Why a rite of passage? Why celebrate a first period (menarche)?
Wouldn't it be great for mothers and daughters to be offered a range of experiences at the onset of puberty:
A safe space to hear real stories of what others have gone through; time without pressure so that you feel free to ask questions; opportunities to learn about yourself through others' stories.
A precious gift from mother to daughter as a shared experience.
This is what we are offering with our
- Step into Womanhood Retreat and
- a shorter, local version with our Celebration Day for Girls.
"Imagine living in a world in which there is no embarrassment about having your first period, one in which you feel that you are entering an exciting adulthood and are given every encouragement to develop all your potential strength and wisdom, in ways that feel natural to you as a woman." (Lara Owen, 2008)
With the Waratah Project from the Vic Women's Trust, Lara Owen has produced a simple video looking at celebration of menarche in different world cultures.
Do you remember the time of your first period?
Were you EMBARRASSED? Were you AFRAID? Were you SAD to let go of childhood?
Many girls feel confused, ashamed or frightened.
This doesn't have to be the case, not with proper support and education.
How would you like your daughter to feel about her first period and entrance to womanhood?
You can change her life with compassionate understanding, positive framing and a positive approach to your own body and self.
Come join the movement of women educating the daughters
WHY BOTHER WITH RITES OF PASSAGE?
We don't have many rituals left in western culture: birthday cake, weddings, funerals, a big meal and presents at Christmas - 18th and 21st birthdays are usually a party, with possibly a speech or two.
It's time to offer something life-changing to our young people.
We need to give them a recognized process - a ritual - that not only prepares them with practical knowledge, but also gives them a sense of pride; reassuring grounding; self-acceptance; awareness of what they need and the courage to speak up about it. A special time, where they can be witnessed as the incredible miracle that they are.
In many traditional cultures, their rite of passage involved the young person leaving their home, receiving wisdom from their elders, then undertaking a solo quest, facing challenges to develop skills, knowledge and resilience for themselves.
This established process was necessary for them and their their community to recognize the shift from dependent child to contributing adult. A ceremony in their honour was held on their return; a moment of great pride for the young adult.
Some cultures consider that girls don't need to go on an organised quest, as their bodies, through their menstrual cycle, give them the process of induction into wisdom. (Pope, 2001)
Without any formal recognition, however, our modern society simply glosses over a period of growth which is really a big deal. Puberty is usually a difficult time. In Kaz Cooke's words: Nobody feels much like a beautiful butterfly. Sometimes it feels more like being a squished caterpillar. (Cooke, 1994)
How difficult that time is and how well we cope with the difficulties varies widely, depending on each young person's character - and their experiences.
For a girl to be prepared for this time of profound change, with love and insight, is significant. Preparing her can also be tremendously healing for her mother.
After all, as Jane Bennett, author of A Blessing not a Curse, points out, this is the beginning of 35 to 40 years of fertility, cycling and menstruation. It's a vulnerable time, especially for girls unprepared or ill-prepared, and the experiences of this time can impact negatively or positively, on later menstrual experiences. (Bennett, 2002)
At menarche a young woman enters her power, throughout her menstruating years she practises her power and at menopause she becomes her power.
Native American saying, from The Wild Genie by Alexandra Pope
Bennett, Jane A Blessing not a Curse Sally Milner Publishing, Bowral, NSW, Australia 2002
Cooke, Kaz Real Gorgeous Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd, St Leonards NSW, Australia 1994
Owen, Lara Her Blood is Gold Archive Publishing, Dorset, UK 2008
Pope, Alexandra The Wild Genie Sally Milner Publishing, Bowral, NSW, Australia, 2001