In January 2020, I came across something that was going to change my life forever. Something so simple and yet so profound. Something which resides within my body, yet which I hardly knew anything about.
Thanks to an incredible woman and Yoga teacher, Bex Tyrer, who mentioned it on a podcast I listened to a few months ago, I eventually got hold of a book entitled ‘Wild Power’, written by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer. As the days went by and my fingers flicked through the pages, it felt as if a veil was gently being lifted off my eyes, as I was being introduced into the most precious, yet simplest knowledge of all - a knowledge which resides within my very own body, that of my own inner ecology as a woman: my menstrual cycle.
I have bled every month since the age of 13, and it was always seen as something to be shy about, or something annoying, which gets in the way, something to be ashamed off, something that stinks, something painful and “useless”, something I wish I didn’t have to go through every bloody month. Something I was never taught about at school, or even spoken to by my mother, grandmother or family, for the simple reason that they were never spoken to about this either.
All the information I discovered in Wild Power felt so new and exciting, yet there was a deep sense of coming home to myself, to the elemental and eternal wisdom that has always resided within me. My connection with the Earth became so much more obvious, as I learnt about the outer seasons being reflected in my being each month. And so I embarked on a journey of self-discovery from a completely new perspective. That of my Womb. I began to chart my emotions, my thoughts, my physical sensations each day, which in turn reflected my inner cyclical wisdom, as each month went by. I began to tune into the seasons of my being, as just like we go through Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn in the outside world, so do we experience these phases within ourselves. Every month, we go through a process of releasing blood and surrendering during our inner Winter, which gently unfolds into our inner Spring, where we start coming out of our womb cave, and back into the outside world - we experience the expansion of the ‘via positiva’ as we slowly unfurl like a fern which has made its way through the hard soil of the Earth. This is a time for us to cherish and be gentle with ourselves, before we step into the vibrancy of our inner Summer - a time of celebration and connection with the outside world. A time when the ultimate creative force of life manifests itself in the form of an egg, as the potential for human life lies in inside of our wombs. We are at the peak, the top of the mountain, balancing over the tipping point which brings us into the downward current of the ‘via negativa’ and its energy of contraction. The exhale, the turning back inwards, our ability to say “no” to others and to form healthy boundaries. We have arrived in our inner Autumn and the premenstrual phase of our cycle. A time where we are given a chance to organise and reflect in preparation for our monthly inner retreat.
And just as the outer seasons of the Earth come and go every year, so do we experience these every month, and with that the opportunity to dive deeper and deeper into ourselves as the years go by. Every month we are given an opportunity to know ourselves better and fine tune ourselves, in preparation for menopause, or as Alexandra Pope calls it, “the crowning of a woman’s life”.
By the time I'd began familiarising myself with this new knowledge and the practices which Pope and Hugo Wurlitzer share in this book, the Covid-19 crisis arrived in France, and with it plenty of time alone at home. I naturally turned my lens towards myself as a means for personal introspection, thus taking my first steps into the world of self-portraiture. After my first body of work ‘Bloom’, I began delving into the exploration of my menstrual cycle through photography, thus creating my latest body of work, ‘Moon Blood: A Journey Back to Self’. Every day, I would sit inside my little home made studio and capture my daily moods, emotions and sensations, with the intention of reflecting the ebbs and flows I go through each month in an embodied way.
Ever since I began to delve into this natural intelligence, I have a strong sense within me that now is a time for us to regain this inner wisdom and power. Now is a time to educate ourselves and all the girls, women and men we know. To welcome and make space for this force of nature which resides within every woman on this Earth. Knowing that if each girl is welcomed into menarche, and if each woman is given the choice to embrace her menstrual cycle as well as her menopause, the world will be a much better place. One that is in tune.
Let us celebrate Menarche, Menstruation and Menopause… and all the rites of passage of a woman’s life. Let us embrace the teachings and wisdom which come with all of them, so that we may reap the benefits and share them with our communities.
I feel these visual menstrual cycle diaries, are the beginning of something much bigger, and it is my deepest intention to shine a light on this crucial subject, through my photographic explorations.
In the meantime, you can read more about Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer's work, as well as buy their book here: https://redschool.net/
You can also find out more about Bex Tyrer's incredible work for Women and the Earth here: https://freedomthroughmovement.org/