The Emergence of Metaformic Consciousness

by Judy Grahn, Ph.D

Adapted from her book Blood, Bread and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World. First published by Beacon Press, Boston, 1993.

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The theory of origins I am espousing is epistemological, in that it asks the question "How do we know what we know, and has that made us human beings, and different from other animals?" In postulating "the particularities of menstruation" as the source of our human uniqueness, the first quality we can notice is that ancestral humans have understood, quite reasonably, that the jelling up of menses within the womb produces a new being. Peoples have thought this regardless of how they have imagined semen as a part of the reproductive process. It is only recently that reproduction is understood as the joining of DNA from a single sperm with the DNA of a single egg which then embeds itself in the menstrual material lining the womb until the placenta develops. So it is quite reasonable for ancestral peoples to have equated menses with creative capacity in reproduction. The number of other capacities assigned to menstruation in world wide rites, practices and mythologies is quite another matter, and it is these that have attracted my attention in addressing the question of how we acquired our cultural accomplishments and the behaviors particular to us as human beings.

Creation mythologies frequently open with everything being darkness, stillness, all one undifferentiated element that then separates into the forms we know as light, water, earth, sky, and so on. Consciousness, in other words, evolved, and in this process, needed forms to contain the emerging knowledge. I call those forms metaforms, related to menstruation and its rituals.

At one time, our ancestral primates could not see the landscape of the earth, could not recognize the sun and moon as entities, and had no name for water. The ancient stories recall a time when our hominid ancestors could not perceive shape, color, light, depth, distance as we do, and had no names for them or fixed sense of their qualities. The state of being, which we call "nature," rules from inside the animal body: emotions, physiological states, estrus, and mating simply happen; they are not up for question, examination, or rearrangement. Seasons change and fur turns white or brown; the animal is moved from within to interaction with life around it, without externalizing much imagery beyond what (considerable amount) the body conveys through gesture, smell, or sound. Although the inner animal life has its known order, its own integration with the whole, its own rationalism, we rely so much on our culture that the preconscious state before our ancestors learned to think outside themselves was a state we now call Chaos—and greatly fear. Other primates have gestural and sound languages, learned culture, and may even use tools; humans differ in that humans have metaformic consciousness. While animals have mind, emotion, rich social lives, and their own forms of consciousness, we human beings have metaformic minds, metaformic consciousness, which is externalized as cultural forms, within which we live.

Separating Dark from Light

Menstrual seclusion rites in many parts of the world, as recorded over the last few centuries, typically include (among others) three basic prohibitions: the menstruating woman must not see light, she must not touch water, and she must not touch the earth. Since these same elements are differentiated in Genesis and other creation stories, I began to see how menstrual rites might have "created the world" for ancient peoples and to wonder whether the sleepers who awoke and saw landscape, who named the elements, who separated the above from the below, and darkness from light, water from earth, were informed by rites of seclusion that specified these very elements, singled them out for attention through regulations or taboos—from the Polynesian word tapua, sacred law of "the woman's friend," which is menstruation.

Human perception began, many creation stories say, when we could distinguish between light and dark. That distant ancestral eyes didn't have the perception of this distinction is easier to comprehend (how could they not see light?) if we remember that until very recently a person could walk for weeks in dense forest without seeing the sky as more than fragments of glitter through a maze of moving leaves. Not only the equatorial girdle, but much of the Northern Hemisphere was covered with dense forest in the age immediately preceding our own. Even the stark sand of the Sahara is believed to have once been forested.

In many parts of a dense forest, light never reaches the ground; it "lives" scattered in the trees, and in constant motion. A band of primates, held to a small forested area by predators and the need for leafy food, lived in a small world, one that didn't need to know the original sources of water or light, merely the keen inner senses to locate water and see with light. For it isn't that the remote ancestors didn't see light but that they saw with light, as natural as breathing. They did not see light as outside of themselves, as having a distinct source, a single place (or entity) from whence it emanated. They had no origin story of light. Once externalized light was recognized by someone, was perceived as a separate entity, how could she retain and remember it, given that prehumans by definition had no language, no marking system, nothing that we call physical culture? How could they establish noninstinctual knowledge outside of their own bodies? How did we acquire orderly minds of external measurement?

