The transitions within our lives are sacred rites of passage from light into darkness and from darkness into light, just like the phases of the moon. Just like the flow of the breath, we contract and expand. Just like a heartbeat. Life is pulsating along in rhythms and cycles with or without our awareness. When we allow ourselves to synchronise with this pulse, this rise and fall of the tide it may at first feel counter to our need for control. However, the more we allow ourselves to empty out with the ebb the more we experience the satisfying fullness of the flow.
The transitions within a woman’s life are sacred rites of passage marked by three major transitions. From childhood she moves into maidenhood as she is guided into her monthly menstrual cycles. From the maidenhood she may move into motherhood as she is guided through the nine-month phase of pregnancy and birth. Or she may move into the archetype of motherhood as she becomes an advocate and caretaker in her community. From this archetype of motherhood she moves into the phase of the honoured crone as she is guided out of her monthly menstrual cycles and into her role as the wise woman. The maiden, mother and crone symbolise the creative laws of nature and the cyclical nature of the seasons. In spring the maiden is honoured with the fresh flourishing of sexual energy. In summer and early autumn, the mother is honoured with abundant energy and bountiful harvest. In late autumn and winter, the crone is honoured as the energy is drawn down to the earth into decay and inertia. The crone is often interpreted as an undesirable phase of life, or season, however ultimately this phase is essential for the regeneration of new life. A phase that we all go through multiple times throughout life, men and women, in order to let go and allow one story to end as another story begins. Resisting or avoiding the winter phases in our lives only limits our ability to start again with renewed inspiration. In order to inhale fully and deeply we must first exhale completely.
Becoming a maiden means synchronising with the waxing and waning of the lunar cycles. Commonly between the age of nine and sixteen the anatomy of a girl develops into the anatomy of a woman. The hypothalamus signals to the pituitary gland that it is time to awaken the fertile potential within the ovaries, and thus the ovaries begin to produce estrogen and the maturation process begins. There are three forms of estrogen, estrone, estradiol, and estriol, they are produced predominantly by the ovaries and also by the placenta, adipose (fat) tissue and adrenal glands. Within the fertile years of a woman’s life, she will predominantly produce estradiol, this is the strongest form of estrogen and is responsible for the maturation of the sexual reproductive organs at the time of puberty and the maturation of each egg at the time of ovulation each month. Estrone is a weaker form of estrogen that is produced in post-menopausal women as well as men. And estriol is produced during pregnancy. Both men and women produce estrogen and testosterone just at different levels and within different cycles. Women produce more estrogen and are attuned to the monthly cycles of the moon. Men produce more testosterone are attuned to the daily cycles of the sun. Women have a peak of estrogen once a month on ovulation and/or at full moon and men have a peak of testosterone once a day on waking at sunrise. Of course, these are not exact, many of us are out of sync with these natural cycles and many of us do not fall into the binary characteristics of male and female. However, as we are human animals, not separate from nature, our anatomy and physiology are generally attuned to this innate law of nature.
It is possible for women, who are not taking contraceptive medication, to naturally align with the cycles of the moon, ovulating with the full moon and menstruating with the new moon. We can observe that the tides change with the cycles of the moon, plant growth changes with the cycles of the moon, so too do our bodies change with the cycles of the moon. Just as the sunlight affects our pineal gland adjusting our circadian rhythms and sleep-wake cycles, so too does the moonlight affect our pituitary gland adjusting our reproductive rhythms and menstrual cycles. It can be useful to pay close attention to your menstrual cycle, not only to pick up on clues that may be contributing to disorders but also as a method of natural contraception or preconception care. This is done by monitoring the following: pre-menstrual symptoms, libido, vaginal mucous, position and texture of the cervix, menstrual flow, mental and emotional fluctuations and temperatures at waking.
Women have been doing this for decades, if not centuries, if not for millennia. The technique has been refined over the past few decades, which has provided us with charts, tools, apps and support networks to make this monitoring easier. If you have concerns or imbalances with your menstrual cycle, if you would like to learn about the most natural method of contraception (other than celibacy), or if you would like preconception support then it is worth finding a local natural practitioner who can walk you personally through the process. Particularly if you wish to use this method for contraception you need to have regular menstrual cycles and you need to have been charting your cycles for at least 6 months with guidance before using this method to prevent pregnancy. Or if you simply wish to have a deeper understanding of your lunar cycles then it is a beautiful way to get in tune with your body.
THE FERTILE CRESCENT
Here we will go through the basics of getting to know your menstrual lunar cycle, which is commonly referred to as the method of natural fertility. If you would like to start tracking your menstrual cycles you can download a free natural fertility app such as Ovia, Clue or Kindara. You will also need an oral thermometer to take your temperature every morning before you get out of bed. The rest comes down to your diligence at monitoring the following signs and symptoms:
Day One of your monthly menstrual chart is the first full day of your menstrual flow. If you begin spotting or bleeding near the end of the day count the following day as Day One. Take note of how heavy or light your flow is, also the colour of your blood and whether is any clotting. Take note of any other symptoms you may be experiencing.
Daily temperature – Charting your basal body temperature at the same time every morning indicates the basal metabolic rate, as well as the dip and rise at the time of ovulation. The thing to remember about taking your temperature is to do it around the same time every day and before you get our of bed, your charting will be inaccurate if you take it at different times of the day because your temperature starts to change as soon as you get out of bed.
Mucous and Cervix – Charting your vaginal mucous and cervix position throughout your cycle indicates the non-fertile and peak-fertile times. When your mucous is more dewy, fluid and slippery then it is more conducive to fertilisation. Your cervix also becomes lower in the vaginal tract and softer to the touch at peak fertile times. Therefore, at these times you need to take extra contraceptive precautions. However, if you are trying to conceive then this is the perfect time to be making love.
Making love – Charting your sexual intercourse is a good way to keep track of your efforts to conceive or not conceive. It is a tool for you to get you to get to know your body better, being aware of your libido, the ebbs and flows of your sexual energy. As you come to know your body you will become aware of the times to take extra precaution. If you are not trying to conceive this is very important because the times when you are in the throes of passion are likely to be the times when you are most fertile!
The beauty of natural fertility charting is that you get to know you really well and you begin to notice your unique patterns. In noticing your patterns you can become empowered to make changes to behaviours and thoughts that may have been causing you recurring problems. When you look at your chart you will see evidence of your life from a different perspective, non-attached, equanimous. Everything seems different in retrospect. And with this clarity you will be able to ride the waves of your cycles just as naturally as the tide changes with the magnetism of the moon.
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