Moontime: How I Learned to Celebrate My Cycle

Illustration by Ramón Gutiérrez

 

Imagine a woman who is connected to the rhythm of moonbeams and rivers, who knows her body like the fish knows the tides and the primrose knows the night. Imagine a woman who welcomes change with a full heart, knowing that from one day to the next, she is never the same. This woman is you, this woman is me.

Growing up, I understood my period as a necessary side effect of being designed to bear children. Sometimes an annoyance, sometimes a burden, sometimes a relief, the waxing and waning of my body didn’t register as a particularly important part of my life or identity. In fact, I did my best to ignore the emotions and physical sensations that came up each month because I wanted to prove that I was strong and capable. I wanted to hike, bike, work, or socialize whenever I pleased!

It seemed to my teenage self that talking about my period, giving in to cramps, or staying in bed to rest would be an affront to generations of women who had fought for equality in our society. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that a prominent argument against female leadership was that a woman’s period would render her too weak or emotional to make sound decisions. I certainly didn’t want to be the one girl holding up the march of progress.

In my early 20s, the ups and downs of my body’s cycle began to feel frustrating. Being an adult meant I had the freedom to set my own schedule, priorities, and self-care practices. But just when I had a good exercise routine going, was eating a healthy diet, and felt productive, I would feel the pull of my hormones. Cravings, mood swings, and a need for extra rest seemed to knock me off balance for days or weeks at a time. I wanted to plan my life in a tidy, linear fashion, but my body insisted on moving in a cyclical rhythm that I couldn’t control.

The shift in my attitude started with a name. One day at a retreat, I heard a teacher refer to the menstrual phase of a woman's cycle as “moontime.” Something lit up inside me. “Wow,” I thought, “what a relief to find a word I can use without cringing!” I embraced it immediately. Moontime had a sense of mystery and wisdom and hinted at a woman’s deep connection to nature’s rhythms. It felt good to say, almost regal: “It’s my moontime.” As if the moon and I had a special date to hang out and whisper secrets to each other …

From that day on, I approached each moontime with a sense of curiosity. What was my body, my mind, my spirit telling me during this powerful time? Was that a headache or a reminder to slow down? Was that anger or a wake-up call about what really matters to me? I started to allow myself to sit quietly, to rest and simply be.

Patterns emerged month after month. During the first two days of my moontime, I consistently had an overwhelming urge to be close to the ground, to walk barefoot or sit under a tree. During the third or fourth days, I often found myself cleaning out an aspect of my physical space, whether a drawer, a closet, or a purse. I started to write down my dreams and noticed that my most potent, magical, and insightful dreams showed up during my moontime.

I created simple rituals for myself and carved out time to pause and reflect on what was good or challenging about my month. It wasn’t always easy. Pretty much without fail, feelings came up that I had been in denial or delusion about. Sometimes shame, fear, anger, or frustration made itself known. I learned to breathe through difficult emotions and let my tears flow when they needed to. I started to see that moontime was far more than a biological or reproductive event; it was an opportunity to purify myself on all levels.

It turns out that whether we pay attention or not, our bodies are dancing with the universe’s great cycles of birth and death, renewal and release. The same force that moves the stars and the seasons pulses through each of us.

In a culture that encourages busyness and rewards productivity, we often forget that the balance of nature requires a time to shed what no longer serves. When we consciously partner with this energy to release the old, we access the ability to bring forth new life, tap into boundless creativity, and make our dreams a reality. This is the power of moontime.

Now, when that time of month arrives, I feel grateful and welcome it with respect and anticipation for what it will teach me this time around. Moontime has become a bellwether for my inner state and an opportunity to reset my intentions and practices. I still have a lot to learn, but as I continue to honor myself in this process, each moontime flows more easily and unveils new gifts of healing, intuition, and a precious sense of being connected to all life.

