I knew my menopause would ‘happen’ as I turned 50. I knew it because that is when it happened to my mother. She told me this and informed me that we usually follow the timing of our mothers on such things. I began my menstrual cycle at the same time as her also, she told me this would happen too. I was 13, so was she. So in my 50th year I stopped having my monthly menstruation and marked its occasion with a very large collage, hanging it on the wall to ever remind me of where I was in my existence.
Now dusty and losing the odd image as glue becomes unstuck, it included my blood, my last bleeding and many images of my female lineage of ancestors. It also included images of witches and healers, pictures of wolves, earth, rock, raging skin including orange peel and bark from the trees, crumpled red tissue paper among broken glass, the skull of a dead bird and its bones and then words amongst many words… “now is the time to leap,” poetry I had written that year from a darkened place, meeting the archetype of whom I was becoming.
My dark angel sits in the children’s grove,
My heartbeats and the waters of the river flow from my eyes,
My promise to her is to take her essence fully into the world,
My claws and my new found wings,
Jumping off their pedestal into the dark night,
Now is the time to leap!
Things started to change quite rapidly. My mother said she didn’t feel any change at all, nothing seemed to happen to her that she noticed. But I wondered if that was because she was a women slightly out of touch with her body, emotions and feelings. Well she never spoke of any of those things and had an uncanny way of shutting down, sulking or disowning anything that might have resembled ‘heat.’
For me I was pretty determined to ‘experience’ my menopause. I wanted to know what hot flushes, flashes and sweats were all about, what all the many emotions I had heard about actually did to us. Did we really become quite mad and hysterical? I did notice a sense of crazy, unadulterated, mad woman desperately wanting to emerge and yet doing my best to hone her, direct her energy and channel into something beautifully creative, which became my task.
Six years after my last bleed I still experienced those flashes in all manner of guises, I still needed to get some of those skills under my belt and I still needed to fill as much of my time with creativity as I possibly could. Failing at times and noticing the uncomfortableness when I didn’t resource myself with making something, anything that resembled art, poetry, writing or a dance, frantically piecing things together to make them look moderately like a sculpture, or an attractive (unattractive) display of nature.
In the first year I noticed that everything around me seemed to be falling apart, quite literally and was clearly a time when I had to say ‘enough is enough and I must just give up and let go and immerse myself into this darkened time.’ Many women will say ‘this is your time, a time to focus inwardly, be by yourself and be with the process.’ So try telling that to a mother of six children, a Grandmother, a wife, a lover of community and her work and see how well that sits!
It made the rage even greater and the madwomen for sure would become very frustrated, I created amazing pieces of work/creativity/maps to share with others, and was totally engrossed in that creative energy, my dance and the power that it gave to me.
But totally alone? I don’t think so.
I’m not a sit in ones cave and meditate kinda girl, but inward I did go, no matter what or who was around me, into that darkened place that only an aspiring crone can really go, because it gets darker and uglier the further she goes!
I had enjoyed my ‘periods’ and now missed my bleeding’s, feeding my plants with their regular fertiliser, having that monthly reminder of my femininity, observing its relationship with the moon and how well it seemed to connect to the seasons. I was lucky, those bleeding’s were never too bad, painful, hefty! I was very aware of how other women might suffer.
I experienced ‘the cramps’ for awhile after the bleeding stopped and they reminded me to keep on moving and dance them away as a new dance set in.
The changes to the rest of the body were a shock, as the skin wrinkled, (that was represented as orange peel and tree bark in my collage,) muscles are not the same, bones and joints ache and one is continually suggested to, to take this herb and that supplement that are all different depending on the woman and her experience. So much advice and suggestions can drive you a little bonkers and you simply want to just get on with it and stop fussing, because the mad woman is actually enjoying the challenge and even in her discomfort, even if the belly at times is so bloated she cant help but just feel fat, she knows this is such a valuable time and doesn’t actually want to make it easier, because this is part of the process, to feel it, to breath it, to be creative with it, and without the agony of body changing she would miss out on such an experience. Yes that belly knows it is a time for new birth, emerging as the new SHE, the agony of that emergence.
Well, its not exactly agony, that might be a bit dramatic, its more a fierceness, a hot rage that surges through the body making it so uncomfortable and itchy, yes itchy, that you want to rub yourself raw with the heat and then that inspires some crazy painting or a poem or words for the next book that seep through the raging skin and there you have something utterly beautifully creative, you need that heat again to bring on the next surge of passion and creative juice!
Twelve years has passed. The creative fire is strong.
Who do we become at this time? Letting go of what has been before and accepting this new way, this new soul of womanhood. Only the one who experiences can know. It is different for us all. No couple of years can give us that knowledge, no ‘one’ experience, no other woman’s experience, but our own, our own souls calling into the creative spirit that we are. At this time our true medicine, our power, our artistry will shine through to its fullest, the words we speak, the art we create, the poems, the carefully designed cloth and tapestries and no one, but no one can tell us it should be any other way, but the way we have created it, through all that past experience coming to fruition, the life of our feminine spirit, ready to take her place in the world, to meet her own power source and allow it to nourish the very bones of our feminine lineage, that the daughters and sisters will find a way to follow.
I lay there on that big rock, two days, two nights, cradled in its arms,
relaxed as the sun shone down on my face,
my body, contemplating the meaning of my existence.
I told the rock about my life and all that it involved as I saw it,
Drifting into the trance of comfort and belonging
I nestle under the sky above me,
looking into the heart of the universe.
What is my name I heard myself ask..ShamanKa-Mama was its reply.
Caroline Carey www.middleearthmedicine.com