Friday, 7 June 2013

As I prepare to bleed.

As I prepare to bleed I am taken over by creative energy.  I want to sink into a world of colour and shape.  No noise, no demands, just colour and shape.

Last weekend I delved into a project to revamp (upcycle) an old garden bench.  I didn't want to talk.  I didn't want to be bothered.  I just wanted to sit alone and paint.  Sit alone and paint I did, although nothing stops the children talking!

This is the result.  The result of my autumn, my pre menstrual phase.  Allowing myself the space and time, focusing my mind, sinking into creation...

Friday, 17 May 2013

Wonderful Women's Day

I have very kindly been asked to talk about PMDD at a local Wonderful Women's Day.

The whole day is incorporating lots of activities, including an opportunity to experience Miranda Gray's Womb blessing in the company of others, AND a viewing of the film 'Things we don't talk about'.

If you live in the Hampshire area, why don't you come along!

For more details about activities please click the following links.

Miranda Gray's Womb Blessing
(You must register with Miranda to receive the womb blessing, chose 12 noon as the time if you are coming along on the day)

'Things we don't talk about' - Red Tent Movie
(Admission to film only will be at 5.30pm with a suggested donation of £7)

Event run and organised by The Dreadess

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Micro Blog!

Been really busy.
Life has been like a little girl with a curl.
Been developing my meditation practice, it's going well.  It's inspired me to teach meditation so I enrolled on a course... or two, yes, I enrolled on two courses, a PTLLS certificate and a meditation teacher certificate.  New career here I come...
Having to write essays and homework along with all the usual stuff.
Had a nightmare weekend (days 24-25) but I recovered swiftly and day 28 became day 1 today!  YES! (urgh cramps...)
I'm off camping soon... come rain or bloody shine, need a night or two under the stars.
Lots of art work to do, good stuff in the pipeline.
Building the PMDDAUK website, trying to maintain momentum. Dealing with PMDD queries and stories.  Lot's of ideas, too little time.
Started learning kundalini yoga.  IT'S FANTASTIC.  Possibly my favourite way to spend an hour.
Learning lots of chants and mudras.
Loving life.  Working hard.  Taking the highs with the lows.. still losing my mind occasionally, but there's too much to lose now.. too much to do, to build to grow...

Sending love to all of you...
Remember... (always)... It will pass.

Thursday, 18 April 2013


It was cycle day 25.

I was standing in the garden. Sun was shining and it actually felt like spring! While chatting to to my mother and sister in law, I see a huge, and I mean HUGE black crow, fly straight into the window of the house out the back. Everyone turned round to see what had made the loud noise, and we all watched as the crow that had landed on the porch of the house, launched itself at the window to the right. Another almighty knock and off it flew... We were all amazed to see it fly off unharmed, as the noise was beak cracking.

Straight away a memory came to the fore. A few days ago... I saw a crow do the same thing to the same house... Hmm... when had I been out in the garden (there haven't been many days warm enough). Last Monday (Cycle day 20). George was finishing off the shed roof. It was sunny. I was out the back and witnessed the same thing, although this one hadn't come back for seconds, just crashed into the window and flew off behind the house..
Then, another recent memory pop's into my mind. Last weekend Fae had been singing 'Sing a song of sixpence'. She'd found an old childhood book of mine and found this one ditty very amusing, puzzling and worthy of much chatter. She kept showing me the picture... black birds flying around a pie.

Crows and black birds had been in my mind for a while, I have been planning to draw or paint a crow or crows, and it's not the first time. A couple of years or so ago I was called by the crow. I think now and then our paths cross, only I hadn't really connected before.

After researching the common meanings of the crow, I googled Hindu Crow (I have been looking a lot at Hindu Deities after hearing Durga's call recently) and up came Dhumavati.

Dhumavati is the hag, the crone, the old, dark goddess. Her name means 'The Smoky One'. 
She is the void, the dissolved form of consciousness. Her creature is the crow, a carrion eater and symbol of death and decay. Some stories say she has crow like features. She is often pictured on a horseless carriage with a winnowing basket (a tool used for sorting the wheat from the chaff), a spear or sword, a broom and a kapala (a bowl made from a human skull). She can be found in 'the wounds of the world'... cemeteries, cremation grounds, smoky fires, deserts, ruined houses and wild dangerous places. 

