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Sacred Menstruation 101: How To Reclaim Your Period

Culture
collage photos via getty images

Moontime for the modern menstrual cycle.

Real talk: There is so much magic in bleeding. Eons before Tampax or even our beloved Diva Cups became staples of menstruation, women across cultures have found ways to not only cope with the physical discomfort and emotional upheaval associated with symptoms of a monthly period, but also embrace its power and beauty. (Yes, I said beauty.) Early societies respected the flow and its connection to lunar phases and the natural world, ritualizing bleeding as a time of rejuvenation, purification, rest, and creativity. As patriarchal society bucked the divine feminine, the ancient moon lodges and women's community circles masterfully illustrated in Anita Diamant's bestseller, The Red Tent, were replaced with shame and uncleanliness (don't even get me started on the smear campaign against midwifery…). And just like that, getting your period went from a rite of passage into a new month filled with creative possibility—literally, to create babies and new life!—to a resented curse and feared taboo (hello, misogynistic tropes of the raging PMS beast-woman).

Honoring your period can be a healing, cathartic, and—dare I say—fun way to reconnect with your body, your creative force, and nature. Ahead, from moon charts to massages, more ways to bring back sacred menstruation for the millennial age.

Moon Phases: Charting Your Cycle

Women have been looking to the sky for cues about their fertility for ages, and it’s even believed that the first calendars were created as a result of charting ovulation and menstruation. Since the lunar cycle lasts 29.8 days, it made sense that it would align almost perfectly with women’s menstrual cycles. By tracking your period and your body’s changes throughout the month, you’ll gain a better idea of when to expect Aunt Flo and a clearer understanding of your body’s unique rhythms. Jot down your cycle—when you’re bleeding, when you experience PMS or PMDD symptoms, and about 14 days later when you are ovulating—in a good, ol’ fashioned journal, calendar, or agenda book. Many calendars and agendas will already have icons for lunar phases, but if you’re more tech-inclined, My Moontime is an excellent smartphone app for tracking your menses and the moon.

New Moon vs. Full Moon Bleeding: What Your Body Is Telling You

After keeping track of your body’s cycles for a few months, you’ll know whether you tend to menstruate around the new moon—the beginning of the lunar cycle—or the full moon, which is the end of the month’s lunar cycle, or the waxing and waning periods in between. Some believe that periods should align with the new moon, since the dark-moon phase is so closely associated with rest and withdrawal for self-care. Still, there’s no “correct” moon phase to bleed with, and personally, I feel much freer allowing my body to “go with the flow” (all puns intended) and observe how I align with the moon.

According to Miranda Grey, author of Red Moon—Understanding and Using the Creative, Sexual and Spiritual Gifts of the Menstrual Cycle, there are two traditional menstruation patterns; “White Moon” bleeding, or menstruating with the new moon and ovulating with the full moon, and “Red Moon” menstruation, which is bleeding with the full moon and becoming fertile with the new moon. Your period will attune to both cycles over the course of your life, but it’s fascinating to note what’s going on in your life energetically as your body cycles.  So, what is your body trying to tell you?

White Moon: If your body follows a White Moon cycle, you’ll tend to bleed during the new or waning moon. Since biodynamics have shown that the earth is most fertile during full moons (when you ovulate), this cycle is most traditionally linked to fertility and motherhood. If you are a “White Moon” woman, you’ll likely feel a surge in your intuition during your period, and will feel the urge to withdraw for nourishment and self-renewal. In other words, you’re tapped out energetically and have given the month your all—it’s “you” time.

Red Moon: This cycle follows the full moon, meaning that your body bleeds during the waxing or full moon and is most fertile during the new or waning moon. Because full and waxing moon phase energies are outgoing, vibrant, and creative, some feel this is counterintuitive to menstruation. Not so. In ancient times, the Red Moon cycle was associated with shamanism, high priestesses, and healers. Women who tend to menstruate with the full moon are said to focus their “darker” and more creative menstrual energies outward, rather than inward, in order to nourish and teach others from their own experience. Many times, women with this cycle will be more focused on self-growth, development, mentorship, and creativity.

Syncing Your Period to the Moon

Now that you know your cycle a bit better, you might find that you prefer to bleed with the dark moon and ovulate with the bright, full moon, there are ways to realign your cycle’s energy over time.