Anthropologists currently believe that the oldest continuous religion on earth is among Australian aborigines, some of whom have a deity named Rainbow Snake. According to legend, two sisters, the Wawilak Sisters, were the first to be swallowed by the Snake. This happened on the occasion when the older sister was giving birth. The younger sister began to dance while they waited for the afterbirth, and suddenly she began her first blood flow. At this instant, the Snake came out of the waterhole and wrapped itself around both of them and their newborn child. Anthropologist Chris Knight has hypothesized that the idea of the Rainbow Snake, coming from the "womb" of the waterhole, and said to "swallow" a woman when she menstruates, is an example of menstrual synchrony, evidently so central to these people—at least at one time—that "menstrual blood of three women" is a topic of women's cats-cradle games, and most rituals include "menstrual" flows.[1]

Acquiring an externally based mind required early humans to connect something outside of themselves as a frame of reference, to connect physically; and this was accomplished when the females evolved a menstrual cycle capable of synchronous rhythm, or entrainment. Entrainment is the quality of two similarly timed beats to link up and become synchronized in each other's presence. Nondigital clocks behave this way, and so do drums.[2] This quality of interactive rhythm, not being mechanical, applies as well to the periodicity of menstruation. As has been demonstrated by women volunteers and observers, menstrual periods are highly affected by the environment. Periods are easily disrupted by changes of light, travel through time zones, and severe exercise or dietary deprivation. Menstruation is a malleable cycle, and menstrual periodicity is also able to entrain: women living together and in similar circumstances will often spontaneously synchronize their periods with each other and evidently with any light source that imitates the moon's dark and light cycles. Menstruation has been disrupted by the urban environment, with its irregular lighting.[3]

The flexibility of menstrual cycles, their ability to entrain to another regular rhythm, gave ancestral females the inner tool to entrain with other females enough to notice the commonality of blood flow, and to entrain with the moon closely enough to notice it as a source of light and to differentiate its effect from darkness.

This unique cycle in correspondence with the cycles of an outside body, the waxing and waning of the moon, a body far beyond (as we learned later) the surface of the earth, taught humans to see from outside of their animal bodies and to display that knowledge externally, in physical culture. The menstrual mind became externalized because females were forced to teach its perspective to members of the family who did not menstruate. Males, in learning the pattern, greatly extended it, rearranged it, demonstrated their comprehension one further step, and mirrored back to the females: an ongoing dance of mind between the genders. The consequences of the menstrual-lunar correspondence is what has divided us, for good and ill, from the other animals. Unlike our simian relatives, unlike any other creature, humans use external measurement, the gift of menstruation. We have a lunar/menstrual lever that enables us to move our sense back and forth between the subjective and the objective and to embody our ideas in external form.

When during the hundreds of thousands of times the ancestral females secluded themselves during what was at least some of the time a collective menstruation at the dark of the moon, they noticed that the light was also hiding. They may also have come to notice that the light at times (dawn) was the same color as their blood. While they were menstruating, they noticed darkness was different from light. Darkness thus had a source: menstruation. At the end of each menstruating, they "created" light when they emerged from darkness, from hiding. And to continue its remembrance and to reinforce the principle, they began emerging from seclusion exactly at dawn, emerging "into the light." They synchronized with darkness and light. And because of the back-and forth road that is cause and effect, since menstruation "created" light as it "created" dark, so it could also destroy them. The menstruant, especially at menarche, was not allowed to look at light—lest in her condition she destroy it, allowing her society to fall back into Chaos. Menstrual separation was the first step to differentiating light from darkness and to displaying and remembering the knowledge.

Perhaps this is a part of the memory kept alive by seclusion rites recorded in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which almost universally include/d a prohibition against seeing light:

Among the Indians of California a girl at her first menstruation was thought to be possessed of a particular degree of supernatural power, and this was not always regarded as entirely defiling or malevolent.... Not only was she secluded from her family and the community, but an attempt was made to seclude the world from her. One of the injunctions most strongly laid upon her was not to look about her. She kept her head bowed and was forbidden to see the world and the sun. Some tribes covered her with a blanket.>[4]

Among many tribes, the menstruant could not see the moon or the sun and had to be covered even when she left the hut at night. In particular, her head had to be shielded from the great lights in the sky.

