We live in a society where menstruating is shameful, hidden, and “dirty.” Menstrual blood is polluted. We ought to hide away from others while we are bleeding, and our blood is so contaminated that it will draw power from a person. These ideas come from stories like these that many believe:
“‘When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.” Leviticus 15:19
“If a man sleeps with her, and blood from her menstruation gets on him, he will be unclean for seven days, and every bed he lies on will become unclean.” Leviticus 15:24
““You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness.” Leviticus 18:19
“Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds. Their ways before me were like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual impurity.” Ezekiel 36:17
“And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” Luke 8:43-46
Did you know that before these beliefs were popular, and in places where People of the Book were not the dominant culture, there is/was a whole different way of viewing menstrual blood? Yes! These are views that are more woman affirming and natural. After reading them, perhaps you will find it’s time to reclaim the power of menstrual blood. So let’s take a look at what Barbara Walker says about it in Women’s Encyclopaedia of Myths and Secret.
- 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 human life is made of ‘coagulum’ of menstrual blood.
- In Hindu theory as the Great Mother creates, her substances become thickened and forms a curd or clot. This was the way she gave birth to the cosmos, and women employ the same method on a smaller scale.
- Indians of South America said all mankind was made of ‘moon blood’ in the beginning.
- In ancient Mesopotamia, they believed the Great Goddess Ninhursag made mankind out of clay and infused with her “blood of life.”
- The word adam, from the feminine adamah, means “bloody clay.” The Bible’s story of Adam was lifted from an older female-oriented creation myth recounting the creation of man from clay and moonblood.
- In the Koran’s creation story, it says that Allah “made man out of flowing blood”; but in pre-Islamic Arabia, Allah was the Goddess of creation, Al-Lat.
- Plutarch said man was made of earth, but the power that made a human body grow was the moon, source of menstrual blood.
- The gods were dependent on the miraculous power of menstrual blood. In Greece it was euphemistically called the “supernatural red wine” given to the gods by Mother Hera in her virgin form, as Hebe.
- The Great Mother manifested herself as the spirit of creation (Kali-Maya). She ‘invited the gods to bath in the bloody flow of her womb and to drink of it; and the gods, in holy communion, drank of the fountain of life and rose to Heaven.
- ‘Hic est sanguis meus’ – ‘this is the Chalice of my Blood’ as spoken in the Christian Eucharist refers in origin to the menstrual blood of the Great Mother, not Christ.
- To this day, clothes allegedly stained with the Goddess’s menstrual blood are greatly prized as healing charms.
- For religious ceremonies, Australian aborigines painted their sacred stones, churingas, and themselves with red orche, declaring that it represented women’s menstrual blood.
- The esoteric secret of the gods was that their mystical powers of longevity, authority, and creativity came from the female essence of menstrual blood.
- The Norse god Thor reached the magic land of enlightenment and eternal life by bathing in a river filled with the menstrual blood of a ‘giantesses’ — that is of the Primal Matriarchs, the ‘Powerful Ones’.
- Odin acquired supremacy by stealing and drinking the ‘wise blood’ from the triple cauldron in the womb of the Mother-Earth, the same Triple Goddess known as Kali-Maya in the southeast Asia.
- Odin’s theft of menstrual magic paralleled that of Indra, who stole the ambrosia of immortality in the same way.
- Soma was produced by the ‘churning of the primal sea’ – representing the menstrual blood of the Mother Goddess. It was drunk by priests at sacrificial ceremonies and mixed with milk as a healing charm.
- In an ancient ceremony called Soma-vati, women of Maharastra circumambulated the sacred female-symbolic fig tree whenever the new moon fell on a Monday, the sacred day of the Moon.
- The Mother Goddess under her name of Lakshmi, gave Soma to Indra to make him king of the gods. His wisdom, power, and curiously feminine capacity for pregnancy, came from Lakshmi’s mystic drink. The Goddess’s blood became his wisdom.
- Greeks believed the wisdom of men or god was centered in his blood, the soul-stuff given by his mother.
- Egyptian pharaohs became divine by ingesting ‘the blood of Isis,’ a soma-like ambrosia called sa. Its hieroglyphic sign was the same as the sign of the vulva, a yonic loop like the one on the ankh or Cross of Life. Painted red, this loop signified the female genital and the Gate of Heaven.
- Amulets buried with the dead specifically prayed Isis to deify the deceased with her magic blood. A special amulet called the Tjet represented Isis’s vulva and was formed of red substance – jasper, carnelian, red porcelain, red glass, or red wood. This amulet was said to carry the redeeming power of the blood of Isis.
- The same elixir of immortality received the name of amrita in Persia. Sometimes it was called the Milk of the Mother Goddess, sometimes a fermented drink, sometimes sacred blood. It was always associated with the moon.
- Celtic kings became gods by drinking the ‘red mead’ dispensed by the Fairy Queen, Mab, whose name was formerly Medhbh or “mead.” Thus she gave a drink of herself. A Celtic name of this fluid was dergflaith, meaning either “red ale” or “red sovereignty.” In Celtic Britain, to be stained with red meant to be chosen by the Goddess as king. Celtic ruadh meant both “red” and “royal.”
- The pagan paradise or Fairyland was at the uterine center of the earth, site of the magic Fountain of Life. An old manuscript in the British Museum said the dying -and -resurrected Phoenix lives there forever. The Fountain of Eternal Youth, obviously menstrual, is said to overflow once every lunar month.
