Menarche in Schools

RachadminMenstrual Health, Moon Lodge/Red Tent, Musings

Menarche Work in Primary Schools (written 2005)
Imagine a school that embraced Celebrating Menarche- a school that invited mothers of young girls to come and talk openly about the changes women face in puberty, to honour their daughters rite of passage and explore their own journey with their moon flow, a school that promoted eco sanitary wear and allowed their students to wear their moon necklaces with pride!
This has been a vision of mine for many years and the vision has begun to manifest!
In 2005 I was invited to run a Celebrating Menarche Workshop at a local primary school! Initially the idea was for me to come to school and talk to the young women about menstruation, sanitary wear and celebrating their menarche- but I had other ideas! I insisted that the mothers be involved- after all, what is the point of honouring a girl’s menstruation if she was going home to a family that held it as taboo? I knew that for girls to truly honour their cycle they need the support of their mothers, and of course many mothers don’t know the secrets our bleeding time holds- so I had to be able to address these issues; support the mothers to support their daughters!I discussed this with the school and they agreed, deciding it would be best to tie the workshop in with their sex education classes. So we planned to run the workshop one evening in November.
Five mothers and their daughters arrived at the school and were amazed at the transformation of one of the class rooms- we had moved back the tables and chairs, I cleared the energies of the room using Reiki symbols, scattered the floor with furry beanbags and soft red velvet cushions. I created an altar in the middle; spreading a red glittery cloth on the floor, lighting candles and incense, adding my goddess figures, some crystals, shells, precious beads and stones, flowers, pictures, water collected from all the ceremonies and altars I have made and lastly I sprinkled it with chocolate and glitter! The atmosphere was completely changed!Playing in the background was my “women’s workshops” CD- a mix of inspirational female musicians- from Peru to Sinead O’Connor, Madonna to Carolyn Hillyer, and so the evening began.

Initially I could sense the apprehension from both the girls and their mothers- for some of them they were stepping in to a mystery they had no comprehension of, but they were courageous and willing and I honoured them for that. We began with a reading of quotes I had gathered from books and women I have met- describing their menarche, we each took a turn to speak a little about ourselves (I learned that the ages ranged from 7-10 years old and one of the mothers shared that she was menstruating that evening!) and went over the ground rules for the group. The rest of the evening was spent sharing some chamomile and rose tea, listening to a menarche story, having hand massages, discussions, making moon necklaces (one to represent our bleeding time and one for ovulation), we looked at choices in sanitary products and had an opportunity to browse my collection of ‘Menstruation Literature’ that travels with me from women’s group to women’s group, moon lodge to moon lodge!
The evening flew by and everyone wished for more time, remarks from mums and daughters were “what gentleness”, “a great idea for girls and women!” “It was better that we expected- we really enjoyed it” “Reminded me my cycle is something to celebrate” “a wonderful chance to be close and focus on our relationship”, “my daughter was very apprehensive but soon relaxed”, “I liked the shrine, the sweets, tea, bead making, massage, being in a circle, the massage oil and the incense!” “Thank you very very much” “how do we get more women doing this?”
The evening felt like an enormous break through for my menarche work- and I trust that this ripple will spread … goddess knows where!

© 2005 Rachael Hertogs, All Rights Reserved