How terrifying the first ventures into separation must have been, for at the very beginning of the changes from primate to human, archaeologically dated, currently, at between four and seven million years ago, there were no words to describe the vision. Wordlessly, a more conscious female pulled her sisters into seclusion with her. Wordlessly, concerned mothers pushed their daughters into seclusion at the first sign of their blood. Wordlessly, the bleeding females sat in the moonless night and "saw" darkness as a different state from light. They named it with the act of separation. They "saw" that when anyone menstruating was absent from the group, so was the night light. In this seeing, they perceived light and dark as different states. They saw that light, like the menstruant, separates and then emerges.

With the act of sitting together bleeding in the dark, the early women entered a new world of consciousness. Their minds became "human" through an externalized vision that had as yet and perhaps for countless millennia to come no other expression than menstrual separation, the creation of consciousness by distinguishing menstruation from other activities. This separation endowed both menstruation and light with power, the power of memory and first cause, the power of rite to create human mind and culture.

The fundamental connection between separation and creation comes through in languages that developed much later, in the word "sacred," with means "set apart" (it also means "curse"), and in the word "Sabbath," or sabbat, which can be translated as "the divider." The ancient European religion of the goddess Diana celebrated four separations, or Sabbats, as divisions of the year. "Wherever the ancient cult of Diana was extant, its votaries met four times a year to celebrate the mysteries of their faith, and these gatherings, which were known as Sabbats or Sabbaths, were the very heart of their existence as a corporate society."[5]

The original meaning of Sabbath can be understood as "menstrual separation," particularly as related to the new moon. As the seventh day, it is also "the day of rest" of the Genesis creation story, which took place in seven days—so each week is a re-creation of the Beginning. The number of days of menstrual seclusion is specified for Hebrew women in Leviticus 15:19, and it is seven. Menstrual seclusion is implied as well in the Babylonian creation myth, the oldest one known, which lists in its sixth line, after descriptions of Tiamat and Apsu, a special kind of sacred reed hut, the giparu.[6]

When the ancestress of four or five or seven million years ago separated in the earliest Sabbats, she stepped out of Chaos and across a terrifying abyss of mind. What makes the Abyss so ominous is that to enter human mind we step out of the security of instinct, the net of animal mind, and enter the frail social construct of a rite, which is only held in place externally and accessed through cultural memory and repetition. The farther we get from inner knowledge, the more dependent on the external mind we become. The Abyss yawned before those who did not keep the separation, for in their newfound understanding they established a principle correspondence: without menstrual seclusion, there was no light. Menstrual seclusion rites continually created light and separated it from dark. Without menstrual separation and the emphasis taboo placed on the seeing of light, the idea of light having a source would have flickered and gone out. And probably, many times, it did.

By using ancient versions of tapua, women were able to hold the thought still, to capture the perception of the source of light, emphasize its importance, and teach it. Every time a girl began her period for the first time, she separated and was not allowed to see light. Then at the end of her bleeding, she emerged into the light. "After a girl emerges from seclusion, theÉwomen take her around and show her the earth, bodies of water, flowers, trees—as though she is seeing them for the first time."[7] In this way, seclusion reenacts the original awakening of human consciousness.

In a typical seclusion, on the occasion of her first menstruation, which is called "entrance into the shade," or Chol Mlop, a Khmer girl in Cambodia was secluded in a darkened, curtained-off section of the house. She was forbidden to look upon men and allowed to go outdoors only in the dark night. The "shade" lasted several months, sometimes as long as a year, and during this time she learned skills of weaving and basketmaking. The end of her cloistering, called "coming out of the shade," featured a feast with relatives and friends, who made offerings to ancestors and spirits, as well as a number of rites similar to those for weddings.[8]

Separate huts were often built so that the initiates could not see light: "Among the Yaracares, an Indian tribe of Bolivia, as the eastern foot of the Andes, when a girl perceives the signs of puberty, her father constructs a little hut of palm leaves near the house."[9] In India, continuing into the present, maidens at menarche are secluded in many families do not look at the sun, and cover their heads so the sun does not shine on their heads.

Menstrual seclusion rites reenacted their own discoveries, returning women back along a path of unraveling time, to the chaotic mind before light was seen. Menstrual seclusion accomplished this by a simple taboo: the menstruant was not allowed to see light. On the North American continent, she had to cover her head with a deerskin before going outdoors and was secluded in a dark place for days, even weeks, at a time. In Southeast Asia, she might have been wrapped in a hammock or enclosed in a little hut or square of mats, or she had to lie down in a dark part of a house for days and nights on end. Silence often accompanied the cloistering: she could not speak, or she could not speak above a whisper, or her name could not be spoken during the sacred time—as though she were returning deliberately to a preconscious state.


