books- The Selling of Contraception & The Pill

RachadminBook Reviews

I’ve been re- reading The Selling Of Contraception by Nicole Grant.
In all honesty this book has again totally shocked me with information about contraceptives I knew nothing about!
It’s an incredibly informative book- if you have ever wanted to know more about the side effects of contaceptives (particulaly IUDs) then ths book is for you. I think what i found most surprising is the amount of suppression from doctors about the dangers…and doing further research finding out many that are banned in the US are available in the UK- the hormone IUS for example!
see for pictures and info on the Dalkon IUD.

The Selling of Contraception
The Dalkon Shield Case, Sexuality, and Women’s Autonomy
Nicole J. Grant

“Nicole Grant does a good job of explaining how, during the second half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, the state and medical experts usurped the management of female fertility, and then transformed ‘birth control’ into a lucrative business and a remunerative political proposition. She reviews the sordid details of the development and marketing of the Dalkon Shield and goes on to provide a new dimension to the work that has been done on this issue. . . . Grant’s portrayal of the discussions of the IUD within and beyond the medical community is a tour de force.” —Women’s Review of Books

“Impressively researched: a worthy addition to the study of women’s need for increased control of their own lives” —Kirkus Reviews

“Grant makes a strong case for the right of women at all class levels to be able to choose freely, and on an informed basis, their reproductive options. She argues that the lack of scientific data on the Dalkon Shield, at first, and then corporate greed in withholding all negative reports and fighting them when they finally began to appear subverted that freedom. The Selling of Contraception contains a fine blend of material from the legal perspective and some excellent interview material with women users, injured and uninjured by this device” —Simon Dinitz, The Ohio State University

In this brutal indictment of the birth control industry, Nicole J. Grant documents the history of the Dalkon Shield case and places the controversy within a larger historical and social context, examining the ways in which social conditions affect women’s choices about contraception.

Drawing upon an analysis of thirty years’ worth of articles in medical journals and popular magazines, family planning literature, medical texts, government documents, and transcripts from interviews with women discussing procreative choices, Grant examines the IUD’s place in the history of contraception and the politics of bringing the Dalkon Shield to the market, including the commercial bias of the device’s inventor and chief medical consultant. She discusses the dissemination of false and misleading advertising about the device, the manufacturer’s disregard of evidence suggesting that it was unsafe, and the stake of various family planning agencies in promoting its use. She goes on to examine the social conditions under which women chose to use the Dalkon Shield and considers the fact that many women, wishing to exercise control over procreation, freely selected it over alternative forms of contraception, even though they knew there were association risks.

According to Grant, the Dalkon Shield case is not a historical anomaly. Today, advances in technology are making new methods of contraception available to women, but these methods carry risks as serious as those associated with the Dalkon Shield. Moreover, the social context in which women are making decisions about contraception is much the same as it was during the time when the Dalkon Shield was widely used. Grant concludes her study by proposing ways in which women can enhance their informed risk/benefit analysis of all options while maintaining their autonomy.

Nicole J. Grant is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Ball State University. She is the author of several articles on sexuality and birth control.

another book worth a read is The Pill – are you sure its for you? by Jane Bennett and Alexandra Pope
Again I was really shocked reading this book and relieved I have never had any length of time on The Pill- totally recommended to any young women thinking of taking it.

This book explores the physical and psychological repercussions of taking the pill – from side effects, like weight gain and depression to cancer, to effective alternative methods of contraception.


While the Pill is taken by most women and girls at some stage in their lives, few realise it is not without side-effects. Clear links have been made to depression, nausea, headaches and migraines, as well as a loss of libido. (my emphasis- Rachael)
Contrary to what most of us believe, it is not a failsafe contraception. Around 2 in 10 women do conceive while taking the Pill. Others experience difficulties conceiving after coming off this drug. There are also nutritional concerns, which can affect the health of subsequent children long after you have stopped taking it.

