Merrimack River Current

Women feel the gravity of it
By Dinah Cardin
Friday, November 5, 2004

We may live on Mother Earth, but the moon that revolves around it has female characteristics as well. Some say the tug of a full moon can literally pull a baby into the world. The moon has also been personified as female. Ancient cultures associated the deep red color of the totally eclipsed moon with menstrual blood. In primitive times, a woman's cycle was tied to the phases of the moon.

The end of a women's cycles can also be tied to the moon later in life. Florence Gaia of Plum Island has studied with Native American teachers for many years and teaches workshops about the effects of the moon on menopause and menstruation.

"In traditional times, women were more exposed to the natural light of the moon," she says. "There was a direct connection between their cycles and the cycles of the moon. Our culture is so disconnected from nature, we're not attentive to the sensitivity of our bodies. We kind of push through our menstrual cycle, so it doesn't interrupt our routine."

Michael O'Leary leads a monthly chant circle called Songfire at the New England Sacred Arts Institute located at the First Parish Church in Newbury.

He teaches powerfully healing chants from a variety of different spiritual traditions that come from his Christian background and tie in his interest in shamanism and New Age spirituality. When a group comes together to chant, the swelling energy causes the chant to take over, and soon it begins to sing the group, says O'Leary, who also writes his own verse, like a recent chant he penned that acknowledges the feminine nature of the moon: Moon is the mother of the night. Sun's sister shining bright. Mother moon, sister moon, mother moon, sister moon.

"A lot of people associate the moon with the divine feminine and qualities of intuition," he says.

During a new moon, in the dark phase, was traditionally a time for a woman to have her cycle and be quiet and still. During that time of extreme emotional sensitivity, Gaia says, women were most connected to nature and were open to receive spiritual messages or wisdom. Aware of what was happening in the deepest core of their bodies, they would gather together in a tent in a time of retreat, meditation and relaxation.

In the popular 1998 best-seller "The Red Tent," based on a book of the Bible, readers stepped into the tent to discover an account of women nurturing each other through this phase of the moon and their lives.

"She was seen as kind of visionary during this time," Gaia says. "It was a holy time to bring back to her family and her people a sense of wisdom into their daily lives. Western women experience it as irritability. We get snippy and we don't have the patience with co-workers or children, because that's not what we need to be doing at that time. Our bodies are telling us to honor that time. There is something happening here. We live in a human-made world, and too often there's this huge gap between us."

But Cathy Cryvoff, a massage therapist at Massage Only in Newburyport, who also works as a doula who gives emotional and physical support to birthing mothers, says no matter how much we put between ourselves and the moon, we remain connected.

When Cryvoff is recording a client's birth due date in her book, she notes the date of the full moon, in case it might push the mother into early labor.

"It's not like a scientific thing, but the moon is huge," she says. "Even as the layers that we put in today's society to separate us, I think nature is like you can put all the concrete around or do this or do that, but the bottom line is we're a part of nature. You can't escape it.

"Thank goodness we can't escape it," she says.

(This article replicated online with permission of the Merrimack River Current.)
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