This is the story of a recent Menarche ceremony in honour of six girls and their mothers in our community.
Why have a ceremony?... and why write about it?
In creating a ritual to celebrate changes in life we mark these transitions in a meaningful way and step into the next chapter with a deeper consciousness of our place in the world. Our community is a very important part of this process, witnessing and affirming this stage.
Well, in the aftermath of our celebration I felt like we really had crossed a threshold together in a very meaningful, soulful and fun way and I want to share its potency in the hope that it inspires others to create ceremony.
Drawing upon Sacred House by Carolyn Hillyer for inspiration, I spent a good few hours dreaming into a ritual to suit this group which has been together for four years. I discussed ideas with the other mothers and invited everyone to contribute to the ceremony. All brought red flowers, red foods, red throws and garments. We adorned the Roundhouse and created a Bloodflower altar.
In the centre of our circle we placed a bowl of water and each person took turns to share from their heart and to blow into a flower stating what they are grateful to mother earth for and place the flower into the bowl of water.
We then talked about Bloodflower in the context of the ‘Stages of Womanhood’. I read out some of Carolyn Hillyer’s poetic and mythic writing about Bloodflower. Then the girls went out to find a tree to sit with outside while the mothers made head-dresses from red flowers woven into plaited red yarns.
We all met outside and had fun painting each other with earth pigments!
We then came back into the Roundhouse for the heart of the Bloodflower Ritual. Girls lined up on one side and their mothers the other and linked hands above their heads to make a human tunnel of love.
At one end of the tunnel each Bloodflower pair – mother and daughter – were tied together wrist to wrist with a very long piece of red yarn by a witness daughter. Then the Bloodflower daughter walked through the tunnel to the other end where a witness mother was reading beautiful words of welcoming to this next stage of life. At this point another witness daughter cut the red yarn and in this way symbolised the change in the mother/daughter relationship now that bleeding had started.
The Bloodflower daughter then walked back through the tunnel to her mother who said some words of welcoming and put a garland of red flowers on her daughter’s head. And so this Bloodflower Ritual continued for each Bloodflower mother/daughter pair.
We then all came back into a circle with songs and drumming!
Then the Bloodflower girls took the bowl of red flowers in water out to offer to mother earth in gratitude.
Then a feast of red foods and drinks!
My experience of this Ritual was that it was a very profound rite of passage with the girls at the heart of it but with a potent acknowledgement of the change in the mother/daughter relationship. It brought up potential for mothers to heal their own experiences of their first bleed which may not have been honoured at the time they started. The witnesses played a key role in this threshold ceremony and provided a glimpse of the possibilities of living in conscious community.
I felt like we really had crossed a threshold together in a very meaningful, soulful and fun way interwoven with song, story and painting each other with earth pigments! It was very profound to acknowledge the change in the mother/daughter relationship as well as honouring the girls’ Menarche. There were perhaps moments of discomfort for some and poignancy for others. These threshold moments are bound to feel edgy at times and when our own pain comes to the surface this is an opportunity for us to heal our own wounding – and this is part of the work!
Many of us mothers will not have celebrated our menarche when we were younger and so when we celebrate with our daughters we get a chance to heal ourselves too...and in so doing to become more fully present for them. When Kesty Jakes passed our Moon Daughters group onto me she shared with me the story of Amrita Hobbs who brought the idea to Stroud and she also told me that underneath it is the quest to heal the mother-daughter wound.
I am really grateful to all the members of our group who so willingly and lovingly stepped into co-creation of this wonderful ceremony. I am also very grateful to Carolyn Hillyer, Amrita Hobbs, Brooke Medicine Eagle, Alexandra Pope, Kesty Jakes and many other wise elders for tilling the soil and sewing the seeds for a new era for our girls where it is normal for them to celebrate sacred blood flow and the Red Path of love and creativity in the name of the Sacred Feminine.
If you are inspired by this and would like me to curate a ceremony especially for you, in a way which suits your daughter and community, please get in touch.
photo credit: Cassie Yukawa McBurney