Language is such a powerful and creative tool of evolution, and when it comes to powerful languages, Sanskrit is truly epic in its scope and depth. So lets investigate what we can glean about the Vedic views of menstruation and menopause by looking at the words that the sages and tradition found most suitable to describe this spanda, this pulsating regenerative facet of life expressing itself and continually flowing as ayus, the continuity of consciousness.
The basic term for “all things menstrual” is artava which means “belonging or conforming to the seasons or periods of time” and also, “that which belongs to many seasons.” Everybody knows that a woman’s moon flows according to the Moon and thus, compared to a male, she is instinctively more tuned in to the rhythms of nature. Thus the menopausal woman must make effort to retain and deepen this awareness to the changeless patterns of change.
Menstrual blood is given names like kusum and pushpa, meaning flower or blossom, or phala, meaning fruit, or jivarakta, meaning the blood of life! A woman in her wisdom years has accomplished her opportunity to be a channel of “the blood of life” and now must be a channel of the wisdom of life, wisdom being the “blood” of the spirit, that which gives life and nourishment to the spirit. She transitions from jivarakta, the blood of life, to jivagnana, the wisdom of life.
Rtu which means a point in time, and from which our word “rhythm” arises is also the name for menstrual discharge, for the fertile time 16 days after, and for the heterosexual genital intercourse at that moment, at that Rtu optimized to ensure the true wellness of the child, the mother, and the whole tradition!
Rajas is another word specifically for the menstrual blood. I know that many people think that the Vedic and Yogic culture considers menstrual blood to be dirty and unclean. Any menstruating woman who has tried to get into a traditional Vedic temple only to be turned away (how do the gatekeepers know which women is on her moon I have not figured out yet) may feel a bit gypped, marginalized and even a bit like an ostracized pariah. But please, it is not about being “dirty” or bad in anyway, it is just that that blood is seen as being incredibly potent liquid divisiveness itself, in the sense that blood has the power to create twoness, mother and child, like nothing else can. And as temples are more about Oneness rajas is not allowed because of its beautiful power about generating multiplicity. What is giving birth if not the ultimate in life dividing itself! And so a woman precluded from entering a temple can know that she above all is a Temple to Life.
There are several telling words describing that time when menstruation has stopped. One is viraja, meaning free from agitation, pure and possible to be whole. This term viraja can offer insight into how in the wisdom years a woman has the opportunity to become whole, to become who and what she truly is, to rise as a paragon of woman. I know there is are cultural biases in place that would lead us to believe that the teenage waif is the paragon or perhaps the super soccer mom. These two younger seasons of woman are of course resplendent in their myriad ways, and alas, if you do not see how the matriarch is the truly epic woman, the complete woman, then work on being able to see what you are looking at, and hold space for that. Having spent high quality time in the high Himalayas with hundreds and hundreds of phenomenally powerful and beautiful Tibetan matriarchs I might have an advantage in the ability to recognize this without a shadow of doubt.
Vigata is another word describing the cessation of menstruation and ovulation. It means to be free of opposites, free of trouble, and free of the world. This indicates that the post menopausal woman has the opportunity to immerse herself in the truth previous to the seemingly endless bickering of polar opposites, and rise into a hue of transcendence of sorts, abiding free of any duty less than the matriarchal governance of the whole.
You know, it is just possible, that if we all held space for the matriarch to rise again, en masse in our global village, that that adoration alone, that focused act of simple common sense, would save the world from the trajectory of environmental and cultural collapse that arrogant blind greedy men have set us upon.
This blog is dedicated to both Zora Neale Hurston and the Matriarchs of Kham, for their eyes are watching Goddess.