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The blood of the womb that nourished the unborn child was believed to possess "manna," magical power. And women were considered a connecting link to the sacred mystery of life and death.

In the North American tradition (Sioux, Lakota, Seneca), menstruation was called the "moon period," already accounting for the relationship between the cycles of the moon and female hormonal cycles. Just as the moon affects the tides and the behavior of fluids, it affects the fluids of the body. A woman when menstruating was considered at her most powerful physically and spiritually.

"Rest during menstruation was considered essential for the person to be able to be concentrated on the spiritual planes acquiring wisdom." That rest takes place in a special tepee called "the Moon Lodge". There all menstruating women make their retreat and dedicate themselves to making handicrafts, singing, praying, meditating or simply resting in search of their vision. For them, there is an awakening of the woman that occurs through menstruation.

Lara Owen says that according to this tradition "the menstruating woman is at the height of her powers and should not waste them in mundane tasks, on the contrary, all her energies should be directed to concentrated meditation".

For the Incas, the Mayas and the Aztecs "The moon's blood (menstrual) of the woman is among the most nourishing and bio-energizing substances on Earth. Placed on a plant, it nourishes it in depth. Our native customs proposed, during our ceremonies of sowing and nourishment of the crops, that the women in their lunar time moved among the plants and spilled their blood. Our women always gave their blood honorably. They sat on the ground and donated it directly or poured it on mosses which they then deposited on the earth, to nourish and renew it. They would accompany themselves with this song:

"I give this lifeblood to All My Relations and open my womb to the Light. I give this lifeblood to All My Relations and open my womb to the Light. I surrender, I surrender, I surrender, I surrender; I open my womb to the Light."

For the Kogi Indians, a pre-Columbian society that survives somewhere secret in the Colombian Sierra, and maintains almost unchanged their ancestral customs the world was created by the Great Mother while menstruating: "her blood is gold and she remains in the earth, it is fertility".

Many other traditions take this ritual of bleeding during menstruation into the earth as a symbol of reconnection with the Mother, and donation of something good and nourishing. In the Egyptian tradition the young woman menstruated on some moss from the river bank, for example. For Tibetan lamas a young girl's first menstruation was the community's most potent medicine.

It is said that the red bindu that Hindus paint between their eyebrows (at the "third eye") symbolizes the vision that women acquire during menstrual bleeding.

In fact, in the North American tribes, when the community was about to make an important decision, women were sometimes expected to come out of their Moon Tent retreat to know their visions of the future.

Currently the Shuar (from the Ecuadorian jungle) also maintain a ritual called "payment to the earth" This is a ritual that is performed only once in life, ideally near the first menstruation, although it can be done at any time of life, and even after menopause women can also perform it accompanying a woman who is still in her cycle, of course without giving blood to the earth. It is a complex ritual, with much preparation and continues with the construction of an altar to remember the sacredness of that moment. When menstruation begins, drops of blood are left on the whole set of offerings that must be carefully and with attention to detail will be collected with a special intentions and "requests".

When praying during the ceremony, they ask for the reconnection with mother earth and that the menstrual cycle is aligned with the major cycles of life, thus "awakening a memory in the body that remembers that it is united with the rest of nature in a harmonious way", according to the words of a Shuar healer.

Menstrual rites in historical traditions ,

by Adriana Figueira.


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