Reasons given for this and other menstrual taboos concern her openness and vulnerability to earth and stellar energies at the times of menses: her family feared that harm would come to her, that she would sicken or die, that her bones would break, that she would become infertile, that wayward spirits would harm or even rape her, that the sun, being hungry, would devour her. The reverse of her vulnerability is also held—that she has extraordinary power at this time and can aid, heal, re-form, or harm others. Some peoples held taboos in which the menstruant's positive and negative destructive powers affected all life and even the features of the landscape and sky. If a woman kept taboo, all life flourished; she had irresistible allure and life-energy.


If a woman broke taboo, not only would she herself be harmed, but harm would come to others, to her family, her village. Her eyes had special power, sometimes too much power, so she could not look at others or they would sicken. In one example, she could not drop blood on the path, for someone might step on it and later die or be infertile. In others, she had to avoid talking to her husband or touching his weapons lest harm befall him in the hunt; she was forbidden to cross the path of a hunting party. In some practices, she was sexually dangerous, harm would come to her partner's genitals, and person, so she could not have sex. In tantra, however, sex with her was magic and a method of acquiring positive power.


Her responsibilities were enormous, for if the menstruant failed to keep her taboos, her community would no longer thrive. Thus, she could not look at the sky or the planets. Nor could she gaze at bodies of water, for fear of causing a flood. If she were to look at trees and plants, they would wither. She had to protect the sources of water; she could not look at the pond or it would dry up. Her glance would cause the village cows to sicken and die, or their milk to dry up; it caused crops to wither in the fields. In other practices she ran through the fields to ensure their fertility. She was, considered overall, a vessel for cosmic power—vulnerable to it and carrying it forward, through her body, her gaze and touch, her blood, and also, her allure. She had, in her blood rites taken as a whole, complete positive and negative powers over all that humans depend on for their lives, all we had deciphered about the universe—for, as I have argued, it was menstrual consciousness that first created all these elements. And so many of the rites involved silence, as though they were laid down during the long eras before speech, when action alone did the creating.


Hers was the power of raveling and unraveling, since what consciousness (spirit, mystery) gives us, it can also take back. And the power of creation and destruction, as at one time evidently all humanity believed, was in the woman's blood.

Metaphor and Metaform

As a poet, I work with the power of metaphor and with its mechanics, and I have long been aware that metaphor isn't just a method of description. Some metaphors are so powerful they become translated into physical form. If a poem emphatically states (with believable graphic details) that a woman is a rattlesnake, some of the power of the "snake" to strike in its own behalf is transferred to the cultural idea "woman." A metaphor is a figure of speech using measurement and comparison, for the purpose of transferring power. In this example, the power of a real rattlesnake may be assumed by a real woman. If repeated use of this snake poem leads a woman to take a self-defense class, for example, she then converts the poetic metaphor into a form. In the class she may even learn to strike two fingers in her attacker's eyes "like a snake's fangs." In a different context, a chanted poem using the metaphor of a woman as snake might accompany a dance in which a young woman learns to twine her arms, legs and trunk in sinewy "snake" movements; perhaps she wears the tail of a rattler as a bracelet and makes a rhythmic sound as she dances. In both cases, the women are altering their own bodies in ways that originate with real beings, rattlesnakes.

Historically human culture, as we shall see, has used such creatures for all sorts of purposes. In examining the power of verbal metaphor, I began to see that we surround ourselves with living, interacting, physically embodied metaphors. And in tracing the use of such physical forms as comparisons, as measurement, I found that remarkable numbers of everyday objects, artifacts, creatures, and human cultural habits can be traced back, through mythology and anthropology, to a single element of measurement: menstruation. My search for women's contribution to science and culture has thus intersected with my poetic explorations of how metaphor translates into genuine cultural power.

Our menstrual-minded ancestress stepped out of her excellent net of animal intelligence into the potentially chaotic external mind, the mind unique to human beings. The human mind uses metaphoric imagery, what I call "external measurement." Our originators could not have stepped across the Abyss without simultaneously finding a way to hold the first few ideas in place, since they disappear in the absence of culture. Neither instinct nor the central nervous system store such imagery. It has to be externalized, and it is fragile. It has to be taught and to be taught, it has to be remembered. This required techniques resembling metaphor but much more extreme. The metaphor somehow had to be actualized, acted out in the physical.