What kind of nurturing feels good during your moontime? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


"Hiedra Roja" illustration by Ramón Gutiérrez, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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Dorothee Royal-Hedinger

About

Dorothée Royal-Hedinger is passionate about ecological and community health, women's leadership, and herbal medicine. She serves as the marketing manager at Bioneers and is the founder of MoonTentCo, an herbal apothecary based in California. You can follow her on Twitter @DorotheeRoyal.


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'Moontime: How I Learned to Celebrate My Cycle' have 9 comments

  1. April 12, 2015 @ 10:31 pm Wendy

    I love Dorothee’s writing style and her wisdom. For me, her imagery flies off of the page and into my heart. I feel grateful for the reframing she has accomplished and the empowerment her words engender.

    Reply

  2. April 15, 2015 @ 9:56 pm Noreen

    I agree with Dorothee: getting close to the earth makes me feel nurtured and grounded. And my favorite dark chocolate with ginger doesn’t hurt either (as cliche as that might be!).

    Reply

  3. April 16, 2015 @ 12:23 am Amy

    Thank you deeply for this article. I always feel crazy during my moontime. I am beginning to see it’s because I avoid and resist emotions that need out and to be healed. I am so grateful for this and will Share it. xo

    Reply

  4. April 17, 2015 @ 10:04 am Mari

    I had just made a comment about my current cycle and how much I was annoyed with it and seconds later, I landed on this article and my perspective changed. thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  5. April 17, 2015 @ 11:01 pm Dorothée Royal-Hedinger

    Thank you Wendy, Noreen, Amy and Mari for your comments! It’s so wonderful and reaffirming to hear other women’s perspectives on their moontime and the unique ways that they are challenged and care for themselves during that time.

    Wendy – I’m so glad my words reached your heart, wishing you so much support on your personal path of power!
    Noreen – The ginger in that dark chocolate is a great tonic as ginger is warming and supports circulation so it sounds like a great way to treat yourself!
    Amy – Thank you for sharing your personal experience, I can totally relate. Really appreciate you passing along the article, I think more women need to know that they’re not alone, let’s build a sisterhood!
    Mari – Wow, I’m so honored that you found this right at the moment when you were struggling. So grateful for your openness to shift perspectives, that takes a lot of courage.

    Thank you to everyone who is reading and sharing this piece, I would love to hear from you about your moontime practices. After all, we’re learning together!
    Love, Dorothée

    Reply

  6. April 19, 2015 @ 7:40 am Corinne

    Love your article. For me it is to give in completely to the state of being & to daydream & sleep on my couch, gazing out of the window, sleeping & eating simple food & sometimes some gentle yin yoga & journaling in front of my altar

    Reply

  7. April 21, 2015 @ 5:08 pm Dorothée Royal-Hedinger

    Thanks for sharing Corinne, that sounds so lovely and restful. I’m inspired by you!

    Reply

  8. April 23, 2015 @ 9:18 pm bella lauren

    im all about my moon time… my baby girl is 12 and she just had her first moon time with me last month and was looking forward to it as a blessing… thats what i taught her and I am a proud mama. i am in a Womb Awakening 9 Moon Apprenticeship that i think you might be interested in… check it out!

    http://www.thefountainoflife.org/courses-events/online-events-and-courses/lunar-womb-blood-awakening/

    Lunar Womb Blood Awakening

    Awakening the Magical Healing Power of Your Lunar Cycle
    This 30-Day journey can be done by women, couples and wise women in the moon-a-pause. It helps align your cycles with the Moon, tunes you into Lunar Alchemy, awakens you into ecstatic, cosmically creative Menstruation, brings renewal and nurturance into your life, and also reconnects your Womb to the new waves of energy being emitted from the Galactic Womb Centre.

    Next journey begins: New Moon, May 18th

    Reply

  9. November 5, 2016 @ 5:19 pm Cynthia ET Fuller

    Lovely article. I will be sharing this with my 13 year old daughter, who just started her moontime for the first time. 🙂

    Reply


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