Light + Dark
Obviously, light plays a huge role in our bodies’ natural rhythms, and with smartphones, computers, TVs, and artificial-light pollution, it’s no wonder most of us are out of whack. So, the first step to get in sync is to align your circadian, or sleep, rhythm: Keep your home light during daylight hours, preferably with sunlight, and dark during night time. During the daytime, try to wear sunglasses as minimally as possible—especially during ovulation—and keep lights dim and soft at night.

Moonbathe
Moonlight plays a huge role in our monthly rhythms, regardless of whether your live in an urban or more rural area. Sleeping with a 100-watt light bulb on during the five to six days of the full moon—and sleeping in complete darkness for the rest of the month—has shown to regulate menstruation. Just being in natural moonlight is incredibly healthy, physically and energetically, so take time to appreciate Luna during the full moon. Hang out outside, take a walk, or just open the blinds during her five days of brightness, and you’ll feel a change.

Crack a Window
Yup, getting back to nature can be as simple as opening your bedroom window. No matter the season, allowing natural air to circulate is essential, along with taking in the sounds of birds, trees, and the weather. Keeping several houseplants in your bedroom is another brilliant way to up the ante on nature’s presence in your home, and in your cycle. 

Entering the Red Tent: Time for Yourself

No matter when you menstruate, it is essential that you reclaim the time of your period as yours and yours alone, in whatever unique way you see fit. The first three days of menstruation are the most intense energetically, and it’s okay to give yourself a pass to take it easy, work from home, or cancel plans during this time. Listen to what your body is telling you; if you want to be alone, be alone, and if you want to go out, blow off some steam with your girls at the bar, then go for it. Some women abstain from sex during menses to guard their physical space, while others are hornier than a frightened porcupine (hey, it’s your hormones a-raging!). Don’t be shy to let others know what you need during this time; tell your roommate you’re on edge, your partner you need nurturing, or your parents that you need some space—a little understanding goes a long way.

Letting Go (Emotionally)

For ladies with normal periods, menstruation is a helpful message from your reproductive system letting you know that all’s well and healthy. Energetically, periods can be a time of massive emotional release. Think of all the crap you’ve endured during the previous weeks—disappointments, excitements, stress, anxiety, sadness, even contentment—our bodies absorb those emotions’ energies like a sponge, and it’s widely believed that menstruation is a powerful time of purging those toxins. Many of us find that we’re emotionally fraught during this time with rapid mood swings, and that’s okay. There’s no shame in crying to Adele, laughing at reality TV, or having to scream into a pillow. Allowing yourself to feel all the feelings will clean the slate and rid yourself of the pent-up emotions you’ve sucked up, strengthening you for the next month’s challenges, leaving you more in touch with how different emotional energies affect you in the long run.

Ritualize It!

You likely have your own rituals in place for your period (hello, Oreos-and-Netflix marathons, anyone?). Embrace those, and don’t be afraid to go a little nuts with self-indulgence. Shut the world out and finally use that Lush Bath Bomb this month, buy yourself a trinket that gives you a thrill, and don’t you dare feel obligated to restrict your diet, unless of course, you have a medical condition that requires that. I make sure that my budget allows for a monthly “menstrual massage” at my favorite spa, and I take time out from real life to read quietly, do a home facial, and catnap. Those who love altars may find comfort in decorating theirs with red roses or other symbols of fertility, feminine power, and bleeding. And, if you use a Diva Cup or other menstrual cup, you can save your menstrual blood (stay with me, people), dilute it, and water your houseplants with it—a mini-ritual based on ancient rites of collecting menstrual blood and sending it back to Mother Earth.

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Photo by Rachel Dennis

Finally

"What do girls even do together?" This question, or some iteration of it, is frequently posed to me once someone finds out I'm bisexual or hears me mention my girlfriend, or if I make any reference to being interested in girls. I would be annoyed by it, but I have empathy because I know how hard this kind of information can be to find. In fact, the details of how two people with vaginas have sex isn't very widespread information. And, I know that I didn't really have all that much information about girl-on-girl sex before, well, actually having it myself. It's precisely this kind of situation that queer sex educator Stevie Boebi is trying to fix.