She is often named as the seventh Mahavidya. The Mahavidyas (Great Wisdoms) are a group of the ten aspects of the Divine Mother. The 10 Mahavidyas are Wisdom Goddesses, who represent a spectrum of feminine divinity, from horrific goddesses at one end, to the gentle at the other.

She is now a widow, but was once Shiva's first consort Sati. Sati's hunger was insatiable, she demanded food constantly and could never be satisfied. Shiva refused her demands, so she announced she would eat him instead. After consuming her husband, Shiva, he demanded her to disgorge him, which she did with reluctance. He then cursed her and condemned her to a lifetime of widowhood. On hearing this smoke emanated from her, clouding her beauty. He named her Dhumavati. She was from that moment on, alone, banished to the cemetary where she stole clothes from the dead.

She obscures and reveals. She reveals those things that are imperfect and disappointing. She is defeat, loss, destruction and loneliness. She is cruel, ugly and disheveled. She is the embodiment of lust and ignorance. Always hungry and thirsty, she yearns for food and drink. She likes to create conflict, arguments and invokes fear. Dhumavati is always in a sad state and represents unsatisfied desires. She makes herself a widow by swallowing her husband Shiva in an act of power, independence and self assertion.

She teaches us that life is a struggle. You learn from the negative experiences in life and through them, you develop wisdom. She points out the negative, so you can learn from it. The bowl of fire she holds burns ignorance and also symbolises that all things are eventually destroyed. She is often pictured making a boon conferring gesture (Varada mudra) or knowledge giving gesture (Cinmudra). These hand postures open up a more positive aspect to this goddess. A boon is something to be thankful for, a blessing. She represents the wisdom that can be found through experience, the knowledge that hides in the smoke.

Dhumavati asks us to look beyond small ambitions. She may seem like a dark and negative inauspicious Goddess, but she offers special powers and knowledge. She instills a desire to be alone, to go within, to delve into ourselves. Without a consort she is free to follow her spiritual path, free of family responsibilities.

"Dhumavati symbolically portrays the disappointments, frustrations, humiliation, defeat, loss, sorrow and loneliness that a woman endures. She is the knowledge that comes through hard experiences, after the youthful desires and fantasies are put behind. Dhumavati thus represents a stage of woman’s life that is beyond worldly desires, beyond the conventional taboos of what is polluting or inauspicious. She desires to be free and at the same time she likes to be useful to the family and to the society."

The crow symbol also has a positive side. They are symbolic of hearing ‘unheard’ sounds. Crows can hear very low sound frequencies, inaudible to humans. They also show remarkable intelligence. In Hindu belief, crows are considered ancestors as seen during sraddha practice of offering food or panda. Crows ask us to listen carefully to your instincts, feelings and dreams.

She is associated it the waning and dark moon. Goddess Dhumavati is a good teacher. By obscuring or covering all that is known, Dhumavati reveals the depth of the unknown. Dhumavati obscures what is evident in order to reveal the hidden and the profound. Honor her by lighting incense or creating a smoky fire. Offer her flowers, wine, food and anything else indulgent. Worship her alone. She is for you and you alone. Dhumavati is also known as Alakshmi, the anti-lakshmi. Lakshmi is the Goddess of family, hearth and home. Dhumavarti is the opposite. Alone, away from the home. She looks after unmarried people, the single, widowed, the poor, beggars and the diseased.

The day after the crow/window incident, my attention was drawn to a local church. It is no longer used as a church, but is now part of the Church Heritage Trust. It is one of my favourite places, and usually quiet and 'abandoned'. I felt I just HAD to go there. I took some incense with me to light in honour of Dhumavati. A walk in the grave yard led me to two black feathers. I went inside the church and placed the feathers on the altar and lit the incense. I sat for a while, alone in the church. The stained glass was memerising, and the incense broke up the cold musty church smell. I left just as a local turned up to the church. Perfect timing! As I drove home, one word popped into my head. Acknowlegement. I hadn't really known why I'd felt compelled to go the church, but on the way back I understood. That simple act had been a show of acknowledgement. She's made me aware of her presence, so I made her aware I had listened and that she existed to me.

I began drawing on Day 2.  Just after the New Moon. In full bleed, with full connection to the energy. Crow images have filled my news feed, and I was having constant thoughts about the smoky Goddess. Images, ideas and visions flowing through my mind. The image had been nagging me for days, it's call getting louder and louder till I could ignore it no more. The image was finished at the same time as I stopped bleeding. When I create a shamanic piece of work, something I am called to create, it flows... it draws itself in a way. I am just a channel.

