Menstruation, Shamans, and Context

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Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

It’s last Wednesday, and I’m on a run.

It’s a beautiful January day in Texas — clear, blue skies, a fresh fifteen degrees Celsius, and long running trails that run over vast fields.

I’m in my element — having been a runner for 15 years — and I feel content.

And then it comes. With no warning, a vision hijacks my sight. What am I looking at?

I’m in labor. I’m giving birth to my son, whom I’ve seen in previous dreams and visions.

I know, I know — just go with the crazy for a minute.

I drop into a transcendental state, my running slows slightly, and this vision keeps playing before me of being in labour. I am in the pain. I am in the breath. I am in the sweat. And then I am holding him.

I’m moved to tears by what I see, feeling an indescribable closeness to my son. I’m also feeling crazy because I know this actual event probably won’t happen for another few years.

A few tears continue to sneak across my cheeks and I keep running, breathing through the experience. Passers by give me odd, concerned looks as I stride by. I’m somewhat impressed with my peripheral vision despite the tears.

It feels as though I’m receiving knowledge from my future. I’m being transported to the moment I first meet my son.

So, why did I receive this gift, this connection to my unborn son?

For the past few years, we’ve seen more and more movements, campaigns, and both loud & discrete shifts in how women (and society) are talking about menstruation. And during this time, I’ve been trying on different contexts — like trying on different jackets — to feel into how I want to view my time of the month.

I was brought up in an environment where it was gross, to be kept secret, and a source of pain. I never quite bought into this framework; I found it to be a sort of resilience training for labor, given the extremity of my cramps. In my best moments, I laughed about how tough it made me.

And then, one of Kim Anami’s most recent podcasts illustrated how, historically, menstruation used to be looked at as a power portal, when women could access other dimensions of existence. Their periods were a time to retreat, reflect, be more spiritually connected. During this time, they were seen as shamans that would bring back knowledge from other worlds.

It just so happened that at the very time of my run on that crisp Texas morning, being thrust into this ‘other world’ with my son, it was the first day of my period.

Now, I’m not saying that menstruation gives women mystical powers. However, I’m also not saying that it doesn’t; and I don’t believe that’s the point.

Hearing about this particular history of menstruation, I tried it on for myself as the new lens through which I see Aunt Flow. Quickly, it became my own new empowering context for menstruation. Suddenly, it became a life-changing context for me where my period gets to be a realm of possibility, not an inconvenience. My period can be an invitation to be a shaman, instead of a sore, cranky sloth.

I’m calling it my “positive period story.” The story I tell myself, the empowering context, the chosen interpretation, I choose to have about my period.

The reason I share this story is because, like anything, you get to choose the lens through which you see your circumstances. And despite history being Truth or not, I choose to see my period as a powerful, spiritual experience. By my mere choosing of this context, my period gets to be bearable — nay, enjoyable — and I’ll use it as a time for reflection and exploration going forward. And, I’ll be able to make sense of the moments I receive visions of my future, as that’s all I can understand them to be.

To all you lovelies who menstruate, I wish you a positive period story.

Your partner in evolving humanity and relationships. Always exploring the fullest expression of the human spirit.

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