A woman’s life cycle is punctuated by several rites of passage during her life span.
These major hormonal shifts happen to us all, whether we are conscious of them or not, and each paves the way for the next to follow. The first we experience during our maidenhood at approximately the years from our birth up until age 25. Our maiden years are punctuated by the first rite of passage in a woman’s life at our Menarche, or our first bleed when our bodies change in order to become fertile women. The next phase in our life arc spans approximately between ages 25-45 when we enter our childbearing or Motherhood years. We experience the second rite of passage with every conception and birth that brings life to children or projects into the world. Next between the ages of around 45 to 65 we enter the Marga or shamana stage of our lives. Here we harvest our life experience to date enabling us to embody our ‘calling’ or ‘life’s work’ which we are prepared for by experiencing the rite of passage of Menopause. Finally from around 65 onwards we enter into our crone or wise years fueled by a lifetime of experience and fulfilling life work which is marked at completion by death – the final rite of passage.
How we experienced our Menarche sets the tone for the rest of a woman’s life cycle. How we were welcomed into womanhood, what our parents, peers and culture taught us or showed us becomes how we will approach the birth of our children, how we will accept the menopause and finally how we will meet our departure.
We need only glance at our culture to see that it is only the maiden aspect of womanhood which is seen as ‘ideal’ or acceptable. The media encouraging us to wear white and go sky diving when we are menstruating, carry on in the ‘spring’ arc of our life cycle at all costs. Remain in the productive ‘summer’ buying and endlessly ‘doing’ life arc is also seen as something to strive for and again maintain at all costs. Move around to ones life’s work in the ‘autumn’ or marga arc and the wisdom years of ‘winter’ and our cronedom and there is silence.
When we look back at the history / herstory of ourselves as women, my ancestors and yours, those who last knew the ‘women’s mystery’ teachings of the menstrual cycle, those who knew with bone deep conviction that they were a part of nature and not separate, those who didn’t look outside of themselves for answers. The story reveals why the silence… still the silence… the coming of a linear way of thinking, the worship of a male sky god, the belief that the body was evil, women who know about the body therefore must be evil and in alliance with the devil, the inquisition, the torture and estimated 9 million murders of women put to trial as witches across Europe. The rest is our story as women today. The story that keeps us silent. For in our mother-lines there will be, if we go back, someone standing right behind us who was killed for knowing what we are now reclaiming.
If we take notice and consciously re-set our experience of each of our rites of passage the silence and disconnect stops. We become the voice the women standing behind us never had and we become the elders embodying the wisdom to pass forward to all the generations spanning in front of us. Healing always wants to happen and together we can find the courage and strength to ensure it happens.