Could our cycles be connected to the moon?
There’s long been an association between our celestial neighbour and our menstrual cycles. There’s an instant connection in the word itself: the Greek word for moon, ‘mene’, and the Latin for month, ‘mensis’, offer the root for ‘menstruation’. The moon swells into fullness each month, a full lunar cycle lasting from one new moon to the next and taking just over 29 days. The average menstrual cycle is around 28 days long. Given these timelines, it’s only natural our menstrual cycle has been linked to the lunar phases. But how can we know if this link is really true?
The moon’s presence in myths and folklore around the world is strong. A lot of early civilizations believed the moon determined when women could become pregnant. Many well-known mythologies feature female lunar deities, like the Greek goddess Selene, the Roman’s Luna, the Chinese goddess Chang’e, and Mama Quilla of the Incas. The Mbuti tribe in Central Africa has long viewed having a period as being blessed by the moon, and the Mbendjele tribe has a saying: “my biggest husband is the moon”.
California’s Yurok people also have strong menstrual-lunar links. In the old days, menstruating Yurok women would communally bathe and perform rituals in a sacred Moontime pond in the nearby mountains. All the fertile women in a household tended to menstruate at the same time, that time dictated by the moon. Women practiced the bathing rituals together, in synchrony with her sisters. If a woman fell out of phase with the moon, she could “get back in by sitting in the moonlight and talking to the moon asking it to balance her”. Aotearoa’s Ngāhuia Murphy shares a kōrero on a Ngāi Tūhoe word for menstruation...
Want to keep reading? Find the full story, The Lunar Link, in Womenclan magazine available here.