May 10, 2008

Menstrual Monday '08 ~ The Celebration!

Menstrual Monday 2008, Downtown Sebastopol, by DeAnna L'am ~
It was a windy, blustery Monday in Sebastopol, Northern California. A few women and girls gathered early at the Downtown Plaza to set up a Red Tent in honor of Menstrual Monday: the Monday before Mother's Day (since you start menstruating before becoming a mother... and usually long afterwards, too...) The thin, metal, "E-Z Up" structure was simple enough to set up, then came the fun part...

Red cloths of every imaginable shade were displayed on the grass for us to pick and choose: what goes with what? It turned out everything went with everything! When you lay reds, burgundies, rubies, and scarlets next to each other, the tapestry is stunning no matter which way you compose it.

Bejeweled clothe-pins held the lengths of fabric together. Ellah, my 7-year-old daughter, and I, spend many fun hours at home, carefully painting the wooden pins red, then adorning them with gold, silver and rainbow sparkles. She knew we were preparing for a Red Tent in honor of women's Moon Flow.
"Why is everything red?" she asked.
"Because the Moon Flow is red"
"Ohh", she said, with a big smile of recognition, "Of course!"
It struck me again how natural the idea of Moon Flow is to her; how strained it was for me, growing up...

The roof of the tent, clothed in red, was ready to be raised. As we pushed the structure up, the wind was playing with us, releasing a clothe-pin here, loosening a piece of fabric there...
We ran to patch the holes, pinning up a "wall" as another fell down. Eventually we stopped resisting the wind, accepted it as our guest, and enjoyed our newly opened "sky light" as well as the breeze ways in the walls.

The sweetness of altar-making came next. We each took out sacred objects that we brought from home, and placed them in the center of our tent: Goddess figurines from around the world, candles,
sea shells, feathers, crystals, flowers, jewelry, and offerings of cranberries. We each lit a candle while speaking our intentions, which encompassed blessings of our ancestors and of Mother Earth, acknowledging the miracle of our Moon Flow, and weaving the vision of all of our children, girls and boys, growing up honoring themselves, and their bodies.

"Honk If You Are On Your Period!" was the Tent's final touch. The wind didn't allow the sign to stay up for long, but
we heard honks as long as it was up, coming from cars circling the Downtown Plaza, where our tent stood. Women crossed the road and came to ask: "why should I honk if I am on my period?" This was why we were there, in the center of town: to answer this exact question. To speak about our own journeys from seeing our periods as a nuisance, to honoring them as the spiritual well springs that they are; To discuss the cultural taboos around menstruation and to question them; To make menstruation visible instead of hidden and shameful.It was exciting to know that women around the world were celebrating and honoring Menstrual Monday. We shared the information we had about big events in Brazil and the UK. Many more, probably, which we may not have known of.
In the tent, around the altar, we had heart-to-heart conversations with women who stopped by: about menopause; About using a Moon Cup to collect our menstrual blood; Or about feeding our house-plants water saturated with nutrients from our reusable menstrual cloth pads. A woman ran across the street to get food for her 5-year-old daughter who was part of our circle, and brought back a cranberry chocolate bar to share with us all; another brought some sweet, hot chai to drink. We not only shared our stories, but fed each other, physically, as well as emotionally, and spiritually. We all left knowing that we'll meet again, in a year's time, to celebrate Menstrual Monday '09.
Hope you can join us, or create your own celebration, wherever you are.


Belén said...

Oh, DeAnna! This is so moving! I would have loved to be able to attend. Unfortunately, there’s a whole continent of distance between us. But I feel so inspired, I’d love to be able to do something like that here. I’ve recently found a group of women who may be interested in celebrating Menstrual Monday (mother’s day’s on October here, so we have time), I’ll let you know if we do! Thanks for posting this!

helen said...

Thank you for posting this! I have been using the Diva Cup for a few months and it's been the best purchase I've made. I got it at South Coast Shopping for $16.99. I think they also have the Moon Cup and Keeper too. No more tampons!

Dana said...

How beautiful! the tent does look like a womb must look, right before the Moon Flow... Every woman in fertility age should honk, because we are always somewhere in our period, wheather bleeding or not.

See you next Sunday,