The Sacred Cycle –Honoring our Daughter’s First Blood

This article published in Energy Magazine in June 2020. Within the article, Titanya offers a sacred ceremony for honoring your daughter’s first moon time.

Do you remember when you had your first period? I think as women, we all do whether it was an awkward, wonderful, interesting, curious, embarrassing, funny or scary experience. You probably remember exactly where you were and what emotions came up for you. It is very unlikely that this experience was ever forgotten.

I remember that very familiar summer day, when I first started to bleed. My family had a pool and I swam in it every single day. It was my world of childhood fun and I would invite my friends over and we would fantasize that we were mermaids, having tea parties at the bottom of the pool. One of those fun warm summer days I was playing in the pool with my best friend, her sister and my little sister.

We were giggling and screaming joyfully as my mother called to us from the kitchen window of our two-story home, to come in and eat lunch. We went inside the house, still feeling so joyous. My father was at the table already. He immediately pointed to my legs and asked if I had cut myself on the side of the pool. I looked down and saw blood running from my thighs, all the way down to my ankles. I knew exactly what had happened and realized ‘the day’ had come. I heard a different tone in my dad’s voice and suddenly became very self-conscious. I spurted out nervously, “Yeah Dad, yeah dad, it’s nothing. . . I think I did cut myself.” I ran off down the hall, acting as if I was actually cut and to do something about it. I was also feeling a bit embarrassed that my friends were there. I wanted to disappear and erase this awful moment from my life.

My mom came to me later, after dad had given her ‘the look,’ which I saw, before I fled down the hall. She was apprehensive, but compassionately started asking me questions. She told me something about me becoming a woman now, but it was all a wash in that moment. She did not mean to traumatize me and I could tell that she was trying to ease the situation. . . but inside, I was terrified. Did that mean I was leaving my childhood behind? Did it mean that I was an adult now and that I would get a real job and soon have to leave home? I was only 12!

Today, even though there is a bit more ease with parents talking to their daughters about our periods, there is still so much hushed, nervous conversation around it.

My mom started to talk to me about what getting your period meant, and that I was a woman now and it was so wonderful, for I now had the ability to create babies. I was too weirded out and went aloof. Feeling my uneasiness, she asked me if I wanted to do something special and so she took Dondi and I to get an ice cream cone. And that was it!

Today, even though there is a bit more ease with parents talking to their daughters about our periods, there is still so much hushed, nervous conversation around it.

When my female friends and I talk about our “first bleed”, I hear similar stories in my generation of women who never experienced a real sacred event around this huge shift in our lives. Our mothers experienced the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s, and may have fantasized about creating something different for us, but they still did not approach this subject in a respectful way. Research says that today 10% of girls do not know what is happening to them when they get their periods.

So many parents do not know how to take that step to address such an intimate experience. How can they honor this transition in their young daughter’s lives? Should they celebrate or should they keep it low key? I believe it mostly depends on the personality of your daughter. Sometimes a girl can be shy, embarrassed, ashamed or confused in this transition and may not want to bring attention to herself. It is a fine balance to what you as a parent want to do and the reality of who they are and what they will be comfortable with.

Children are always are trying to figure out who they are, as they adapt to their environment. At the age of nine, your daughter’s self-esteem has peaked. After this there is a strong decline, especially if they do not feel as if they belong to a group of any kind. She can be easily be persuaded by her peers or social media to look, dress and act a certain way.

Teenagers get mixed messages of what our bodies should look like or how they should react through social media. Girls get set up for a Love-Hate relationship with their bodies early on. Add in their monthly bleeding and if they are not taught how sacred and honoring this is, then monthly cycles can really confuse and cause discomfort.

There are conflicting messages that go on in your adolescent daughter. On one hand, she may have always fantasized about the way grown women look in magazines and feels excited to finally experience being a woman with round breasts and curvier hips. On the other hand, she is at a cross roads where she may be confused about leaving her childhood behind. Should she put away her stuffed animals and say goodbye to the little girl inside and prepare for motherhood at this tender age?

Your sweet little girl is now beginning to come into her independence and she wants to explore what this means. The cuddles and secrets that you two once shared are gone and may make you, as a Mother feel isolated and more distanced from her, as she now turns towards her friends. While uncomfortable, this is a natural part of her development that needs to happen. She will later come around to connect with you again after these adolescent years have passed. What she does not know is that she needs you more than ever to continue to hold the strong parent-child relationship, so that her teenager years will not be as turbulent.

Other cultures were much more traditional to honor and commemorate the transition from girl to woman, as well as boy to man.

In America, we usually feel comfortable when we celebrate our daughters, “Sweet 16” birthday. Amongst the Hispanic culture, there is the equivalent celebration of Quincineras, on her 15th birthday. Historically, this was the time when a girl was taught how to cook, sew and learn about fertility in order to get ready to become a wife and mother.

In the Jewish traditions, there is bat mitzvahs for girls. At the age of 12, they take their place in the Jewish community as an adult. They are usually celebrated with a party or a private family event. In India, girls are thrown elaborate parties to signify the beginning of fertility for a young girl. They treat her like a queen and bedeck her in beautiful jewels. This is a special time where she is also given her first Sari.

In the Navaho culture, a young girl is celebrated in the transition of her womanhood for several days. She will be dressed in her finest clothes and there will be singing and dancing in her honor.

As Americans, should we not honor this important transition in our children’s lives, as well?

I used to call my period, ‘My Moon Time,’ as I felt it followed similar stages in the month of a woman’s cycle the phases of the moon from dark to full. When the moon is full, it is at its most outward expression. When it goes dark, it symbolically goes more inward.

