Honoring the first bleed
In today's world there is no shortage of ideas on how to talk with your kids about the menstrual cycle. But when push comes to shove it still can feel uncomfortable. I think sometimes we have to get comfortable talking about our own menstrual cycle before we talk about it to others. I would invite you to explore your own comfort level with the menstrual cycle as a first step before chatting with your bleeder whether that be a daughter, granddaughter, niece, or other.
Red Tent Ceremony for first time bleeders
What is a red tent ceremony?
A red tent is where women used to gather while they bled centuries ago. They would all meet in a tent, rest, talk with each other and bleed on the land. Getting your period was a time to be celebrated, not shamed and hidden. Most women bled with the new moon or dark moon at that time. It was said that if you bled during the full moon and gathered with your sisters those were the seers. These were the wise women of the village who were there to bring in wisdom and insight to the villagers when they were done bleeding.
Now a days we do not all bleed on the same day. You can most likely blame technology and staring at screens most days. We also don’t gather in tents. When its your first bleed how many of us remember our parental figure showing us the two options, handing us a pamphlet and said ask me any questions after you read through these. That was my experience. If that was you, and you don’t want to do that to your child, here is an idea of how to make your own red tent ceremony.
Gathering with friends
This ceremony will not be for everyone. If your child doesn’t want to make a big deal of getting their period, is a little shy and you don’t have a network of friends that would want to participate in this without thinking it’s a joke, skip this option. There will be some of you though that have the right network of friends, have a child who wants to make their period a big deal and feel inclined to do a more elaborate celebration.
You will start by gathering your friends as well as your bleeder’s friends on a special day after their first bleed. I would say between five to twelve people would be ideal. More than twelve and it gets harder to host a deep intimate circle space. Think of this as a mini celebration.
You can choose colors—maybe red and another special color the bleeder picks out. You can decorate however you wish or keep it simple and minimal. You can set up a circle by placing a decorative tapestry down and creating an altar on the tapestry for everyone to sit around. Ideas for the altar space could be a statue of Mama Gaia (mother earth), candles, cleansing smoke, pictures of maternal figures that might have passed on, flowers, pinecones, sticks, branches, rocks, crystals. Use items from nature but make them seasonal to whatever season you’re actually in. You might have everyone bring a special item from their own homes to place on the altar space to make it feel like a community gathering. You might have an oracle deck that your bleeder picks out to use for circle.
Once everyone is seated around the tapestry in circle, set up cushions, pillows, yoga bolsters for people to sit on for the hour. You will start by stating the two rules of circle.
Start the red tent ceremony by stating there are only two rules of ceremony
- What ever happens in ceremony stays in ceremony. You can discuss your own experience outside of the circle but not another participant’s.
- No coaching allowed today. This space is meant to be open and honest. It’s not the time to give advice. If the younger bleeders are fearful of what’s to come, let them voice that without being in a parental role in ceremony. If something does come up that you think needs to be addressed do that in private after ceremony after you ask them for permission to go deeper with their concern.
Next light the candle welcoming and opening the ceremony. Start with introductions, have everyone state their name and their own first period experience to open the sharing circle. Next invite people to grab their journals and reflect on the following questions.
- How would you have liked your first period experience to feel and look like?
- How do you want to honor your period or menopause years today?
- How can you attune your life to your menstrual cycle or the moon to live in a more cyclical manner?
Invite those who want to share to share any insights or reflections with the group. Note that you never have to share if you don’t feel called. After someone shares, place your hand on your heart and state, “I witness you” to the sharer.
After journaling, pass around the oracle deck for everyone to draw a card. You can have people journal and reflect on the card drawn and again share with the group their experience.
Next you might guide a meditation if that feels aligned to what you normally offer. Otherwise you might play a guided meditation for everyone to listen to from Insight Timer. Search my name. I have prepared a guided meditation for the menstrual phase everyone can listen to and again journal on after the meditation is complete. Once more sharing is optional.
I like to incorporate a ritual for sealing in the first bleed for the participant. Here are a few ideas on how to do that. If you have access to an outdoor space you might start by taking the circle outside. The matriarch figure and the first time bleeder will both stand by each other outside. You can either both start to jog together or walk together and slowly have the first time bleeder start to run or walk a bit faster than the matriarch figure signaling to them they are ready to start flying and leading themselves into the next stage of life.
Another idea is to give the person celebrating their first period a special gift such as their first moonly box and a piece of jewelry. Having someone come to do henna, or an astrology reading for the bleeder, or everyone does an abhyanga practice and the first time bleeder has the matriarch in her family perform it on her. Decide what practice would most resonate for the special event.
Finally you will gather back in the original circle and have everyone write one to three intentions of how they want to feel the next menstrual cycle or lunar cycle. Feel free to share the most powerful statement with the group.
Close the circle by everyone counting to three and throwing your head back to howl at the moon to honor their inner wild woman.
Next if you have snacks and teas you can have a social hour and do any other activities, games or just gathering to talk with each other. Usually a two to three hour ceremony is an ideal time to complete the gathering.
Honoring the first period at home
If your bleeder would not enjoy a big social commitment but you want to make it more special below are a few ideas on how to honor that day for your bleeder.
- Have a school skip day. If school is in session let them have a day with you to celebrate. You take a day off work if possible and let the bleeder decide where they want to eat, what activity, if any, they want to do that day for a bonding day.
- You could give them the already crafted menstrual cycle moonly box
- You could buy a special piece of jewelry for them to wear, maybe moon themed.
- Have a weekend retreat in the woods
- Attend a yoga retreat or other fun retreat style weekend that both of you might enjoy.
Period doesn’t have to be a dirty word. It doesn’t have to be something that is hidden in the back of a bathroom. Instead, it can be something that truly empowers you to seek the inner wisdom your body naturally has. It’s not just associated with the physical body, but also the emotional and energetic body. It truly is a gift that offers wisdom into your health each and every month. It’s one that should be paid attention to and understood by each and every person with a menstrual cycle.
Understanding how to get to the root cause of your menstrual discomforts using Ayurveda is something that I hope you learned and have many takeaways with where to start with your own healing journey. The time is now to take back the power to your own health and wellness. Share this book with anyone you feel could benefit from understanding about their menstrual cycle from a holistic lens. The time is now to start to slow down, tune in and connect back to your inner wisdom.
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