A Menopause Monologue

“A cyclical shape/structure ( as opposed to linear Aristotelian male orgasm shape/structure) is a female shape/structure, like the Wheel of The Year, like the cyclical menstrual cycle.

What else?

This circular repetitive structure is ubiquitous in paganism – Wicca etc. Like the Maiden Mother Crone cycle, like the Wheel of The year. Paganism perceives life as cyclic, circular, repetitive, coming around again. Connecting with menstruation, and  menopause is the ending of that cyclic life structure.

Do you remember your last period?

Menopause is something that you only become aware of after it has happened.

Do you remember your last period?

Panos by Carina Úbeda

Panos by Carina Úbeda

Our culture makes menstruating women invisible – tampons conceal the blood, sanitize and…what is the word? …Sanitize and deny the existence of menstruation. So that when it ends nobody’s any the wiser.

During the last 3 or 4 years of my periods I consciously chose to use reusable sanitary towels which had to be washed and dried and folded between uses. There was a kind of flappy thing with press studs that popped into my knickers and the clean towel was tucked into this sling. I had to change the towels every time I bled – like every little flow or drop stained the towel. In order to cut down the mess and to stay hygienic  each towel  had to be soaked in water immediately after removing it – or they became permanently stained. They were made in a fluffy kind of brushed cotton, and off-white – they stained easily.

Because the towels had to be changed and soaked at every drop and drip it was difficult to leave the house, a job of work was impossible. I managed a bookshop at the time – a front-facing customer service role – and I couldn’t have just left the floor, gone to the loo, put the soiled towel into a bucket of salt water and left it in the staff toilet, so I arranged to stay home during my periods, I used my holiday allowance visiting ‘auntie’. This made it important, it made my periods  important, it made me aware of them , to respect the blood flow. I felt I got to know my body more in those few years, how my cycles and needs shifted, than at any other time. It was very empowering, very empowering. I made my cycle visible, acknowledged, not denied, not hidden.

Do you remember your last period?

What else?

Invisibility. Invisible if you’re pregnant, invisible if you’re a mother, invisible if you’re childless.

This is all fitting together. Invisibility, invisibility of periods, cyclic periods, cyclic structure, cyclic time, cyclic pagan-time, cyclic pagan-year.

Do you remember your last period?

Is Paganism feminist? It can be goddess-oriented, but I’m not sure it’s Feminist. Is goddess-worship the same as Feminist? Pagan feminists? Feminist pagans? I don’t know. Just because my Paganism is green, feminist, goddess, earth, animal welfare oriented, I don’t think most Pagans are. In fact, the vast majority of Pagans are…I don’t like this train of thought. Think something else.

What else?

Maiden Mother Crone

(chants) We all come from the Goddess and to her we shall return, like a drop of rain falling to the ocean. Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, all that dies shall be reborn. Corn and grain, corn and grain, all that falls shall rise again.

Cyclic.

We are a circle within a circle, with no beginning and never-ending.

Starhawk, obviously, Spiral Dance. Feminist Pagan Eco-Warrior, par for the course.

What else?

What else?

I remember my last period.

It was Lammas sunset seven years ago. I hadn’t had a period for over six months.

I was at a Pagan Ritual Camp with 200 or 300 other Pagans. It was the last night  of the camp and we had built the Wickerman , processed him through the fields and were taking him to the fire-pit to be burned and I remember passing the Priestess, Carol, skyclad under an Oak, welcoming the procession into the field and I felt SO happy, So fucking happy, so completely at one  with it all, In that place, in that ritual, in that time.

We were casting the circle, and they lit the Wickerman, and suddenly  I burst into tears, I couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop. I had to leave the ritual circle and go cry in my tent. I cried hard night long.  I cried a cosmic grief in the pain of the childless mother.

Next morning I woke up and there was blood in my knickers and I thought “Oh wow! That’s what that was all about”.

Lammas is the harvest  ritual, is about reaping what you sow, is about reward.

My reward that year was infertility, barrenness, I don’t like those words – I wish there were more positive words for childlessness.

What else?

Is it over yet?

Has time run out for this monologue?

Or is it just my time that has run.”

This piece was originally written during a week of theatre workshops with RashDash physical theatre group, and was subsequently performed with Scramble Ensemble -women’s theatre collective, on 6th September 2017 at J2 The Cambridge Junction.
The image is of Panos by Carina Úbeda, a chilean artist who created an installation with used cloth sanitary towels mounted in embroidery hoops, embroidered with solgans.

Bella Basura 2017

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Jean Dark

The Short Answer Chapbook for sale here 

2 thoughts on “A Menopause Monologue

  1. Interesting Jean; i remember writing a few articles and poems when i was at that stage of life; often about acknowledging the crone or the dark goddess. This time of life does tend to cause one to pause and think about things; we become imbued with a different kind of energy. I personally found it to be a very ‘freeing’ and amazing time when i could be totally me. Like you i too viewed my periods as sacred and honoured this fact each month in a scred way; though those time do seem a long time ago now.
    In the path i follow we view life as a spiral, travelling around in a circle/cycle but always coming around to not quite the same place as we started, so thus not stuck in the circle but forever evoving along and up the spiral to a different phase.
    Warm blessings
    Janis x

    • Yes, the returning of cycles, like spirals, is a very good way to see it. I think that when I started menopause I felt the need to deeply focus on the monthly cycle, concentrating on the moon phases provided an external point of return even when I didn’t bleed. Gave me great strength. Thank you for reading my pieces, Janis I appreciate your comments, thank you.

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