Menstrual Rites Of The Native Americans

menstrual-ritual-native-americanOf all of the different approaches and attitudes towards menstruation, the Native Americans had it right in so many ways – well, in my opinion. Unlike the European American Christians who ultimately drove Native Americans off of their lands, and largely away from their rituals, menstruation was by no means a biblical curse to the Indians. (In those early American Christian fundamentalist sects, if a woman wasn’t pregnant in, she wasn’t in her natural state.)

In fact, in many North American native tribes, menstruation involved a strong oral tradition, rituals, ceremonies and more. While women might have been restricted from cooking or sleeping with men during her period, this had nothing to do with shame. In fact, many Native American women were treated with an amazing amount of reverence when they were menstruating.

As I mentioned in my other post about ancient menstrual rites, a lot of the belief in a woman’s capacity for other worldly powers stemmed from her ability to bleed, oftentimes profusely, without dropping dead. Some tribes actually believed that women were the embodiment of a holy person during their periods. Others believed that women’s bodies were purifying themselves during this time.

Perhaps most fascinating of all, is that many tribes believed women were more powerful, spiritually, during their periods – and that they even had special intuitive powers. Some Native American tribe members would call upon menstruating women for their advice, insight, guidance, or to connect them to higher powers.

Menstrual huts were also big amongst the Native American tribes. During the heaviest four days of their period, wives would leave their homes and go to this separate menstrual lodge to commune with other women. Since women tend to mense together, these lodges were often quite full and the women inside we encouraged to engage in some serious “girl time” by discussing female issues and indulging in creative pursuits like storytelling and arts and crafts.

Plus, when a girl would hit puberty in a Native American tribe, it was nothing like the shame and secrecy we experience today. Native American puberty rituals were big celebratory events for a village. Early European settlers noted that the Cheyenne and Apache tribes were particularly open about menstruation – often announcing a girl’s first period to the entire village with pride. Imagine if your dad broadcast your first period all over Facebook. How different we are!


