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24 Jul

So that you’re interested by using your period blood

A guide to menstrual magick and using period blood in your practice by sorceress and spellcaster Isabella Greenwood

Unless periods are rigorously monitored and synchronised, the universe might descend into chaos. At the very least that’s what men was frightened about, in response to anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss’ study of Indigenous myths of North and South America. Throughout history, menstrual blood has been the topic of mythical taboos and today it remains to be heavily stigmatised and excluded from on a regular basis discussion. Menstrual blood is seen as threatening in its transgression of bodily boundaries between inside and outdoors, private and public. This, combined with its inherent power, has endowed menstrual blood with mystical properties which were revered and practiced ritualistically for hundreds of years.

In ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder argued that menstrual blood contained powers with no limit. Natural catastrophes akin to hailstorms, whirlwinds and lightning were said to be driven away by a menstruating woman. Menstrual blood was also said to sour crops, wither vegatables and fruits, kill bees, drive dogs insane, dull the brightness of mirrors, blunt razors, turn linens black, and rust iron and bronze. Fellow ancient Roman author Columella tells us that a menstruating woman could kill a young plant by merely it. Meanwhile in North America, the Cherokee people traditionally believed that menstrual blood gave women special powers that permit them destroy their enemies.

Individuals who menstruate have at all times been considered powerful, and it’s precisely this power that has often been weaponised against them. “In cultures where women were seen nearly as good, menstruation was seen as something special,” notes Alexandra Pope, founding father of Red School and co-author of Wild Power, “and in cultures where women were a threat, menstruation was demonised.”

Despite a history of weaponising monthly bleeds, menstrual blood has also been revered as sacred given its synchronisation with lunar cycles. The etymology of the word menstruation is derived from the Latin menstruare, meaning monthly, stemming from the Greek mene, meaning moon. Menstruators historically ovulated through the full moon, which represents fullness and life, and bleeding through the recent moon, which represents shedding ahead of recent cycles. In Mayan mythology, menstruation’s origin story comes from the moon goddess, whose monthly flow was given to her as a punishment for sleeping with the sun god. Her blood was stored in 13 jars, where it transformed into snakes and poison, and was utilized in potions. Menstrual magick is deeply tied to the magick of the earth.

“Our periods are so inextricably linked with the cycles of the moon, the tides, the traditional calendars,” agrees practicing Green witch and writer of A Witch’s Path Back to the Ancient Self, Jennifer Lane, who says our bleeding is a big a part of the earth’s story. Lane pours her menstrual blood clockwise onto the soil as an act of giving back to the earth, in addition to anointing her chest and third eye together with her bleed. “This helps me feel earthy and connected with my sexuality, in addition to feeling connected to those that have bled before me.” A practice of acknowledging your bleed not only reconnects you together with your body, but in addition the earth and the larger cosmos as well, which is, in itself, an act of riot against the weaponisation of menstrual blood.

Lisa Lister, the writer of Witch and Code Red: Unlock Your Flow was diagnosed with PCOS in her early 20s leading her to embark on a journey of reconnecting with the health and sacristy of her menstrual cycle. Lister says that fusing our bleeds with ritual is central to reconnecting with menstrual blood’s inherent power. Each bleed, Lister makes an offering to her menstrual altar, paints her nails red, wears a garnet ring and feeds her plants together with her blood. “There was a time when people thought I used to be ‘gross’ for talking about my period on Instagram and for pouring my blood on my plants – but it surely’s nutrient-rich, it makes total sense.”

If you might have a monthly bleed, consider tracking your individual cycle and embarking on a ritualistic relationship together with your blood. It could possibly be so simple as offering a few of your menstrual blood to your altar, or back to the earth. In my very own personal practice, I scry with my menstrual blood, using the divinatory messages to guide me through my next cycle. This might be done by adding your blood to a chalice and looking out through it in a darkened room. I also keep my menstrual blood on my altar, and use it in personal spells and rituals, as well to empower magickal tools like my athame and sigils. Menstrual blood might be used to amplify almost any spell or magickal object, in addition to being historically utilized in love spells.

Others have found power in using their menstrual blood for painting, or facials, noting the magical and nutritive potencies. The artist Gabrielle Sonney has painted for several years together with her menstrual blood: “I used to experience painful periods and turning that pain into paint was the turning point for me. Not only did my pain go away, but I also realised that the blood is an element of a much greater process.” Like Lane, Sonney describes this greater process as being tied to the universe, and her own ancestral lineage. “At the basis of all of our lineages is the menstrual cycle. Once we bleed we bleed the identical blood as our ancestors.”

A practice of awareness and kindness is in some ways essentially the most powerful magick. Pope says menstruation is a robust altered state of consciousness that should be accessed with a ritual of rest. “Dare to push the world back, rest and reclaim your territory, as menstruation is in essence about recalibration.” The writer of the bestselling book Period Power, Maisie Hill, also advocates for rest during menstruation, or, as she calls it, inner winter. “Inner winter marks a time to concentrate on your purpose, and choose what changes are essential in your upcoming cycle that reflect that.” Though this will not be at all times accessible, we’re seeing a move towards radical rest that opposes the otherwise fast-paced capitalistic cycle of constant production and consumption, which was designed for cis-men’s cycles and never for those of us who’re cyclical. As Pope comments, “We are able to only access the portal of menstrual magick and unyielding sacred energy when our bodies stop.”

The practice of destigmatising menstrual blood, and radically advocating for rest and ritual, is inherently tied to its mythological roots. For what’s witchcraft if not a practice of deconstructing that which has been erased by society as a way of acruing power, in addition to that which has been reinforced to manage it? Menstrual blood magick and menstrual awareness are on this sense revolutionary – to enter right into a mindful relationship together with your menstrual blood is to reaffirm your individual natural bodily processes and inner dynamism, reject shame and reconnect to an extended history of menstrual rite.

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