The more I read about Dhumavati, the more I could relate her to menstruation. She IS the energy many fear, the energy women with PMDD battle with. She is The Critic, The Bitch, The Unsatisfied. The bleeding phase is attributed to the crone, but where else do we get a description of the crone energy in so much detail as with the legend of Dhumavati? When our pre menstrual tempers fly and we act like a spoilt children, we are showing that insatiable desire, we are demanding it our way. Many times in this phase I have broken off relationships and wanted to walk away from my family... and yes, the desire to be alone with my thoughts, with myself, was powering that. I wanted to be the widow, and I would create the situation so I could end up alone. I would toy with thoughts of death during this time. My worst suicidal moments have been in the days before my period was due. Do I break up with my man and become alone, a widow? Do I walk out on my kids and create that loneliness and sadness? Do I end it all now, be transformed in my death? the ultimate tragic story?

I look back and I can see the Dhumavati moments. I can recall how I felt. I have felt how Dhumavati feels. I know that desire, that frustration when things don't work out the way you want them, the fear, the deep sadness. What I missed before was the boons, the blessings, the things I could have been learning if only I had understood. When the anger hits, the disappointment, the seemingly random and uncalled for actions and words wanting to destroy everything around you, you are feeling Dhumavati energy. What is REALLY behind the anger? What is REALLY the desire that isn't being fulfilled? Look at your life. What are you denying yourself? What are you hungry for? I think those crazy moments before a bleed are down to those things deep within that want to be fulfilled, lived out, worked on and learned from. Sort the wheat from the chaff, sweep the room, get rid of the rubbish in your life that you don't need... those things that make life harder. Look within. It may be difficult to figure out what it is you want from life, that is the nature of smoke and darkness, but keep looking, it will come, it will become clear. Learn from The Smoky One. Don't allow her energy to rule you, to create quarrels and situations where you end up the widow (unless, that is what you want!) On the other hand, her energy can really help with ridding things from your life you don't need anymore. In some relationships, the widow option is the better one, for the sake of your sanity and future!

In the winter phase, menstruation, we are cleansing. The unfertilised egg is being cleansed from the body ready for a new cycle. The body and mind feels a sadness for the potential that didn't become a life, maybe we also sense the frustration of a perfectly good egg going to waste... we begin to analyse the rest of our life. Where am I going? What good am I? I've wasted my life, I should be alone, I am a failure... Even in her condemnation, Dhumavati found the positive. She turned to the people that needed help, that are alone, that are outcast from society. She helps us to find the wisdom we all have inside, while at the same time encouraging us to look at whether we are fulfilling our own potential. She helps us to see what is holding us back, and what is good and bad for us in our lives.

So, with thanks to Dhumavati...

Dhum Dhum Dhumavati Svaha - Dhumavati's mantra is said to create a protective smoke shield that protects you from negativity and death. It helps remove illusions and allows you to see the unseen. Meditate on the void, the emptiness, the darkness. It enables us to 'read between the lines', to see past our initial judgements and prejudices. Don't look at the subject, look around the subject.

I never expected that seeing a crow hit a window would take me on such a journey, but it did... and I for one, am very grateful.


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Help a fellow sister!

Colette Nolan founder of is looking for funding for her new project 'Honesty'.  The following is from her Sponsume page.
It is our aspiration to become a Community Interest Company called 'Honesty' with the goal to empower and educate women and girls so that they can gain the autonomy and self love to make informed choices about their sexual health and mental well-being.
We want to provide truthful facts about contraception, menstruation, body image and sexual health in a fun and accessible way. We wish to create educational resources and distribute them for free to health clinics, youth groups and community centres. We also hope to run 8 week courses based on the resources.
We need money for our rent, bills and resources. We are asking for £900 which will cover our core costs for three months while we write funding bids for a bigger amount as a CIC.
In return you will be gifted with Cunt themed treats.
With Cunty Love  ({*}),
Colette and Elaine AKA Lady Cunt Love and Madame Mega Muff.
I had the pleasure of meeting Colette on a workshop with Alexandra Pope.  Her ventures are brave and inspiring.  I have personally sponsored, and am looking forward to my cunty badges.

An amount as little as £3 will help.  Go on, you know you want a badge that says I heart my cunt!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

To my friends...

(written to the friends close to me in real life and on Facebook...  wanted to share here with a wider audience and explain why I have been a bit quiet with posts, and why I may not have responded to messages/emails recently)

The whole month of March has been a struggle. This past week being (hopefully) the lowest I could get.

