Honoring Our Sacred Cycles
Nature is full of cycles. We have just passed through Solstice, which for those of us north of the equator officially ushers in Winter, and for those in the south, announces Summer. Each season of the year represents a different phase in the ongoing natural cycle – birth (Spring), maturity (Summer), aging/release (Fall), and death/transformation (Winter).
Our own lives mirror this cycle – over the course of a lifetime, and in smaller versions within each year and month. Our spiritual growth is a continuous cycling through these phases in the form of new realizations, maturing wisdom, release of old patterns, and personal transformation. Most world religions have holidays, rituals, contemplative practices, or retreats that are tied to each of these phases.
In women’s spiritual traditions, the cycles of our bodies are linked with these cycles as well, and we can deepen our spiritual practice by embracing this link, and working with it in our lives. Biologically, our life phases are defined by our procreative phases –the onset of menstruation, our fertile years, peri-menopause, and post-menopause. In women’s energetics – the energy body teachings drawn from energy healing and spiritual traditions – there are energetic shifts associated with each of these phases:
– Our entrance into womanhood with the onset of menstruation signals the first opening of our 2nd chakra, or sacral energy center, in our pelvic area. This is the seat of the kundalini, or spiritual life force, in women. Much of our teen and early twenties is spent learning to deal with this energy, and particularly its sexual expression.
– Our mature, ‘fertile’ years are our birthing and nurturing years, when our creative abilities manifest as children, career building, artistic creations, service projects, building a home, or whatever we apply ourselves too. Energetically we go through many sub-phases during this time, often working on issues associated with one or the other energy centers (chakras) as we experience challenges in our lives.
– Our transformational, peri-menopausal years, which science is realizing can span our entire 40s or even longer, spiritually represents a time of shedding old conditioned identities, and owning a new definition of ourselves. Often this is a tumultuous time energetically, as we strive to redefine ourselves, and literally remake ourselves.
– Our ‘wisdom’ years, in our post-menopausal phase, are ideally a time in which we can fully own our power and accumulated wisdom. Energetically, it is again a time of manifesting, but also a period of increased stability, as we integrate our intuitive and intentional aspects.
Up until the final phase, we are also dealing with the mini-cycle of menstruation, which has its own energetic phases:
– The first half – from the end of menstruation through ovulation – represents an outward, manifesting, intentional movement of energy. We are most effective at accomplishing goals and interacting with others during this time.
– The second half – after ovulation through menstruation – represents an inward, contemplative, intuitive energetic movement. This is a time when we need to honor our need for solitude and contemplation to the greatest extent possible.
To begin to work with these phases and cycles, spend some time contemplating where you are, first in your overall life phase, and then within your monthly cycle of outward/intentional and inward/intuitive movement. It’s worth noting that many post-menopausal women feel that they also have a similar outward/inward cycle, sometimes consciously connected to the cycles of the moon, and in other cases just a personal rhythm that reveals itself over time.
Consider first if there are any ways you are resisting honoring the phase you are in. Are you wishing you were in another life phase? Can you see the challenges of this phase as potentially opening doorways to new wisdom for you? Can you identify and appreciate the gifts your current phase has to offer? Can you sense yourself as engaged in a natural, ancient, sacred cycle of birth, maturation, release, and transformation.
Now think back to the prior phases of your life, and consider the energetic themes listed above. Do you think you were able to successfully learn the lessons of those phases? Are there any experiences or challenges that you feel you need to revisit for yourself, to re-frame and understand in the greater light of your current maturity? Often we hold on to self-blame, regrets, or anger from prior phases that inhibits our ability to fully claim our power in our current phase.
When working with your menstrual cycle, or your natural outward/inward cycle if you are post-menopausal, consider how each phase manifests for you. Do you suffer from intense PMS? Because this is our most sensitive time energetically, our symptoms can often be compounded by a high level of activity or social interaction during this time. Experiment with adding just a little more space for yourself during each day of this part of your cycle, whether engaged in explicit spiritual practice or other self-nurturing activities. Likewise, think of ways you might harness your greatest creative potential at the height of your cycle each month.
If these cycles have not yet revealed themselves to you in your own life, consider keeping a little diary for a month or two focused on how you are feeling in terms of inward vs. outward expression each day, and note where you are in your biological cycle.
Just noting our life phases and cycles can be a big step towards beginning to honor ourselves and our lives as part of something larger. We can begin to sense the rise and fall of our own energetic patterns, and work with these spiritually. Instead of the passing of time being something we rail against, we can truly begin to honor our sacred cycles, and where we are in them.