Sunday, February 17, 2013

From Pink Frills to the Red Tent

From the beginning, I have never felt sentimental about 'blossoming into womanhood' as it is delicately put. While I was a bit curious about the strange diagrams on the boxes of even stranger products, that was as far as the mystery went at the time. I could not understand why Anne Frank was so awed by the process. It was presented to me as an overly pink and frilly thing to use and to be, and I wanted no part of it.

Now I am 40 and have had years of experience with this event, this altered state we call moontime. My opinion has not changed so much as it has evolved; it has gone from pink to red. This comes, as you might imagine, along with awareness of Goddess: not all at once, never all at once, but one facet, one cycle, at a time. I believe this point of view deserves to be fleshed out, shared, and explained.

I once had a lover who taught me to understand. Far from being squeamish about those days in the month, she adored them and adored me. She introduced me to blood-red flannel pads and showed me how her plants enjoyed the rich, dark soaking water. This flow was anything but domestic. It was wild and free. We were brimming with vitality, no matter what else was happening. It was our connection to the great Mother, the Source of all life. The power behind this flow, this force, would someday bring her a child against all hope, she knew (and it did happen, years later). It was a treasure, not a mess. I never felt ashamed of it when I was with her. I felt only beauty. The earth fed us, and we fed the earth.

My male companions, overall, didn't get it. One couldn't stop telling me about a Very Scientific Article he'd read. Doctors were saying women didn't need to bleed ever. It wasn't logical. It wasn't sensible. (I could almost read it in Henry Higgins' voice.) I should mention this was a long distance relationship and he had never had to be around me when I was a few days late, when I felt as if something couldn't be contained within me anymore and absolutely had to burst out.

You see, when I call my moontime an altered state, I mean it. I've come to realize it's not just that I'm feeling fuzzy from over-the-counter pain relievers. It's a whole different plane of existence. My perception is something that goes beyond the five senses, beyond even six. It's on the edge of what I imagine psychedelics to be. I don't see or hear things per se, but I notice them in a way I cannot explain in words.

Have you ever heard a song or read an old picture book from your childhood and just barely remembered the innumerable multiple sensations it spun in your tiny head? Taste and color and texture and emotion rolled together, seamlessly and wordlessly.

It's not a high. It's simply a different point of view, a lucid dream that is more real than reality. All senses are heightened to almost painful levels, demanding a retreat from the world at large. It makes me appreciate the Red Tent from the book by that name, as well as the modern ones set up at some Pagan festivals.

Sometimes this moontime state helps me write better. Sometimes it makes me win at yelling. No matter what it is, it's more than a physical phenomenon.

And I do understand why the previous generation of Pagan feminists would like to keep the club exclusive, limiting women's mysteries to those who have experienced those very real blood mysteries. I disagree with them, but I understand. I would open the clubhouse to women who know their womanhood inside, really anyone who lives as a woman. That includes my friends who were born without lady parts, or those who were born with lady parts that never woke up for various reasons. They must belong too, as they are still women inside, just as women who had hysterectomies are still women inside.

This came to mind recently when I joked about drop-kicking my uterus over a goalpost. (Yes, I even used a stereotypically male metaphor--sometimes my cycle really brings out the butch side.) I do complain about my body sometimes. Not everything it does is easy to live with. I had to clear up the misunderstanding when one particularly blunt friend asked if I'd gotten myself neutered.

The answer is no. I have not gotten myself neutered. I certainly don't fault those who need to or even want to remove the original parts. There are plenty of good reasons out there to do it, and it doesn't make you any less of a woman. But as for myself and my own body, if I am able to keep my womanly bits wild and free for a few more years, that's just what I intend to do.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Dancing Crone

Ever remember to be awesome and forget to be happy?

On Imbolc, of all times?

(OK, I don't make too much of a big deal about Imbolc beyond feeling the general idea in my heart and observing the change in the seasons. Granted, there is a limit to how much I can devote myself to a specific deity like Brigid, since I am not a polytheist like most of my Pagan friends. I believe the different names and forms are parts of the same force--yes, even the ones who seem incompatible with each other. It would be much easier for me as a Pagan if I didn't have this view, but I do.)

The day began appropriately enough. Instead of the first robin of spring, which isn't really a milestone in the Southern USA, I heard the unidentified first songbird of Imbolc. The cat heralded this occasion with some excited chattering at the window, basically cat language for 'Yum.'

I made a mental note to myself that this was sort of an Imbolc thing and ought to be mentioned to someone later. Eventually I got out of bed. I was still just kind of there. Meh.

I decided it was finally time to check out the Saturday morning farmer's market I'd been hearing about for years. It didn't just have produce or soap or orchids or farm-raised alligator meat. It was crowded with people and with innumerable local, beautiful items for sale. I probably could have bought something at all 50 or so booths. I smelled and tasted the most wonderful things I never even knew existed.

But I had an agenda, practically a checklist. Forget 'the gay agenda'--the nominally bi agenda for this event was to buy some veggies and talk to someone about the hula hoop classes. Serious business, that. (Oh yeah, and avoid the booth with the very recent ex-in-laws, at least for now.)

On the way to the hula hoop booth, I saw a grinning, snowy-headed woman in a long skirt and sneakers, dancing in front of the live band. I considered stopping there to dance too. It might please the old woman.

Now, my usual approach is to mosey on into a situation, do something cool for a few seconds, then mosey back into the crowd. It involves walking briskly, half lost in my thoughts, and not going too deeply into any experience for long.

I do not recommend that approach.

This time I danced for more than a few seconds. The happy old woman danced with me. She had pink lipstick on her dentures, but she didn't care.

I stayed and danced through the guitar solo, the bass solo. It was long enough to allow this woman's happiness to rub off on me. I forgot myself and realized I was smiling.

She looked at me from under her big hat and asked for my name, listening intently. She said hers was June.

Joy and June. Earlier, that would have been another mental note, another impressively poetic idea to share. At this point, it didn't even compare to the moment itself.

When the song was over we waved goodbye and I headed for the hula hoops, but now I felt different. I was smiling, with a smidgen of a good kind of cry behind my eyes somewhere. Moments are a little overwhelming when you're not used to them.

I intend to have more moments. I intend to make time for them and show up fully for them. I am already alive and do not need to hurry to the end. The Crone knows this, and it makes her happy. I intend to remember the same and let it make me happy every day.

So mote it be!