Mine Is Menstruation, What Is Your Superpower?
Is menstruation and superpower two words that you never thought you would see or hear together? We've all heard the horror stories and probably experienced some of them ourselves. To be clear, getting my period isn't always fun and often it doesn't fit neatly into my busy schedule.
But isn't it true that for every bad there is always good? You know the saying 'every cloud has a silver lining.' Why don't we hear about or even celebrate the good in menstruation? I ask this question because no matter how bad, bad is... there is always an opportunity to find the good that comes out of the bad. So going right back to the basics... is menstruation really that bad?The other side to this is... couldn't women's experiences of menstruation be better?
In a groundbreaking Master's thesis by Ngahuia Murphy on pre-colonial Māori menstruation rites, Māori tōhuna Rose Rangimarie Pere asserts that menstruation was a time that women could give themselves to rest.
"When I menstruated I had to apply the 'tohi whakatapu' (the principle of restriction) to myself. I did not go to the gardens where there was food, of the beach to get kaimoana, but went to quiet spaces like our sacred sites, or did light duties around home" (Murphy 2011:88).
I don't know about you, but I have a feeling that if I was allowed to withdraw and rest while menstruating the blood and cramps wouldn't matter, or may even disappear.
Cuddled up in a warm bed with lots of pillows and blankets, hot water bottle for cramps, a cup of herbal tea, delicious book, partner cooking dinner and doing the household duties. Meditation, Yin yoga, walks in nature, contemplation and some time for creativity (writing, singing and art). Whatever this fantastic time of contemplation and self-love might look like for you!
If this was what my own time of menstruation looked like I would be happy to menstruate every single day of the year, bleeding included!
In fact, I might even look forward to it.
Many books delve into the topic of menstruation including 'Witch' and 'Love your Lady Landscapes' by Lisa Lister, 'Women's Wellness Wisdom' by Dr Libby Weaver and all of the books by Dr Christiane Northrup. Reading some of these has really opened up my head and my heart to the wonders of the womb and menstruation.
From their teachings, I have learnt that a womb is a place of creation where babies (WOW) and creative ideas (OMG) are nurtured and birthed. SERIOUSLY AMAZING. I've also touched on teachings about Shakti or feminine energy in Hinduism, which I had heard yoga teachers mention in their classes but apparently didn't have any real understanding of what it meant. Shakti in Love, Your Lady Landscapes, is described as energy held in our womb/pelvic area which is released with each menstrual cycle.
Below I've listed some of the superpowers you too might experience during your cycle (as taken from Love your Lady Landscapes by Lisa Lister):
Heightened psychic and;
Ability to push through creative blocks
Time for speaking your mind
Instinctively know the best direction in life to take
Be super clear about our purpose in life.
Easily connect to the feminine energy.
Restore sexual, creative and spiritual energy
Cope easily with change
Forgive and forget
But the number one superpower I uncovered was that for Māori the womb of women is known as whare tangata or the house of humanity. Let's look at that phrase again... the house of humanity. The source of humanity. The point of the creation of humanity. I mean seriously our wombs are where humanity comes from!!!!!! How powerful is that? If our collective wombs being the house of humanity isn't a superpower, then I don't know what is. Superman might have been strong and able to fly but was his womb known as the house of humanity!?! I don't THINK so.
Suddenly the things about being a women that I had always thought of as annoying (periods, menstruation, emotions and anger) had been re-framed as superpowers. For me and my body, I knew that this felt right, more right than my previous condemnation of what it meant to be a woman. I now own these superpowers, and I'm going to start using them and looking forward to ALL aspects of my monthly cycle.
Though maybe getting work to excuse my partner and me to cook all meals will take some time. Where there is a will, there is a way :D
Recommended for further reading:
Te Awa Atua/Menstruation in the Pre-Colonial World by Ngāhuia Murphy
Waiwhero/the Red Waters by Ngāhuia Murphy
Te Awa Atua, Te Awa Tapu, Te Awa Wahine: An examination of stories, ceremonies and practices regarding menstruation in the pre-colonial Māori world (Masters Thesis) by Ngahuia Murphy
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Dr Christiane Northrup
Women's Wellness Wisdom by Dr Libby Weaver
Love your Lady Landscape by Lisa Lister
Witch by Lisa Lister
Have you experienced your own superpowers? Do you take time out of your busy life to show love for yourself during menstruation? If so I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Aroha nui x
Awa Wahine, Editor Ataria Sharman is an avid reader and writer. Her manuscript for young adults fiction novel was selected to take part in Te Papa Tupu 2018 - a programme for selected Maori writers facilitated by Huia Publishers and the Maori Literature Trust.