What can you tell me a little about what you refer to as "The Curse of the Patriarchy"?
First and full disclosure: I’m a witch. So, my orientation and relation to reality includes a belief in magic, spirits, energy, everyday miracles, and… curses. Calling the suppressive patriarchal construct a “Curse” makes sense to me, based on my cosmology. It also has the side benefit of making an effort towards dismantling humanity from another component of The Curse of the Patriarchy, which has been the targeted systematic oppression and demonization of traditional witchcraft, which essentially- has been a curse on all traditional healers. But that’s another rant…
A curse is an obstructive or binding force, sourced in suffering, that restricts or blocks a person’s ability to actualize their light, power, fullness or truth.
Patriarchy has many related definitions, the one I will apply here is “a masculine-dominated system, state and society in which success, in all of its variations, is measured by masculine attributes.”
Add these two definitions together and we see that The Curse of the Patriarchy is a binding or restriction (curse) on the expression and actualization of the feminine spirit.
Note that all people, regardless of their genitalia, have both a masculine/dynamic force, and a feminine/receptive force. The Curse of the Patriarchy is a curse on all people. How does this show up? What is “feminine” is undervalued, shamed, shunned and even- demonized.
What is the state of how our culture values these “feminine” attributes… Intuition. Receiving visions. Body wisdom. Dreaming. Healing. Cooperation. Rest. Birth. Death.
And then the big one…. Blood. Menstruation. The patriarchal campaign was so successful that humanity now casually refers to menstruation as “The Curse.” What do most women feel/think when they are menstruating? Embarassed. Secretive. Dirty. Shameful – shame is the big one here. In “witch speak” we talk about the part of curses that is called the “binding element” which is what feeds a curse its power to continue. The shame surrounding all things feminine, and the shame women feel around menstruation has served to “lock” and “bind” the patriarchy into a powerful curse.
And that- is where my work comes in. And where women who bleed can make a HUGE difference in dismantling this worldwide curse. Reclaiming the sanctity of our menstruation. Reclaiming the power of our blood. In witch speak- this is fighting blood magic with blood magic, baby!
How does this curse relate to Moontime for people who menstruate?
In addition to the context I shared above, I will add that menstrual blood is powerful. And I mean “powerful” in all senses of the word… it’s powerful physically as a healing agent, it’s powerful spiritually/energetically as a magical substance.
There is FDA-sanctioned research out currently that is showing that the stem cells present in menstrual blood can reverse arteriosclerosis and in general, deter cell aging. Worldwide, we have remnants of ceremonies, rites and rituals that existed in a pre-patriarchal era that utilized the power of the menstrual blood to achieve high states of healing, of ecstacy, of direct gnosis, of states of spiritual rapture.
Translation? Before the patriarchy got ahold of it, menstrual blood, and those whose bodies bled it, was prized and was worshipped. In the Navajo traditions, still to this day, a menstruating woman is seen as the Goddess Changing Women- and people who approach her receive the healing and blessing of The Divine.
In witch-speak- blood is power. It is essence. It is life force. Blood carries life force and any spells (which are the same as “prayers”) made on the blood carry great power.
Think for a minute about how many women menstruate everyday here on Planet Earth. And think about how many of them feel shameful and disempowered when they bleed. All that blood, with the energy of all that shame, goes into the Earth. And the Curse of the Patriarchy continues and continues… The blood curse, fed by shame, gets stronger and stronger.
Now imagine what would happen if all of the women who menstruate on Planet Earth were bleeding Love. Power and Empowerment. Prayers… prayers for themselves, prayers for the healing of the Earth, prayers for the healing of humanity. Imagine if all women who menstruate on Planet Earth knew/remembered the power of their blood, claimed the power of that blood, and bled that power each moon?
The world would change. The Goddess would be reborn. Recall all of the prophecies of the return of the Sacred Feminine at this time in his/herstory? That time is now. And it starts with the blood.
Does it relate to the use of herbs in the home?
