  I was looking for what was going on within me on a spiritual level.  To my delight, I found a website that explained my menstrual cycle in a spiritual way.  It explained how it was connected to the seasonal energies, the phases of the moon, the wheel of the year.

LIGHTBULB MOMENT!!  Something switched inside me.  Years of reading and learning flooded back into my mind. EVERYTHING I had learned during my years of studying Paganism fell into place.  I could apply it to my cycle, I could begin to understand my cycle.  I felt like I had a map.  I had a guide.  I felt like I could see where I was going wrong.  The original article I read can be found here http://www.moonsong.com.au/spiritualmenstruation.html

I then found an author, Alexandra Pope, who had written books on the topic of spiritual menstruation and divine feminine energies.  The Woman's Quest is a work book that helps a woman get in touch with her menstrual cycle.  It guides you through, it gives explanations.  It helped me discover where I was going wrong.  This book really 'saved' me.

As I read through, I realised everything that SHOULD be helping me, I saw as an enemy. Everything that didn't fit with society and everyday life, I saw as an inconvenience, I saw it as a burden.  When I began to understand how I could change my perspective and USE these energies instead of fight against them, my life began to change.  I began to heal.  I didn't talk about these idea for about 6 months, as I spent time getting to grips with it all.  To change a lifetime of hatred into love was not a quick process.  I had to see if these idea would work.  I had already come off all the medications, namely anti-depressants, and after 6 months of working with cycle awareness, I realised that the Mirena could I had sat in my womb, was hindering my healing process.  Not to mention the agonising symptoms I had begun to develop with it in my body.  Almost a year ago now, I had it removed.

After suffering a massive 'Mirena crash' due to the progesterone in my body beginning to flow again, I settle down into my own rhythm within 6 months.  This meant I no longer had an IUD controlling my hormones.  It meant I could get in touch with my own cycle with no interference.  This was a scary time, as I had been on medications/birth control for my entire menstruating life.  It was new territory.
I decided to find a counsellor, to help me get through the transition.  Again, I found an excellent counsellor local to me, by searching for a spiritual counsellor.  I needed someone who was going to accept and understand my beliefs.  I have been with her for 10 months now and can see and feel massive changes within me.

So 18 months on from discovering cycle awareness, I now honour my womb.  I now LOVE my womb.  It holds so much power, power that if left untamed can create huge problems in my outer life.  I should know!  I observe and listen.  Every cycle is a new, fresh opportunity to learn.  Understanding the cycle phases now helps me immensely.  I attended a workshop with Alexandra Pope in London, which really helped me get to grips with the ideas behind cycle awareness... you can read about this here  http://naturalshaman.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/creating-menstrual-health-workshop-with.html

My connection to the Goddess is stronger than ever.   By honouring myself, I honour her.  By loving myself, I can heal.  Being kind to myself and listening to my body's needs means my PMDD has improved ten fold.  I still struggle through some months, I still experience mood swings, but the way I deal with them has changed.  They no longer cause pain to those around me.  Friends and family are now realising that I can only do certain things at certain times of the month.  I am not a failure because I am different, or because I am sensitive to the hormone changes in my body.  If I need to rest, I need to rest.  If I can't meet up with a friend because I'm pre menstrual or bleeding, people accept that.  It takes a lot of explaining, but those that care understand, and those that don't are really friends.

I recently missed a friends wedding due to being due on and feeling low.  I was in retreat mode and just needed quiet time.  I felt awful.  I was gutted to have missed their celebration, but to go would have meant a possible melt down, and I no longer force myself to go through that.  I sent apologies and spent the weekend trying to forgive myself for letting them down.  In reality, they still had a wonderful day, and I managed to keep myself balanced and care for MY needs.

Knowing your body and mind and what you need is key.  Even with books like The Woman's Quest, every woman is an individual.  Ladies with PMDD know only too well that what works for one person, doesn't necessarily work for another.  The only way to heal is to work with your OWN body, your OWN needs, beliefs and values.  Observe and learn from your cycle.  Listen, fulfil your needs.

I will always be 'the odd one out'.  It is unlikely I will ever hold down a 'normal' job, this in turn can make life a struggle, financially and bring issues such as low self esteem, but I will find my way.  Society has very closed minded views on how we should all be.  PMDD, PMS, hormone disorders are still so misunderstood.  Women are expected to be like men.  They aren't.  Our cycles give us a full spectrum of emotions and energies throughout the month, they fluctuate.  One day, women might be allowed to utilise these cycle changes within society and the workplace, they might be respected for the different energies they hold within.  We can all but hope for this change, but I sense it will be a long process.  So long as women put up and shut up, do what they can to fit into a masculine society, we will never be heard.  Never be afraid to be female, and celebrate our differences.