Boebi has gained a big following for her informational YouTube videos about how to use a strap-on, how to scissor, how to fist someone, how to choose a vibrator for yourself; any question you could have, she will get you an answer. She doesn't shy away from topics that people wouldn't be quick to ask someone about IRL, either, like BDSM. And she covers the kind of things that are definitely not what we're taught in sex education classes—likely not even in the most progressive curriculums. A study from GLSEN notes that only 4 percent of teens reported learning anything positive about queer sex in their sex ed classes, and points out that in some states, it's actually prohibited to mention queerness at all.

Particularly when it comes to sex with two vaginas, the lack of available public education leads to a general lack of understanding of how we have sex, which then leads to a lack of understanding in the queer community, too. "I just think that lesbian sex is so oversexualized, and we're the least educated," said Boebi when I asked her recently why it's so important for her to spread knowledge about queer sex in particular.

Boebi said that she started out on YouTube making videos about technology, but after she came out as a lesbian, her audience flipped from mostly male to mostly female, though she would prefer a less rudimentary gender breakdown ("the algorithm only deals in binaries, sorry," she quipped).

Ultimately, her sexuality led her to change her content entirely, because she wanted to educate people who couldn't find answers to their questions anywhere else—even on the internet.

"I started getting a lot of what I called 'stupid questions' from very confused teenage girls saying, like, 'How do I do it? Can I get AIDs from fingering someone?'" Boebi told me. They were questions that probably should have had easily Google-able answers, but, when Boebi looked for lesbian sex education content to send to fans who were asking her, she came up empty-handed. "I couldn't find anything. I think I found, like, two articles on Autostraddle, and that was it," she said. "And then I was like, Well, shit! If no one else is going to do it, then I guess I will."

Boebi's audience is mainly comprised of 13- to 24-year-olds, so she keeps in mind that she's helping people who may not be experienced, or even out yet. She uses her own experiences to inform her work sometimes, but also researches extensively and talks to people she knows who "have fancy Ph.Ds in sexology and shit," who can answer her questions or point her to resources she should be referencing.

Boebi's charm is in her relatability; even if she's talking about things we've been conditioned to feel shame around, she does it in such an open and honest way that all that shame disappears—as it should. She does this by perfectly meshing professional talk with jokes and sarcasm, and even uses characters based on star signs. She knows the importance of taking on taboo topics, because there are so many people who won't otherwise find answers to their questions. "I don't actually struggle in my everyday life asking people if they've ever been anally fisted before," Boebi joked with me. "I'll take that burden."

And keeping her tone light and humorous is of the utmost importance to her. "When people are laughing, they're comfortable, and I want people to feel comfortable," Boebi said. "And I want people to know that I'm comfortable talking about sex, and they can be, too." It helps also, Boebi told me, that her audience is separated by a screen, and she's not "in a room with a 12-year-old talking about my labia."

Beyond instructional sex videos, Boebi also deals with other rarely discussed facets of sexuality and physicality. Boebi is polyamorous, and talks openly about it, confronting the stereotypes and the misinformation about the identity head-on. And, she was also recently diagnosed with Ehler's Danlos Syndrome after going years without a diagnosis, and she aims to start working more with disabled queer sex educators to make her work more inclusive of people with disabilities. Though she pointed out to me that her work was already encompassing of disabilities, she "hasn't been a part of the disability activist community for very long," and so she has a lot to learn.

And, though Boebi's happy that she has the platform she does, she wants a more inclusive array of sex educators to join the scene. "My voice is my voice, and it's unique to me, but I think there should be way more," she noted. "Especially people [with intersectional identities]. That would make me so happy if we could diversify sex educators."

And, though Boebi says there's no "ideal way" to educate people about sex, she's definitely on a better track than the public education system, and she makes clear that there's nothing shameful about sexuality—in fact, it's just a part of being human, and a really fun one, at that.

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Screenshot via YouTube

The band shared details about their new St. Vincent-produced album that will drop "you into the world of catastrophe"

Sleater-Kinney just shared more information about their St. Vincent-produced album and dropped a new single.