In addition to being an advocate for women’s empowerment, I’m also an herbalist, energy healer and spiritual midwife. And though it may seem a surprise, all of these titles go hand-in-hand. For by reclaiming the power of the feminine spirit, we also reclaim the power of those areas of Her domain: the ways of healing, of herbcraft, of soulcraft.
In order to successfully and thoroughly dismantle ourselves the Curse of the Patriarchy we must simultaneously reclaim those traditions, aspects and elements of the feminine/receptive spirit that have been cursed, shamed and demonized under the patriarchy.
The foundation of any traditional healing model is relationship with the plants. Herbalism and herbal medicine MUST be dismantled from the patriarchy and rewoven into society. Herbalism is an act of activism! In a pre-patriarchal world, all people knew that the plants were the healers, and also that the plants had spirits! It was the role of the healer, oftentimes a woman, to be in deep relationship with the plants themselves. It was these relationships that were called on for healing others.
I call my work “The Cunning Way.” The Cunning Way is the way of witches, grandmothers and grandfathers, folk healers of old and new, who knew their divinity and knew their relationships with nature.
What are some concrete steps that people can take to unravel themselves from the harmful part of the curse?
If you’re a woman who bleeds… Please- bless your blood. Doing this is a service to All Things, most importantly it is a gift of sustenance to our Mother Earth.
An easy way to do this is have a sacred container, I like to use a Chalice because it reclaims this ancient symbol of the sacred feminine from the patriarchy. You will put your menstrual blood into this container each month. Practical tip- place your blood-soaked tampon/maxi pad/diva cup/sea sponge in the chalice and cover with water. Let sit for a few hours.
Sit and meditate with this blood, and with your empowerment. Call to the empowered feminine spirit and goddess nature within you and be that force. From that place of sacred empowerment, pray prayers for the healing of the earth and of humanity into your blood - and gift that to the earth. To the land, to the water, to your garden. Anywhere. It all goes back to the Earth.
This is the biggest thing you can do.
In addition, a concrete step you can take is to educate yourself. Educate yourself about the patriarchy and keep an eye out for where and how the restrictive dynamics play into your life. Choose not to engage in dynamics that feed and foster the Curse. Keep an eye out for power dynamics.
Also if you are a woman- spend time around other women. In addition to shaming the menstrual blood, another HUGE tactic the patriarchal forces took was to isolate women. Instead of being co-supportive women have been pitted against one another. Reclaim the power of sisterhood, and bring your power, honesty and authenticity to that sisterhood. One of my teachers, Deborah Frances Dancing Crow, always reminds me that we (women) can’t do this alone- we need one another. Find your sisters, support them and allow them to support you.
Teach others, AS MANY AS YOU CAN, about praying with their menstrual blood and offering it as a giveaway. The Earth needs us right now!
What strengthens the curse?
Feeling or sending any disdain, dislike or shame to your womb or your menstruation feeds the curse. PMS and other menstrual disorders are often the repressed/hurt feminine spirit of our soul trying to get our attention and show us where we have given our power away. So… listen to your PMS, to your womb, to your body. It has much to share. I know it can be incredibly painful- believe me. But don’t disconnect from or disdain your womb and your blood, no matter how painful.
Engaging in patriarchal dynamics in which the feminine spirit, and women, are disempowered strengthens the curse. Choose not to engage in dynamics, communities and relationships where your power is given away… to anyone. I don’t care if it’s a spiritual community, sexual community, or family system… I don’t care if it’s a man, woman, or queer person… NEVER give your power away to another. This is patriarchy- it serves to dislodge our own natural authority from self and give it away to someone or thing outside of self.
May all beings everywhere know Love.
May this work and this servant serve Love.
Now, forever before, forever more.
And so it is.
from my deepest depth
the tip of the heart's taproot
I see you, I greet you
I bow to you
and bow down, around, down
so low that i spiral back around
and i see
i am bowing to me
"Lauren is a wise, funny, compassionate and great teacher. She does a wonderful job of setting the stage for a meditative and deeply spiritual experience. Her prayers, and her presence, are elegant, deeply meaningful, powerful and kind."
- Jessica P. - client and student