Lots of you, my friends, have been worried, and I feel terrible for worrying you or causing any of you upset. This guilt often means I start to spiral inwards even more, and the negative feelings grow. It has been a long time since I have written like this, but I feel it's the only way to try and help myself, and others, understand.

As most of you know, I have a mood/hormone disorder... at least, that's how you will understand it in the 'normal' way. The label Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder is something I am trying to move away from, but it's the easier label to give when trying to explain what I go through. It's medical. It's a real disorder. No one knows what causes it or how best to treat it. It's still not widely known about, or should I say, it's widely misdiagnosed as bipolar, borderline personality disorder, depression... Many sufferers feel schizophrenic, although, unlike schizophrenia, we rarely lose all concept of one personality in favour of the other, but rather stay in state of transition, the battle, the fight between two aspects of the self. We also tend to remain consciously aware of all our actions even when we feel like we have no control over them. PMDD cycles are monthly and therefore, when the symptoms are particularly bad, they can really take their toll on your physical and mental health.
So I have that going on... I hit challenging times almost every month, but since coming off all medications etc I have got a much better hold on this. I have learned how to manage my month, my LIFE, around it. I know my energy changes and fluctuates. There are better times of the month for socialising and times when I have to hide away. I know my cycle well, and can predict when I will have enough energy to go out and be social and when I will be struggling with tiredness and need to rest.

This week however, I was not at a point in my cycle when I should be going through this stuff. Day 7 is usually a time of increasing energy, busy-ness, lots of ideas and planning.. becoming more social etc I had had a particularly crap cycle anyway, coupled with my birthday, which this year I was really not up for celebrating.. the 'depression' had started right back then. The negativity swallowed me up. I couldn't see the point in trying. I was easily angered, wound up, hurt, upset... I did a lot of shouting and stamping about. When these times happen, it's like I have left my body and am outside watching everything unfold. I upset my children... I pushed my man away. I rejected my friends offers of help. The negative thoughts tell me that it's all false. No one really wants to help. Everyone is judging. People think I am weird, a pain in the ass, over dramatic... it's like I can hear all the sighs of everyone when they see another negative status message. Even with lots of PMDD friends around, who I know will understand, I can't connect. I can't talk.

It's like being bound, gagged, blindfolded and thrown into a pit of terror. We would call this dysphoria, which is commonly known to include persecutory feelings and suicidal tendencies.
For 4 days I barely ate a thing. I went from not being able to get out of bed despite sleeping for hours and hours, to being unable to sleep and staying up all night. I couldn't deal with the kids. By the end of the week they were both avoiding me and trying to stay out of my way. Rhiannon doing an amazing job of being a stand in mum for Fae while I am emotionally unavailable. All of it kills me emotionally.. I do and say things I normally wouldn't. It makes me feel like a terrible person...

I've had uncontrollable flashbacks to times in my life when I was going through hell, all the emotions from those times surface. I rid myself of one thought only to be bombarded with more negative imagery and feelings. Feelings of panic and palpitations which can last all day. Fear of having to leave the house and face anyone was too much and I spent a lot of time in the dark, in my bedroom. Thoughts of escaping... running away... hurting myself. I did not get the usual suicidal feelings this time, but the desire to destroy, cause myself pain were very strong. THAT'S when keeping yourself locked away in a bedroom is a good idea. My mind was taking me to all sorts of crazy places. Should I cut off all my dreads? should I destroy the last painting I created? I could burn myself, crash the car, find something sharp... drink a bottle of vodka... (yes to me, alcohol is a form of self destruction.. it makes me ill and so would achieve the desired result). All I have to do is hang on until it passes. Wait, till the demon leaves me. Try and get through without letting any of these impulses take over. It's not easy, and as yet, I haven't figured out what I should do in these situations. What I need is a place to go while going through it all, away from my friends and family.. but it's not likely to ever be possible, so hey, you just gotta do what you can. My body has been curled up and tense all week, the pain in my back and shoulders from the tension is awful. The exhaustion from the endless thoughts and visions knocks me for six.

