It occurred to me today as I scrolled my news feed just how much my outlook is changing. I have used the model of the Women’s Wheel of life for over 10 years to make sense of the biological changes experienced as a woman and I really thought I had a handle on it all – in myself and in the way I bring this information to other women. I also thought I knew what to expect as I entered my post – menopausal years because I had paid attention to the shifts and changes in my body and my psyche for so long.
In my 40’s as my children grew I experienced many years of heavy bleeding that would take me down into the underworld each month. This was a time I enjoyed as it encouraged me to rest, a time when my dream life came alive. My prayer was a simple “Dark red thread of moon, take me down into the unconscious, bless me with the magic of symbolic dreams and intuition.” I relished the opportunity to live in my dream world – just for a day or two. This “going down” as I came to call it, was a drinking at the well, reminiscent of the coming together of women in the Red tent of old.
As the peri-menopause years progressed I experienced unexpected sadness when my bleed was late, longing for the energy of the dark moon to quiet my mind and body. I learnt to ride the chaotic waves of hormones and energy as menopause approached and in gratitude gave thanks and surrendered to the end of my bleeding time. I marked the changing time with two significant rituals – the first on my 50th birthday was a marker of stepping into my maga years as an Amazon woman. My youngest daughter had just stepped through her own doorway of womanhood; menarche and after 25 years of intense mothering I could feel the apron strings loosening.
The second ritual was several years later, 12 months after my last bleed. I set myself an all night reflection to claim a new way of being in the world, letting go of the past and intuiting a change of name for myself. Both these rituals were important steps on the path of ageing, steps that are rarely acknowledged consciously in our culture and I felt enormously empowered by the choice and act of ritual making. I felt prepared for the next phase to well and truly to begin.
It’s been nearly 2 years since that second ritual and the intervening time has at times been dark and disconnecting. Like the lament of the last bleed letting go of the role as Mother (in a practical day to day sense) has left an unexpected hole, not in my personal life but in the way I look at the world. For so long the monthly activity of my womb and the daily activity of mothering kept me focused on the bigger issues of mothering. It was my passion to teach and support other women on this journey of motherhood and I still care deeply about women; the dehumanisation of birth giving; the medicalization of pregnancy; the outsourcing of childcare; the lack of real choice women have to claim motherhood as a valued way of life. I am hearted reading a recent discourse by Vanessa Olorenshaw: LIBERATING MOTHERHOOD AND THE NEED FOR A MATERNAL FEMINISM discussing the failure of feminism for women who want the choice of mothering as a primary “occupation”. It seems to me that women have simply been herded into the paradigm of economic rationalism, another masculine paradigm.
But all these issues have become somewhat less pressing. The letting go of the past includes not just releasing the pain and disappointment but relinquishing passions and beliefs that have felt essential, even at the core of my being and I am surprised at what a far seeing vision of Maga years actually looks and feels like. As a scroll my news feed I pass over the articles and comments about pregnancy and birth: I feel disconnected from the promises of awakened sexuality through tantra, dance and yoni yoga. My attention is now captured by bigger issues: politics; global greed and corruption; the servitude of the mass unconscious. I lie awake at night now not with thoughts of how will I get through the next week, but wondering how will my children get through their life. I continue to be inspired by the rise of the goddess in popular culture not just as an inner force of personal power but also as a global force to shake the existing paradigm to its core. The wild force of Kali is being called upon to tear away the old and make way for something entirely different, something neither exclusively feminine nor masculine but a dance of the two. I feel this stripping away in myself as I move with intention to a state of greater balance, using yoga and meditation to smooth the way.