Per Billboard, Sleater-Kinney revealed that their new album, which they've been teasing since early this year and will be their first since No Cities To Love from 2015, will be called The Center Won't Hold. It's due out on August 16 via Mom + Pop Records. "We're always mixing the personal and the political but on this record, despite obviously thinking so much about politics, we were really thinking about the person—ourselves or versions of ourselves or iterations of depression or loneliness—in the middle of the chaos," Carrie Brownstein said in a statement. Corin Tucker further noted that the new album will "[drop] you into the world of catastrophe that touches on the election."

Janet Weiss noted that the band will "explore a different sound palette" with this album, and pointed to St. Vincent as the reason behind it. She said that St. Vincent "has a lot of experience building her own music with keyboards and synthesizers so she could be our guide to help us make sense of this new landscape and still sound like us."

To satiate us until then, the band released a lyric video for new single, "The Future Is Here," which is very grungy. Bump it, below.

Sleater-Kinney - The Future Is Here (Official Lyric Video) www.youtube.com

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This is so satisfying!

Even Jon Snow knows just how unsatisfying the final season of Game of Thrones was, and he's ready to apologize. Well, a deepfake of him is at least. A heavily-edited version of Snow's speech from the fourth episode—just before the bodies of those lost in the Battle of Winterfell get burned—now features Snow apologizing for the conclusion of the show and lighting the script on fire.

"It's time for some apologies. I'm sorry we wasted your time," Snow begins. "And I know nothing made sense at the end. When the Starbucks cup is the smallest mistake, you know you fucked up! We take the blame. I'm sorry we wrote this in like six days or something," he adds, before signaling to his peers to light the script with torches and "just forget it forever." "Fuck Season 8," he says before the pages begin to crackle and burn.

If there were more lines left to alter, we would have loved to see Snow also tackle how messy Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister's story line ended up, as well as Bran's kingship, Cersei's boring demise, and the water bottle appearance.

Watch the entire deepfake and try to heal the wounds left by HBO below.

BREAKING: JON SNOW FINALLY APOLOGIZED FOR SEASON 8 youtu.be

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Photo by Darren Craig

It premieres today, exclusively via NYLON

In LP's song "Shaken," the most recent single from her 2018 record Heart To Mouth, she tells the story of seeing her lover out with someone else—ouch. Today, exclusively on NYLON, she releases a cheeky animated music video that pokes fun at the song's heightened drama and perfectly demonstrates all the angst that comes with falling hard for someone.

"She looks at you like I used to/ And I'm just sitting in the corner sh-sh-shaken," LP sings, as the visual—with art by Maayan Priva—depicts the singer hanging out in a bar, watching the girl she likes meet up with another girl. Despite the situation's inherent drama, "Shaken" is less of a ballad and more of an upbeat bop. LP told us she loves the way "this little video captures some of the fun of the song, and its inherent comical anxiety." Sure, heartbreak isn't that funny, but our (sometimes) overly dramatic reaction to it kind of is.

"'Shaken' feels like a bit of a wild card on this record," LP says. "It's the closest I've come to writing a musical, which I hope to do one day." We heartily endorse this idea: Please, LP, give us the queer jukebox musical we crave.

Until that day comes, though, you can watch the music video for "Shaken," below.

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Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures.

This cameo has the Beyhive buzzing

I went to see Men In Black: International alone. Which would have been fine if it wasn't for the shock I received when I saw two specific characters on the screen. Unable to keep it to myself, I shared a curious look with the stranger next to me, who was obviously thinking the same thing as me. "Is that them...?" I whispered first. "I think… so," she replied. Then the two men in question started to dance, and we were both sure: "Yep, that's them."

It was Laurent and Larry Nicolas Bourgeois, better known as Les Twins. Fans of Beyoncé will recognize the duo as the talented brothers who often accompany her on tour and in music videos. In Men In Black: International, the two of them play shapeshifting entities—they're more like energy forces than aliens—who pursue Tessa Thompson's and Chris Hemsworth's characters throughout the duration of the film. The twins' ability to manipulate their bodies in ways that are graceful and otherworldly really helps sell them as extraterrestrials and is fun to watch.

So if Thompson in a suit or Hemsworth shirtless weren't enough motivation, here's another reason to go see it. If you look close, you can see them in the trailer below.

MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL - Official Trailer www.youtube.com

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