Create an Intimate Bond Between Mother and Daughter

Maybe a party is just perfect to honor her transition and be just what she wants, but talk about the day ahead of time, so that she has something to look forward to. You can give her ideas, but the choice is hers alone to what she wants. Respect them and have fun planning together.

If she wants a more private time with you, then having a mother-daughter day may be perfect. Create a day just for her. Choose a day where you can have uninterrupted time with each other.

  • Buy a special dress or outfit for her, for the celebratory occasion
  • At night, dress up and maybe she can experiment with makeup.
  • Go out to a restaurant, movie or a play
  • Another idea may be taking a Belly dance, African or Salsa class together to connect to the feminine spirit.
  • Create a ‘Moon Time” Ceremony.
  • Take a spa day at home, where you are painting each other’s nails and toes or actually go out to a spa
  • Breakfast in bed or a special breakfast together at a favorite restaurant

‘Moon Time’ Ceremony

Just like birthdays and graduations, ceremonies are about taking time to reflect upon what came before and envision stepping towards a goal.

Creating a ceremony for your daughter’s ‘First Bleed,’ also called, ‘Moon Time’ can be a beautiful memory to mark this important change in her life, creating a wonderful connection between the two of you. Include her in on the plans for the ceremony so you can be cautious with her feelings.

There may be a lot of sentimental feelings coming up for you as her mama, knowing that your little girl is growing up so this can serve as a ceremony for you as well. If a girl’s mother is not around anymore, perhaps an auntie, grandma or a mentor is. An older woman can step in to honor this day, so she will not feel so alone.

Ceremonies can be simple and not so heavy. Pick a special place where you can take a walk — in the woods, on the beach, in a park. Talk to your daughter about the wonderful experiences of becoming a woman. Have her ask you questions and you answer them to the best of your ability. Tell stories of your ‘first bleed’ or your most embarrassing moments connected to it creating a deeper sympathetic bond.

Part of the ceremony can be following a path of candles or flower petals toward a special gift. This can be a special piece of jewelry that was handed down from you or a grandmother to commemorate this day. Another gift can be a beautiful journal for writing down her most private thoughts or keeping track of her cycles.

You can play music, sing songs or dance. You can blow bubbles into the wind and speak your wishes with them. It is all up to the two of you as to what you create.

At the end of the day, ask her what her favorite part of the day was. What was yours? Share together. Was there any part of the day that was weird or awkward? Share that! Find something to be grateful for throughout the day and speak about that.

In time, I too, began to really love my ‘Moon Time,’ as I grew into a woman. I felt there was a kind of creative opening for me where I could connect in with my own creative muse. I was more intuitive at that time and aware of the world around me, through all of my senses. Every bleeding cycle, I felt like I was cleansing and releasing in spiritual, mental and physical ways. The womb has an experience of renewal each month and I would feel a little bit more empowered going into the next month.

Even ancient cultures knew how powerful menstrual blood was and gave it to unwell people and animal, because of its life-giving properties. Woman’s blood should be honored as sacred in our culture too, not something to be feared, hidden or embarrassed of.

I used to call my period, ‘My Moon Time,’ as I felt it followed similar stages in the month of a woman’s cycle — the phases of the moon from dark to full. When the moon is full, it is at its most outward expression. When it goes dark, it symbolically goes more inward. It is a wonderful example to follow when we are on our bleeding time — to take more care of ourselves in a more retrospective way, celebrating with bubble baths, quiet reading, meditation, gentle movement and honoring yourself as a woman. It is also very nice to have your loved ones honor this beautiful time too, respecting your needs.

In olden times, women were given a moon hut in order to relax, let go and be gentle with themselves. It was a magical time to love themselves through whatever was going on. A woman would breathe through the sensations of her body and connect into Mother Earth, knowing that she had cycles like the ocean tides and her body was round like the earth, herself. She would bleed into the earth, giving back this life-giving blood. Other women would come and share female secrets of fertility, pleasure and empowerment.

Teaching our daughters about the amazing ways they can be open and conscious of their ‘Moon Time’ is a wonderful gift you can give that can last them throughout their life. Our periods should be celebrated, for as women we are quite magical to have
this powerful ability to grow life inside of us.

Whatever you do to celebrate your daughter’s transition, make it sacred and special for the unique person she is. Listen to her needs and find the right balance between the two of you.

We all need to support our daughters to be empowered by their bodies. We need to mirror this in ourselves by saying positive things about our own bodies, so our daughters can look up to us as strong role models. By embodying a sacred connection to our own menstrual cycle in a more powerful way, we will erase the shame that has been put on women for centuries. Why not begin this tradition with your own

Energy Exercise for Women

Loving my Body/Loving Myself

This energy exercise helps focus on the love you send to your body. This is comforting to do while on your period. You are beautiful and unique. You have only one body in this lifetime and it is not right to compare it to others. There are many flowers in the garden and each one is special.

  1. Open up your arms really wide, as if you have
    gentle angel wings. Think of something in your
    body that you are grateful for.
  2. Wrap your arms around your waist and give yourself a hug. Where you are touching is the spleen and liver organs. Spleen helps metabolize your emotions and Liver calms down the anger towards yourself. Bring in some love towards yourself.
  3. Repeat opening up your arms and cross over the other way, giving yourself another hug.
  4. Close your eyes and feel your angel’s wings around yourself.

You may want to add an affirmation, such as… “I deeply love and accept my body, no matter what flaws I may perceive. I love and accept myself. I am willing to begin to see my full beauty and love myself even more.”

Photography by Narrative Images. The photos from this Eden Energy Exercise are taken from Titanya’s upcoming book, The Energy Playground. All photos are copywritten.

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