In many families, no traditional rite of passage has been offered to its young people for countless generations. For many first-time menstruants, there was no menarche celebration, no first moon preparations, no honoring, scanty information, but plenty of silence, embarrassment and/or shame when they began to bleed.
And as their bodies and Selves evolved through adolescence, no one spoke of the sovereignty of their bodies, the naturalness and goodness of pleasure, the importance of tuning into intuition, of speaking one's Truth, of aiming to keep one's commitments, of consent and boundaries and what a healthy relationship looks, sounds and feels like.
Where to Turn for Guidance?
As we recognize how essential is this missing piece of the human journey, and feel the hunger to reclaim it for the next generation, we may turn to other cultures for hints as to how to proceed. In my view, it's important not to simply appropriate another culture's rites. If they do not belong to you, it is not right to take them as your own; also, they will not carry the same meaning in the context of your lives.
One can also research one's own ancestral heritage for ideas. You may be able to find books, online resources or local groups to help you connect with your cultural traditions.
We can learn about the essence, the core pieces, of the rites of traditional cultures, and aim to create modern adaptations that intuitively fit for our family.
A Menarche Party or Ceremony is a Good, but even better...
Offering a Red Party or Menarche Ceremony is increasingly popular. If the young person is open to it, it can be a memorable, affirming celebration.
Even more powerful is to spend a year or two preparing your child for puberty, adolescence, their moontime and their human journey. As a way of connecting in particular with their menses, an easeful yet deeply fulfilling approach is to work with some of these wonderful books as a guide:
- Reaching for the Moon by Lucy Pearce
- Menarche: A Mother-Daughter Journey by Rachael Hertogs
- Moon Mother, Moon Daughter by Janet Lucy and Terri Allison
- A Blessing Not a Curse: a mother-daughter guide to the transition from child to woman by Jane Bennett
You work with these books as a mother-and-daughter pair or in a mother-daughter circle. Please note that these books tend to conflate menstruation with gender.
Another great new book written especially to help you create a wonderful mother-daughter group for cultivating many of the skills and knowledge girls need is The Heroines Club: A Mother-Daughter Empowerment Circle by Melia Keeton-Digby, who I'm proud to say is a graduate of the JOYW Mentoring Girls Training.
And/or, you could ask an adult to talk with them, mentor them, and be a resource to them.
And/or, you can find a MentoringCircle led by wise, caring mentors. It is the mission of Journey of Young Women to train mentors so that girls everywhere will have this opportunity.
And of course, any of these ways of sharing the lore of humanhood with a young menstruant can include a First Moon Party or Ceremony.
It's Never Too Late! And it's always worth it!
And, in case you did not teach your child or arrange for them to be mentored before their first moon, you can seek that out on their behalf - and as well encourage them to find a mentor or mentored experience.
However you structure it, the more your child learns to love, honor, respect, understand and care for their amazing body and Self, the more capable they will be to step strongly forward on their path as a young adult.
What have you experienced or heard about that is working well for young people, before and after menarche? How do you see this impacting their lives? Please share your stories and ideas.
Image credits: Art by Karin Hoogesteger; Sister Circle by Karen MacKenzie, detail