People talk about transforming their menstrual cycles from a thing of shame to a thing of power through lunar blood magick.
I’ve never had the luxury of feeling shame around my period. They’re far too brutal to endure in a society-based world without explaining to people.
I did keep my first one a secret, but the excruciating physical pain and deep, primal rage boiling in my body made it impossible to interact with the world. I fought horribly with my mother. By the next month, the only option was to tell her.
In sixth grade, I had to look teachers in the eye and quietly explain I was violating the “no purses outside of lockers” rule because my menstrual flow was too heavy to not keep tampons on my person.
The next year three years I went to boarding school. The summer before seventh grade I went to camp there, and my roommate reported me to the counselors out of “concern” about how heavy my periods were based on our trash can.
She wasn’t concerned. The same roommate did terrible things to me, chronically lied to anyone about everything, and later spent one year at the school before leaving due to her own dysfunction.
In eighth grade my best friend had one of the only rooms with a bathtub, which I regularly had to beg to spend hours in, trying to melt at least the edges off of my pain.
In ninth grade I was sent more than once to sleep in the infirmary because my banshee wails were preventing others from sleeping.
Over those years, and continuing for at least several more, the combination of young hormones, depression and anxiety, and the intense monthly hormonal fluctuations led me to burn plenty of bridges, desperate for an outlet for an embodied rage I could scarcely comprehend.
In high school I wasn’t allowed to stay home for cramps, so often had to just sit in the nurses office crying. During those years doctors tried me on various birth controls, none of which were the miracle cure.
Pain medication does nothing for me — I should have mentioned that sooner. If I take Advil, Xanax, and half a dozen herbs, it still takes enough hours before I’m functional that even if one of them does work, it does so slowly enough that I don’t know about it.
I exercise and eat well, in general but also geared toward my period. I diligently start my advil and herbs days before I’m due and am at yoga and barre and on long walks right up to the day it begins.
None of it helps in a real way. Maybe the pain would be even longer and harsher without these things, but I still go through 2-3 days each month where the pain is so severe I’m sweating, dizzy, and nauseated, unable to sleep, unable to think.
I still can’t always tell which symptoms are physical and which are emotional; where the lines are drawn between crying about the pain, crying about hormonal depression, and crying because of the myriad fears that surface due to the hormonal depression.
Today I gave my boss a heads up that I might need to leave early depending on my cramps, and she said she understood and I could spread out my hours as needed.
Let that sink in a moment; my female boss told me I had permission to work different hours to accommodate a medical health issue. Instead of, y’know. Using sick time.
I recently read a gross OpEd claiming women who have used their periods to explain bad behavior are partaking in ‘toxic femininity.’
I’m thrilled that this woman has never had to warn her boss that she has her severely dysfunctional period on a Monday in order to avoid being fired or drug tested for wobbling around, pale as death, speaking through gritted teeth, occasionally bursting into tears.
Not all of us are so lucky.
So, shame has never been my issue. As for magic? Claiming my power and mystery?
I think the magic I do at this time each month is getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, not getting fired, not quitting in a blind rage, not destroying my relationships.
I think the magic I do is drowning in my shadow, fumbling through a hall of mirrors in which each surface reflects my fears and anguish and despair as looming spectres, and managing to come up for air at the end and keep going.
No therapy, no meditation, no drug, gives access to Shadow quite like a dysmorphic period.
Everything is unbearable. Everyone is working actively to drive me past the brink of insanity.
Every character flaw within me–my impatience, my judgments, my lack of focus–dances around me, cackling like the evil bitch witches in The Craft when they’ve turned on Sarah.
I am the shadow. I am the Morrigan and I am her battlefield and I am the carrion crows and the dead on which they feast.
I’m powerful and fearsome and I’m tired and I’m weak. My magic spins frenetically around me, but there is no solace in the eye of the storm. There is only wrenching, un-numbable pain and the constant anxiety of, you should be ________.
I hope the blood moon had better gifts for you.