So what is the Pill, how does it work and what does it do to your body? If not the Pill, then how else can you control your fertility in casual or long-term relationships? Are hormonal implants and injections any better? If you’re about to come off the Pill, what are the best ways to reclaim your health and wellbeing? And what can you look forward to when your body returns to its natural rhythm?

Accessible, informed, inspired, The Pill. Are you sure it’s for you? provides you with a wealth of case studies and information that will help you make the choice you want for your body.

Menstrual Activism

RachadminGuest Writings, Menstrual Health, Musings

How do we change attitudes towards Menstruation and ‘Sanitary Products’?

Even if you dont fancy cloth pads- switch to organic Natracare ones- and if your local store does not supply them, demand that they do! (Chlorine-free disposables without applicators are available at most health food stores. These products shouldn’t contain deodorants, perfumes and known irritants which interfere with the natural chemistry of a woman’s body and which we do not need.)

Women are 80% of this country’s consumers (- and 100% of menstrual product consumers!)…so use your consumer clout and demand safer, chemical free products! (products that are safe for the cotton workers as well as the product buyer!)

Tell the major producers how you feel. Use the 1-800 number on the box of your product, or visit the Tampax web site
Demand chlorine-free products.

Request reduced packaging of all  products- not just menstrual products!

Write letters to your government or MP asking for stricter control over menstrual products. Currently, they fall into a loophole where there is little regulation. Any company can put out their product without proper testing.

Tell your friends what you know and how you feel. Menstruation is an amazing part of some woman’s life. Don’t hide it. Talk about it.

A better alternative is to buy your own set of five to ten washable pads. They are easy to use, cute to look at, and comfortable. Just use them, soak them in cold water, and cold water wash them with your regular laundry.

Moon Times moves


So we are still building our temporary premises in Pembrokeshire!! The wind and rain have made things a bit of a struggle but we hope that today it will be all ready to move in!
Life feels so much more ‘spacious’ here…. pace is slower, there is more time to ponder, wander and just ‘be’.

I’m relieved we’ll be all settled in by the time my Moon arrives this month 🙂


[guest blog] mooncup poem

RachadminGuest Writings, Musings

Thank goodness for wonderful friends on facebook finding new friends for me who write on my kind of topics!

Todays fabulous offering is from Tracey Smiths Blog- a poem about her Mooncup! 🙂 brilliant!…

A New, Green Time of the Month – by Tracey Smith

The time of the month was approaching,

And the time had arrived to say ‘NO’,

I’d been using disposable wotsits,

Internal and pad style….you know.


I added the cost up one morning

Of a couple of boxes a month,

Plus the liners with wings, all ends up in the bin,

20 quid mopping up me own blood.


But it wasn’t just that that inspired me,

I’ve been thinking about it for years,

Those tiny bleached-white little wotsits,

In my deepest dark creases, I’ve fears.

That they’re not really meant to be up there,

We’re designed to just let it all flow,

It’s like blocking a dam, with a fleecy fat ram,

With no bloody exit to go.


And I reckon that’s why we get cramp there,

The body’s a clever ole thing,

With that mouse in the way, it’s the body’s own way,

Of squeezing it out AND the string!


And one day I sat down at the pooter,

I spent time researching and by chance I,

Found a great stack of links, between these little white things,

That I’d trusted for years, linked to cancers.


So I made up my mind there and then, it was time,

For alternative period attire,

In me lunch-break, I nipped into Bootses,

Disposable Only on those shelves; how dire.


So I went to a Natural Health shop,

Expecting hippies with roll ups and dreads,

But the lady inside was quite ‘normal’ (a Brummie),

Not a Rizzla in sight and she said.


‘I’ve taken a consignment of Mooncups,

And I’ve organic and plain cotton pads,

There’s a press stud on the edge of the wing bits,

Grips yer knicker gusset right tight, they’re just mad!’


I’m a gal of the world in me 40’s,

But this language was alien to me,

What in the name of sweet Jesus is Mooncup?

And why are pads 15 quid for 3?