So, if it's happening out of cycle, at a time when I would not expect it, then I have to look at what else is going on. I follow a shamanic path. I always have, although when I was younger it took the form of witchcraft. Moving on from the restrictions and rules that are set when following such belief systems, led me to where I am now. As a woman, my cycle is shamanic in itself. Every woman has a direct connection to the Earth and the Moon. The menstrual cycle echoes the seasons of the year in it's energetic changes and also follows the phases of the moon. We are currently entering Spring. Pre ovulation. It's a transition time. The Spring Equinox this week symbolises this. A time when the Sun and the Moon are in balance, but also, a time when one half of the world welcomes in Spring and the other half kisses goodbye to Summer and is seeing in the Autumn. A duality, a time of balance and extremes all at the same time. Confusing eh?

I digress. In following a shamanic path, in dedicating myself to it, in stepping deeper into the mysteries I have to allow the necessary shifts to occur within me. Thing is, you don't get an email telling you you are about to go through another shamanic healing process... To be honest, I wasn't overly familiar with shamanic initiatory illness and it's symptoms until now, but the more I look at what is going on right now, the more it makes sense. I could just call it a breakdown, a PMDD episode that has arisen due to the stresses and strains of life, the terrible British weather and SAD, but that is almost dismissing the importance of these happenings (It does make it easier for others to understand, especially those who think shamanism etc is a load of bollox). The healing that follows the darkest times are invaluable... IF you can develop an understanding of why it's happened.

LOOK at the symptoms for shamanic initiatory illness... (these can also be symptoms of coming off psychiatric meds or the rising of the kundalini)

Shaking, vibration, altered states of consciousness ranging from comatose to euphoric, extremely long periods of insomnia or hypersomnia, inability to tolerate eating, food cravings, headaches, nausea and vomiting, nightmares, suicidality, pain, heart palpitations, fear of going crazy, feeling tormented, terror, being bed-ridden, agitation, weakness, cognitive confusion, seizures, muscular rigidity, tingling, impaired vision, hearing unusual sounds, seeing lights, other hallucinations or visions, obsessive or impulsive behavior, rages, crying jags, severe depression, vertigo, seeming drunk without taking any substance, exhaustion, chills, heat, sweating, tendency to withdrawal and agoraphobia.

I can tick off many of the above and have just experienced them. There is much documented about how shamans view schizophrenia and episodes like the one I have just described. In fact such things as schizophrenia do not exist in shamanic tribes. Shamans would view these things as a spirit trying to contact the living world, or a possession of a body by a spirit. Likewise, PMS or PMDD would not exist in these circles either. Women's menstruation was seen as a very powerful thing, and an essential part of their (and the tribe's) spiritual well being. Menstruation, itself, is an altered state of being/consciousness. You can read more about how shaman's deal with mental illness in the following link. It's an amazing article.

I can't say for sure that this is some kind of shamanic thing going on... but I also don't class myself as truly mentally ill. I am also not a flaky character that can't deal with the things life throws at her, as I have gone through a whole heap of difficult situations and life traumas over the years and am still here to tell the tale. My counselor, a few sessions in, told me she is amazed I am still here. My reply, is always... my kids keep me here. They are the reason I continue to live out my life on this planet... that and the fact that I have been blessed with a life, so really, I better make the most of it, however alien the world seems, and however difficult this particular life seems to be. Life, now, is actually better that it has ever been.. a gorgeous, loving and understanding husband, better relationships with family and friends, two amazing children and my art, my writing, the wonderful web, and a future that hopefully holds some great things.

About 15 years ago, during another challenging time of my life, my tarot teacher once said to me 'The hardest steel is tempered in the hottest fire'. That has stuck with me ever since. To be strong, to understand another person's pain, to feel empathy, to be able to help, heal, you need to undergo it yourself. I never consciously asked for this path, it just is... I find most of my life is 'out of my hands' these days. I rely on my instinct, on catching the wave and feeling the flow. I guess that with that comes the storms that turn the boat over, throw you into the water and leave you fighting for your life. What I wish though is that it didn't affect my family and friendships so much. 

So I'm doing my best. To understand, to learn, to develop and grow. I wanted to share all this stuff as I do freak out some times and think that everyone must think I am completely nuts, or just a depressive personality with no joy or fun, but that's not the case. I'm just different, and dealing with some really weird shit that no body gave me a manual for! Thank you to everyone who contacted me with kind words and who offered the hand of support. I'm sorry I couldn't accept, and especially sorry if my actions or words hurt or upset anyone...

I'm still 'coming round', settling down. It takes a while to flush out the adrenaline and anxiety, it takes even longer to get rid of the guilt and the feeling of embarrassment and shame, but writing this, focusing on some art will help, and hopefully I will re-integrate what I've learned through all this and next time wont be so bad... I have no idea how many of these I need to go through, but I couldn't actually begin to count the times that this sort of thing has happened. The last time was 6 months ago at the Autumn Equinox (pattern? who knows!)