Jing Jin, Chief Harmony Officer
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# Renee 2013-11-24 06:44
Muchas Gracias Jingtastic! I am incredibly appreciative to have found your post, as well as become further enlightened in embracing a deeper understanding of my body during this very special occurance, I wish to embrace more positive energy and a stronger intuitiveness, indeed!~
# Jing 2013-11-24 10:01
Dear Renee, Welcome to our tribe! We look forward to sharing this wonderful journey with you. If you haven't joined, please sign up for a free membership account and share your thoughts and feelings with us inside our member-only forum. "See you" inside :)
# Isabelle 2013-02-10 07:35
It's crazy that half the population menstruates and yet we don't talk about it... And we feel inadequate for things so natural and common as pain and pms. This website is a great initiative!
# Jingtastic 2013-02-14 18:14
Thank you Isabelle. This is exactly what inspired me to create the Cycle Harmony website. I hope you'll join us in this initiative. All you need to do is to sign up for a free account - and share your thoughts, feelings, experiences, challenges and triumphs. We're here to support one another!
# April 2013-01-21 19:03
How I would love to spend a week with my sisters, during my time of the month. I imagine that it would be a time of fellowship between the women.. Commiserating together, offering remedies for cramps, probably a whole lot of socializing going on too.. And let's be honest, a bit of a break from the everyday life. Maybe I'm romanticizing it, but I feel in my heart I'm not.
# Jingtastic 2013-01-28 21:21
April, I'm with you. We all long for the sweet sisterhood and the genuine connection with our sisters. That's the reason we created an online red tent - a place women can freely share their menstrual experiences. Hope to see you there. Simply sign up to become a free member and join the conversation at our private social media page :)
# Jingtastic 2012-08-07 14:31
Thank you so much for sharing Heather! I'm so delighted to hear that you've taken steps to create a healthier lifestyle and achieved amazing results! Please join our "30-day Challenge to a Healthier Lifestyle." Share your goals, challenges, triumphs, and tips with other women :) Click this link and join us!
# Heather 2012-08-06 17:16
It has been quite a while since I last posted in fact I had forgotten that I had ever posted here lol until I looked through my email and it showed that there are new comments to this place. I just wanted to share that I have recently learned that eating healthier foods before and during the moontime is very beneficial to easing the pain and pms symptoms that make it very miserable. I encourage you all to eat only natural foods, fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, lots of water. And to cut out the processed and fatty, and very sweet foods out of your eating routine during this time. You will be amazed at the results! Nature's way is the best! And your moontime will be much easier to deal with and will be much more of a blessing rather than a curse to endure! Aho M'sit Nagoma (Mi'kmaq for All my Relations) : )
# Jingtastic 2012-07-03 16:53
I agree with Nichola. We need to create a sacred place to honor our body and get in touch with a deeper part of ourselves. I'm creating my little full moon ritual tonight. Can't wait :)
# nichola 2012-07-03 08:38
A safe place to feel human and inspirerd sounds so good and need in my life in honoring my body
# Jing 2011-11-12 11:30
MsTree, you have a very enlightened attitude about menstruation. I respect you for that. Bleeding for up to 9 months at a time seems very usual though. Have you seen a doctor and get a checkup? It may not be a bad idea. Here's a meditation I learned from IX Chel that has given me some deep insights. When I'm menstruating, I focus my attention on my womb, and ask what it wants to tell me. Then I wait to hear or see or feel what the message is there for me. Sometimes it doesn't come right away. I just wait... This medication has given me some deep insights...
MsTree Amythest
# MsTree Amythest 2011-11-12 07:52
I have found good insight in your post. Thank you. I am Native American and am always tryin to learn about my culture. I have issues with menstruation where I bleed for up to 9 months at a time... I have been seeking ways to cope with this and not see it as an all bad thing. There has to be a purpose a reason why it can continue for so long. Is there any rituals or ways to help me find peace with this that you have not mentioned in this post or the other on menstrual rituals?
# Holly 2012-11-28 20:36
I was diagnosed with pcos when I was 13 and all the doctors I've ever been to said to take birth control pilsl for it. Most doctors would probably tell you the same thing. A few months ago, I talked to a guy who knows a lot about naturopathic treatments with vitamins and herbs. He said it was possible to regulate naturally. I thought that might be worth trying because there might be potentially less long-term side effects. I don't know for sure if the same things I'm taking would be useful to you, but they might be. I'm taking iodine, alpha lipoic acid, shatavari, ashwaghanda, and progesta-care brand progesterone cream. You can e-mail me if you want. It might be good for you to consider seeing a naturopath. Maybe functionalmedic would be useful? You can e-mail me if you want.
# Jingtastic 2012-12-05 23:07
Holly, so glad to hear that you're pursuing a natural path to healing. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, and best wishes to you on your journey. I hope you'll join our community by signing up for a free account - and join our conversations on feminine health and empowerment...
# Jing 2011-10-24 15:52
Thank you for sharing your experience Mary. Sympathy and compassion and love are the key ingredients for this important event in our lives, irregardless of forms...
Heather Gray
# Heather Gray 2011-06-07 05:43
I know that all my life my period was so painful, and yes it was alwasy considered a bad thing usually. I was raised a Christian and it was considered to curse. And during the period, while I was in pain from the cramps and sick and throwing up. I would be god to take the pain away, to stop punishing me. I felt weak and pathetic. It is amazing to me to learn now that moontime is a time of power....I want to learn more somehow...
# Austeja 2012-11-09 05:28
Then read this:
I always felt like there is something I don't know about my period, it seemed like an irrational torture. This small reading has actually changed my perception. :)
# Jingtastic 2012-11-24 11:53
I feel the same way Austeja. Our feminine body is so mysterious - always inviting us to learn more and dive deeper. Thanks for sharing the book. I look forward to reading it :)
Mary Hannah
# Mary Hannah 2011-10-20 17:02
I am so sorry. While my mom is pretty conservative and Roman Catholic, she helped me through my first menstruation with sympathy and compassion. Certainly not celebratory, but still so much better that what most girls go through.
# Jingtastic 2012-11-24 11:55
Mary, it's wonderful that you had such a bonding with your mother during your first menstruation. I appreciate your attitude of gratitude :)
# Jingtastic 2011-06-08 13:15
Heather, when we change how we perceive our menstrual experience and what it means to us, our actual experience will also change with this shift in perception. I encourage you to create some form of menstrual rituals to tune in and get in touch with your feminine power from within. You may be interested in reading a couple of posts I wrote about how to create your own menstrual rituals. Have fun!
# FernGully 2013-11-10 23:02
My uterus tried to kill me, when I was young. No joke. I never used tampons, and didn't have regular periods until I was about 22, but until then - when I did have them I would literally be sick. Toxic Shock Syndrome. Fever. Chills. Vomiting. Diarrhea. This stuck once at school; I was gripping my desk, trying not to pass out, and sweating. My teacher said she looked at me and I looked green. A sickly, pale green.

It's not perception - women's bodies are not all the same. They function differently. I was very active during my high school years, playing sports year round and running. I was a vegetarian. I was very healthy and fit - but my uterus never-the-less wanted to do me in.

I don't know what happened, but I hit 22 and they stopped trying to kill me, and were every 27 days! Go figure.
Anthony Devlin
# Anthony Devlin 2011-01-10 11:00
Imagine if our society were only half as open as our Ancestors? Society would be a much better and most likely safer place!!!!
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Jing Jin My name is Jing. I founded to inspire and empower my sisters around the world to honor our menstrual cycles and embrace the vibrant, radiant women we were born to be.

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