My mum was looking through our new and improved website and asked ‘Why do you have that annoying widget of the moon on the website?” I casually replied that it was because the menstrual cycle follows the same cycle as the moon. My mother being a highly educated woman, well schooled in the common sense, no old wives tales please! school of reality, thought this was rather daft. This made me think that perhaps an ideal subject for this, my very first ever blog, should be how everything is connected including our menstrual cycle and the moon.
The first day of our menstrual cycle is day one of our period. In the moon cycle this corresponds with the dark moon time. It is not a fixed exact stage, instead it represents the period of time at the new moon, when the lunar face is dark, before the new crescent appears. In the yearly cycle this phase represents the season of winter, and in five elements language the water element.
Energetically in winter life appears to slow down. The daylight hours are short, the temperature is cold and the sun is low. The stark bare branches of the trees, and the hard frozen ground emphasis the quietness and lifelessness of the time. In our menstrual cycle we too are in a kind of winter, our oestrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest ebb and we can feel like we wish to retreat from the world.
The I-Ching’s (an ancient Chinese text which the philosophy of Chinese medicine is based on) hexagram of ken is relevant for this phase. It advices us to keep still, centre ourselves and connect with the earth. It is a time to rest.
In nature the winter snows and rains wash away last season’s rotting leaf material back into the earth, cleansing the earth and allowing it to be ready for the spring. When our endometrial lining is renewed each month, our reproductive organs are naturally cleansed. Did you know that our menstrual blood has antibacterial and antiviral properties? By meditating at this time we can also cleanse our minds, clearing away old cluttered thinking and allowing ourselves some clarity.
As in nature, the cycle continues and with the crescent of the new moon now becoming visible the seeds under the ground start to wake up. In our bodies our follicular phase is starting, our bleeding tapers off and we are in the first days of spring.
This is a dynamic and powerful time, ideal for the starting of new projects. In the natural world, the nutrients from last season’s rotted vegetation provides nourishment for the new growth, in the same way we take with us the wisdom which we learnt from the last cycle back into the new one.
Like a delicate new seedling, just breaking the surface, our energy needs to be protected at this time. It is important to take care of ourselves by eating well, staying warm and conserving our energy.
The cycle continues, the moon crescent gets bigger and it is now a waxing moon. In the year this would be spring and in the five element cycle this is represented as the wood element. Growth in nature is in full swing, and our seedling is now strong and robust. In our bodies too, it is an expansive time, our oestrogen levels are rapidly rising and our follicle stimulating hormone is directing one of our ovaries to grown an egg large enough to be ovulated.
We have more energy, our skin glows and our mood becomes optimistic and playful. We feel rejuvenated, flexible and strong. Now is the time for purposeful assertiveness and steadfastness. If we started a new project in the last phase, now is the perfect time to grow our plans, and bring movement to our goals. Like a warrior we have integrity and can stand up for what we believe in.
Around 12 – 16 days into the cycle, our oestrogen levels surge again and our pituitary gland secretes luteinizing hormone, this triggers ovulation. We now switch from the yin stage of our menstrual cycle to the yang stage, our temperature rises and progesterone is now in control. In the moon cycle we now are at full moon and in the yearly cycle we are at midsummer. In the five element cycle this represents the fire stage. We feel connected with those around us, a time of reaching out and sharing. We are at the peak of the cycle, a joyous and insightful time. It is a time for love and relationships and a time when we may experience an increased sex drive. The I-ching hexagram Tui reminds us however, that we also have a relationship with ourselves and a relationship with our moment to moment experiences, and that true joy is possible only when we can truly love and accept ourselves.
For a few days after full moon there is a timeless quality, and the cycle of life seems to momentarily pause. The moon appears to remain full in the sky. This represents the season of late summer, the earth element in five elements. It is a time of nourishment and protection. In nature it is harvest time and there is plenty of food for everyone.
In our bodies we are in our secretory stage, our uterus lining is now thick and at the fullest stage of its development. Fully prepared to protect and nourish a new life. Although this is a time of completion it is also a time of potential, will that potential be realised, will there be a pregnancy or will it be unutilized and simply fade away? The uterus bides its time.
Day ends and another day begins, the cycle continues and the moon begins to wane. Late summer turns to autumn and we are now in the metal element. Like the leaves on the trees, the lining of our uterus starts to decay. In our bodies we are now in our premenstrual stage. This is the time to let go of things we no longer need, prepare ourselves to let go of outdated energy. Some women enjoy greater perception and awareness at this time, whereas for other women (especially those with compromised qi) the dreaded PMT arrives, with its irritability and frustrations and un-dealt with issues. Now is the time to become inspired to seek higher meaning in our lives, and to bring awareness to our breathing.
Finally our ovaries stop secreting hormones and the uterus shrinks, and we find ourselves back at winter, bleeding once more.
All the infomation and inspiration above came from – the five elements and the officials, JR Worsley. A Guide to the I Ching , Carol K Antony, The Woman’s Yoga book ,Bobby Clennell. Balance your hormones balance your life, Clauidia Welch.