Love to you all, and thank you for being a friend, in whatever capacity... (cyber, real life.. it's all the same)
Cat xx

Monday, 11 March 2013

Pisces New Moon

Tonight is the Pisces New Moon.  At 19.54 (UK Time) this evening, the area of the sky called Pisces will have a total of 7 planets occupying it.  This is a pretty rare line up.  Mars, Venus, Mercury, Chiron, Neptune, the Sun AND now the Moon.

My natal Sun and Mercury are in Pisces in the 11th House, so this moon is bringing up thoughts around friends, groups, organisations and the collective.  It can also highlight how I become my true self, in relation to the collective groups around me.  As it was my birthday just 4 days ago, this new moon and the positions of all the planets will signal the theme of my coming year.

Mercury is still currently retrograde, and as a mercurial being, I often feel the effects of this.  A slowing down, being a little less productive with writing.  It can have an effect with my relationship with my partner too as a Gemini Sun, he too finds himself withdrawing a little during a retrograde, and little arguments or misunderstanding seems to occur.  Mercury goes direct again on March 17th.

The energy has been tense to say the least.  Myself, and many people around me are feeling the energies at play.  It's tense and INTENSE.  We've also just had Mother's Day in the UK.. so women and talk of the mother are all over the web.  Pisces always brings us back to the spiritual matters in life, it reminds us of the need for a spiritual practice, however small and understated.  Symptoms of all this Pisces has been frazzled nerves, daydreaming, strong intuition, messages, signs, intense dreams... being easily distracted... 

(like I just did while writing this.. gazing out the window I notice the roofing on the shed is flapping about very ungraciously in the wind, exposing the wood underneath... it's trying to snow and this could end in shed disaster, so I broke away from the blog to go stick a heavy piece of wood on it)

(oooh... there's the postman at the door with new art materials  **big smiling heart** might as well make a fresh cuppa while I'm up)

The antidote, if you like, is to meditate, to dream.  It IS to take time out and be still and quiet.  It's time to repair, restore and revive.  Getting creative just for creation sake is beneficial right now.  Recognizing and connecting to your source of power.  Honoring it, developing it.

I spent the last couple of days painting.  I haven't painted in a very long time  With more and more ideas flowing freely.  I feel like's I've finally found a way to work on canvas, without compromising my style or changing it too much.  It's exciting, and I feel like I just want to go from canvas to canvas.. create, create, create...

Although now, I find myself a bit lost again.  I'm due to bleed soon.  I've had the warning signs it's imminent.  Last month it came 2 days after new moon.  My cycle has adjusted itself naturally to the moon.  I've been off any form of hormones/birth control for almost 2 years.  I ovulate when the moon is fat and round in the sky, I bleed when the moon is dark and new.
I slept all morning today.  It's freezing outside, with the strong winds and snow showers making it bitter.  I could have happily stayed there, but that nagging little voice that tells me I should be up with the Sun, I should be being productive... so I get up and find something to do.

Although I want to crack on and paint, focus and write, it feel impossible right now.  I think I will happily wander through my day being led in all sorts of directions.  I don't really want to speak to anyone, or be anywhere busy.  The thought of having to pop to the supermarket is not appealing.

My body is preparing to bleed.  It's almost ready.  My mind, as it is so often at this time, is somewhere else.  I'm clumsy and forgetful, easily irritated and feeling very lethargic and tired.  As a mother I have to push through this and find a solution to the kids getting fed this evening and me staying as calm as possible.  Any stress around me now builds up like a gas.  One spark and BOOM...

I don't want any cosmic sized explosions.  I know what I need to do, so all it takes is a little preparation.  All these energies will dissipate slowly over the coming weeks.  This is significant as Pisces is the last sign of the zodiac.  A whole new cycle starts when the Sun moves into Aries.  With all these planets in Pisces it suggests that many cycles are coming to an end.   The planets all move at different speeds, but we see them all arriving at the station at once this year, with them all gearing up to shift into youthful, firey, impulsive Aries.  Mars and the Moon leave tomorrow.  The Sun changes signs March 20th, Venus leaves March 21st and Mercury then moves on April 13th.  Chiron will stay in Pisces till 2019 and Neptune will stay in Pisces until 2025.

