APA May 2007 FROM OUR BOOK OF SHADOWS: By Lady Birch Sacred Blood, Sacred Life For women, the menstrual period is something we often live with for30 to 50 years of our lives. Attitudes about this once-mysterious process have changed greatly over time. There are some things I want to share with you regarding menstruation---- menarche to menopause, something beyond PMS, Menopause, etc Many, many pagans in general (these would be true Pagans in the sense that they were polytheistic/nature-based even before Patriarchal organized religions developed. (It would be more correct to call myself neo-Pagan, but it saves long explanations of what the difference is... Like this one, lol!) for thousands of years were very reverent of menstruation and a woman’s ability to bleed monthly but live, to bring new life into the world, then at some point, stopping the blood. Menstruation fit into a cycle consistent with the original Trinity, which was FEMALE! (Book named When God Was a Woman is excellent background) It was Maiden, Mother, Crone. 3 distinct phases, and all were honored and brought rites of passage in some way. Maiden represented younger girls, up to their 1st M….this usually was celebrated and the girl became a woman in her society, but was often still considered Maiden until the 1st pregnancy. Then followed the Mother, who gave birth and almost always went to a special place that menstruating women used during this powerful time---and as a special benefit---got 4-5 days off from the constant labor of survival, as others would share their work and bring food. It made for a strong female network, each taking their turns at helping the others. Once menstruation stopped, a woman obtained the highest status of all----Crone. We’re not talking Shakespeare’s idea of ugly old crones with warty faces! These women had survived the growing/Maiden years; as a Mother, bleeding years & childbirth (which used to be the MOST dangerous thing a woman could do, into the early 20th century), then stopped menstruation and was considered not only lucky and favored by the Goddesses and Gods, but thought to possess great wisdom and other skills vital to the tribe. Native Americans put it best, in my opinion. A young woman (Mother), is still bleeding, but a Crone (or Elder, etc., there were many titles) was “holding her blood”. She was holding in the sacred forces of life itself, and was treated with great respect.Often a council of women solved disputes, made decisions for the tribe, and other important matters. It was only after Patriarchal organized religions such as Christianity became prominent that all Goddesses and Gods became a single male God. Menstruation, along with sexual behavior were mandated as "good" or "evil" by those leaders, who were superstitious enough still to fear womens' power. Therefore, women were made to feel shame and guilt when once they were honored.