She explained their reusable status,

Mooncups sit very comfortably inside,

But the thing was the width of an egg cup,

Then I thought about willies, and said ‘That sounds fine’!


She said, ‘Best you go home and practice,

Get to grips with it before the time comes’,

I got shot of my lot for the evening,

Said it was me, Patrick Swayze and mum!


The pads were dead easy to put on,

Super thin, easy fix, no turmoil,

She assured me I wouldn’t have leakage,

And they wash at mid-temps, not a boil.


But the Mooncup sat there on the table,

Stared at me and I stared back at it,

How on earth was it going to go up there?

And come out, with blood inside, from me bits.


I had visions of the Texas chainsaw massacre,

Claret all over the loo walls and floor,

Then there was the job of rinsing the thing,

And sliding it back in and waiting for more!


I girded me loins, ripped me drawers off and opened the box,

You could just cut the tension,

It was like waiting for the nurse to go in with a speculum for a smear,

I could have sucked dry 20 Benson.


I checked curtains were drawn, put one leg on the chair and looked round,

Was just me and the cat,

I read, ‘Pinch the top for easy insertion’ then limply giggled,

Why was I being a twat?


With a mirror poised under the table,

And a pile of clean towels on the chair,

I thought this just isn’t going to happen,

I can’t get this thingie up there.


‘Oh just do it’, I yelled, right out loud to myself,

And I pressed together the silicone lips,

I took it down to where the sun don’t shine,

Lost me grip, twanged me nadge and yelled ‘Shit’!


I gave up, put the kettle on and reached for the custard cremes,

It was time for a break,

As the feeling returned to my inner and outer labia,

T’was soon time to try again.


With dry fingers I did as the instructions explained,

And it slid right on in with no hitch,

Twist it around to fit comfortably snug in your bits,

And I did; clever chick!


But getting it in’s only half of the game,

I’ll walk about, and whip it out, in a mo,

Then the phone went, was me mum, ‘Was I supposed to come around’ she said,

And I laughed and said, ‘No’.


‘Look I’ll pop over’ I said,

Grabbed the keys and the pads and receipt, I know, I’ll liberate her!

But my mums better switched onto the eco than I thought,

She’d just found a recycling scheme for vibrators!


So we giggled about the new pads and the cup,

And I realised I’d forgotten it was in there,

I went up to the loo, grabbed the tail, popped it out,

Easy stuff; no more wotsits for me now.


(C) Tracey Smith 2011

Incidentally, if you’d like more information on the wonderful Mooncup, please visit Moon Times (and for washable sanitary wear)


I use both and wish I’d known about them years ago…

Ask Aunt Flo….heavy periods

RachadminAunt Flo Answers, Menstrual Health

Dear Aunt Flo,

My daughter is 12 and has had her period for about a year.  She is suffering from very heavy periods and our GP wants to try her on the Pill which I am totally against ….do you have any suggestions?
Ruth, Merseyside

Hi Ruth,
My daughter suffered from heavy periods too! A herbalist suggested a liver cleanse drink- which I did with her, It normalised her periods and we both felt really healthy- our skin glowed and we had more energy too! It tastes a bit like salad dressing though! I added more apple juice than the recipe below to make it taste better!
Good Luck, Aunt Flo xxx

Liver cleanse:

Supporting the liver has amazing results with menstrual problems!

Below is a Liver Tonic drink:

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Juice of ½ lemon

1 clove of garlic

1 glass of Apple juice

1/8th inch of Ginger

Blend and drink each morning for 3 days, then reduce to 1 morning a week until menstruation. Avoid dairy products pre-menstrually.

The health and vitality of every organ, gland, and cell are dependent upon the liver. Even our intelligence, attitudes, emotions and vitality are largely related to the liver. Our ability to repel disease or recover from disease is very much associated with this incredible organ. The liver, along with the heart and brain, are the most important organs in our bodies. However, even the heart and the brain are dependent on the liver. No one can be healthy without a strong, clean liver.

