Ceremony and ritual are powerful containers for making meaning in our lives. In ceremony and ritual we work with the forces of nature to consciously participate in the co-creation of our destiny through intention. Ceremonies are not performances but rather potent and purposeful ways of opening ourselves to move with and be moved by the great mystery. My mentor Holly Hamilton says, “you don’t do ceremony, ceremony does you.”
There are innumerable ways to practice ceremony. Ceremony can support us to release, to transmute and to manifest. Ceremony also marks and celebrates significant thresholds that we walk through in life. I believe ritualizing life is deeply embedded in human nature. In contemporary western culture we have lost many of the rites and rituals that our ancestors would have practiced and yet we have developed new—and often less intentional or sacralized—rituals around holidays, birthdays and other life passages.
Recognizing rites of passage is actually essential to integrate these big life transitions into our body/mind. One of the places we see intentional rites of passage sorely lacking in contemporary western culture is in the transition space from adolescence into adulthood. However, teenagers have created their own forms of rites of passage that often involve experimentation with alcohol and other drugs and sexuality in the context of group identity and peer pressure. Perhaps some of the destructive and violating behaviors that we are witnessing among today’s teens is stemming from the longing to make sense of all that is changing within them and how to find their place in the world.
Today, on the summer solstice, the height of the the season of fire, creativity, sexuality and the lover I am inspired to speak about the most important ceremony for adolescent women that most of us have missed—menarche, or the first blood ceremony. The onset of menstruation along with the years just before and after are some of the most intense and extraordinary biophysical, emotional and spiritual changes a woman will ever experience in her lifetime. This is her initiation into eros, and the full expression of her sexuality, as well as the ignition of the creative powers of her womb.
At the time of menarche eros and creativity are not in relationship to another yet (or at least do not need to be). The creative life force in the womb, when seen as more than the ability to reproduce another human, offers young women the creative power to begin to materialize their dreams into reality. When eros is held within her youthful sovereign nature, rather than in relationship to a man, she experiences that she is indeed co-creating her reality and empowered in discernment, choice and responsibility.
Unfortunately, most women that I have spoken to did not experience their first blood as a time of incredible activation but instead received the message that this is a royal inconvenience if not a curse. I know many women that hid their early bleeding time from their mothers and families out of shame or just not having any context to share it in. When we don’t have a way of recognizing this rite of passage we experience a separation between body and mind and miss the opportunity to fully embody the sacredness of our sexuality and creative power. Ceremony gives context for the mind to understand, recognize and honor the huge changes that the body and psyche are experiencing. Intentional rites of passage help us to integrate and integration supports us in our wholeness as fully formed adults.
I am inspired to see more and more awareness around creating ceremony for the important walk through the first blood threshold. The good news is that those of us that missed the celebration of our menarche still have the opportunity to rewrite that story and honor this important transition now, no matter how far you are from your adolescence and your first bleed. This is a big part of the work that we are doing in The Artemis School’s virtual mystery school, Evoke—reclaiming these lost or hidden parts of ourselves as we celebrate the magic of and sacralize all aspects of our lives. The first blood ceremony is the most important ceremony that we will do all year in reclaiming the fully expressed lover of us and our sexual sovereignty.
As I’ve shared there are many ways to create ceremony and to honor rites. The most rich ceremonies are ones that are authentic and create space for the organic unfolding. Most important is creating the container for the ceremony itself so that it has a clear beginning, ending and intention. A few ways to mark the beginning and ending of a ceremony are by lighting a candle, calling in the elements, speaking a prayer or blessing, breathwork, drumming or through physical movement.
If you feel called to go deeper into earth wisdom and women’s mysteries, Evoke, The Artemis School’s virtual mystery school is open to all women and is a year long journey through the wheel of the earth’s seasons and feminine rites and rituals. Learn more here.
Please share how you have honored and reclaimed the menarche ceremony in your life in the comments below!