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Herbal Rhythms for the Feminine Cycle

The female menstrual cycle has been the source of fascination, myth, ritual and mystery throughout human history. Women and the feminine force of nature were once highly revered and honored as an equal and formidable power that resided in balance with men and the masculine. My reference to feminine and masculine is not intended to mean male and female, but the two primary energies of creation with both being one aspect of the same source. Of course, those of us who are embodied as women emulate in our physical and sometimes, our emotional and soul natures, the divine feminine. Not all those that bleed identify with the emotional, cultural or soul qualities that would be defined as female as each of us contains both masculine and feminine and all in different proportions. However, if we menstruate and hold a womb within us (or once did), we are aligned with the physical form of female that differentiates us from the male form and presents us with the opportunity to experience the embodiment of the universal feminine nature.

This book is intended as a women’s empowerment guide that includes a spectrum of information from the symbolic, historic and physical realms of the feminine. Our physical bodies do not exist in isolation from the cultural context we live in and the history that we carry forward with us from our ancestors. Included is a large share of information about herbal support from my practice as a Traditional Western Herbalist. Traditional Western Herbalists are an eclectic group of medicine people whose tradition is an integration of many healing practices from around the world but especially from the ancient herbalists and herbal doctors of Europe. Herbal wisdom has been long steeped in the feminine nature and, in many cultures, women were the keepers of this wisdom. The Wise Women of indigenous Europe left a legacy of 

strong, empowered healing knowledge and a tradition that was passed from woman to woman until the Inquisition. The fear of witchcraft and the power that women held in Pagan culture led to the execution of village after village of local healers, herbalists and midwives. Along with them went not only a great deal of unwritten information, but the status and value of womanhood as a powerful role in the home, community and social structure that has had worldwide consequences. It has been a long journey over the past 2000 years that has led us to today, where we have been blessed with the resurgence of this ancient herbal wisdom. This is a wisdom that still pertains to our modern lives as our menstrual cycle is as ancient as the delicate strands of DNA that have been passed from mother to daughter since the first woman.

Within in these pages you will find a mandala of interacting and interdependent cycles that function as a whole to bring feminine creation into the world. The cycles included are the phases of the moon, the phases of a woman's life, and the physiological/hormonal phases of a woman's mentrual cycle. Traditional herbal remedies are shared as nature's offerings in support of these cycles and the continuous and evoluationary patterns of creation that exist within all sentient beings.

The images were created by 3 local artists; Tavia Pellani, Jennifer Smith and Nancy Grove along with my own photos plus two photos by my friend Kimberly Farrel. Here is a sneak peak of some of the illustrations!

                                            

 

 

And and exerpt from the book where we explore the four aspects of the Goddess or the feminine life cycle; the Maiden, the Mother, the Maga and the Crone:

The Maga

The Maga emerges between Mother and Crone and, in modern society, holds a significant role. The Maga is also known as the enchantress, Queen, Shamaness, and Sorceress. This time of life corresponds to peri-menopause and menopause when a woman is no longer having children and may have stopped menstruating. She still, however, continues to experience and reverberate cyclically and she has more creative potential than ever. 

This life phase corresponds to the pre-menstrual phase of our monthly cycle after ovulation and with the waxing moon. It is a time when we may disengage from direct, intimate responsibilities and begin to self-reflect on what we have learned and experienced. Our energies at this time now belong to us and no longer to the creation of something or someone separate. This feeds us in a way that allows us to share our wisdom more universally with the culture at large. We have become sovereign from past commitments, but still continue to meet responsibilities to life. At this time we are more able to choose what, to whom and when we exert our energy. Plus, we have learned a great deal and know a lot about maintaining centered, yet dynamic, equilibrium.

The herbal info is divided into herbs for the four phases of the moon; New, Waxing, Full, and Waning and includes some basic info about making herbal preparations such as teas along with self-care practices herbal and otherwise:

New Moon

The menstrual cycle really has no beginning or ending, but for practicality sake we have deemed the first day of bleeding as day 1. The beginning of the cycle starts with a drop of hormones and release of the uterine lining. The flow and ease of this phase can signify the many aspects of our overall health. Tonic herbs are used throughout the cycle and often for many months at a time to encourage the hormonal equilibrium that is right for each of us and that will bring the least discomfort at moontime.

A tonic herb can refer to many different categories of herbs, but here I’m referring to any plant that provides tone, nourishment, and balance to our bodies. Tonic herbs are generally safe, gentle, and, although they can be fast acting, it is more likely that it will be subtle in action and work best when taken over time. I think of tonics as a step up from a food and often tonics are also food plants. When we use a food plant as a medicine we take them more regularly in larger quantity and often in a more concentrated form. These are herbs that become part of our daily lives or they may come and go for various durations based on what we need. Each herb has its own unique actions, but how we are each affected by them can be different. As you explore and try these tonics you will get to know them and how they work for you.

Herbs discussed include:

Red Raspberry

Vitex

Milky Oats

Ashwaganda

Yellowdock

Mugwort and more!

 

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