Over the years, I’ve sat with women and asked them to tell me about their first menstrual cycle. I’ve listened to stories of shame, embarrassment, confusion, fear, and some of joy or excitement and celebration. Then, when they are finished sharing, we explore how they can see that experience shaping their present day inner-world.
- How does she feel about herself?
- Does she feel safe to express herself?
- Is she afraid to be feminine?
- Does she feel safe?
- Does she slow down and honor her body natural rhythms or does she try to push through energetically even when it’s hard?
I found that women who had embarrassing first experiences would often exaggerate their masculine qualities and shun their feminine qualities. Subconsciously, it seemed as though they were ashamed to be women given the humiliation that occurred for them at the time of becoming one.
A Woman’s Body is an Intricate System with Constantly Shifting Moods & Energy
She is storing emotional depth and wisdom in her body. She is a host for life and for death, a channel for birth and creative energy. And yet, so many women do not recognize the sacredness of their own blood. It’s gross to talk about, some say. “I love your writing, but when you get going on the period stuff, it’s really hard for me”, some say.
Think about it – if we’ve come to associate a natural, beautiful and sacred aspect of our very own being as dirty or something to hide, then what are we telling ourselves about our bodies; about our worthiness in the world as women?
We’re still not in alignment. Look to the media and you’ll see the messaging shifting from white dress commercials highlighting that your worst nightmare would be for someone to see you were bleeding, to the message that you can be just like a man” when you’re bleeding. Never mind slowing down. Never mind giving your body rest. Never mind tuning into the subtle or grand energy shifts that ask you to be alone and go inward during this time.
While it’s true that every woman’s energy system is unique, a cultural belief that we should push our way through our most sensitive time of the month is not the messaging I want young women growing up with.
A woman’s body is not a one-setting machine. It is beautifully complex, chaotic, sacred and wild.
Below is a chart of the menstrual cycle and how the hormones rise and fall throughout each month. Hormones dictate mood, hunger, libido, fertility, our weight, everything! This is powerful information for a woman to have about her own body.
When we mend our relationship with our cycles, we mend our relationship with ourselves and pave a healthier inner voice for our daughters and our sons about what it means to be a woman who bleeds.
It’s important for women to remember we are the life-givers. A woman who has entered her Winter or Wise Woman stage during and no longer bleeds is still carrying that creative energy within her, but expresses it in a different way. A woman who’s battling the pain of infertility, doesn’t have a cycle, or has entered early menopause still holds the potency of women’s wisdom within her body.
If a woman pays attention to her cycle, she is further freeing herself from the chains of a patriarchal society that has abandoned the gentleness of feminine energy. She is reclaiming her right to unapologetically tend to the requests of her body from week to week.
When she understand her shifts in mood, wants and needs, she is more in control of her own life. She knows herself. Rather than feeling as though she’s being thrashed around by an unpredictable storm, she is self-aware and able to navigate the stormy waters with more confidence and grace.
One week she may want to socialize, the next she will need more space. A woman who isn’t communicating with her body will say things like “I feel like I’m going crazy”. An empowered woman’s journey involves learning to love her cycle rather than denying its power – and it does have power whether we choose to embrace this truth or not.
Contrary to the messaging we’re bombarded with, slowing down by choice is powerful, not weak.
Alissa is a practitioner in New York City and helps women overcome PCOS. and the author of the book Woman Code. In this video, she explains how we can utilize cycle awareness to improve our way of life, make more money, and experience more happiness as a result.
Then there’s the “This is Your Period in 2 Minutes” video. I LOVE it!
4 Archetypes and Seasons within Your Monthly Cycle, Explained Week by Week
The structural breakdown of the menstrual cycle week by week is based on a the ancient women’s wisdom.
Many authors and artists have created their own beautiful visual layouts and descriptions which you’ll find abundantly online, similar to the chart you see to the right created by My Moon Time or the Mystic Moon Calendar created by Heather Pennell.
I’m going to explain the seasons week by week from my own perspective with various creative additions I’ve made to my own cycle-tracking over the years. Keep in mind that as you get to know your own cycle, you’ll be able to create a chart unique to how your body ebbs and flows with the seasons each month.
Week 1: Inner Winter – Around day 1-6 of your menstrual cycle when you’re bleeding.
Week 2: Inner Spring – Around day 7-13 when you’re in the pre-ovulation phase.
Week 3: Inner Summer – Around day 14-21 during your ovulation phase.
Week 4: Inner Fall – Around day 22-29 during your luteal phase (winding down again).
Remember, even though this is a fairly accurate framework for a woman’s cycle, every woman is unique.
You may find yourself having a shorter or longer cycle, or embodying a certain season longer than the others throughout each month. This is why tracking and mapping your own cycle is so valuable!
Archetype: Wise Woman/Crone/Visionary
Bleeding Phase (Moontime)
Winter or the Wise Woman phase begins on Day 1 of your moon time. This is the first day you begin bleeding, and it’s week one of your cycle.
Winter is a time of inward reflection, a time of metaphorical death.
The bleeding phase of your cycle is the time where your energy and hormones are at an all time low. Most women when left to their own devices will take more rest on the first few days of their moon time.
Hibernation and rest are two qualities that accurately characterize what this phase is about for a woman, but there’s also a spiritual element woven in. According to ancient women’s wisdom, the winter phase, or wise woman/crone phase is a time when the veil between worlds becomes thinner. A woman on her moon is said to be more powerful and have deeper access to her own wisdom. In more ancient times, women would separate from the men during their bleeding time to gather in menstrual huts or tents to renew and tune in to the spirit world.
