What I am discovering through my menopausal years (and through dozens of women I know in menopause) is the clear correlation between my personal experience of the early years of my menstruation, AND my menopausal process. It’s a whole picture, not just a physiological reminiscing or re-hash in reverse, but an energetic and emotional body memory beyond dispute. For me it tastes like Rage, (yes, capital R), some confused and misplaced, some welling up from generations of silenced women. Around adolescence I imploded with it, now I have the tools to contain and alchemically transform it.
Menopause offers us as women an opportunity to re-assess, often quite welcome after many decades of internalised ‘shoulds’. This re-assessment calls us to revisit any unsolved woman mysteries; any unattended wounds or outmoded beliefs we may have established around the time of our budding sexuality. Our menopausal wombs now loudly demand that ‘The Conversation’ begin. Me and my Womb, my inner wise woman, a conversation that could have begun 40 years ago, if only I had had mentors to guide me there. Luckily, my adolescent reproductive ailments sparked my early relationship with Her, and my first pregnancy solidified our bond.
If you have already cultivated a relationship to Her , then you know who I am talking about. If not, She will yell louder now. She yells in crazy amounts of blood loss, wakeful anxiety, seemingly interminable periods, fibroids, cancer, …. She is demanding your attention for your personal, transpersonal, morphogenetic and planetary healing. (Whether your reproductive organs are intact or not, She still lives with you! )
She is not available for the patriarchal game of dominance: I will not be Her master nor will She be mine. In an urgent manner, She shakes me awake. My only other option would be the role of fearful vigilante, exhausting myself guarding a lock on the door to Her chamber, leading to a looong slow strangling of my connection the Sacred Feminine.
But menopause is designed to awaken the lifelong ache to enter into soulful and authentic dialogue with Her, to really know Her, to know what it is to live in this female body, as me, as you.. She will no longer tolerate our referring to “down there”, “south of the navel”. Or our arrogant belief that orgasmic skill is enough to enter her temple. She lives deep in our wombs, fecund and ancient soil of our lineage, our mystery, and our wisdom..
If you are peri menopausal or menopausal you may be thinking: ‘Wisdom? Are you joking? She is finished , dried up, hot and bothered.’ Ironically menopause is just precisely when it may feel like everything you thought you knew has left town with your monthly blood cycle.
In a dream I had this week, I was saying goodbye to an Indigenous woman in the Australian desert. She was not someone I know in real life, but I felt like we knew each other in the dream. I was walking away feeling grateful for her wisdom and friendship, and after I had walked about 20 meters she called out, ” I LOVE YOU!” I turned to face Her, smiling, one hand waving and one on my heart. I felt the heaviness of all the places in myself that doubted I deserved Her love. But that is my story, my self perpetuated soap opera of which She had no interest.
Truly truly, even if we think we have neglected Her, She will not engage in wasteful revenge; it’s not Her style. Now is the time to meet Her., whether you are in menopause or just began menstruating. Sobonfu Some, spiritual activist of the Dagara people of Burkina Faso, says, “You think you have unemployment in your country? You should see the spirit world!” We have forgotten to access our ancestral wisdom, and they are waiting patiently for us.
Too weird, too frightening? Don’t want to go there? I guarantee you She will be your friend till the end, the one you call out for when it seems you are alone, the one who knows you better than you dare to know yourself, the one who won’t try to solve your problems or fix you, just sit quietly by while you find your own way.
If we haven’t been welcomed into a circle of sisters through menarche and puberty, then at menopause it may feel like it’s too late to build a relationship with the Feminine. Anyway, modern medicine would have us believe it’s a hassle, ‘Besides, the womb is useless now since you won’t be reproducing, let’s whip it out’, many doctors would say. Or we can take synthetic hormones to ‘youth-enase’ the aging process, bypassing the wisdom born of that process, that our youth obsessed culture would have us deny. She is waiting for you to come Home to yourself. She keeps the fire lit, but only just warm enough and bright enough to see shadows in the dark.
If this is true, just maybe even a little, then it’s time to take our young girls seriously as they approach menarche and enter into the world of sexuality. The foundations laid there will be the internal support, the Wisdom of the Ages, that will speak to and through her, listen to her, and hold her hand when life seems uncertain. Wise Woman will steady her to choose from a place of sovereignty and self care.: choose direction, friends, lovers, relationships of all kinds, guide her on her path, and even when she falls off. As a young woman she will walk with the power of discernment based on her inner knowing, not the seductive ego or the internalised patriarchal voice.
Girls need hearts and ears to hear them, they need circles, models of respectful sisterhood. If we haven’t cultivated our relationship with Her, our inner Wise Woman, how will we guide them? Our adolescent girls are crying out to sit and share their stories, through talking, songs, writing, dancing, tears, rage, fear, hope. They are not a strange and silly foreign species in our homes and schools and streets that we tolerate , mock, and sometimes secretly cry for, or pray for. They are our future mothers, our future leaders. They are self-harming every day in a neighbourhood near you. They are wondering if anyone can see what they are up against.
Begin with yourself. One woman at a time, listening, receiving, opening to the Wise Woman living inside your womb. A simple yet profound place to start healing this Earth.
‘We all begin the process before we are ready, before we are strong enough, before we know enough; we begin a dialogue with thoughts and feelings that both tickle and thunder within us. We respond before we know how to speak the language, before we know all the answers, and before we know exactly to whom we are speaking.’
Artwork: (above) Wise Woman by Frank Howel, below, The Calling by Krista Lynn Brown, www.devaluna.com