- The communion wine drunk by witches was menstrual blood. The famous wizard Thomas Rhymer joined a witch cult under the tutelage of the Fairy Queen, who told him she had “a bottle of claret wine here in her lap,” and invited him to lay his head in her lap. Claret was the traditional drink of the kings and also a synonym for blood; its name literally meant ‘enlightenment.’
- Medieval romance and the courtly-love movement, later related to the witch cults, were strongly influenced by the Tantric tradition, in which menstrual blood was indeed the wine of poets and sages.
- It is still specified in the Left Hand Rite of Tantra that the priestess impersonating the goddess must be menstruating, and after contact with her a man may perform rites that will make him “a great poet, a Lord of the World.”
- When a girl first menstruates she is said to have ‘borne the flower’ in India. The English word flower has the significant literal meaning of ‘that which flows’.
- The Maori rendered anything sacred by coloring it red, and calling the red color menstrual blood. Andaman Islanders thought blood-red paint a powerful medicine, and painted sick people red all over in an effort to cure them.
- Easter eggs, classic womb-symbols of the Goddess Eostre, were traditionally colored red and laid on graves to strengthen the dead. This habit, common in Greece and southern Russia, might be traced all the way back to Paleolithic graves which were reddened with ochre, for a closer resemblance to the Earth Mother’s womb from which the dead could be “born again.”
- Ancient tombs everywhere have shown the bones of the dead covered with red ochre. Sometimes everything in the tomb, including the walls, had the red color. J.D. Evans described a tomb on Malta filled reddened bones, which struck fear into the workmen who insisted the bones were covered with “fresh blood.”
- A born-again ceremony from Australia showed that the Aborgines linked rebirth with the blood of the womb. The chant performed at Ankota, the “vulva of the earth,” emphasized the redness surrounding the worshipper.
- Greek mystics were “born again” out of the river Styx, otherwise known as Alpha, “the Beginning.” This river wound seven times through the earth’s interior and emerged at a yonic shrine near the city of Clitor (Greek kleitoris) sacred to the Great Mother. Styx was the blood-stream from the earth’s vagina.
- Gnostic Christian’s believed that the passage in Revelation, “I saw the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month” (Rev. 22:2), was an allusion to the monthly incidence of the female period.
- The Sufis, who also practiced Yoni Worship, associated female embodiment with red, and the male counterpart of ‘consciousness’ with white. Red and white colors alternated in the Sufi halka or magic circle, called the very hear of Sufism. The Arab rosary of alternating red and white beads had the same meaning: men and women coupled around the circle.
- In most European folk dances Red and white were the colors worn by alternating female-and-male dancers in the witches’ “fairy ring” of pagan Ireland, where the Goddess was worshipped under the same name as the Tantric earth mother, Tara. The dance moved counterclockwise or moonwise, and the Red and white colors represented the fairy world – or ‘enlightened’ consciousness.
- The rites were often governed by old women, due to the ancient belief that post-menopausal women were the wisest people because the permanently retained their “wise blood.”
- As a medium of reincarnation, menstrual blood was sometimes called a remedy for death itself. In the tale of Childe Roland, the elven-king roused men from the magic sleep of death with a “bright red liquor.”
- The Bible also calls menstrual blood the flower (Leviticus 15:24), precursor of the fruit of the womb (a child). As any flower mysteriously contained its future fruit, so uterine blood was the moon-flower supposed to contain the soul of future generations.
- The crucifixion of Jesus, where he was ‘lanced in the side’ and blood poured forth into a ‘Holy Chalice’ is an adaptation of early Menstrual Mysteries, where the Mother Goddess bleeds from her Womb, which is the ‘Holy Chalice’.
- The Grail story where many people are bleeding inside the ‘Grail Castle’ is also a symbolic reference to earlier Goddess Menstrual Mysteries.
- Taoists said a man could become immortal (or at least long-lived) by absorbing menstrual blood, called red yin juice, from a woman’s Mysterious Gateway, symbol of life-giving female energy. Chinese sages called this red juice the essence of Mother Earth, the yin principal that gives life to all things. They claimed the Yellow Emperor became a god by absorbing the yin juice of twelve hundred women.
- A Chinese myth said the Moon-goddess Chang-O, who controlled menstruation, was offended by male jealousy of her powers. She left her husband, who quarreled with her because she had all the elixir of immortality, and he had none, and was resentful. She turned her back on him and went to live in the moon forever, in much the same way Lilith left Adam to live at the ‘Red Sea.
- The Hebrew word for blood, dam, means ‘mother’ or ‘woman’ in other Indo-European languages (e,g. dam, damsel, madam, la dama, dame) and also “the curse” (damn). Therefore the Biblical A-dam means ‘a woman or mother’.
- Another common ancient symbol of the blood-river of life was the red carpet, traditionally trod by scared kings, heros, and brides. ‘The Royal Road’ – now favored by Hollywood celebrities, the royalty of our times.
- Taoist China considered red a sacred color associated with women, blood, sexual potency, and creative power. White was the color of men, semen, passivity, and death. This was the Tantric Idea of male and female essences: the male principal is seen as ‘passive’ and as the female principal as ‘active’, the reverse of later patriarchal views.
Stories are powerful! Our lives are impacted by the stories that we believe. The more we know about who we are, the easier it is to see sacred symbols hidden in stories. It also makes it easy to spot stories circulated to disempower us and bring us down.
Fortunately we don’t have to make up stories to make us feel better or empowered. History is full of them from around the world and throughout time. The power of menstrual blood has always been with us. Will you step up and reclaim it?