First Menstruation Ritual

A ritual can make the time of first menstruation easier and more
meaningful for both the young woman beginning menstruation, and her
mother.

When your daughter’s first menstruation arrives, congratulate her, love
her, and make sure you take care of her immediate physical and
emotional needs. Then call together your community of women to
participate in the ritual you have planned. Let other women support and
nurture you both at this time. Don’t worry if some of the women are
embarrassed by the idea of a “moon-time” ritual. Their feelings will be
healed as they join in the honoring of your daughter. And please don’t
put off your daughter’s ritual because she is shy and doesn’t want to
tell anyone “she has started.” This is her moment. I recommend helping
her to face it and feel good about it. Surround her with women she
loves and who love her. You may be surprised, especially if you have
never attended a moon time ritual, at the healing and joy that
accompany such a gathering.

A first menstruation ritual comforts the young woman and lets her know
that her feelings are natural and have been shared by women throughout
time. It focuses the nurturing attention of the community of women on
the young women’s needs at this time in her life. And it instructs the
young woman about what her family and mentors expect of her now that
she is entering womanhood.

At most moon-time (first menstruation) rituals, women only are present.
The men of the family, and the young girls who have not yet begun
menstruation, are invited to congratulate the new woman after the
ritual, and give her gifts.

Begin your ritual by creating a sacred space in whatever way feels
comfortable to you and to your friends and family. Turn off all phones
(and cell phones) and put “Do Not Disturb” signs on the doors. Light
candles or incense, play soft music or drum softly, read poetry or sit
in silence.

An altar is a common way to create a sacred space. Altars help us
remember and focus on what is meaningful for us. The objects on the
altar are symbolic of the theme of the ritual. We may have symbols of
the Earth, pictures or statues of great or holy women or pictures of
revered women family members. Flowers and other decorations are
welcome. A flower garland, to be worn later by the new woman, can be on
the altar.

Another way to create a sacred space is to make a circle with a red
rope. Our community has a rope that has been dyed red, which is used at
many community rituals. It is unwound around the circle of women at
moon-time rituals. You could also create a circle by sprinkling herbs
around the outside of the circle.

As you enter the sacred space, purify your minds and hearts of daily
concerns. You can symbolically sprinkle everyone with water, or throw
flower petals over everyone, or smudge. Choose whatever feels to you
like dropping the mundane. Smudging symbolizes cleaning off negative
energy and preparing for the sacred ritual. You can buy smudge sticks
at most food coops, natural food stores, or stores that sell herbs. Or
you can gather herbs from your garden and wind cotton string around
them to form a “stick” a few inches long and one to three inches in
diameter. Hang the herb stick in a warm dry place for two to four
weeks. At your ritual, light the stick, let it burn for a few seconds
and then extinquish it. It will continue to smoke. You then “smudge”
each other or yourself by letting the smoke drift around the body.

The Woman’s Blessing: At your ritual, have ready a dish of clean sand
or corn meal. (I use a large clay flowerpot base and fill it with
sand.) Ask the new woman to step into the dish of sand or corn meal,
leaving her footprints. (Have a towel for her to wipe her feel
afterwards.)

Each woman comes forward, lights a candle, and puts it into the
footprints in the sand or corn meal, which represent the new woman’s
journey on Mother Earth. Each woman then gives her woman’s blessings,
such as: “I am Marie, sister of Georgia Ann, daughter of Selia,
granddaughter of Mary Ann and Christina, mother of Christina and
Elizabeth, grandmother of Erika, Clara, and Savannah Rose. I ask all
the women of my line to bless, teach, and protect (name of new woman)
on her journey through all the cycles of Grandmother Moon.

After each woman has made her blessings, the new woman lights a candle
and puts it into the same dish of sand containing her own foot prints.
She gives her woman’s introduction, and accepts the blessings of all
the women. “I am……,daughter of……., granddaughter of……. I
accept your blessings, and thank you all.

The new woman must be adorned in some way. I suggest decorating her
hands with henna. Henna is an herb that dyes the skin a red-orange
color that turns to brown the next day. Henna kits are available at
natural food stores or on the Internet. Flower crowns or garlands are
also beautiful. After the adornment, gifts may be given that have some
significance for her passage. Red jewelry is traditional. Red
underpants are useful! Each gift is given with some ritual words such
as, “I am giving you this book obout the life of ………….because I
have always found her life to be an inspiration. I know you will find
your own path in life and be an equal inspiration to all of us.”

Songs may be sung, poems recited, stories told. Continue with some
symbolic ceremony of passage. Women have invented a variety of ways to
create a passage ritual for their daughters entering puberty. The women
may stand in two lines with arms raised, forming an archway. The new
woman stands at the entrance to the archway. She holds a few toys
representing her childhood. She has been asked to bring the toys to the
ritual to be given to the younger children of the community. However,
she is not asked to bring all her toys, or her favorite toys, because
aspects of the child remain within all of us and continue to be
treasured throughout our lives.

The young woman’s grandmother leads the passage ritual. If her
grandmother is not present, then a grandmother figure may be chosen to
represent her. The grandmother asks, “Who approaches this passage?” The
new woman gives her name. Grandmother continues: “(New woman’s name,)
it is time for you to leave behind your childhood and become a member
of the circle of women. When you are ready to do so, leave your toys
behind, and walk through the archway.” The new woman puts down her toys
and walks through the arch. As she comes to the end of the archway, the
women ring bells, throw flower petals, and cheer. Everyone kisses and
hugs the new woman.

Closing prayers and/or songs end the ritual.

After the ritual the men of the family and the girls who have not yet
begun menstruation are invited to congratulate the new woman and
present gifts. Everybody joins in food and friendship.

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