Indigenous peoples understood the power inherent in blood. Menstrual blood in particular was seen to embody the creative energy of the Goddess. The Saami have one word to mean the power, honor, and sacredness of three things: the blood of the Bear, the blood-red sap of the alder tree, and menstrual blood.
According to Diane Stein in Casting the Circle, the marking of menstrual cycles was the first form of calendars and counting. She writes that Moon calendars carved in rock appear as early as 300,000 BCE. Her research also shows that the original wand of power, rulership, and magick was the menstrual/birth/lunar calendar stick. Brooke Medicine Eagle writes in Buffalo Woman Comes Singing, that many of the amazing prophecies made by Native peoples "about modern times were made by women in their Moon Lodges". Indigenous peoples have used blood, including menstrual blood as offerings to the gods, protection, and to bind specific energies to magical objects.
In The Second Ring of Power, an apprentice of don Juan Matus and associate of Carlos Castenada describes how during a menstrual period a woman's dreaming becomes power. A crack opens up before a woman two days before her period begins. During the time of her period, a woman can step through this crack into other worlds. For this reason, don Juan believed women are better and more natural sorcerers than men.
With the rise of the patriarchy, women and their power have become unclean and shameful. There are countless myths which concern the conquering of women and the Goddess and the rise of the God and the patriarchy. This attitude is best seen in the way our patriarchal society treats our Earth Mother. It is so important for us to have conquering power that we are killing Her and us along with Her. Both menstruation and pregancy are seen as illnesses which need to be gotten over as quickly as possible with as little whining as possible. We seem to have forgotten that without this there would be no human life. If we are to heal this world and ourselves, we must remember that both processes are sacred and in order to be whole, we must balance the God and Goddess energies.
Women today can begin to reconnect with the Goddess by reclaiming the power and beauty of our bodies and our blood. Remind yourself each day that you are a daughter of the Goddess and as such, are a manifestation of Her power and beauty. Attune yourself to the cycles of the Moon. Record how each phase affects you and then use that energy to work with these phases. Even if you do not menstruate with Moon cycles, celebrate and work with your Moon time in whatever way you can. Begin to discuss this with those living with you. If this is all new to them, educate them so they will understand your need to connect with All That Is during your Moon time.
Create your own Moon Lodge. Set aside a room or corner for this time. Keep comfortable pillows, soothing and beautiful colors, anything you feel is correct for your space. If setting aside space is not a possibility, take over the bathroom during Moon times. When space and time were an issue for me, I would lock the bathroom door and tell everyone it was off-limits for at least an hour. Then I would burn incense, light candles, and take a bubble bath. I would meditate or journey right there in the tub.
This time is wonderful for personal cleansing, rejuvenation, and meditation for yourself and your family/community. Women also tend to be very grounding to others during this time. This is one reason we choose not to attend sweat lodges or other group work, except work with other women during shared Moons. Another reason is that this energy is extremely expansive and powerful. Sharing this work with other menstruating women can result in tremendous healing and visions.
A rite of passage can be a powerful way to mark your transition from "second-class unclean female" to self-confident Goddess-incarnate. Choose to do this on the first day of your cycle, or on the full moon. If you can, do this outside at night or inside in the moonlight. I would suggest red candles. Red symbolizes blood and the Mother Goddess. Set up your altar with those things that mean the Goddess, Mother at Her ideal, and the power of the fertile, creative feminine. These may include shells, water, flowers (red & white), moon-shaped objects, specific stones, even an Earth globe. Choose something to use as an offering. I have used tobacco, corn meal, and clothes to be donated to a local homeless shelter. I know several people who include chocolate as part of this ritual and I have used champagne. Call on whatever guides and Goddesses you feel close to. Changing Woman (Apache/Navajo), Madderakka (Saami), Selene, Hathor (Egyptian), and Pele (Hawaiin) are all perfect for this ritual being Mother Goddesses and/or Goddesses of female power and wisdom. Offer yourself to them, ask them to aid you in your quest to reclaim balanced feminine power. Say any specific prayers or sing/drum/chant, if you choose. Charge your offering with love, beauty, and life. If it is something (like donations to other people) that cannot be given to the Earth, put it aside for later. Bless yourself as woman, mother, and sister of the Moon Lodge. Send out a psychic connection with your sisters everywhere and know you are never alone. Close the ritual and have your chocolate and champagne with pleasure!