How to Honor Your Inner Fall and Winter
Herstorically, the new moon was not only a time for women to retreat into their “red tents” and bleed into the earth, but a time for entire communities to find respite from the demands of daily life, a time to recharge.
As patriarchal values took hold (and herstory started to be dictated by him) menstruation, like pregnancy and childbirth, was viewed as a handicap because of women’s reduced capacity to “work” -- as valued and defined by the patriarchy.
But as women we know that there is a profound ability to do spiritual Work -- i.e., mental, emotional, energetic work, the work we do in the invisible world; the world we cannot see, but we can feel -- during this slow, sensitive and embodied time.
As Rumi wrote: “Work in the invisible world at least as hard as you do in the visible.”
Each bleed* is an opportunity to prioritize our spiritual Work. Not just a cleanse for our womb, but a mental, emotional and energetic cleanse too. A gestation period for our brainchildren.
Here are a few self-care ideas for before and during your bleed* so that you can show up more in flow for the rest of your cycle:
*If you don’t bleed, whether you have gone through menopause, weren’t born with ovaries, or have had them removed, your physical and spiritual self still needs this period of release. Everything with water -- every body -- cycles with the moon. Think about biodynamic farming, and how sea urchins swell under the light of the full moon. Use the lunar phases below and your own perception to guide awareness of your inner seasons.
To start, I suggest charting the seasons of your cycle on your calendar. You can use the following as a guideline, noting that this will vary depending on the length of your cycle. For example, my cycle varies from 27 to 30+ days, and I generally feel the snow start to fall 2 days before my period and melt away on day 3 or 4.
Seasons of the menstrual cycle (based on a 28 day cycle):
- Inner Winter: Day 27 - Day 5
- Inner Spring: Day 6 - Day 11
- Inner Summer: Day 12 - 19
- Inner Fall: Day 20 - Day 26
*Seasons in conjunction with the lunar phases:
Once you have a visual of your inner seasons, let them inform what you say “yes”, “no” or “not right now” to. Schedule the bulk of your extrovertive and nonessential activities during your spring and summer.
Your inner fall is a time to shed external expectations and stop overextending yourself. To set boundaries, not only with others, but with yourself. Perhaps you say no to indulging in heavy, sweet foods and alcohol, and reduce screen time so you get plenty of quality sleep. This season is all about creating space in your schedule and preparing your body for the coming winter.
Your inner winter is a time to prioritize self-nourishment. Imagine if you cleared your schedule on the last and/or first day of your cycle: What would you do, or not do? (Write it down!) Or if you simply committed to moving slow like lava on these days.
Imagine if you gave yourself permission to journey beyond the tunnel of a goal-oriented, routine-based existence, and practiced moment by moment, returning to your body, returning to yourself. What does this mean to you? How would this feel?
Aligning with our body’s natural cycle is an important part of valuing ourselves as feminine-energy beings. Honoring our rhythms means recognizing that we won’t feel the same everyday. That we can’t be as productive (by patriarchal standards) today as we were yesterday, or last week. This is a much more honest way to live and relate to ourselves.
Nature has gifted us a visual and visceral connection to the creative force. A stark reminder of the life-giving power we hold that does not require our effort to wield.
New beginnings do not start when a thing comes into the light. New beginnings happen in the shadow, in the quiet, in the still. Like a seed germinating in darkness, a woman retreats once a moonth so she can emerge more fully herself.
By Allie Andrews, Self-Care Coach