(added in 2018, I would recommend reading Anthony Williams Liver Rescue book, also Lara Bridens Period Repair Manual )

© 2008 Rachael Crow, all Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: Any health advice that I give is my opinion based on my general professional experience but not your specific case. As such, you should always seek the advice of your own health professionals.

Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods or supplements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are therefore not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

You are advised to do your own due diligence when it comes to making decisions about and all information, products, services that have been provided should be independently verified by your own qualified professionals. By reading this guide, you agree that my company and myself are not responsible for your health or the health of your dependents.

Ask Aunt Flo..IBS

RachadminAunt Flo Answers, Menstrual Health

Dear Aunt Flo, I’ve been suffering from IBS for a year or so- I’ve tried loads of different things- changing my diet, herbal remedies, de-stressing techniques etc.

Recently my doctor mentioned that IBS can be a pre-menstrual symptom and she suggested I note when my IBS is worse- and the outcome the last 2 months has been that it flares up pre-menstrually! I wondered if you have any tips for alleviating this? Are there any herbal remedies?

Thank you , Sara

Hi Sara
IBS is mostly caused by stress- so it would make sense that women can suffer with IBS pre-menstrually.

I would treat IBS similarly to PMT. Firstly plenty of rest and relaxation – make some time for yourself, time to just ‘be’. Create your own ‘moon lodge’, a quiet space to meditate in, do yoga, write, dream, draw, sew or make things.

Eating a healthy balanced diet is important. Try to avoid foods like coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar and anything containing sugar, artificial flavourings and colourings, processed foods, wheat and wheat products, meat, cigarettes, drugs, chocolate, fizzy caffeinated drinks, milk and milk products- basically all the refined and junk foods in the pre menstrual phase.
Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and healthy stuff that allows your body to detoxify for awhile. It’s only for a few days- try it and notice the difference! By giving our bodies the nutrients it needs (essential for a healthy body and healthy cycle!) our PMT becomes more manageable and as our body is supported and nurtured our body will support us on the other levels- mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Herbal teas are great- either see a herbalist or look in health food shops for ready made menstrual mixes.
Certain vitamins and minerals can be useful. Aromatherapy products can work really well.

Exercise is another important factor – try going for a run or a bit of yoga- you won’t feel like doing it- but it will be worth a try! And don’t forget orgasms are a great way to release tension from the pelvic area!

Our relationship to our reproductive organs or female parts is a reflection of our own ease or dis-ease with our feminine expression in the world. As you heal and address your relationship with your cycle your IBS PMT will decrease.

Best Wishes, Aunt Flo xxx

© 2009 Rachael Hertogs, all Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: Any health advice that I give is my opinion based on my general professional experience but not your specific case. As such, you should always seek the advice of your own health professionals.

Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods or supplements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are therefore not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

You are advised to do your own due diligence when it comes to making decisions about and all information, products, services that have been provided should be independently verified by your own qualified professionals. By reading this guide, you agree that my company and myself are not responsible for your health or the health of your dependents.

Sacred Flower


A Woman’s yoni, her sacred flower, is her gateway to the universal creative energies. This sacred gateway can connect you to the secrets, joys and pain in the lives of women through the world, and those who have gone before. Always remember how special, beautiful and unique your Yoni is and work to connect, heal, love and honour your blessed Yoni!!




© 2010 Rachael Hertogs, All Rights Reserved






Celebrating Your Moon Time!

