Bleed right through me: moontimes as ritual

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Image via the brilliant  Jona Shoe

The retrogrades have been hitting me hard.

I feel sluggish. Disconnected from my sense of motivation. Disembodied. Big shifts are brewing in me, pushing their way through my skin. My skin is breaking out. My dreams are vivid but disjointed. Confusing and disconcerting. After the fires in Fort McMurray burned their way across the northern boreal forest and through my Facebook feed, it didn’t matter what I did – all I could see was ash falling everywhere around me.

I wanted to be buried in a hole somewhere in the forest where the ash couldn’t touch me. I felt nothing and everything simultaneously.

Even the things that used to make me feel happy, connected and grounded have started to feel futile. Hands in the dirt, eating greens from the garden, all I can see and feel is what isn’t done. The feeling of being smothered by my to-do list, a list which used to give me inspiration and motivation.

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via beautyinblood.com

So I made myself bleed.

I could feel the pressure building in my body. The sadness, the anger, the despondent state of overflowing grief. The sense of loss and being lost. The irritability. Some people call this PMS; I like to think of this time as a period of heightened awareness. I’m more sensitive, to everything. And being this sensitive – when I’m already a long-antennaed, partially-through-the-veil-all-the-time, empath – can sometimes be hard to handle.

Particularly during a cluster of retrograde planets.

I was several days late. About 8 days into this hyper-sensitive time, I was ready to be done with it. I set aside a day to lie in bed, drink some wine, read a good book and take my pennyroyal tincture. I’m not the kind of herbalist who measures things in overflowing detail. I’m the kind of herbalist who talks to plants. So I lay there, hydrating, attempting to relax and release and I took a few squirts of this tincture every couple hours. When I felt like it. I listened to my body. I opened myself to the waves of cramps. First like butterfly kisses across my belly. Then like bat wings. Then like a long awaited storm.

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commercial pads & tampons are filled with chemicals that are best kept outside our bodies. you can order beautiful hand-made moon pads from artisans & birth workers like the brilliant La Loba.

It was more painful than a regular period. Cramps that kept me in bed lasted 2 full days, rather than one. I could feel my system wrestling with whatever my skin was pushing out and through.

A storm was brewing beneath my skin.

So I ate clover, alfalfa, dandelion and wild purple spinach. I sucked marrow from bones and warmed my belly with heating pads and lilac epsom salt baths.

I treated my moontime, this bloodletting, as a sacred ritual. A ritual for letting go. A sacrifice to shift the deeply held grip of long standing trauma riddled through my bones.

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this powerful image was shared in the La Loba Loca Radical Bleeding Knowledge share. i can’t recommend this densely packed, queer & decolonizing knowledge share enough.

Most of us are brought up to see bleeding as dirty or inconvenient. I wish I had been brought up to understand bleeding as a ritual. I feel committed to offering this perspective to my kids, no matter their gender. I’ve seen women folk take birth control to stop their periods, sometimes for special occasions like weddings or sports events, but sometimes just to not bleed at all. And I’ve seen trans men and gender-fucky folks take testosterone and other hormones, hoping it will stop them from bleeding all together. I’ve seen folks of many genders starve themselves until the blood stops flowing.

I’ve seen us hide. I’ve seen us drown in shame.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that folks should relate to their bodies in the ways that feel most true to them. If you want to stop your period, that is your choice and no-one can take that away from you. However, that shouldn’t stop us from asking questions like, how much of our desire to stop our bleeding comes from misogony, racism, transphobia and colonization?

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 A great book to learn about charting & connecting to the moon cycle. My only issue is that it is very cis-woman centered.

I wonder how we might relate to bleeding if we saw it as ritual.

If we felt that bleeding could help set us free, if even just for a moment, from dancing with our demons.

Would so many of us still want to stop our cycles if we saw them as sacred? If we grew up in a culture that cherished our magic?

How might our lives transform if we connected to our moontime in the ways of our ancestors?

How might our wisdom grow if we gathered in red tents, red wine staining our lips and dark chocolate being sucked from our fingers as we bled together onto soft strips of red velvet?

What if bleeding was seen as magic? What if it was treated as a miracle?

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the pennyroyal tincture I used to bring on my moontime is available for order. it’s handmade with wildcrafted pennyroyal, 40% alcohol and endless witchy love & magic – with worldwide shipping.