As a woman moves into her inner winter, she might find it irritating when family members, partners or friends are asking her to “do things” for them during this phase. Winter is not a time to give to others, but to ourselves. Learning to be self-loving during this time is the healthiest behavior we can adopt for ourselves and our families. I like taking baths, having movie nights at home with my partner, spending the days alone creating or writing/reading in bed, sleeping, and being in nature.
Keywords / phrases: Peace and quiet, rest, alone time, solo-time, don’t make demands of me, give me space, I want to feel safe and cozy, I’m not available right to you right now, sensitivity, wisdom, creativity, letting go, renewal.
Ahhh spring phase! This also represents the Goddess or Maiden Archetype. Spring is the second week of your cycle.
Think rebirth, renew, fresh-start, cleansed, energized and happy. As a woman moves into her inner Spring phase, she’s ready to get back into the world slowly and take on new projects, start planning and organizing her month. Inner Spring is a re-emerging after a period of hibernation from the world. During this phase, the hormone estradiol (an estrogen) is rising and energy levels start making a come back. This is an optimal time to dedicate focused time to projects, reading and researching, learning, and performing physical tasks. You might find this is the best time to move, or to take on a challenge. I personally find myself wanting to spend more time alone working during this time so I can get into the zone.
Keywords/ phrases: Rebirth, renewal, fresh-start, productive, focused, independent, learning, strong, able to take on challenges, physically energized, concentration.
Archetype: Mother, Healer
Summer phase is when things begin to heat up – literally and metaphorically. This is third week of the menstrual cycle, where ovulation occurs.
A woman with a 29.5 day cycle may ovulate on the 14th day, though some will ovulate a bit earlier or later. I ovulate on day 17 for example, and my cycle varies from 29.5 to 33 days. During the summer phase or mother phase, a woman’s energy is more expressive and outward. She may feel more social, and this is a great time to focus on community building, nurturing relationships, hosting, cooking or being of service for others. Summer week is the most enjoyable time for taking care of children, offering friends support and having lots of delicious sex with your partner, with caution of course, because while pleasure is heightened at this time, so is your fertility. Oh and by the way, some research suggests that ovulation is the best time to ask for what you want – whether that be from your partner, or asking for a raise at work.
Keywords/Phrases: outward and expressive, flirty, creative, playful, community focused, relationship building, service, nurturing, love-making, creating, building, holding space for others.
Archetype: Wild Woman/Priestess/Enchantress
Fall is the fourth week of your cycle, and this is where things start winding down.
A woman might notice herself feeling more inward at this time. She may become agitated by excessive demands placed upon her, craving more spaciousness and time alone. As an entrepreneur, I schedule my life according to my cycle. I purposefully schedule days off leading up to my cycle, dedicating time to my self-care. I encourage the women I coach and mentor to do the same. If we disown our own needs, PMS may intensify and wreak havoc in our lives.
There are many practitioners of women’s health who propose that PMS is symptomatic of our times. While we can attempt to ignore our bodies needs, our body talk often gets louder as a result and manifests as extreme irritability and fatigue, among other symptoms.
Choosing consciously to acknowledge this inward phase is a courageous act of self-love. When a woman listens to her body during the Fall or Wild Woman/Priestess phase, she may be full to the brim with inspiration, and find herself more inclined to dedicate her waning energy towards pursuing creative ideas. This is a wonderful time to nurture one’s own creative insights, write poetry, draw, come up with strategic ideas for your business or career, and assert yourself.
Keywords/Phrases: lower energy, hormones are dipping, need more space, ask less of me, I don’t want to give right now, moody, less focus and concentration, I want to create, less coordinated, mentally creative, less physically active, heightened creativity, assertive, strategic.
There are countless ways to begin tracking your cycle, but here are a few to get you started.
- Download the Mystic Moon Calendar here. If you want to understand the Archetypes on a deeper level, it’s all explained in this beautifully designed guide created by my best friend and co-facilitator, Heather.
- Get yourself a Moon phase calendar and pin it on your wall. My partner buys me one every year and we put it up in the bedroom, coloring the moon in red when I begin to bleed. This allows both of us to visually see where I’m at in my cycle and be active together in our family planning.
- Get creative! As you see pictured below, on my recent moon time I created a drawing of my personal cycle. You’ll notice some of the phases are shorter or longer than the typical illustration you find online because I customized it to my own experience. In the drawing, I explained what I’m feeing in each phase, along with a list of likes and dislikes. This is now up on the fridge as a “cheat sheet” to my cycle for my partner. It was a lot of fun to spend some time in bed creating this. Examples of likes during moontime: snuggles, forest walks, ice cream, gentleness, solo time during the day, sleep, baths. Dislikes during moontime: being asked to “do” for others, schedules, stress, and being rushed. I put being rushed in every section as a hint to my partner 😉
- Download the “Natural Cycles” app. I ordered it with the thermometer about 2 months ago and will be doing a full review of the app once I’ve spent more time using it, but so far it’s a very effective way to monitor my cycle and fertility throughout the month.
How to Celebrate Your Moon Time
- Be open and honest about your cycle. There is no shame in being a woman. If you need to take more time for yourself because you’re having painful cramps, that isn’t something you need to hide.
- Adorn yourself! I have red sheets that I put on the bed during moon time, a red towel, and I often wear more red clothing during my moon time as well.
- Do not accept rude or berating comments from men or partners around your moon cycle. Educate gently and kindly, but set firm boundaries. If a partner is grossed out by your body, this is a red-flag and I do not suggest ignoring it.
- Create self-love rituals for yourself during moon time. This includes scheduling less (or nothing at all) for yourself, taking alone-time to journal, read, or create wherever you can, asking for what you need from your partner during this time, getting more sleep and lots of nourishment like bone broth and herbs.
“At her first bleeding a woman meets her power. During her bleeding years she practices it. At menopause she becomes it.” ~ Traditional Native American saying