The fog will begin to clear.  The light will return.  However uncomfortable the energies are at the moment, know that they will begin to shift soon.  Clarity and energy will return, and hopefully this will coincide with longer days, warmer weather and a few sunny days.

In Gaia's year, the Goddess is almost at pre-ovulation.  The bleeding may even be over, but she's in that limbo land, where Winter is refusing to let go and allow her to move into the Spring.  Patience is needed.  Continue to plan, lay foundations.  You may feel you are champing at the bit, but a false start will only lead to more problems.  This time of year is like the pause between breaths in yoga.  It's where there can be a deepening, and extension of the space.  It's dark and calm.  We will all be able to breathe in deeply again soon and admire the view, but for now we are on our own, in our own little foggy worlds.  Enjoy the peace when you can get it.  Don't sweat the small stuff.  Connect to your higher self and tell them where you want to go, ask them for advice.  Insights for the coming year are in your grasp...  There has never been a better time.

Friday, 22 February 2013

New Posters available!

Finally!  After lots of work the Menstrual Cycle Visual Guide is now available for sale!

A4, printed on heavy FSC paper, this provides a handy visual guide to the menstrual cycle.  Useful for education purposes and to aid personal understanding of the cycle.

Single posters are £8 (price includes worldwide shipping) but are cheaper when purchased as part of a pack or as a multiple poster purchase.

Just go my my POSTER SHOP to browse the poster packs available!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Available for sale SOON!


Prints of 'The Menstrual Cycle - A Visual Guide' should be available for sale early Feb! 

It took longer than expected to get the image ready for printing (image for web is different to the quality needed for printing). It will be A4 in size, available for sale on it's own and in a special offer package with my other poster 'The Secret Feminine Energy of the Menstrual Cycle'.

As soon as I know more I will let you know. Feel free to register your interest below if you would like to purchase. Price to be confirmed but will be around £8 with free shipping ♥


Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Menstrual Cycle - A Visual Guide

It never ceases to amaze me how many women don't really know what is going in inside their bodies during the menstrual cycle, or how to chart their cycle.  I don't mean that in an unkind way, it's just an observation.  Knowledge is the best tool you can have, and if you suffer with PMDD/PMS you need to do a bit of reading and get some of that valuable knowledge under you belt.  It will help as you try and figure out what happens at what point of your cycle, and having an idea of the physical changes inside you can really help.

Over the years I have come across videos and charts which have helped me to understand the changes my body goes through.  That understanding, in turn, led me to look for ways to support the changes rather than fight against them.  Timing and planning things around the different energies is now second nature.  Knowing my limits at each point of the cycle has really helped me live with PMDD.  I have the odd breakdown, but I am much more in control on a regular basis during all points of my cyclical changes.  That to me is like winning the lottery.

I decided to create a chart just for PMDD/PMS sufferers to refer to.  It shows the fluctuations in hormones, the physical changes, and the energetic/emotional changes.  Hopefully it will give you a good idea as to what is happening in side you when all hell breaks loose!  It also has key words to give you a feel for the natural energy of each phase..

I will go into more about the seasonal correspondences in another post, but it's quite easy to connect with.  Our energy grows after our period, peaks at ovulation and then slowly wanes until we bleed again. You can see this cycle happen in nature every year.  We have like a mini years worth of seasons in one month!  I have blogged about these theories before, you can find some of them here and here.  I also created a poster about these energies which you can find here -

We get all stressed out about feeling low, tired or crabby, but if we are pre menstrual or hitting ovulation there is a simple explanation!  Hormonal changes!  If you are still having trouble during the times when the hormones level out and are not finding yourself feeling better, then maybe there are other issues at play.  PMDD/PMS will drag you down during pre menstruation and in some cases, at ovulation too.  You should always feel better at each point between to two, but if you are not, you may need to look at whether your unhappiness/frustration is coming from a depression, an unsuitable job, an unhappy relationship, a past trauma or issue that hasn't been resolved.  PMDD/PMS plays a huge part in our emotional wellbeing, but it's not the only factor.  Stress and unresolved issues can add to the pressure and make an uncontrollable outburst more likely.

Here is the chart.  It clearly shows the fluctuations and changes the body goes through.  I have added where the PMDD crisis points are, along with the seasons of the year and key words that can give you an idea of the energies present during each phase.  Hopefully it is simple enough to understand, and below, is a written explanation.  Again, I hope I have written it in such a way that it is easy to understand.  I have read many a medical site that uses such technical words that it gets too complicated to understand!

