In western culture, we have adopted a belief that menstruation and menopause are taboo subjects, and only recently have we seen open discussions in newspapers and magazines about women's topics like these. But we have lost the sense of the old taboo time, or sabbatu.
When we threw out the taboo system surrounding women's cycles, we also threw out the notion of rest time for women. Often, the physical illness or dis-ease associated with our periods and even menopause stem from a psychological need that women have to be separate for a time, to rest and withdraw. Esther Harding, in her book Woman's Mysteries suggests that this is not a sign of neurosis, but a clue from the unconscious about a reality: that mental, emotional and physical disturbances of which a woman is unaware creep into our conscious life as 'menstrual disabilities', or PMS, and that these are related to the loss of rest time and alone time.
She suggests that we need this rest time, the same way we need sleep to nourish us and dreams to put us in touch with our unconscious, and that we would gain greater understanding about our own psyches if we had time to slow down and listen to our intuition. This was behind the 'moon lodge' of Native American women. A secret women's society, with laws and taboos surrounding it, sought to bring balance and harmony into women's lives and the whole community by allowing women regular contact with the deeper, internal nature.
A woman should heed the feelings she has pre-menstrually and recognize any disturbances as a manifestation of her need to be by herself, to temporarily withdraw from the demands of external life, and contact her deeper nature. This rest produces a healing effect and restores balance, according to Harding, a Jungian psychologist.
This week is the waning of the moon, leading to the dark of the moon, a period when irritability, inertia or restlessness may surface in a woman's cycle.
By replenishing the well of feminine being, we gain new energy, feed our relationships and creative proejcts. But active inner listening is required.
Pay attention to your cycle, ladies. Watch the moon's phases, and discover where you are. If you are menopausal and past menstruation, then pay attention to your energy levels, to your level of harmony within. Lay low if necessary, recoup, restore, and rest. Take cat naps. Avoid arguments with teenagers or bosses. Put major decisions on hold. Order out!
We have no external taboo to provide us with this rest time anymore. It's up to each one of us to tune in, and heed the signals. Tuning forks at the ready!