cycles Archives - Dr. Mary Pritchard

13 Moons or Why You should Care about the Moon’s Phase

By | Walk the Path, Wisdom Blog | 5 Comments

Moon Cycles - 13 MoonsA few years ago, after surviving the death of both of our fathers, our dog, and three failed IVF (in vitro fertilization) attempts, my husband and I decided to go to Hawaii. A week later, we were on a plane. That trip was fabulous in so many ways, but there is one evening that I will never forget.

We had gotten tickets to a luau and were blessed to attend on the evening before the full moon. The moon was luminous that night and seemed larger than life. When I made a comment to that effect to our table mates, one woman said to me, “I've never really noticed the moon.”

I was shocked. How could a woman not be in touch with the moon? Didn’t she know that before fluorescent lights were invented, back in agricultural societies when we lived outside, women would bleed on the New Moon and ovulate on the Full? That's where the word menstruation comes from (mensis=moon, month), for crying out loud! To me, not knowing what phase the moon was in was like being a surfer and not knowing when the tides were coming in. It made no sense.

Then it hit me. Most women today are so out of touch with their bodies, with their cycles, that they don't know the phase of the moon, much less where they are in their menstrual cycle (unless they are actually having their period).

It's time to remedy that. No, I'm not asking you to be an astronomer or to start reading your daily horoscope (although that can be fun!). Instead, I want you to become more aware of your daily hormone scope, which you might find does in fact relate to the moon in a profound way.

So here we go: in an ideal world where women spend some time out in the fresh air every day and are not exposed to pollution, fluorescent lights, or toxins, our menstrual cycles would be like those of our ancestors – a beautiful monthly journey mimicking that of the moon.

There are 13 Full Moons each year; as such, most women bleed 13 times a year. In ancient times, women lived their lives in flow with the moon (that’s one of the reasons the ancient Chinese referred to the menstrual cycle as “heavenly waters” – love that!).

Beginning on the New Moon (full dark – the moon is not visible), most women would bleed for 1-3 days (in modern times, it’s common for women to bleed for 3-7 days, but that is not in harmony with nature and can be changed). In some cultures, women celebrated their monthly cycles and, as all women were on the same cycle, they would set up red tents – sacred places where they could celebrate their Feminine Divinity at each New Moon.

You were only allowed in these red tents when you were bleeding – no men allowed – and it was considered a great honor to be allowed in (young girls looked forward to getting their periods instead of dreading them or viewing them as “The Curse”). Women sequestered themselves around their moon time (as they called their periods) not because they viewed the blood as shameful, but because it was sacred. Women would sit on the ground, naked, and let the blood flow back into the earth, from which it (symbolically) came. Most women would bleed for only one day and then all the women would pack up the tent until the next New Moon. The moon day was a day of rest and meditation. The men would even fix a feast for the women and leave it outside the tent. (Yes, this was back in the time that men were still in awe that women had the power to give birth! I miss those days! J)

Waxing Moon (the light of the moon is growing in size) – this is what we now call the follicular phase. This is the time when your body prepares to release another egg. Estrogen rises and your energy is sky high. Women in ancient times would work the fields and do tasks that required manual labor or extra energy, as they had energy to spare during this phase of their cycle.

Full moon (moon is completely light and forms a bright, white, round ball in the sky) – in ancient times, women ovulated on the full moon. Estrogen continues to rise during this phase, as does testosterone (and your libido!). Mother Nature intended this time for baby making. You may notice a clear, slippery vaginal discharge during ovulation – it disappears once the egg is released. The full moon is a time of connecting with your community – especially your loved ones and romantic partner. Women tend to report more interest in sex during their ovulatory period.

Waning moon (light begins to decrease as the moon moves from full to new once again) – this is what we call the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle in modern times. Your energy is directed inward and you may be more tired than usual as your body prepares to either make a baby or shed its uterine lining. If you are not pregnant, progesterone levels will fall dramatically making you moody and you’ll crave foods that will increase your serotonin (our “feel good” neurotransmitter) levels. If there is a time of the month when self-care is of utmost importance, this is it. Many women find themselves more contemplative as their periods approach. This is a great time to get a massage or get out your journal and do some much-needed self-reflection.

This sounds like a beautiful way to live your life, doesn’t it? What can you do to start getting in touch with and honoring your moon cycle once again? I have three suggestions:

  1. Become aware of the phase of the moon (the sign can also be important, but we’ll save that for another post). There are many websites and apps that allow you to do this.  Just google “moon phase” or type that phrase into your iTunes store.
  2. Try to sync your cycles back with Mother Nature – if you currently are not having your moon time at the New Moon, get aside when the moon is out. It may take a few months, but exposure to the moon can sync your cycle back up with Mother Nature.
  3. Honor your Divine Feminine by honoring your body – Take the first day of your period off work (if you can) and relax as much as you can. If that’s not feasible, then at least try to take a hot bath that evening when you get home from work or journal. Our energy levels tend to be low during the menstrual phase of our cycle; honor your body’s wisdom by letting it rest and go within. After your period ends, you’ll notice a surge of energy. Take full advantage of this; this is a great time to start new projects or get a little yard- or housework done. As you approach ovulation, plan a date night with your significant other. Your hormones are telling you to mate – have at it!

Then as you enter the luteal phase, you’ll want to start withdrawing again. Get some rest and make sure to pamper yourself as your body prepares to shed its uterine lining again. If you are on birth control pills, you can still follow this cycle (even if you don’t bleed). Use Day 1-3 as your menstrual days of rest; Days 4-12 as your follicular phase; Days 13-17 as your ovulatory phase; and 18-28 as your luteal phase. That will approximate a natural cycle. If you are in a phase of your life where you do not ovulate, then please follow the cycles of the moon the way nature intended!

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. We’ll dive more into moon signs and other ways to honor the phases of the moon in future blogs. Until then, know that you are the essence of the Divine Feminine. Honor her and honor yourself! Let your inner goddess shine!