RachadminMenstrual Health, Moon Lodge/Red Tent, Musings

Celebrating Your Moon Time! By Rachael Hertogs

o Contemplate your first period and be grateful to your body for
all the years it has supported you and for all you have gone through – your life has brought you to where you are now!
o Give your period a name that creates affirmative thoughts about it; Moon Time, my moon, red moon, red tide, scared cycle, moon cycle, my flow, my sacred time, my special time…..
o Make a special Menstruation cushion for you to sit on while you bleed
o Sew a soft red bag to keep your sanitary wear in
o Chart your cycle so you know when you are due, and book a day off!
o Create an intention at each bleeding time to use the magic of your blood to bring healing in to your life
o Give yourself a henna hand tattoo
o Wear red knickers
o Rest and relax- have a massage, do gentle yoga, sit by the fire, chant, meditate etc
o Use soft comfortable cloth menstrual pads
o Make a menstrual journal and record your dreams, visions, feelings during your Moon Time
o Ask a friend/partner to cook your favourite meal
o Create a peaceful place (your personal moon lodge/red tent); dedicate a room to your moon time ; decorate the room with fabrics and candles
o Make a red silk dream pillow stuffed with relaxing herbs- only to use when you’re bleeding! (sleep herbs are chamomile, lavender & lemon balm, for a Menstrual pillow use hops, rose petals, lavender and mugwort)
o Light red candles
o Choose special moon time bedding; red satin sheets or red flowers…
o Make a menstrual belt with leather strips and beads
o ‘Take a personal inventory’ before your period; complete any tasks that need finishing, say things that you may have been bottling up during the month, ‘clear you side of the street’ so you can be fully present with your Moon Time.
o Wear a red scarf
o Stock up on good foods for your bleeding time
o Drink red juice- grape, pomegranate, cherry, cranberry, beetroot
o Begin a women’s circle; meet with friends and share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences of your cycle.
o Make a Moon Time Altar, choose special items that reflect your moon time and support the meditative qualities of this time of the month.
o Buy or make a special moon time necklace to wear when you bleed
o Eat red foods- beetroot, apples, cherries, strawberries, pomegranates, red onions, red peppers, cranberries, raspberries
o Buy herbal teas and tinctures that ease your menstruation
o Turn off the TV, your mobile phone, the computer, the lights and sit in candle light
o Wear red lipstick!
o Read inspirational women’s books
o Leave water out under the full moon, drink it and let the moons energy fill you
o Have someone braid/comb your hair
o Splash or spray yourself with Rose water
o Sing a song to Grandmother Moon
o Buy or make a special Moon Jar/container to keep your Moon Time things in, such as cloth pads/moon cup, jewellery, belts, altar items, fabrics, candles etc
o Paint or henna your nails
o Make a Moon Lodge; a place for bleeding women to gather, sing, relax & share women’s wisdom together.
o Read books about the Goddess
o Henna your hair
o Write in your journal about what has happened in your life since your last bleeding time.
o Meditate on the moon
o Make a list of all the things inn life that nourish you and make you happy
o Ask yourself- what is my image of a woman who embodies the scared and holy time of menstruation?
o Stay in bed all day, sleep, dream & bleed!
o Bleed directly on to the earth
o Wear a red skirt or dress
o Wash your cloth pads and sing a song to the earth while watering the ground with your blood water.
o Draw or paint, get creative- just see what comes
o Burn incense or sage and give thanks and a healing prayer- let the smoke carry your prayers in to the universe
o Honour your scared intuition, surround yourself with things that help heighten your menstrual sensory perception
o Your blood is sacred- dedicate your blood flow to healing.
o Say a prayer of gratitude when you begin to bleed each month; thanking your body for connecting you to the rhythm of life.
o Anoint yourself with scented oils
o Wear red clothes!
o Eat chocolate!
o Buy a red hot water bottle
o Paint with your blood!
o As your blood flows from you give an intention it is aiding you in letting go of anything you are holding on to that isn’t supporting your life’s choices.
o Make a belly pouch- to keep your hot water bottle at your belly (or use a scarf)
o Drum, rattle, sing, chant, then in the quiet listen to your inner voice- ask it for guidance
o Play with divination/oracle cards
o Gather your women friends for a pamper evening, give each other face masks, foot rubs and eat lovely snacks!
o Have orgasms- they ease cramps!
o Rub warm oil on your lower back and belly
o Bathe in rose petals
o Make a red hot water bottle cover to ease your cramps
o Tell your friends and family you are on your Moon Time
o Make a massage oil blend just for your bleeding time, use it every day you are bleeding.
o Give thanks to your body and tell her you love her!
o Go for a night time walk and see what phase the moon is in. make a note in your journal and compare moon phases each month.