Change your perspective, change your world.  It's challenging, it's exciting, but most of all, it can lead to deep healing to all women, and encourage others to follow suit.

Your womb is not the enemy.  Your ovaries are not the enemy.  YOU are your own worst enemy.  We have the power to create our world.  We have the power to stop making the same bad choices, to stop making the same mistakes.  It is possible to break the destructive cycle of PMDD.  There is no magic cure, but it IS possible to live with it, manage it and be happy.  I am living proof.

To read more of my writing about cycle awareness, follow these links:

http://naturalshaman.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/magic-of-menstrual-cycle.html
http://naturalshaman.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/my-healing-journey.html
http://naturalshaman.blogspot.co.uk/p/spiral-goddess.html

I decided to create a visual aid to help me understand my cycle energies.  For me, it really helped me to be able to SEE the cycle.  I created an A3 Poster.  If you are interested in the poster, please visit this link http://naturalshaman.blogspot.co.uk/p/energy-cycle-poster.html

If you are interested in reading my blog about PMDD, please go here http://meetmypmdd.blogspot.co.uk/

The symbol of feminine power.

Honour thy womb, honour thy ovaries... Honour the deep power we hold within... it is our greatest gift, giving us insight, truth, love, new life and unstoppable creativity.... ♥

https://www.facebook.com/naturalshaman


Photography by ©Mark Hall 2012 all right reserved.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Magic of the Menstrual Cycle


The Magic of the Menstrual Cycle
Female Shamanism and Spirituality.by Cat Stone (Hawkins)

Published in Indie Shaman Magazine Jan 2012 www.indieshaman.co.uk.

Woman is by nature a shaman – Chukchee Proverb

For many years it has been believed that shamans were male.  Along with many other faiths, it has been the male that takes on the more 'powerful' role.  An uprising in Goddess faiths over the past 50 years has been trying to re-claim the feminine as an equal and valid energy.
I was always drawn to the Goddess faiths.  Paganism and witchcraft in particular.  The identification with The Goddess was for me, more natural than a male deity.  In witchcraft, a woman can strive to become a High Priestess, equal to that of the male High Priest, or as a hedge-witch, on a more solitary path, she is encouraged to develop her own strength and power, and to really learn about herself and how to tune into the natural energies around us. 

Fifty years ago, in the Czech Republic, ancient remains were found (c 30,000 bc) in the Pavlov hills.  Along with the skeleton, the archaeologists found a spear head, placed near the head of the body, traces of red ochre and a fox skeleton, held in the hand of the human remains.  The body had been buried beneath two mammoth shoulder blades, pitched together to form a roof.  It was established this was a shaman grave.  The bones were then analysed and to everybody's surprise, it was revealed to be a woman.  This began to question the long held belief that all shamans were male.

A later excavation of the site, uncovered a clay oven, full of thousands of tiny hands, feet and body parts.  Broken remnants of animal figurines were also found.  This shaman woman was an artisan, creating talismans and trinkets rather than household items.  These were the oldest forms of ceramic creations the archaeologists had ever found, and probably one of the first ever kilns.

So, the oldest shaman burial site ever found, contained the remains of a female shaman.

There are many myths surrounding women in ancient societies.  One of the biggest and most degrading is that when the tribal women menstruated, they were banished to a 'Moon Lodge' and were not allowed back to until bleeding had finished.  The idea that bleeding was dirty and needed to be kept away from the rest of the group has long been the reasoning for this. 
This is far from the reality.

Ancient societies saw the power in a menstruating woman.  Women were far more in tune with their bodies and surroundings.  They would feel the changes inside them, they would use these energies  and a woman's cycle was to be honoured.  When women left their men and children behind to menstruate with others in a safe and secluded space, they left because their energies were no longer about the outside 'normal' world.  Cooking, cleaning, and general activities were put on hold, and the women went to be alone, or to congregate together with other women during their bleed.  What mattered during this time was the inside world.  Messages, signals, voices would come to these women during their menstruation.  They would vision, journey, sleep and dream.  They would spend time contemplating and unravelling the messages.

The access to other realms becomes easier at this time.  Senses are heightened.  Sensitivity to sound, smell and light would allow a woman to become more aware.  The natural tendency to withdraw at this time of the month, allows a woman to become quiet, in tune and open to listen and feel.

