The Women's Cycle and the Cycles of Nature
For many years my cycle meant to me little more than troublesome emotions, embarrassing moments and smelly pads. Two years ago I started getting pain in my pelvis and nerve pain down my legs. The doctors thought it may be endometriosis, a tricky, hard to diagnose, incurable disease, and they suggested I go on hormonal birth control to suppress my cycle to prevent things from getting worse. Long story short, that made me question the importance of my cycle. This inquiry culminated in creating this wheel to show how the women’s monthly/menstrual/moon cycle follows the rhythms of nature. How I feel about my cycle has hugely shifted since seeing nature reflected in it. I want to share it in hopes that it may help others to see the women's cycle for the gift that it is. Below are some of the new beliefs I hold as a result of creating the wheel:
1) This cycle keeps me in tune with the rhythms of nature.
2) Seeing that nature also has these rhythms removes any shame for my changeability.
3) My cycle helps me grow into my full potential more and more with every round.
4) There is more than just menstruation and ovulation happening; at every point of the women’s cycle, changes are happening and there are benefits to be reaped.
5) My cycle is one of the greatest gifts of my body.
6) I am deeply grateful for it rather than all the previous negative feeling I had associated with it.
There are certain patterns that repeat throughout nature, these patterns can be represented in archetypes and have been by nature-based cultures all over the world. For example, with the earths rotation, daily and yearly cycles are formed. The spring, with its sprouting seeds and the sunrise both have a similar quality of new beginning, inspiration and happiness; whereas fall with things coming to fruit and sunset both have similar qualities of harvest, celebrating, gathering and coming back together to share. Jon Young and the 8 shields Institute (8shields.org) have found commonalities amongst cultures in these archetypal cycles and have placed them into eight categories around a wheel associated with the direction of the sun in the daily cycle. For example, sunrise in the East, sunset in the West.
The more I think about it the more I am starting to find this cycle everywhere, but I was surprised to find how exactly the women’s cycle both in terms of physical and hormonal changes seemed to line up with this archetypal cycle as well. For example, the time in the natural cycle after dusk, when the Sun is in the North West, the time of the year between fall and winter, the time of the plants life cycle where it starts to rot and die and get composted, are all associated with a sense of loss, a turning inwards and downwards, a being pulled apart to transform into something new, healing, remembering the past in order to forgive and move on. And at this time of the women's cycle, just before menstruating, a composting of sorts happens physically (our uterine lining and any unfertilized eggs begin to break down). A compositing of sorts also happens emotionally, as estrogen plummets, and we begin to focus on what needs changing, the things that make us sad and angry, on the patterns in ourselves that no longer serve. Seeing that nature follows this same pattern makes me see the beauty of this time in my cycle rather than dreading it.
As I move through my cycle, I can feel each of the archetypes taking more precedence in my life, and this allows me to give into embodying the energies associated with that archetype rather than feeling shame for my changeability. Working with the 8 shields model at the Wisdom of the Earth (wisdomoftheearth.ca) program I have been learning how to awaken attributes associated with these archetypes in myself, in order to be the most connected and realized person I can be. Now, as I move through my cycle, I have a chance to further develop all the attributes of connection in myself.
How to read the cycle diagram from the middle outwards:
- The inner ring holds keywords associated with the archetypes and attributes of the natural cycle.
- Around this associated with each archetype is the time of day, the plant lifecycle stages, and seasons.
- The moon phases are there since the menstrual cycle is tightly linked with the lunar cycle. In my research it seemed that some cultures believe that menstruation should occur around new moon and ovulation around full moon. However, other patterns are present too, and my cycle rarely follows this pattern.
- The purple circle has some of the physical changes that occur throughout a women’s cycle
- The green circle has some of the hormonal changes that occur throughout a women’s cycle (myhormonology.com)
I would love to hear from you! Have you seen similar analogies or representations elsewhere? Are there aspects to the women’s cycle to be added around the circle? Do you find that the archetypal natural cycle fits with your cycle in the same way as I have shown it? Please leave you thoughts below. (Don't be put off by the log in to my site to comment, this takes less than 5 seconds, just requires an email and is there to prevent scam comments).
Please print out the cycle to have a better look. If you find the diagram helpful and want to donate to the artist please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.