Written in 1998 added to when inspired further by 105 Ways to Celebrate your Menstruation by Kami Mc Bride
© 2005 Rachael Hertogs, all Rights Reserved

Wise Moon Lodge at Quest 2010

RachadminMenstrual Health, Moon Lodge/Red Tent

Last Summer, we had a stall and a Moon Lodge/ Red Tent space at the Quest Natural Health Show- such fun and fantastic reception of our products…. Moon Sponges were our best seller!!


This year we have a beautiful marquee (the Wise Moon Marquee), 9mx6m, which can hold between 20 to 40 people depending on the activity taking place and a couple of stalls with info and products. The space will be shared with Olivia from Birthing Wisdom

There will be talks, workshops, films and activities for professionals and parents on the theme of pregnancy and birth but also on parenting, menstruation and menopause.

There will also be children’s activities and a creche for under 8 nearby.

Quest is a four day event for exhibition, performance, workshops and camping. It has a it own full programme of workshops starting with free yoga classes at 8.30 and then continuing throughout the day with topics such as Family Constellation, Tantra, Health and Nutrition, drum circles, angels, chanting, henna painting, didj, tree craft and many more. It also has some great entertainment, good music and dance etc.. in the evening. You can come for the day or camp.

‘Last year the sun shone, the music was great and as always Quest worked its magic in connecting everyone. The final drum circle was a glorious celebration. There were beautiful things to appreciate, delicious food to eat and a host of different therapies to explore. What’s great about Quest is that it is our local Show and Festival. Therapists are able to build on their clients and network with each other, visitors meet up with their friends and it is a chance for us all to come together to support each other and the community we live in. Each year Quest tries and improve and bring in more of what visitors have requested so this year the team is developing the outdoor entertainment with theatre and more dance, offering more for the children to do and will be hunting down some more tasty food stalls.’ (from the Quest website)

Quest 2010 will be held on
8th – 11th July
at Newton Abbot Racecourse, Devon

For more information please visit the Quest website

The full programme of talks, activities and workshops taking place in the Wise Moon Marquee will be posted here in soon!

Menarche- a Journey into Womanhood

RachadminMenarche, Menstrual Health, Musings

Menarche- a Journey into Womanhood

Published in Juno Magazine issue 20, Spring 2010, and an excerpt from the book

 ‘Menarche a Journey into Womanhood’ by Rachael Hertogs.

Rites of passage have begun to reappear in our society as we recognise the importance of honouring our young people and guiding them gently into adulthood. Ceremonies, vision quests, men’s and women’s lodges, rite of passage courses, festivals and camps are becoming more and more popular!

I have been working with women and their daughters for many years supporting them in celebrating their rite of passage. For girls there is a clear signal that their journey into womanhood has begun- with the start of their periods. The first period is known as Menarche; tribal traditions have celebrated Menarche for thousands of years- some rituals including the whole tribe, others more private among close women friends and family, some quite extreme- including genital mutilation, cutting, scarring and tattooing, other more gentle – being fed, massaged and sung to.

I believe how a young woman is guided through this experience can affect her for the rest of her life! Ask your women friends how they celebrated their first period- sadly for the majority of women it was ignored, shamed, at best explained clinically and ‘gifts’ of huge pads (sometimes huge tampons!) often terrified young girls! The menstrual cycle is a crucial element in the balance of the body, mind, spirit connection for a woman; this needs to be taught from an early age so when her cycle begins (signs can begin as early as 1 year before her blood flow) she can feel proud and excited to begin her journey of power!

I eagerly anticipated my daughters Menarche- I’d been working for a number of years around menstruation and creating pretty cloth pads for the women on my courses and their friends.