Our ancestresses taught via menstrual instruction, through rituals that embodied ideas based on menstrual information. I call this metaform, specifically, an act or form of instruction that makes a connection between menstruation and a mental principle. Spirit is included in this definition as well, "mental-spiritual principle," as peoples all over the world have revered their metaformic creations to the point of deifying them. At first I thought to call the forms that menstruation creates menstruaforms, but that seemed too narrow a word for what I mean. I chose metaform instead, meaning a physical embodiment of metaphor in which menstruation is one part of the equation. Meta means among, with, after, and also change, and I like its implication of transformative measurement: measured form, metaform. I also like the sense of a super- or panvision, as in metaphysics, though I don't mean "beyond the physical." A metaform is an idea that translates into physical form, and conversely, it is also the physical form that embodies or "holds" an idea, with menstruation as its source. My broadest premise is that all metaphor, all measurement, and all cultural forms, could they be traced back far enough, would lead us to menstruation and menstrual rite.

If—as we are told in a multitude of creation stories—the act that enabled the human mind to emerge "from Chaos," that is to say, from an unconscious state, was an act of separation, then menstrual seclusion rites are repeated separations consisting of metaforms that contain creation stories and that gradually became basic elements of culture.

Chaos then is forgetting learned metaphoric patterns, forgetting metaformic instruction. And since our original millions-of-years-ago ancestress presumably was completely of the animal world, she could take only one step out of that fully developed order, only one step at a time away from the network of animal interactions that maintained the pattern of her life and of her family's life. She had as yet no language, no poetry, no drawing, no masks or maps or music with which to convey her first external insight: the relation between her womb cycle and another, outside cycle, the relation between herself, and darkness and light. She had only the intelligence of her own body and its actions; she had only her blood, and its peculiar entrainment with the moon. And when she secluded herself in imitation of the moon, she externalized the metaphoric (and the real) connection; she merged identification with the lunar cycle.

We now think in metaphors, and we think with metaphors, as molds into which we pour the stuff of everyday experience. But we get these metaphoric molds, these metaforms, not from blind imagination, but from our very specific and historic interactions with the external and internal physical world, remembered through rites and ceremonies handed down to us—by now through dozens and hundreds of channels. The original metaforms were set in place millions of years before humans had speech, and they were based in the synchrony inherent in the menstrual cycles, as well as in the ability of the primate mind to think in terms of mimicry and metaphor.

Metaphor itself is a form of synchrony, measuring the inner with the outer. Metaphor says that one thing is another; it says they are entrained through repetition of pattern. Metaphor measures through comparison. The recognition of similarity and dissimilarity of category between elements is how we think, and the external expression of this recognition is what makes us human. The transformation of such an idea into a metaform, an external expression of the synchronization of two patterns, is what enables human communication. Metaform transforms or merges one thing into another, endowing two unlike things with equality of power, in our minds.

As biological science tells us, though the animals continue to evolve, the interactions, skills, and intelligence of nonhuman beings appears to have achieved ecological balance—a sustainable economy. The nonhuman minds appear to be perfect for what they set out to do. What disrupts this ecological balance are the extreme actions of humankind; consequently, we appear in our ways of being to be unfinished—still struggling mightily, especially with ourselves. We differ from the animal minds, from what Western biology has called "instinct," in that animal minds are almost entirely inner. Though we still have instincts (suckling, or fearing fire, for example), cultural teachings and misteachings can completely disrupt them. We have become dependent on our external minds.

We have constructed our minds externally, not abstractly, but through using physical metaphors—metaforms—that embody a comparison to a menstrually based idea. Two good examples of metaforms are the chair and the hut. These forms are so culturally ingrained that virtually any adult stranded at length in the wilderness could construct, from memory, a rude hut and some version of a chair. As we shall see, both "chair" and "hut" are rooted in menstrual rite.