Menstruation could sometimes lead to great insights for the rest of the community.  Answers were found and decisions were made based on the women's insights during menstruation.  Women were honoured and respected.  Their bodies naturally went through a cycle of death and re-birth every month in sync with the Moon, they obtained an altered state every month, without even trying.  Women bled, but did not die.  Women could provide sacrificial blood, without anything having to lose life.  Blood, life force, ancestral power... Women held it all within their cycles.

Barbara Walker, in her book Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets says:
Most words for menstruation also meant such things as incomprehensible, supernatural, sacred, spirit, deity. Like the Latin sacer, old Arabian words for "pure" and "impure" both applied to menstrual blood and to that only. The Maoris stated explicitly that human souls are made of menstrual blood, which when retained in the womb "assumes human form and grows into a man". Africans said menstrual blood is "congealed to fashion a man". Aristotle said the same: human life is made of a "coagulum" of menstrual blood. Pliny called menstrual blood "the material substance of generation," capable of forming "a curd, which afterwards in process of time quickenth and groweth to the form of a body". This primitive notion of the prenatal function of menstrual blood was still taught in European medical schools up to the 18th century.

In modern society, women are so disconnected from their menstrual cycles.  Our period has become a taboo subject, something to remain private and unspoken, or make us feel embarrassed and ashamed.  Modern women try their hardest to ignore this natural rhythm, cursing their bleed and hating their cycle.  The changes in hormones within our body can have dramatic effects on our internal energy, which in turn, needs changes to be made on the outside to compensate.

To be able to use the energies of the menstrual cycle effectively, you first need to understand the 4 main phases of the cycle.  In pagan terms, visualise a wheel of the year and the 4 quarter points, Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox.  In general terms, think of the seasons of the year.  The menstrual cycle is a cycle of creativity, and so the following principles can be applied to any creative venture.  Why is the menstrual cycle a cycle of creativity?  Because it's sole purpose is to create, to manifest.  From spark, to flame, to fire, to ashes, to spark again... it is a symbolic creative process that can be applied to many aspects of life.

The cycle comes in 4 phases:
Menstruation (days 1-7)  - Winter – Dark/New Moon - Crone
Pre-Ovulation (days 7-14)  - Spring – Waxing Moon - Maiden
Ovulation (days 14-21)  - Summer - Full Moon - Mother
Pre-Menstruation (days 21-28)   - Autumn – Waning Moon – Mother/Crone

This is based on a 28 day cycle, which is the average.  However, every cycle varies in length, so these 'brackets' may be slightly different for each woman.  The one constant is that you will always ovulate 14 days before menstruation.

By applying what we know of the seasons, we can look at the menstrual cycle in a whole different way.


The Spring (Pre-Ovulation) is a time of new growth.  It is a time of innocence and playfulness.  Light and warmth are coming back to a dark earth.  Buds are opening, the daylight is growing.  The Spring Equinox bring us promise and animals pro-creating.  The Earth is waking up.  Everything is fertile and the energy is to nurture new growth, feed it and begin to wake up from the winter's sleep.  We stretch and move again.  Test the water.  It is in this phase of the menstrual cycle we will find the energy to begin projects, to develop ideas and plan ahead.

The Summer (Ovulation) is a time to manifest.  The body is open and ready to create.  It is highly fertile and flirty.  The Sun has returned to the earth, and it's time to enjoy the sunny days.  Get out and socialise, work on projects, finish projects...  Like the Summer Solstice, we rejoice and worship the Sun.  This is the time in our cycle we need to be connecting to people and relaxing in our outside world.  It can also be a time of vulnerability, and it is important that we keep ourselves grounded.  It is all to make risky decisions or get carried away in the moment at this time.

The Autumn (Pre-Menstruation) is a time of harvest and withdrawal.  This energy can be really tough for some women.  During this phase, our focus begins to turn inwards in preparation for menstruation.  We can feel disconnected from life and our mind can become negative and critical.  We harvest and complete projects and tasks, ready to withdraw from the outside world all together, like the Autumn Equinox, we remember the past.  If the pressure is on to remain in the outside world, we can become even more confused and irritable.  This phase slows us down and brings our attention back to our own needs.  It is during this phase that women can feel out of control, and suffer from PMS or PMDD.

The Winter (Menstruation) brings our focus deep within ourselves.  We are no longer interested in the outside world.  Our mind may be busy with thoughts from the past, negative experiences or trauma.  Winter solstice is the darkest point in our year, and a time to study and learn, to keep safe and warm.  Women may experience difficult physical symptoms during this phase.  Cramps, tiredness and irritability are all signs that you need to relax into the darkness and look after yourself.  It is essential that you honour this part of the cycle.  You are in the most sacred time of the month.  Pay attention to your dreams and visions.  Sleep lots.  When we look after ourselves during our cycle, especially during this winter phase, we have a better chance of a great Spring and Summer.