Because bleeding is magical and it is miraculous. So much so that it can barely be contained by the shells of a life capitalism allows us to live in. That’s a big part of why we work so hard to hide and stop our blood, so we can fit better into the teeny tiny boxes we’re expected to survive in.

With bleeding we can turn our bodies to soil and nurture our gardens. We can sync up with the moon, the tides and the rhythms of each others’ bodies. We can bleed for days and live, new shine and sparkle in our eyes. Bleeding allows us to sustain life within our bodies. It allows us to choose to not sustain life, if we wish it so. It allows us to howl to the moon through our cunts and streak blessings down our legs.

Our wombs are sacred spaces, where witches brew storms. And those witches sit patiently, just waiting for us to dance in the rain.


If you are interested in receiving herbal or tarot support to reconnect with your moon cycle those are both things I offer on my site andigracewrites.com. You can send me an email to book an appointment for either service to andi@andigracewrites.com.

10 comments

  1. ubenet says:

    i’m honestly really hurt by the implication in this post that my PCOS and endometriosis-related menorrhagia isn’t a good enough reason not to love getting my period. when i bled, i was in screaming pain, badly anemic, and unable to go anywhere because i’d bleed through a super-plus tampon and an overnight pad in less than half an hour. getting a hormonal IUD is one of the best things i ever did for myself, physically, and i’m not less witchy because of it.

    • Ruby says:

      I was about to say the exact same things you did here. I’m glad that the author’s experience with their body is good enough that they can describe their menses in positive, poetic language, but as a nurse and as a woman whose life was controlled and hindered by the severity and volume of my menstrual flow, I feel like there are a few points here that have been missed.

      • jendireiter says:

        Yes, ditto to Ruby and Ubenet’s comments. For the same medical reasons as you, there’s no way for me to have a positive relationship to my menstrual cycle, though I’m glad that some people do. It’s a fine line between sharing positive ideas and implying that there is a “right” way for feminists and witchy people to feel about our periods. (Is the IUD better than the Pill for endometriosis? I’m infertile so I only use the Pill for pain relief, not birth control. PM me at jendi@winningwriters.com if this is not relevant to anyone else on this thread!)

        • andi says:

          hi all of you. thank you for your comments. its definitely not at all my intention to pass judgement on anyone for making a particular choice with their body. and i agree with you that its a fine line between being supportive and implying judgement. for me, i feel like i have conversations with people regularly about periods being gross or inconvenient – which i think is different from excruciatingly painful. i fully support all people to make the choices that make the most sense in their bodies, and i think i should have emphasized that more than i did in this post.

          i want people who have been socialized to feel the ‘ick’ factor around their moontime to be able to unlearn and rewild in their bodies. that was the intention of this post, to provide a celebratory and critical perspective of something that many people feel shame about. i also want to state that i don’t have a totally positive relationship with my moon time either. i am usually knocked off my feet in pain on the first day so its not a simple or non-dynamic relationship for sure. either way i appreciate all of your feedback and when/if i write about this topic again i will be sure to give greater emphasis to the wide range of experiences people can have in how they relate to their bleeding.

  2. Tango Batelli

    First and foremost, I love talking about menstruation! I’ll just throw that out there. When my moontide shifts to flow, I feel like the Empress crossed by the 3 of Swords..or sometimes more like the 10 of Swords.

    While there are many valid reasons for a menstruating person to choose to stop bleeding and it’s important to communicate that stopping doesn’t lessen any facet of that person – it’s also really important to pass on the beauty & potential of bleeding. I love conceptualizing menstruation as ritual. I like to think of it as a sort of retrograde, a time for reviewing & releasing. (Especially because, if I don’t pay reverence to that aspect of my cycle, I blaze forward as a compassion-lacking micro-manager for a few days before I come to my senses and dish out apologies.)

  3. This is a beautiful article. As a woman who has a times railed against my own menstruation, had my menstruation stopped and my breasts produce milk through life sapping medication, I’m now at that wistful life stage of irregular, probably soon to end menstruation and Maidenhood.
    I agree that our children should be taught the sacred nature of bleeding, and that recognising and embracing it’s ebb and flow is beautiful, and natural and empowering.

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