My period had started when I was 11- but Tabitha was a different build to me; very petite, so I wasn’t expecting her to start as early as I had. But soon after her 12th birthday I began to notice a ‘cycle’ to her mood swings- even chocolate cravings for a few days each month! Other physical signs were night sweats for a couple of nights, slight cramps as she ovulated (which she presumed was a tummy ache), breaking out in spots….all the usual. She’d have a few days when she felt unattractive, hated all her clothes- they didn’t fit or look right! And she would cry at the slightest thing. After about 6 months of these ‘symptoms’ one morning she came in my room as she had bled in the night and her sheets needed changing and she needed cleaning up! She was happy to have finally started but eager to wash and change.

I ran her a bath with rose bath salts and a sprinkle of lavender oil, re-made her bed while she soaked and prepared her a hot water bottle. She had the day off school and I excitedly gave her a set of pads I had made and mentioned the celebration I had planned; we would invite our girl friends over, dress in red, have red foods and drinks, bless her with gifts, songs and create a special ceremony just for her!

Oh, the look on her face, “Oh no mum!” she really wasn’t up for it!

So I had to put my excitement, my plans, my expectations to one side and listen to what she wanted.

We celebrated quite traditionally; a meal out at her favourite restaurant with her best friend and a gift of a new pair of earrings!

For the next year or so she suffered from very heavy, painful periods- she was lucky that they were very regular from the start so we knew when it would come, but it concerned me that her flow was so heavy as she was still such a slight build of a woman- and vegetarian- so I worried about her iron levels and how draining this heavy loss was making her feel. She was flooding her disposable pads at school and was constantly worried about bleeding on to her clothes. Although she loved her cloth pads- and preferred them to disposables, even finding them better at absorbing her heavy flow- but she wasn’t yet confident enough to use them at school, so we opted for the organic cotton throwaways as a compromise.

We visited a naturopath who recommended a liver cleanse drink to take for a couple of months pre-menstrually. Amazingly this totally balanced her flow (I joined her in the cleanse and felt its positive effects- more energy, clear skin and my periods became lighter! Even now I continue to do the cleanse every 6 months or so.) And her period has been ‘normal’ ever since!

And much to my joy I eventually got my wish to celebrate Tabitha with my community of women when she was 15!

I had been taking part in the Menarche Ceremony preparation at Sacred Arts Camp for a couple of years- running workshops with the young women and their mothers who were taking part; teaching them about charting their cycle, making moon necklaces, decorating red and white candles…

This particular year Tabitha came to camp with her friend who was keen to take part…so Tabi agreed to join her, choosing my best friend Nicho to be her ‘Moon Mother’ and my husband Tom as her ‘Moon Father’.

What I love about this ceremony is that it is open to any woman who hadn’t been celebrated at her menarche- as well as all the girls who have recently begun to bleed.So ages of those taking part can be from 10-40! It also involves the men, the grandmothers, the very young girls- anyone who wants to join in can have a role.

All week women meet in my moon lodge tipi to co-create the ceremony – deciding what songs will be sung, what dances to dance, finding musicians, collecting red and white clothes for the women taking part, choosing who will take which role….

Meanwhile the young women choose a Moon Mother who will attend the ceremony with them holding their hand and reassuring them, bringing them a gift, helping them to get ready, they might share blood stories with them and as part of the ceremony they dream them a ‘moon name’ the night before the ritual.

Many Moon Mother/Moon Daughter relationships continue years after the ceremony- even though girls may choose a woman who they only see once a year at camp! They also choose a Moon Father – someone older who can be another ‘wise father figure’ in their life and who will also make them a crown of leaves and flowers for the ceremony! The Moon Fathers have a powerful role in the ritual- bringing in the male energy.

Other men of the community get involved; they will meet to prepare- perhaps creating a song for the ceremony as well as sharing stories with each other about men’s traditions and honouring women! Their part in the ceremony is to ‘guard’ the sacred ceremonial space by dressing as ‘warriors’ and walking around the outside perimeter whilst drumming and chanting.