Metaforms are physical, mental, and also spiritual. By spirit I mean that metaforms at times "speak" to us in some fashion, and people understand this communication as a dialogue with nonhuman intelligent spirit, or deity, as messages from the mind of the cosmos. Nonmaterialist peoples have had terms that combine all three spheres, for example the Maori word aria, meaning a spirit that enters—say, a snake—and conveys a message to humans.[10] The Bible and other mythology refer to speaking huts, walls, and thrones, as well as the wind; rocks, plants, and animals speak to tribal and psychic folk; and psychiatrists work with divinatory nature of dreams, whose images speak to us of our deepest comprehensions of life. In work I have done later, following Blood, Bread, and Roses, which outlines the initial principles of this relational theory, I have asked the question, are the roots of human comprehensions of deity itself metaformic?

So my contention begins with the idea that the central unit of measurement, the ultimate metaphor, to which all metaforms refer, is blood, from menstrual rites and related rites. To help sort through the varieties of metaform, I have divided them into four categories, corresponding to the ways human society has remembered, taught, and acted out menstrual principles. Logically, the first of these seems to have been wilderness metaform: the use of, or more accurately, being in relation with, creatures, formations, and elements of nature to describe menstrual ideas.

The second category is cosmetic metaform, for which the Greek word cosmetikos seems appropriate, with its dual meanings of "a sense of harmony and order" and "one skilled in adorning," from cosmos, meaning both "ornament" and "the universe as a well-ordered whole." Expanding on this, I use cosmetic metaform to mean the ordering of the world through descriptive use of human body action, artful movement, shape, ornament and decoration, and even ingestion of meaningful foods.

Third is narrative metaform, based in language, sound, number, and story, which came about as people imagined themselves and their originators to be characters in a life cycle and came to use what archaeologist Alexander Marshack—studying lunar marks on bone—calls "time-factored thought". Fourth is material metaform, characteristic of our current, mainstream capitalist civilization: the separation of spirit from matter, and the exploitation of the earth's being to craft marketed products into forms expressive of current external ideas.

[1] Chris Knight, "Menstrual Synchrony and the Australian Rainbow Snake," in Buckley and Gottlieb, Blood Magic, pp. 232-55.  

[2] Mickey Hart, Drumming at the Edge of Magic, p. 121. 

[3] See the early study by Martha K. McClintock, "Menstrual Synchrony and Suppression," Nature 229, no. 5282 (January, 1971). McClintock's work is mentioned in Paula Weideger, Menstruation and Menopause, pp. 34-35, and in Knight, Blood Relations, p. 314. Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove discuss several scientific experiments on light and biological clocks and suggest that the ritual of "drawing down the moon" of European wisewomen may relate to light and menstrual synchrony. They also cite research showing temperature synchrony of men to their female mates and among Gay male lovers. See The Wise Wound, pp. 162ff., 326-27. 

[4] James George Frazer, The Golden Bough (1929), vol. 2, p. 599. 

[5] M. Oldfield Howey, The Cat in the Mysteries of Religion and Magic, p. 80. Howey continues, "Various derivations of the word Sabbath have been suggested, but perhaps none is quite convincing. In Hebrew the grammatical inflexions show that it is a feminine form, properly shabbat-t or shabbat-t. The root carries no implication of resting in the sense of enjoying repose, but in transitive forms means to 'sever,' to 'terminate,' and intransitively means to 'desist, to come to an end'. It cannot be translated 'the day of rest,' but the grammatical form of shabbath suggests a transitive sense—the divider—and would seem to denote that the Sabbath divides the month, or, in the case of the witches' quarterly festival, the year." 

[6] After appearance of Apsu and Tiamat, "Their waters commingling as a single body; /No reed hut had been named, no marsh land had appeared" (James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 61). The Sumerian word for hut, giparu, applies to both a primitive woven dwelling and a "cult-hut." In Sumerian moon temples, the giparu was the special temple precinct of the moon goddess, Ningal—implying that the "cult hut" was perhaps connected to menstrual seclusion, in its origins.  

[7] James George Frazer, The Golden Bough (1930), vol. 1, pp. 35-36. 

[8] May Ebihara, "Khmer Women in Cambodia: A Happy Balance," in Carolyn Matthiasson, Many Sisters. 

[9] Frazer, New Golden Bough, p. 668. 

[10] Martha Beckwith, Hawaiian Mythology, p. 52. While I have had or have witnessed such messages, there is no word in English to express this. 


Copyright © 2005 Judy Grahn. All rights reserved.

The complete text of Blood Bread and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World is available online here.