When you realise the process of menstruation is so deeply connected to our spiritual energies, it opens up brand new pathways for healing and living life in sync with nature.  Unfortunately, many women still opt for the Pill or other hormonal treatments to 'cure' the mood swings, to stop the pain, or regulate the cycle.  This disconnects us from our natural healing and cycle.  It stops us from accessing our inner well of power.

Women are trying to be good wives, mothers, lovers, friends and employees, but we are also in a constant cycle.  Our energy ebbs and flows, it is powerful and won't be denied or ignored  It is where it draws our attention that is critical.  If our natural energy wants to retreat during pre-menstruation, but we ignore that and force ourselves to work against that, we will almost certainly end up more stressed.  Life will feel difficult, and you will feel more tired and angry.  I believe women with PMS and the more extreme form PMDD are suffering from disconnection from their cycles.  They are working against the body's natural rhythm and the knock on effects can be devastating.

It is easy to begin working with the cycle.  Observe, listen and feel the energies.  If you need more information, I would recommend reading The Women's Quest Workbook by Alexandra Pope www.womensquest.org.  It was this book that has really helped me to realise how to work with my cycle in a spiritual way, and it kick started my own healing and understanding.
I have recently attended a Creating Menstrual Health workshop with Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer in London.  It was so reassuring to hear other women's stories and experiences with their cycles.  It has opened me up further to the world of possibilities that lie in working with the menstrual cycle and I get to practice a full cycle every month!  I would highly recommend the workshop if you want to go deeper into your own cycle.  You can read more about my day at the workshop here, http://naturalshaman.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/creating-menstrual-health-workshop-with.html

There are also many groups popping up online and all around the globe.  In America, many women are starting up Red Tent Temple's.  A space for women to gather and talk and learn from each other.  Some good places to start are:

http://alisastarkweather.com/
http://awakeningwomen.com/

or just simple Google Red Tent Temple and your country/city to see what's going on where you live.

The cycle does not stop during and after menopause.  Although the body may stop a physical cycle, the spiritual aspect continues,  often syncing with the moon cycle, and in this Crone phase of life, the energies are even more powerful and deep.

Women do not learn magic, women are magic.  It is nature, it is our birthright, and we should be forever thankful for the opportunities our menstrual cycles bring us.  Women are Natural Shamans, they just need to understand and use the power they hold within.

About Cat Stone

I am an artist living in the beautiful Hampshire countryside.  I have two wonderful children (both girls) and a dog called Ember.  Over the past 15 years I have been involved in witchcraft, paganism, tarot, healing, astrology,mandalas, sacred geometry, aromatherapy, colour therapy and crystals.  I am a qualified aromatherapist and have studied the tarot.  My journey has always been made difficult as I have had Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder since I began my periods age 13.  After years of suffering from this severe mood disorder and every medication making the problem worse, I have decided to walk my own path to healing.  I am medication and birth control free for the first time ever and have never felt better in my life.  If I can turn my life around by making friends with my cycle and learn from it, love it rather than hate it, then anyone can!

I have created a unique poster to illustrate the energy of the menstrual cycle, and am hoping to go further with my studies in working with and understanding menstruation.  I believe that women need to re-claim and re-connect with their cycle and I hope my poster will help to plant the seeds...

The A3 poster and further information is available from http://naturalshaman.blogspot.co.uk/p/energy-cycle-poster.html

© Cat Stone 2012


Facts about Menstruation:
  • Scholars suggest that pre-modern men and women learned to think numerically by recognizing relationships between groups of numbers that were also units of time measured through menstrual rites.
  • Menstruation may have led to humanity’s sense of time as most early lunar calendars were based on the length of a women’s menstrual cycle.
  • The term “ritual” is derived from the Sanskrit word R’tu, which means “menstrual.” This etymology suggests that ritual in a general sense and menstrual acts have a common origin.
  • At one point in history, women who complained of menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) were sent to psychiatrists because menstrual cramps were seen as a rejection of one’s femininity.
  • Menstruating blood was often seen as sacred. Sacred means both “set apart” and “cursed.
  • The word taboo comes from the Polyneisain tapua, meaning both “sacred” and “menstruation
  • Scholars suggest that as matriarchy gave way to patriarchy, menstrual blood taboos were used by men to control women and, consequently, menstrual blood was interpreted away from something powerful to a “disgusting” waste product that had no role in the reproductive process.