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:


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 ♥ 


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:


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.... ♥


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:


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.