Once the Moon Fathers enter (after being challenged by the ‘Grandmothers’ -menopausal women) all the men will join the ceremony.

The ritual begins with the decorating of the big top- draping it in whatever cloths and sheets we have, flowers are placed in vases and jars, an entrance is made from willow and flowers, (the entrance is guarded by the wise grandmothers who welcome the girls in) lighting candles and incense and raising the energy by singing and chanting while we decorate and smudge ourselves with white sage!

All the women dress up- white if you haven’t begun to bleed yet,red if you’re a bleeding woman and black/purple for the menopausal women- although some women prefer just to wear any ‘dressy up’ clothes they have brought!

While this is happening the young women get ready with their moon mums in the moon lodge, being anointed with sacred water and dressing in white with a white ribbon in their hair.

Each year the ceremony is slightly different, this year, watching my daughter take part- and also taking part myself as her best friends Moon Mother was an emotional time for me! I don’t recall too much as I spent the ceremony on ‘auto pilot’ through my tears!

Walking in to a big top filled with 200+ women singing is a powerful experience! They sang and danced for the girls and their Moon Mothers, and then we left to change the girls from white to red-as each one left the space they turned and called out their name symbolizing leaving their ‘girl- child’ part of them self behind.

While we helped them change in the moon lodge, the ceremony continued with the passing of the ‘Yoni Cushion’ as a talking stick – as it passed each woman they spoke 3 words to summarise their bleeding experience- words like ‘connected, pain, loss, renewal and even -I’m not pregnant’!

After that songs and chants are shared until the young women re-enter- dressed in beautiful red clothes. The singing continues in honour of them and then there is the ceremonial hair cutting- once again symbolising the letting go of their childhood- the hair with the white ribbon is cut away and they are anointed with a red ochre crescent moon on their forehead- to remind them of their moon connection and the rhythm and flow of the moon. They drank from the sacred goblet (blackcurrant juice!) and then the Moon Mothers step forward to bless them with gifts and their new ‘moon names’ are whispered to them.

Now is the time for the men to enter! The Grandmothers had been guarding the entrance the whole time and now step back to allow the men in- first they were challenged ‘Do you come in to this space with love and respect for your sisters?’ To which of course they answered yes!

The ‘Moon Fathers’ stepped forward and crowned their Moon Daughters, as the rest of the men sang their gift song they had composed.

In return- our gift to the men for protecting our space was to share with them a blood mystery story- told by one of our amazing storytellers.

After that the musicians played, joined by the drummers and it was time to celebrate and dance the evening away!!

The young women left with their Moon Mums to go back to the moon lodge and have chocolate cake and ground after the ritual. Later that night (it was a full moon) we had a women’s sweat lodge- the perfect ending to a wonderful day!

Tabitha told me afterwards that although she had been really nervous and unsure about taking part, she was really glad she did and loved how ‘special’ she had felt!

Tabitha has been such a joy to me- such an amazing young woman who has embraced supporting me in my work, she has challenged school friends, teachers and colleagues to look at their menstruation differently and use earth and body-friendly sanitary wear. She even accompanied me to the USA to attend the Red Web Conference in 2007!

Tabitha is now 21!

To find out more about Sacred Arts Camp see

Liver cleanse:

Supporting the liver has amazing results with menstrual problems!

Below is a Liver Tonic drink:

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Juice of ½ lemon

1 clove of garlic

1 glass of Apple juice

1/8th inch of Ginger

Blend and drink each morning for 3 days, then reduce to 1 morning a week until menstruation.  Avoid dairy products pre-menstrually.

The health and vitality of every organ, gland, and cell are dependent upon the liver. Even our intelligence, attitudes, emotions and vitality are largely related to the liver. Our ability to repel disease or recover from disease is very much associated with this incredible organ. The liver, along with the heart and brain, are the most important organs in our bodies. However, even the heart and the brain are dependent on the liver. No one can be healthy without a strong, clean liver.


© 2008 Rachael Hertogs, All Rights Reserved