Good Question… Basically it is a major part of the fundamental difference between men and women. We are physically different, women bleed.., somehow, magically, usually like clockwork once a month from puberty to menopause unless we are pregnant or ill.
In our society (and most western societies), menstruation has been given a bad name for hundreds if not thousands of years, often being the subject of strict taboo, shame and revulsion. Whereas once, menstruation was considered a powerful and healing tool for women and their communities, now it is pretty much kept strictly in the bathroom!
This shift from the sacred to profane came hand in hand with the decline of women’s status and rights and the rise of the patriarchal movement. As warring menfolk started to expand their colonies, Goddess or mother-based cultures were either decimated or went into hiding. With them went the reverence, knowledge and power inherent in the menstrual cycle.
The religious focus shifted from earth-based, nature laws promoting harmony and wholeness on all levels to new laws that emphasised the spirit of a person only. Whilst pagans viewed different manifestations of energy, whether they be physical or emotional or spiritual as sacred and essential to the wholeness of life, the newer Christian religions decided that only the spirit was sacred and that all else was lesser, baser and for some inherently evil.
If spirit or the masculine mode of being was the ideal, then by logic(!), the feminine or body/matter mode was to be shunned, avoided and sometimes destroyed. The split between spirit and matter, male and female once viewed as a complimentary polarity of equal sides became a chasm of separation.
This new way of thinking contributed to many atrocities against women and the earth. Respect and reverence that was once given to the bodies that gave and sustained life turned to hatred, and these same bodies became viewed as worthless of themselves, objects to be used and abused.
Connection and relationship between spirit and matter as complimentary states on the continuum was lost. Instead of the wholeness and universality promoted by ancient spiritual laws, duality was now espoused. There became no wholeness internally or externally for humankind, only separation, good and evil, right and wrong, and a moral desire to destroy that which did not fit the new social order. As spirit became separate, God became separate and no longer freely accessible to the masses. A person could no longer commune with their God personally but rather needed a clerical intermediary.
The truth is all beings are trapped in matter. We may be free floating soul or spirit in heaven or before we are born, or whatever your preference is, but when we choose to be born we are incarnated into a physical body, man and woman alike. Our physical body is our vehicle for this lifetime, and although it may be noble to strive to transcend some of its instinctual drives at certain times, ultimately it is a gift and a limitation that we need to live with and nurture. Our physical body is a conduit for the expression of the divine in the manifest world.
As women this gift and limitation seems to go beyond that of the male of the species. We seem to be more “trapped” in matter. Because we bleed, and ovulate, carry, bear and feed children, we are reminded on a regular basis that we have a body. We carry the magic of creation and death in our cyclic rhythms. We have the ability to more easily connect matter to spirit. We can innately contact God or soul through our cycles without the need for a cleric.
We must remember that in ancient times woman was the natural conduit to the spirit realms. She was not banished from the community at bleeding because she was unclean as some of us have been taught. But rather she chose to seclude herself and remove herself from daily routine in order to cleanse, regenerate and commune with God/Spirit, and to receive guidance for herself and for community. This is the true spiritual purpose of the gift of menstruation that has been distorted and perverted during patriarchal times.
So what are we left with in the 21st century?
I personally think it’s time to bring menstruation out of the bathroom. It is time to examine our thoughts and feelings about menstruating and to discover our own taboos. Cultural convention and belief runs so deep, that each of us need to question where the baggage has come from and to release it if it is no longer relevant to who and where we are at this point in time.
There is such a wealth of healing that we can bring to ourselves, the earth and the split between the sexes, when we begin to consciously be aware of our body and it’s processes. A fundamental law of the universe is The principle of Correspondence “As above, so below”. Everything is relative and everything affects everything else. As an individual heals their life, that healing ripples across the universe. As each woman heals her relationship to her femininity, of which menstruation is an integral facet, then the feminine as a whole will be healed on an universal level.