To chart your periods, you start counting on the first day of bleeding.  That is day 1.  You keep counting until you bleed again and the again, the first day of bleeding becomes day 1.  Mark it on a calendar or use an app to keep track of your period.  This helps you to plan around your period by not taking on too much during the times that could be challenging.  I often count forward and also mark day 7, 14, 21 and 28.   That then gives me a quick view of where I will be emotionally and physically throughout the month.  Lots of cycles are longer or shorter, and that is normal.  28 days is just the average.  Ovulation always occurs around 14 days before your period, so if you have a short cycle, say, 21 days, you will ovulate on day 7.. if it is a longer cycle, say 32 days, you will ovulate around day 18.  It IS possible to ovulate twice in a month and to not ovulate at all.

The menstrual cycle is split into 3 phases, follicular, ovulation and luteal. The first phase is the follicular phase and corresponds to when the FSH (follicle stimulating hormone, produced in the brain) sends signals to the ovary to ripen and produce and egg.. This then produces more estrogen from the ovaries to enable the egg to ripen.. At ovulation, increasing estrogen levels from the maturing follicles cause the LH, luteinizing hormone, to surge, which releases the egg. The corpus luteum (a solid body of cells) is left behind at ovulation. The corpus luteum excretes progesterone and small amounts of estrogen and causes the womb lining to thicken in preparation for the egg. This is called the luteal phase. It prepares the body for pregnancy. During the luteal phase, estrogen drops quite rapidly and will fluctuate until your period. At the same time, progesterone is rising. It spikes around day 21, and then drops off rapidly. When the egg is not fertilised, the corpus luteum dies and stops producing progesterone and estrogen, this allows the womb to shed it's lining and cleanse the uterus.

The other hormones involved are those that are produced in the brain that send signals to the ovaries.  Gonadotropic hormones come from the pituitary glad in the brain.  They are controlled by GnRH frequencies that send out pulses to regulate the production of gonadotropic hormones.  In men, this pulse is contstant and steady.  In women, the frequencies change throughout the cycle which is what gives us a cycle that changes and fluctuates.  The change in frequency is what sends out the right amount of gonadotropic hormones to our ovaries to trigger the stages of the menstrual cycle.

The basal body temperature can help clearly indicate ovulation and is important for those trying to conceive or who use the fertility awareness method of contraception.  By orally taking your temperature every morning as soon as you wake (before even getting out of bed) and keeping a record, you will see a drop in temperature at ovulation and then it will rise from around 36.4°F to 36.7°F.  Other signs of ovulation is the consistency of cervical mucus.  At ovulation, this mucus will be fluid and watery.  Some women can tell they are ovulating just by how wet or moist they get.  This fluid helps sperm to swim more easily into the womb.  After ovulation, the cervical mucus will get thicker and more sticky.  This is much harder for the sperm to swim through, which helps with contraception.  For more info on the fertility awareness method and charting temperature, take a look at TCOYF.  Some women do also experience pain at ovulation.  Stabbing sharp pains on either the left or right side can signify which ovary you are ovulating from!  They are known as mittelschmerz.

By having even a basic understanding of the physiology of the menstrual cycle, you can get to grips with why we experience these changes in mind and body.  This is the physical process, but we all know that these changes DO have a significant effect on our mental health, moods and wellbeing. 
When you really learn and come to terms with the fact that our bodily processes are pretty much out of our hands.. meaning, we cannot stop them, (unless we control them with birth control/hormone therapy or hysterectomy) but we can start to look at ways of how to live and work WITH them.  Of course, we can influence our bodily functions.  By eating and sleeping right, exercising and staying away from stress we can encourage a healthier system... 
Never underestimate stress.  Stress can knock out these physical rhythms, causing the cycle to become off balance.  This can lead to irregular periods, changes in cycle length, missing or late periods and all manner of emotional symptoms.

I have produced an alternate version of this chart to share on Facebook, and may look at getting some printed for those who would like a hard copy to stick up at home...  If you are interested in buying a copy, please message me via my Facebook page or use my Kontactr box. 

Chart is for illustrative purposes only and includes the main factors responsible for the menstrual cycle.  There are obviously other smaller players on the menstrual stage, but for the purposes of PMDD education, I have focused on the star performers!
If you choose to download and share, please link back to me and do not remove my copyright from the image.  Please contact me if you wish to re blog, so I can give you a shout out in return!  Thank you. xx

© Cat Hawkins 2012 - Art and design by