A tale of two moon cycles (with an extended self-love coda)
What is the link between the moon cycle (in the sky) and our “moon” (menstrual) cycle?
Women often share with me their deeply felt connection with the moon.
You tell me that you feel the call of the moon. That just looking at the moon at night ignites your intuition and imagination, and evokes a remembering of sorts.
And after investigating La Luna for awhile, the question often arises: what’s the link between the cycle of the moon in the sky, and our menstrual cycle?
Sometimes there are follow-up questions too, occasionally voiced, and often just hovering in subtext- am I doing it right? And: can I still work with the moon if I don’t bleed (or if I don’t bleed at the New Moon?)
I explain this much more below but, my quick answer is: yes, yes, yes.
In my Lunar Abundance system, we work with the Moon as representing the yin to the yang of the Sun. I see the moon as a symbolic moving mirror into which we can gaze and explore aspects of ourselves, including our feelings, our subconscious mind, and our feminine way of being.
I use the terms “yin/feminine” and “yang/masculine” to refer to alternate modes of being or doing, both of which are available to us, regardless of gender (although the Lunar Abundance work seems to be vastly more interesting to women than it is to men- perhaps because women are more curious about their “feminine” than men).
On this reading, the moon’s cycle provides fertile ground through which to explore our feminine selves.
The menstrual cycle is one aspect of our relationship with the feminine. It is a female cycle, but just one of many physical cycles and rhythms that we experience. Others include our circadian rhythm (our 24 hour cycle), the REM sleep cycle and more- check out chronobiology. Longer cycles include the seasonal cycles and annual cycle of the Earth moving around the Sun. The menstrual cycle is a female cycle, but of course, not all women experience a menstrual cycle.
If you are not bleeding, it does not mean that you can’t work with the moon. Women pre- and post- the cycling era of their lives are still drawn to the moon. Women with cycle interruptions or irregularities are drawn to this work, as are pregnant and post-partum women, and women whose cycle is suppressed by hormonal contraceptives or other medicines, and women who have had permanent interventions such as hysterectomy.
All women can experience the feminine magic of Lunar Abundance. This is my personal practice, premised on the moon as being representative rather than causative. The Lunar Abundance system provides a map to practice coming home to a feminine way of being. My approach has many applications that are relevant for cultivating inner peace and an abundant life, which I teach in depth in the Lunar Abundance Salon.
In other words, you don’t need to be experiencing a menstrual cycle to find delight and magical benefits by following this particular lunar system. Yet I cannot ignore that over many years of doing this work with women, I have heard time and time again that, when women start to follow the moon:
- an inexplicably paused menstrual cycle can suddenly re-start.
- an irregular menstrual cycle can gradually become more regular.
- Bleeding may become less painful – and this is a far-out concept for many of us, but is true for me – it may become pleasurable.
- Emotional upheaval and physical pain can become easier to navigate.
- Intuition and creativity is increasingly heightened at the time of bleeding.
- A woman who is not cycling can start to feel a deeper connection with her womb, whether or not her reproductive organs are physically present.
* Note, I’m not a medical doctor. This is me relaying anecdotal evidence that many, many women have voluntarily shared with me over several years.
So some women do experience welcome physical effects from following the moon cycle. This, of course, begs the question: why?
There are plenty of theories which may be right but which I am not sure are entirely right, including the gravitational pull of the moon (why would it not affect us all in the same way?), and what is “natural” for women (more on this in a moment, and my own take on the observer effect is outlined below).
In particular, I’d love to see greater evidence for the received wisdom that it is natural/traditional/ancient for women to bleed together at the New Moon.
I’m open to being convinced. The PhD in me acknowledges how problematic it is to demand the production of written evidence from pre-industrialised societies, or from secret and oral traditions.
Yet this same PhD simultaneously wonders: Really? How do we know? And what may be the unintended consequences of stating this?
Heard less frequently online is the view that the menstrual cycle was/is not always similar in duration to the moon’s cycle. I’ve also heard that women traditionally used to bleed 3-4 times a year- and indeed that women in some types of communities outside the Western world cycle like this today. If this is true, what other factors are at play here?
Could our very understanding of the menstrual cycle be at least partially constructed by culture and modernity? Do you have any research to share? What is your experience?
What I know for sure
Increasingly, I receive messages and questions from women asking me whether it is okay that they bleed at the Full Moon, or some other time in the moon cycle, and not at the New Moon, and whether they can follow a lunar practice like mine if their menstrual cycle is out of sync with the moon cycle.
I’m also frequently asked by women how to sync their cycles better with the moon as to bleed at the “correct” time. By all means, experiment with tracking and light and so forth.
But a note of caution. If you don’t find a correlation, that might be just fine.
And if you do, I suggest that is also fine – and it also might not be a generalisable finding. To other women, or perhaps even to yourself in other phases of your life.
When I hear a woman problematising her body or put pressure on herself to be in a certain way because she is not naturally fitting within the model that she has told applies to her, I feel that something is amiss.
What I do know – because I have fallen prey to this myself – is that one of the traps in developing deeper understanding of the nature of ourselves is to use “spiritual” language and personal development concepts to continue to perpetuate ideas about what we should be like, rather than loving how we are.
Women’s bodies have been co-opted for too long: beware of new guises.
My own cycle is irregular in the sense that my bleeding swaps from the New to Full Moon. I’ve observed this over the many years since I stopped taking the pill. My cycle depends on so many factors. Perhaps it is linked with the cycles of the women around me, diet, workload, artificial light. Perhaps it means what several traditions interpret this to mean. And maybe it is just because my body Is Who She Is and because she does She Does What She Does. And that’s perfect.
Most of the women who have been tracking the moon and their cycles over many months and years observe similar patterns, that is, that their cycle moves. I’ve also heard other experts in female embodiment work, like Saida Desilets PhD, say the same thing about the women that they work with.
Of course, if you bleed, you may bleed every 29 or so days at each New Moon, or you may bleed at each Full Moon, or you may be out of sync with the moon but unlike me you may have a regular cycle and bleed every 25 or 28 or 35 days or whatever, like clockwork. I often hear about these cycles.
I’m not yet convinced that we know what is “natural” for women and their bodies, nor that there are definitive “meanings” of when you bleed – although I’ve heard many views. What I am convinced of is:
loving our bodies and our cycles as they are is key to cultivating peace, happiness and feminine power.
What I offer here is encouragement for you to accept, adore, and love your body.
Experiment and track the moon and your cycle without worrying that there is something “wrong” (although it goes without saying that you should seek a professional medical opinion if you feel that something is seriously awry).
The paradox is that by not trying to change yourself, by approaching your body with curiosity and love, perhaps you may find that what was unwelcome melts away: but this can only happen as consequence, not as driver.
Be real with your motivation for inquiry.
Acknowledge whether you are coming from a place of genuine inquiry, or whether you are wanting to Fix yourself in some way because on a deep level you see your body/self as inadequate.
And be gentle with yourself in that inquiry, with what you find: we are so used to judging and critiquing and punishing our bodies and ourselves.
This is so fundamental in our culture that we are often not even aware that we have succumbed to this whip, especially when it is dressed up in what appears to be a divine feminine practice.
You can free yourself from this pattern through acquiring self-knowledge, acting with discernment, allowing yourself to feel what is truly going on, and opening yourself to what you find, with deep devotion.
So in summary,
After years of musing and reading and speaking with hundreds of women about this, the exact nature of the relationship between the moon and the menstrual cycle still feels murky to me.
There is a relationship, without a doubt, but what is it? I’m eager to see more research.
Aligning with the moon cycle has effects, but this may be for several reasons, including us paying more attention to and harnessing the power of what I see the moon as representing, ie our feminine self. This is a process that a physicist would call the observer effect.
Indeed as noted, in Lunar Abundance, we work with the moon as a mirror. You can look in that symbolic mirror to see multiple aspects of yourself, from different angles. If the moon ignites your curiosity to notice and learn about your body: awesome.
Witness and celebrate your body. Honour and love and celebrate the temple that she is, and the perfection that is your cycle.
We are complex, multivalent beings. We can better understand ourselves and access our deeper and innate wisdom with the light of the moon as our guide.
For you, this may include the menstrual cycle. And much, much more. Lunar Abundance focuses on my personal practice, on what I know. It was the gateway for me to create a better life for myself, starting with accessing many levels and aspects of self-knowledge, from the emotional to the physical to the spiritual- as it can be for you.
// How to start with Lunar Abundance
Simple lunar tracking is a way to start connecting with the moon cycle:
// Go outside at night and look up. Notice where the moon is in the sky.
// Journal how you feel in correlation with each moon phase.
// Download your lunar planner to predict the dates, free for you here.
// Consider going D – E – E – P into this lunar and self-inquiry practice by joining my Lunar Abundance Salon when doors re-open.
Keep following my emails as I share more about my lunar practice.
And as always, I’d love to hear how this practice works for you.
If you know a woman who would resonate with this sentiment, please share: